Blog and Ideas
May 4, 2012
By Jorge Chávez

Open-Source Software

Open-source software (OSS), such as WordPress, essentially is software that is collaboratively developed by developers who produce the code for free.

Open-Source Software

Open-source software (OSS), such as WordPress, essentially is software that is collaboratively developed by developers who produce the code for free.  

If used properly, OSS can result in many savings. One study by the Standish Group found that open-source software models saved consumers $60 billion USD annually.  As with many things, there are advantages and disadvantages in using OSS.

On the plus side, there is the aforementioned fact that it is free, though we should mention a caveat. Website developers can charge you to integrate the software into your website. With the explosion of code and software applications, just about any field can find Open Source versions to utilize. 

Because of the proliferation of such software, users can find support from both from the developer(s), as well as virtual community support through forums and the like.  Because of its inherent openness and is real-world user testing, OSS tends to be very high quality.

OSS is communal by nature leading to a leveling of the playing field.  In some ways, it is a meritocracy.  Anyone armed with the right know-how and tenacity can develop programs and release them to the public.  For younger developers, this is a great way to break into the marketplace.  It also helps the public at large, creating a healthy dose of competition for commercial companies.  For-profit programs must then answer the question: “What distinguishes your program from free OSS ones?”  In other words, they must up their game and constantly improve. 

On the down side, the accessibility of this software and the transparency of the code make it easier to hack.  Hackers, having access to the original code, could exploit this.  Professional developers, i.e. those that make a living at it, are also threatened by OSS. Chiefly, OSS devalues what they do. 

Open-source software has its upsides and its downsides.  As with many things, investigation and research can help determine the suitability of using OSS.

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