Open source software quite literally means software with open source code, which allows developers to modify, build upon, and share because its design is publicly available. Most open source software and open source communities share characteristics that allow for communities to flourish.
With that being said there are a ton of benefits to using and contributing to open source projects. In general, open source projects will share these traits:
- They generally feature transparent access to information and materials that enable developers to build with ease.
- Collaborative environments allow developers to share what they create for others to modify and share. This collaborative environment fosters a greater sense of community as well.
- They often feature iterative approaches that allow for fast versioning and prototyping, and rid developers of company politics — the best software gets used, shared, and iterated upon.
Now let's take a quick hit of the benefits generally understood for developers, startups, users, and noobs - aka those who are just starting out in their dev careers.
- Rapidly iterate and crowdsource new features and implementations
- Build feedback loops with a broader community
- Get bugs fixed faster by having source code passed around, tested, and fixed.
- Build more secure software because these because bugs are found and fixed faster.
- Build using the most current technology available in the public domain
- Develop shared standards which leads to greater interoperability between projects
- Build a community of contributors that make your life easier
- Get to MVP faster by not having to build everything from scratch
- Built-in marketing for your product by contributing to an open source community with a built-in following
- Early market validation when others decide to contribute to what you are building
- Take advantage of a global talent pool by moving from working with local engineers to millions of developers around the world that share interests in what you’re building.
- Recruit new team members by build your reputation through the open source community and reaching out to top contributors.
- Reduce support costs by having a community to find and fix bugs
Trying to figure out which software to use for work or for play? Using open source software might be the right way to go
- A great amount of control and customization even without being a developer
- Cost — there are a ton of free alternatives to software you may be familiar with that are just as functional
- Get faster updates. If it has a community it’ll be getting its bugs fixed and new updates much faster than its corporate peers.
- It won’t be controlled by an entity that can fail or simply move on. The community will maintain the software stability and usability long-term.
- Users often like being a part of the broader community for open source projects which are typically way more engaging and robust than the competition.
Are you a student or career switcher trying to make it as a developer? Contributing to open source projects might be the way to go.
- Awesome learning opportunities for new developers to apply skills to popular projects and learn as they go.
- Build a portfolio of software you are building and contributing to. Your GitHub becomes your resume.
- Community support from those working on the same projects you are interested in and collaborating on.
- Community advice form leaders in the space on what you are building towards in your career.
So that concludes the list. Make sure to follow the blog as we’ll also be adding tons of resources and commentary over the next few weeks on everything from the future of work to growth hacks and automation.
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