What is open source?
Open source is a term used to describe software projects with the source code available to use, view, modify and redistribute.
Basically, open source software is free to use by anyone while also having the source code publicly accessible. While the licensing of each software can vary, the common factor is the freedom for the software to be used and modified freely.
Many open source projects exist due to the contributions from many developers who give their time to develop, enhance and support various projects.
Open source not only provides accessibility to software that’s free to use, it also enables us to become more involved in the development and direction of projects we care about.
This infographic explains open source and provides an insight into the critical role it plays in the software engineering industry. We created this to highlight why all developers (yes, even you!) should consider becoming part of the open source community.
What is open source?
Open source generally refers to projects, resources or initiatives which anyone can use, view and modify. The source code for open source software is ‘open’ and accessible to the public.
Open source enables the availability of free to use software. This is beneficial for computer users who have access to free alternatives of paid software. The concept of open source prevents the market from being completely dominated by commercial-only software models.
Free access to source code that anyone can modify opens up a powerful system of collaboration. Software engineers from all around the world can become involved in the development and enhancement of open source projects. New features, bug fixes, documentation and much more, there’s always some way to make a valuable impact.
Long term support for software we rely on is crucial. In a closed source philosophy, there may be an unhealthy reliance on a single entity to provide support for software that may end without an alternative option. Open source improves long term availability and support as having access to the code base transfers control to the hands of the people.
Building projects under the open source concept provides key advantages of improved robustness and security. This is a direct result of many people coming together to support the validation process such as through scaled testing, bug reporting and user feedback.
The ability for developers to come together and produce high-class software relies on freedom of information exchange and sharing of expertise with each other. Knowledge sharing is fundamental to driving such projects and therefore has a major influence on the continuation of the open source mindset.
Open source has grown into a powerful support system consisting of countless developers from around the world. It continues to encourage a community of engineers that can achieve anything with technology.
The powerful impact of open source can be seen by the existence of countless software we have come to rely on that are a direct result of the movement. VSCode, Mozilla Firefox, the Linux kernel and WordPress are just a handful of world-class software that are powered by open source.
Open source is an important part of the software engineering community and continues to drive the development of free and accessible software.
Awareness about open source is crucial to ensure such projects continue to receive the contribution they need.
Does this get you fired up for open source?? Read our beginner guide on how to make your first open source contribution.
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