All posts by Dipo Elegbede

Open Source: The World from a community point of view

Some years back when IT started taking a new shape within the ranks of paid jobs, every developer had to build all they needed from the scratch. While in some instances in my opinion, there might still be a need to go that line again, today’s participation most especially through the open source communities has taken application design and development to the tweak and plug stage.

Tweak and plug is my coinage for taking APIs here and there, doing basic restructuring to have them fit into your own app and you are good to go.

This is one phenomenon that has helped the IT professionals and indeed the world in general understand that sharing code base and/or technology doesn’t necessarily stand in the way of making money. On the contrary, such acts help expand your reach as many individuals from different parts of the world access your code, make use of your APIs and in the final analysis discover new things you are capable of doing.

Such discovery is about the most reliable way of getting people involved in major projects that eventually translate into wealth.

We do not have to run a day long debate to agree to this fact, cheap as it might appear. We almost all have had one reasons or the other to search through google for a particular tools for our personal use; I have and I am sure you also have.

Another aspect to a phenomenon that is generally referred to as open sourcing is that, you really don’t have to do the talking if you are sure of your applications and/or code base. They speak for themselves.

The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology. Before the term open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of phrases to describe the concept; open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet, and the attendant need for massive retooling of the computing source code. Opening the source code enabled a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. Subsequently, the new phrase “open-source software” was born to describe the environment that the new copyright, licensing, domain, and consumer issues created.

Several tools that are open sourced today and supported by big companies started like a child’s play; something no one but the developer and his few colleagues with their undying zeal believed it would see the light of the day.

These tools end up solving so many problems we either have failed to see or refused to confront and then become every developer’s companion.

Task as common as web design can now be accomplished from scratch to deployment with almost no input from the developer as it were, many more scenarios are there to confirm the far reaching advantages of open sourcing.

Here are few open sourced projects.

PythonKodos Python Regular Expression DebuggerSWIGOpenSSLIPFilterXfireFiilzipZipGenius,

StuffIt ExpanderErlangPHPTclWavemakerBugzillaWinmergeXML User Interface,

Album ShaperGallery ProjectPhpGraphy

Other developers have decided to open source their projects first for the reasons of lack of key resources like fund and time. While these factors seem frivolous to admit in other fields, for an IT person, it is worth the admittance because at the end of the day, few minutes from different developers across the globe who share the ambition of the pioneer developer stand up to the task and have a wonderful job that would have naturally died of neglect and lack of fund.

The open source concept has also in some ways helped big corporations support the profession by a way of funding useful apps and keeping such projects alive.

From the human point of view which is also my opinion, open source as an art has helped improve our relationship with one another beyond the walls of racism and boundary of travels. A German based developer might have his source code forked, and modified by an African, vice versa. We all at the end of the day work as a community irrespective of our location, colour, height or financial status. It also preaches the principle of collective responsibility and collective victories; this story is well understood if you read the acknowledgement pages of books on open source. You see situations where the pioneer developer almost goes home with no laurels as he has given all accolades to support developers whom ironically he hasn’t met before.

My take on this is that we all have a duty to give back to where we take from and also to understand that rewards lie mostly in giving than in taking.

We are the latest brides as IT professionals and we should take advantage to prove to the world that things can be done better as a community with emphasis on collective efforts and collective victory. It necessarily doesn’t have to start with you; identify an ongoing project that falls within your area of interest or strength and lend a hand.

The world, and not only our community as developers, would be a better place if we can approach our tasks from the open source point of view.