Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Does this article sway your views?

Today I read this article:
http://www.consultingtimes.com/ossdev.html

What I found was that this person wanted to convince people that Open Source is a better idea than closed source development. I feel that I missed the entire point of his article.  The author begins by talking about accounting firms and their migration to a standard. Then he talks about his early days as a developer and webmaster where he was in a ultra-rigid proprietary development environment. He fast forwards to today where his Open Source projects allow him to write code faster and better. I don't think that he has the proper predicates and anticedents to make this statement.

He describes his model for developing an application using Open Source libraries and tools, but doesn't talk about how he contributes to those tools. So in fact he is just and end-user using the binaries. The author says he has built both private and public projects using these tools, and he even states that you can make proprietary software with Open Source tools. So what point is he trying to make?

I understood this article as describing a process. The author describes how his projects move through the different phases all the while using Open Source tools and environments and that his process is faster and cheaper than proprietary methods. Hey that's great, but what does this have to do with your Open Source tools?

I have Windows XP on my computer, and I can download the .NET framework SDK or the Java SDK. Without a care of what the source code for those things is like, I can develop applications for either platform. I can also look on the web or newsgroups for particular solutions to problems. Even Microsoft and Sun both provide many code examples of how to solve particular problems using their respective environments.

But what is the point of all this? I am blabbing on and so was the author of the article. The point of all this is that collaboration is key, you can't develop software without collaboration in some form or another. Whether you hit up a newsgroup, use Open Source software, or have a team of 100 discussing issues with each other, there needs to be communication and collaboration. I personally feel that collaboration is much easier when the team is in one place, Open Source developers make use of sheer numbers. Which one is right? I don't care, just give me quality software that the user can use.

What do you think about this article? Does the author make valid points to use Open Source over closed? How do you feel about the development process and how it should be traversed?

Gp
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

That whole article is useless, he's comparing apples to oranges by comparing "Open Source Methods" to some hypothetical closed-source company with overbearing process.  Overbearing process can occur in both realms, but isn't a prerequisite of either.

There isn't anything in his entire "Open Source Development Structure" description that couldn't exist in the closed-source world (and in fact, having been lucky enough to work at some really good companies, I've seen such models in closed-source, with the only exception being that the public can't easily view the source; and I'm rather skeptical about how useful that is in the Real World anyway).
 

Mr. Fancypants
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Mr FancyPants,

I couldn't agree with you more.

Gp
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Open source definitely makes sense when you're on a tight budget and your business model will allow the license restrictions.  For example, if you aren't distributing the code, but providing a service, using open source software is great.  If you're making a web application that can benefit from being cross-platform (so you don't lock yourself into one OS) and the code won't be distributed, there are major advantages (virtually everything anyone has ever thought up has been programmed and committed to CPAN, if you're using perl, for example - all you have to do is code the "glue" to tie the pieces together).

I have never made anything open source that was not a web application (or components of one).  I have released a few projects open source, and guess what?  The very few bugs were always pointed out and fixed almost immediately (bugs I didn't know existed, of course, otherwise I wouldn't release it).  I got tons of useful feedback and suggestions, and finally, I have landed two prime jobs because of my open source work.  Jobs!?  Yes, Jobs.

I interviewed at Real Networks and during the second interview, I met with the lead developer.  He recognized my name from a project I had released online, and basically hired me on the spot.

When that 9 month contract was over, I interviewed for a new job (which I started on the 1st of December), and the programmer recognized my name from a CGI Script listing where one of my (very old) scripts has been listed in the #1 spot since like 1997.

saberworks
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I use open source tools everyday to support commercial applications and I agree with the author that there is a lot of baseless negative FUD surrounding open source

BUT...

This article misses the mark.  I really don't know what he's trying to accomplish!

Almost Anonymous
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

For the record, I agree with Anonymous in that I think OSS is a good thing; but I tend to take a more BSD-ish view of it coexisting with closed-source rather than the radical GPL-ish view of everything being Free Software.

There's nothing wrong with OSS and there are many fine OSS projects, but the author hurts the cause more than he helps it, IMO, because his argument isn't really logically comparing one thing to another (nor can such a comparison ever really make sense, since every project and process is different, and has pros and cons; whether the software be OSS or closed).

Mr. Fancypants
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Without meaning to, he actually verifies criticisms against open source as a development and business methodology.

First off, he's an accountant rather than a developer. One of the strong criticisms of open source is that it's a good way for pretenders to seem to be more capable and more important than they really are.

Second, I noticed at least one significant spelling mistake: Developerment. If there's one word you would get right, you would think it would be this one.

Third, note the heavy emphasis on hierarchy, with its discussion of "project managers" and CVS - suitably spelled out. This points to pomposity.

In summary, another guy probably making good money from someone else's work. Pretty clearly doing a lot of poseuring based on the work and expertise of other, naive people.

Bill
Wednesday, December 03, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home