I have to admit, it took me awhile to understand why anyone would want to open source their software. I understood perfectly well why I would want to use it, but as a developer who makes money from writing software I assumed you don’t make money writing open source software, thus, you starve. I understand now how it works and will explain simply for both developers and business why open source software makes sense.
First I’ll start with business.
If you are a business owner think about this. Who has the most money to spend on the products you make? Well, medium to large businesses. They spend hundreds of thousands to millions every year. You’d like to write software to target these businesses. You will need to spend quite a bit in advertising and sales to hit that market. And of course, lots of money will need to go into the production of the software.
What if you make this product and all of the little guys test it for you? What if non-customers help you bug fix it? And after your initial release, what if they continue to add features, fixes, and value to your product for free? What if they market it for you and provide an initial level of support? Well, this is open source software. You share the product with the world, let them use it, contribute to it, make it their own, and then you still make money from your original target market through something they couldn’t go without, support. Those with the money are still paying for it, but those without get to benefit from it and will add to it.
Developers look at things differently.
As a developer why would you want to write open source software? Think of all the code you’ve written that you just know has been written before. Think of all the wheel-reinventing you’ve done throughout your career. As an industry we aren’t moving forward in technology if we spend all our time writing the same thing for our own company or clients that everyone else is writing for THEIR companies and clients. But, if we start sharing this are we going to run out of a job? No, we’ll spend our time writing new code and implementing new ideas. Our clients will always want something more than what’s available. We as an industry can push the technology forward as a whole and everyone benefits.
That’s how I see it. Open source is a win-win-win for those writing it, those who use it, and those who support it. Better software comes out of it. People still make money and feed their families. And you make the world a better place.