Open source software has existed for a long time, and has grown drastically in popularity and availability. There has also been a big trend towards making information, services and even hardware open source, to the point where most business have heard of the phrase ‘Open Source’.
What makes something open source?
It used to be, and to a certain extent still does, refer to the licensing on a product, which allows it to be freely distributed, modified and manipulated by anyone. There are plenty of business opportunities through open sourcing software and information, through API’s and downloads, but those aren’t applicable to most businesses.
Now the important bit – how this affects you!
We use Magento as our ecommerce system, which is a free open source piece of software. The problem with a vanilla Magento shop (and most open source software) is that it can’t really do much on its own, and it looks a bit dated. But it is a great starting point, which allows developers to rapidly develop a new ecommerce site, with custom modules, that exactly fits your business work flow.
This is where open source has another trick up its sleeve…community. Most open source projects rely on a community of developers, designers and partners creating and developing the software or data. This allows a project to grow and find new and improved ways of completing tasks. There are strict approval procedures for new pieces of code, where the community as a whole reports bugs, and problems, and validates code.
Giving something back
This past week I took part in Mage:Hack, a Magento 48 hour development event in London. It was a great experience which allowed a large group of people to all come together, and discuss ideas and concepts, all around the Magento platform. After the initial discussion, we all split into teams and started working on our chosen projects. The topics of development ranged from optimizing searching, speeding up development time with automated tools, to fixing bugs and implementing social networks directly into Magento. This event was a face-to-face version of what happens daily around the world with Open Source applications.
We chose to base our business and solutions around open source software, and when it comes to ecommerce, Magento is the open source choice!