Open Source Development Still MattersDBS Interactive DBS Interactive
One of our core development philosophies is that all our work is open source. It remains a core mantra to how we approach the work we do. And here’s the thing: open source it’s not going anywhere. Large, traditionally enterprise-software businesses like Microsoft and Apple are going open source, too.
Potential Problem: Agencies Using Proprietary Code
That’s why it’s so frustrating for us to see so many businesses continue to be shackled to development agencies that use proprietary code. Despite the continued growth of open-source online, many, many agencies still build websites in proprietary code.
When you work with an agency who builds your website with proprietary code, you’re almost guaranteed to run into problems. For one, you are stuck with that agency partner for as long as you have that website. You’ll be unable to use a different vendor for maintenance or updates on the website, because the code is owned by the original agency. For the record, you won’t even be able to use a second vendor for a new or separate part of your website (e.g. a new blog or added ecommerce functionality)
If you choose an open source web development partner, you won’t run into these problems. Unlike with agencies who build websites with proprietary code, with an open source partner, you own your website’s code. Changing vendors, making website changes, and adding sections to your website becomes far less burdensome.
Potential Problem: Proprietary, Enterprise Software
When you commit to buying licenses for proprietary software you put yourself at the mercy of the vendor. You have to meet their requirements and you are usually locked into a paid upgrade in the near future (and countless more times). Open-source alternatives are generally less resource-intensive and upgrading is simply a matter of function instead of a necessity. Also because of the cost effectiveness of open-source solutions, companies are free to change if necessary without worrying about fiscal commitments.
Why Open Source?
An open source philosophy doesn’t only protect your business. It plays a critical role in ensuring you have a safe, functioning website. There are a number of reasons to have your website built on an open-source framework.
Open-source CMS frameworks like WordPress and Drupal have code that is completely open to public view. The more eyes on an application’s code, the more vulnerabilities will be discovered. Once one set of eyes spots a vulnerability, the open-source community can patch it. It’s not a perfect process, but it beats the alternative: if their is a security breach in a website run on proprietary code, the only people available to detect the problem (let alone fix it) are developers with knowledge of, and access to, the code. Even if a bug is successfully identified, it can take an extended period of time to create a solution because of staff and fiscal limitations.
This is one of the primary reasons traditionally proprietary software platforms like Windows and Mac OS have moved to be more open-source; it gives them an ability to crowd-source security holes and fixes. Open-source communities don’t have fiscal limitations because what they offer is a free resource, not a business model.
Any software will have it’s bugs. When a bug comes up, you would rather have skilled volunteers around the world working to fix the bug than a limited amount of paid employees working on a deadline.
In addition to finding and fixing security patches, crowd-sourced contributions to an open source framework also improve the quality. The frameworks tend to be tested on more devices, on more users, in more environments, and in a far larger variety of conditions than proprietary frameworks. It comes down to sheer manpower and the benefits of scale. When developers work in open source frameworks, they do so from around the world on a breadth of different hardware. It helps ensure the framework is more universally functional.
When it comes down to it, cost matters. Proprietary code tends to be more expensive upfront, requires costly updates throughout the website’s life cycle, and has the potential to have a very high exit cost when you try to move your website to an open-source framework. Open source frameworks are by definition free. That is, it doesn’t cost your website development agency anything to use WordPress or Drupal. Rather, you are paying developers to build a website custom for you within this existing framework. With proprietary platforms, you pay for the code base itself in addition to the custom work that goes into your website.
The Internet is for Everyone
We believe strongly that the internet is for everyone and can improve people’s lives. The internet is built 100% with “open” protocols: TCP/IP, HTTP, and SSL. It could not exist without this openness. We believe that barriers that stand in the way of an open and free internet hurt all of us. (This position isn’t unique to us; many companies and organizations on the internet ascribe to the same philosophy). By embracing open source technologies, you make a statement in favor of an open and accessible web.