The Open source vs. Proprietary software has been an everlasting debate for decades and if you’re reading this it means that you actually decided to figure out who’s right.
So what’s the difference between a regular code and open source code?
Open Source project lives it’s own little life thanks to the community creates by its own existence. If you’re a part of community you probably know that the code is a public deal as it will be publicly available. Yet, this kind of accessibility does not take away your responsibility for the quality of the code, its documentation, bug reports, processing of pull-requests and related questions and inquires.
Coding in open source is just like a discussion on project functionality in professional, but rather large community. Open source projects are a little bit similar to an idea of Utopian democracy where every member of society can make great change – report a bug, suggest modifications or redirect further development of the project. And as any other public matter there are couple of seemingly obvious rules that we will include in the article for the sake of logic:
For those who are highly concerned about someone taking financial or any other kind of advantage of your idea/ project/ product we would like remind that you don’t have to post your whole project – part/s of it will be sufficient and helpful and not exclusively for your project only as the community will pay you back starting by running bug tests for you, fixing them to functional improvements and other suggestions.
Great number of developers involved in an open source project make bug testing process faster and more efficient, which becomes a major advantage comparing to proprietary software. Moreover, committing in an open source is a deal of enthusiasts – people, who do what they love and love what they do and therefore are interested in the best possible result. As a reward they get precious experience and feeling of accomplishment, which might not be as valuable businesswise, yet still a deal worth spending your time on. This results in security.
Traditionally providers of proprietary software address a concept of poor software security that used to be widely spread in former years. However, a number of independent surveys proved this to be a misconception, just as secrecy of your code does not guarantee its quality.
On the contrary, monitoring of open code allows to find and fix bugs and security issues that can stay out of sight in proprietary software for years.
Shorter terms of project release is quite an obvious thing considering the quantity of people involved. Not only companies can use open source as a base for technological solutions so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel working on a new project. Including open source code in the development of their own unique software is another way to facilitate your development process, save precious time and launch the product on the market.
Even though the cost of open source software is (or close to) zero for support and servicing it’s still not the main reason for its growing popularity as in case of actually efficient product companies don’t mind upgrading to its paid version. Either way, using proprietary software will be more expensive as it has set prices that grow respectfully to the size of your infrastructure.
Keeping pace with the latest high-tech developments allows to create quality product for modern market. Moreover, while working on open source project you get to choose tools and platforms out of required functionality, not just available sources. Functional flexibility and agility is another good thing about open source as it may evolve to suit actual unique needs of a product. In case of proprietary software customization is either not possible or rather expensive. The only issue with technological adaptation is licensing conditions, as to make changes in open code a developer has to make sure it won’t cause problems with licensing terms.
For those who are aware what ‘vendor lock-in’ means are also aware of the fact that in these conditions switching to another product is next to impossible, as it’s one time and resource consuming deal. Open source is primarily based upon transparent standards that eliminate issues of that kind.
Just like pros, cons of open source are coming from a great number of developers involved as well. Thus, new developers, who joined a project have such a hard time figuring out parts of the code that is actually source code. This also brings up a security issue. The situation of this kind may lead to inability to locate problem part in the code when security system vulnerabilities appear. And since open source software is enjoying its enduring popularity among big corporations, hackers are consciously aiming at open code.
To avoid legal issues companies have to ensure implementation of terms and conditions. There’s a practice of licensing restrictions of open source products that customers may find hard to agree and follow. The licensing problem also lies within the concept of so called ‘copyleft’. It presupposes inability to restrict anyone from using, modifying and distribution of open source product and its modifications.
Open code of the component also is a necessity of constant support, which is quite a time consuming deal for the developers. Even though open source is a matter of enthusiasts, community support might not be sufficient enough to provide decent service level.
Mentioned pros and cons are reasonable in terms of adequate IT environment as comments on legal issues are irrelevant in countries where IT piracy is prosperous. Just as a mentioned financial advantage of open source software may be a questionable deal if there’s a need to develop quality management system.
Open source projects got great potential for both developers and businesses. Despite certain drawbacks related to this type of projects there are still reasonable advantages that allow to save time and other sources. Therefore open source projects become an alternative for proprietary software.