Open-source software has traditionally been personal projects for developers. The Linux operating system is open-source, and it’s free to download. The “free” part of open-source projects is what turns off many developers. You need to make money on your work, so your first thought is to sell compiled code. However, providing the community with open-source code has several advantages. Here are some reasons why you should consider releasing your source code to the public.
By deploying your code as an open-source project, you get free advertising. The open-source community is much larger than it was years ago. You immediately get recognition from developers looking for their next contribution. If you get enough developers interested in your code, your project can go viral. Before you know it, you have several coders hacking away at your source code contributing more features and adding to its functionality.
If you already have a business and make money on other software, providing open-source code to the community can help bring attention to your brand in the development community. It’s especially beneficial for developers that sell a product that’s used by other developers. When you get their attention with an open-source project, they are more likely to check out your paid projects.
In most development environments, your coders work together to brainstorm ideas. If you’re the only developer on your project, it’s difficult to come up with every possible error and every possible feature that your users would want. After you launch, you get user feedback and develop changes as ideas roll in.
With open-source code, you leave your project open for brainstorming. Any coder can contribute to your project, and you’ll find that plenty of other people come up with brilliant ideas that you never would have thought of yourself. With repositories such as Git, coders can follow other coders. As you get more contributors, your project will be seen by other coders who will also contribute ideas.
Linux is a good example of the possibilities that come from contributors. The operating system started as just a simple command-line engine, but it’s now a full GUI platform with several distributions and versions from contributors that took the main code base and customized it into their own project.
Easier Hiring Options
As a software developer, you eventually need another developer to help you create software and maintain your current platforms. What better way to find another developer than reviewing contributors to your current open-source application? You can contact developers who provided the best features and ask them if they’d be interested in working with you.
By hiring from your pool of contributors, you know that you’re getting a capable developer who already knows your code base and doesn’t need much training. Many large brands hire this way, and some of the most brilliant coders dive into open-source projects in their spare time.
One issue with closed-source code is that no one but the inside developers know the code. You might have three coders on your project, so it’s highly possible that they miss a security flaw. Attackers will run scripts on your code and find flaws before you do, and this can cost your company millions in damages.
With an open-source project, you have several security experts that review your code and make changes to help improve its defense. You will still have attackers that will try to find vulnerabilities in your code, but you also have several other “good guys” looking at your code that will fix issues and even quietly send you a warning if they find any major flaws.
Distributing to the Open-Source Community
If you’ve decided to work with open-source code, the major repository for managing revisions and uploading your software versions is GitHub. Git is a change control repository you run on your local computer, and then you upload your Git repository to GitHub. You’ll need to sign up for an account, but it’s free. After you have an account, you just need to upload.
You can get attention from other coders by going through the community and contributing or just follow other coders to see what projects they are interested in.
It takes some time for your code to get noticed, so be patient. You can market your project and ask for feedback from the community. Once you get some interest, your project will take off and you might find some great additions to your code. Some great features could be added to your code that would never happen if you kept it closed-source.