Open source software development platforms and their related software products have been around since the 1970s, but there are still a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings concerning them. From private users of various software solutions to company managers and project managers, many people cannot give a complete and accurate definition of what open source really means.
This article will shed light on the most common myths concerning open source development platforms. These myths are harmful because they prevent many decision makers in various industries from benefiting from the advantages of open source code and development platforms. Instead, they opt for needlessly expensive investments in proprietary platforms. Or, on the contrary, they believe that open source means free-to-use and end up involved in copyright infringement lawsuits.
Here are some of the most common myths:
1. Open Source Is Always Free
Some small business owners and managers favor software created with open source code because they believe it to be free for use in any manner. This is not true. Open source development platforms are, indeed, free to use to build software. But each developer creates their own unique code on top of the open source core. Imagine that the basic blueprint for a house is the open source code. But when an architect starts adding doors, windows, colors and building materials, the outline becomes a unique house design. This is the end software created by the developer. In this case, customers may have to pay for a license for the software.
2. Open Source Is Not Secure
At the other end of the spectrum, many large corporation managers distrust open source development platforms because they believe them to be more vulnerable to hacking than proprietary platforms. This is simply another myth. Open source platforms are created, updated and maintained by professional developers, just like commercial platforms.
The truth is that both open source and commercial platforms are subject to vulnerabilities. In fact, according to Black Duck’s 2017 Open Source Security and Risk Analysis, 96% of 1000 commercial applications scanned utilize open source. Thus the answer is not to choose the commercial application with the least open source code, but to monitor sources such as NVD for new vulnerabilities and take appropriate actions to protect your application.
3. Open Source Is Not Licensed
This myth is based on an ingrained confusion between copyright and license. A license represents a covenant between the creator of a software suite and the person who wants to use it. This covenant may specify a price for using the software, or it can offer the software for free.
4. Open Source Means Poor Quality
Another misconception is that open source platforms are a sort of toy in the hands of students and newbies who experiment with code. Therefore, anything created using open source platforms is of poor quality.
This could not be farther from the truth. Professional, experienced developers work with open source platforms. They prefer them because they can join a thriving, helpful community, exchange ideas, find solutions to coding problems and create better software. For example, one of the most popular website building platforms, WordPress, is open source.
5. Open Source Is Not Sophisticated Enough for Complex Applications and Software
Another myth running rampant among large corporations is that complex and sophisticated software solutions and applications cannot be developed using open source platforms. The general opinion is that open source is basic and rudimentary, adequate only for basic applications.
This is simply not true. Code created with open source platforms can be indefinitely complex and can pack as many software functionalities as are needed by the client.
Thus, open source does not always equal free. It does not mean low quality, either. It is simply a different software development philosophy, one that encourages developers to work together and share their results, instead of keeping them secret and locked up in patents.