The Benefit Of Making Your Program Open Source
After many years involvement as the user of Open Source programs, I try to find out what makes people want to release the program they made as Open Source. Long time ago, I thought that was crazy because they gave their best product, which made with huge effort, for totally free. Not only that, even the source code itself is also opened so the other people can grab it, learn it, and modify it. In short thinking, I guess they are doing that purely just for fun, nothing else. At that time I also judged that the creators of an Open Source program can't make any money from their program besides from donation. But, by the time I involve in Open Source world, I realize that I could be very wrong.
- Giving Is Taking
There are words of wisdom said "The More You Give, The More You Take". I don't know who said that, but there is a truth about those words which also happen in the Open Source world. When I was doing a project for in my fulltime job, I was playing with JQuery and fieldset then I decided to make my own plugin for making the fieldset collapsible or expandable. It was so great when I finished that, then I decided to share the code in my blog just for fun. Yes, only just for fun. As time goes by some people found the article, leave comment just for saying thanks, and some report the bug and suggest some improvement. Yes, bug reports and improvement suggestions. At that time, I realized that could be another reason, than just for fun, why people release their program as Open Source. The other people will use your program, test it, report the bug, and suggest improvement which return back to us for improving the program to be better.
- Grow Fast With Collaboration
There are millions of active Android devices nowadays. Inside the success of Android is its kernel which is the result of the biggest Open Source project on earth, the Linux kernel. Started at 1991 by Linus Torvalds as an Open Source project, the Linux kernel has grown rapidly from only support Intel 386 until it can be used in many hardware architectures. Now, it contains more than 15 millions lines of code which written by thousands of developers from all over the world.
Besides used in Android, at this time, there are so many servers in the internet which run Linux distribution as their operating system. Without the fast growing of Linux, the internet and web development will not grow rapidly like this, and there could be no internet giants like Google or Facebook too.
The benefits I talked before may not related directly to money, which some of us see it as the true benefit for being software developer. Maybe we can't sell the thing that everybody can have it for free. Well, that could be true, but there are other ways to gain the money. Some companies release the open source application and provide the paid service for the technical support, and that's where the money can come from. Acquia provide services and technical support for the Open Source web content management platform, Drupal. Odoo, the Open Source ERP application, provide the cloud service to use Odoo on cloud. Canonical Ltd., the company behind the Open Source Linux operating system, Ubuntu, provide the commercial support and related services, such as cloud, for Ubuntu.
Those companies give away their product as Open Source so people can work on them together and build them better and faster, then using them to deliver a great service to the customers. Isn't a good business strategy too?
Should you Open Source all your software? Release your software as Open Source could be the best option to make it grow better and faster. But the choice is always up to you and there is no law that force you to do so.