The open source movement is huge and it’s only getting bigger. it can be scary for some people to post their hard work to the public, but there’s a lot of good that can come of it.
Software would not be what it is today without open source projects. Just by reading this blog you are being served by a number of open source projects: Apache to host the site, MySQL to store the database, Linux to run the server, and if you’re not using Internet Explorer you’re probably reading this from an open source browser. By making your projects open source you are contributing to a better society where good ideas thrive.
By publishing your code on a site like GitHub you make all of your code available to anyone who has similar ideas for software. People can fork offof your project and improve upon it for themselves and their fork probably has a lot of valuable code you can implement in your own project.
Writing software is full of facing challenges and engineering solutions, but lets face it, your ideas can’t always be the best. By opening up your software to the world you have access to the knowledge and expertise of all of your contributors. Your open source community can pick up in areas where your development team lacks. Going open source can lead to your software reaching quality and innovation unlike anything it would have ever been before.
As you all probably know, maintenance takes up most of your time and is the least interesting aspect of programming. So why do it yourself when you have a community of eager developers to do the dirty work for you! Just by adding numbers to your development team you are cutting back a lot of the workload for your team and you will probably get more thorough testing from your contributors than you could have achieved in a timely manner with your current staff.
Let me just say that making your software open doesn’t mean you’re making it free, you can keep certain aspects of your code private as you choose. People often think making their code public will give their competitors the ability to always make their software better, but if your competitors want to steal your ideas, they don’t need your code to do it. The benefits of having contributors far outweighs what your competitors could take from it.
You are not going to have your own personal army ready to develop your project, but good ideas catch attention and pick up momentum very quickly in the open source world. For everyone from the indie developer coding from his mom’s basement to multi-million dollar corporations, if your code isn’t open source yet, consider it, the potential benefits are limitless. Think about using a site like Sourceforge or GitHub. GitHub is free if your source is public and is also an excellent collaboration tool.
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