Open versus Closed Source Decision

Why open source your software?

  1. You are not a closed, secretive shop, that doesn’t need anyone. On the contrary, you don’t have enough resources, you need more committed, passionate, and highly skilled people to build your application. All of which open source communities attract if you haven’t already figured that out.

  2. You aren’t an ego maniac, all seeing architect, who knows what’s best for everyone. You prefer to be thought of as an editor who brings together something that collectively is far better than the sum of it’s parts.

  3. You want to embrace a community of evangelists who exponentially spread the word and support the product. They tell two people, who tell two people, and so on. You’re not worried about losing control of where your product could end up.

  4. You don’t have a scarcity mentality. A nice way of saying you aren’t paranoid and greedy. You believe there is more than enough to go around and not everyone is out to screw you.

  5. You aren’t milking the product. You are going to continue to innovate and add value to it, that in turn makes you, as a Company, with open source code, valuable to your clients. You do, and will need, each other.

  6. You need to convince your Users that they don’t have to worry about you going bankrupt. By open sourcing you are giving your worried Users an escrow agreement for the source code, without all of the costs and expenses of an escrow agreement.

  7. Your application is architected so that you can open source it without causing security issues for yourself, and your Users.

  8. You are of one mind, committed to open source, and are not flipping and flopping between this is open source, but this is closed, and so on. It becomes too confusing for an open source community to fully embrace what you are doing when some things are available and others aren’t.

  9. You have the ability and resources to commit to promoting, managing, and supporting your open source community. You won’t waste the opportunity by not being able to follow through with it.

How do I rate where we fall in terms of the above list and our open source project? 1 through 5, I give us an A+, 6 and 7 a B, and 8 and 9 an F. We have a lot of work left to do on 7, 8 and 9.