Before I kick off this post, let’s take a look at what the term “open source” means.
Open source means that the code used to generate a piece of software is available to everyone, free of charge, for modification and contribution. It’s not just smaller software that is open source either. Some huge programmes are open source which you might not have realised; Linux, Mozilla Thunderbird, OpenOffice, VLC Player, and even WordPress to name but a few.
There are many benefits to making code available to everyone. Below we’ve listed just a few:
More eyes on the prize – Instead of just a handful of developers working in a closed room on a single product, the whole world can contribute. Millions of developers all contributing to a single piece of software provides a much better, more feature rich and secure product.
This isn’t just applicable to code either. Even if you’re not a software developer there is normally always the option to contribute towards writing documentation, helping other users on support forums, or even just testing new features before they are made available to the public.
Quality – With more people being able to contribute and test, the quality of the code and features goes up. Feedback and testing of new features can be done by many users before something goes live meaning it’s tested more rigorously and has met the approval of lots of people.
Security – A couple of people on their own can’t fully test a product in terms of how secure it is. If someone in a small team is a security pro, there’s always going to someone in the world more advanced than them. By giving the code to the world you let more people have the opportunity to hack something and report it, or put in place an appropriate fix themselves.
More support – Open source software generally tends to have better support. Because people are able to see the code they can either work out the issue themselves, or ask someone else that knows the code.
Speed – More developers equals more features in a shorter amount of time. These get tested quicker and therefore get released sooner.
Cost – As mentioned above, open source software is free. Need we say more?
Make it your own – Don’t like how the software works in one area? Or want to add something on that makes it suitable to your needs? You can do that too. Simply take a copy of the code and customise it to meet your requirements. With non-open source software there is not a hope in hell of having this choice. Don’t like how something works? Tough. You’re stuck with it I’m afraid.
Yup. Every single bit of code that is in the main Property Hive plugin is available for everyone to see, including you. We host our code on GitHub (https://github.com/propertyhive/WP-Property-Hive) where people can view the code, contribute to it, and report bugs.
We believe that a world of coders is better than a handful of coders. We’re all in this game together to make the web a better place, and to make better software for us all to use.
If you fancy fixing a bug, adding a new feature, or simply helping resolve some issues other users are reporting, why not head over to our GitHub page above and take a look.