What is Open Source?
Open source software is any computer software, generally developed as a public collaboration, whose source code is made freely available. At Design Action Collective, we use two open source content management systems to power the websites we build: WordPress and Joomla.
The beauty of an open source CMS is easy access to the source code, low cost/free, stability, community support and the option to extend the functionality via a series of add-ons. Examples of add-ons include blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, tags, event calendars, petitions, donation processing, sign-up forms, social media feeds, etc. These can simply be bolted on when needed.
Benefits of Open Source Software
- Public Collaboration: One of the major benefits of open source software is the public collaboration behind the software. Most open source projects are created by tens of thousands of programmers all collaborating to create, and improve upon, a flawless website framework. Many software development companies use a proprietary, or home built, systems as the framework for the websites they create. Open source software, such as WordPress and Joomla, were developed by thousands of talented developers. What would you rather own, a software package created by a handful of developers, or a software package created by thousands of developers?
- Reliability: Open source software promotes software reliability and quality by supporting independent peer review and rapid evolution of source code. A proprietary solution can not compare to that of open source.
- Not bound to a single development company: With thousands of developers already 100% knowledgeable with your website content management system, any open source friendly company can work on your website. Don’t be bound to a single development company because you are stuck using their proprietary software.
- Auditability: Closed-source software forces its users to trust the vendor when claims are made for qualities such as security, freedom from vulnerabilities, adherence to standards and flexibility in the face of future changes. If the source code is not publicly available those claims remain simply claims. By publishing the source code, authors make it possible for users of the software to have confidence that there is a basis for those claims.
- Low cost: the source code can be obtained for free and the support provided with this system is often cheaper than a commercial CMS.
- Flexible and easy to customize: the easy availability of the code means that the system can be adapted to fit any website requirement.
- Open platform: an open source system is designed using any open programming language such as Java, Python, PHP etc. These popular software platforms have a wealth of support and information accompanying them which is accessible to the developer and content editor alike.
- Ability to share resources: an open source CMS enables the ability to share resources between companies and large organizations such as public sector bodies. The benefits of doing so are distributed between these companies which save time, reduce costs and boosts productivity.
- Integration: the ability to extend and personalize an open source CMS means that it can be integrated with other open source software.
- Error resolution: these systems by their very nature are open to the opinions of their support community. So if a problem arises a member of the community will offer a solution to the problem. Open access to the source code means that very often, the problem can be resolved by the developer.