What is open source?
Open source refers to anything that is freely shared and publicly accessible. While this term is not specific to one field, here we will speak more specifically about open source software (OSS). Open source software is the specific code for any given body of work, that is not only accessible to all, it is also free to reconfigure and redistribute.
Unlike commercial software (also known as closed source software or proprietary software) which is encrypted and has licensing to protect it, open source software can be modified, altered, reconstructed, redesigned and redistributed. The driving force behind OSS is the ability to collaborate freely and create without restriction for the global community.
Whether you’re creating a website or building a file transferring system, or converting a website into app, the possibilities are endless. Open source software is everywhere, and many of us use OSS in our daily lives without even realizing it. For instance, the web browser Mozilla Firefox and the graphic tool GIMP are excellent examples of open source software. In fact, there are thousands of open source software products spanning every kind of industry available for anyone to use, or adapt.
Benefits of open source
Collaboration: Open source software is intentionally decentralized in order to promote collaboration. By freely sharing information with other minds, it creates new products and outcomes.
High-quality: In general, open source software is higher quality and well-designed.
Efficiency: Using already made, and readily available source code can save time, energy and money and impact how long it takes to build a website or other online application.
Cost-effective: Similarly, since open source software is freely available, it can save money in comparison to costly commercial software.
Transparency: Since all information is shared, open source software is authentic and unfettered. Users always know exactly what they are getting, without any blocks. Users are protected against lock-in risks and can see exactly what they’re getting.
Scalability: Because open source software is so flexible and adaptable, it can be much easier to scale and use in different operating systems or devices.
Reliability: Due to the collaborative nature of open source software, code is peer-reviewed and supported by the community. This means that bugs can be quickly resolved and solutions can be more dependable than commercial software.
Innovative: With an unlimited flow of information and exchange of ideas, open source software leads to endless possibilities, pushing the boundaries and developing new and improved software across industries.
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Disadvantages of open source
Less user-friendly: Since users and developers are free to alter open source software as they see fit, this can sometimes lead to issues for external users. For example, if a program is created only for advanced users, or users with specific knowledge, this can create challenges for new users.
Can be unreliable and risky: Not all open source software is managed, which means that software may be outdated or buggy.
Hidden costs: While open source software is free, and is sometimes even referred to as “free software”, this can be misleading. There can be hidden costs in terms of deploying and maintaining software. For example, you may need to purchase specific hardware to run a program.
Compatibility issues: Some open source software requires specific hardware, drivers or operational systems which can create compatibility challenges.
Who can use open source?
Anyone can use open source software, and more importantly, anyone can benefit from it. For example, small businesses may use open source software for a range of diverse purposes. Programmers and developers also work with open source software to not only contribute to the community, but also use the software that they develop. Furthermore, students can learn from existing software and deepen their understanding.
All open source software is stored publicly and can be accessed by anyone. It is most commonly found within public repositories such as GitHub.
Whether you need a small business website or want to build your online presence with a personal site, there are many approaches to website creation. One such example is using a website builder, this simplifies the processes and eliminates the need for code. Alternatively, you can customize your site using Velo, a full-stack development platform that allows for flexibility and creativity.
For those interested in accessing Wix’s open source software, there is both a GitHub repository and more open source opportunities where the sky’s the limit.