Open source design is the development of physical products, machines, and systems using publicly and freely shared information. It deals with the creation of open source software and hardware. For the purposes of this post, we will focus on open source software.
This is the kind of software that is available for anyone to modify and add features to. The code of such software is available and accessible to everyone, free of charge.
Projects and initiatives that embrace the open source method of working are usually characterized by collaborative participation, quicker design processes, lack of bureaucracy, and openness.
What makes open source software unique?
Open source software encourages collaboration as it allows users to modify, copy, enhance, learn from, and alter its source code in whatever way they choose. Even though users of this software still have to sign license agreements the first time they sign up to use it, the agreements allow for collaboration and alterations to the source code.
On the flip side, closed source or proprietary software (like Microsoft Word & Adobe) do not allow for such collaborations or alterations, and like first-time users of open source software, first-time users of closed/proprietary software also have to sign license agreements that are structured to support their proprietary nature.
Additionally, the license agreements for some open source software stipulate that anyone who modifies the code does not charge someone else a fee for using the modified code.
It really is about making sure that coupled with ease of access, people have the freedom to alter or use the code in ways that are relevant for them.
Does open source not only mean that something is free of charge?
No, it does not.
Open source does not only mean that a design, machine or system is free of charge. Programmers can charge fees for the software they create, modify or contribute to.
However, since a lot of license agreements for open source software require that they be freely available to the public, programmers charge instead for software services and support, which is usually more lucrative. This way their software remains free and they still make money.
Advantages and benefits of open source software
Open source software gives people more control.
Programmers can check the source code to make sure it is doing what they need it to do. If that it is not happening, they can make the necessary modifications and alter it to fit their needs. Non-programmers also benefit because they can use the software however they want, not just the way someone else thinks they should.
WordPress is an example of how to use open source properly. By opening up the project to anyone’s contribution, it has become a thriving community of bloggers, programmers, business owners, and designers who are constantly being empowered to create and modify features of the software to meet their needs.
Everyone benefits, programmer or not.
A lot of the internet already runs on open source software; when users check their emails, stream music, play games, browse and view web pages, their mobile devices and computers are connected to a global network of other computers that transmit information online to their devices. Another name for this kind of transmission is cloud computing, which can be done via closed or open source software.
Without open source software, this kind of computing may not be possible and users may have limited access and variety when it comes to getting information online.
Why is Frontity interested in open source software?
A major component of our mission at Frontity is to make the WordPress experience as easy and hassle-free as possible. Since a lot of our users happen to be software and computer programmers, it is important that we co-create with them. Hence, the adoption of open source software in the near future.
It is important that users feel empowered to make the right decisions for their blogs & WordPress experiences.
Having an open source approach encourages that and creates a community of collaboration.
We want to create an atmosphere that encourages our audience to be a part of our journey and our continuous improvement. Using open source software is definitely a positive step in this direction.