01 / 03 / 2022

Why we choose open source


Andrew Chubb




Open-source software is generally defined as software where the source code has been made freely available and may be distributed and modified. There are various licenses and slightly different models where some of the rights alter slightly, but typically an open-source project would be one where you can see the entire codebase of the software, copy it, and even modify it to suit your requirements. The ideal is that these modifications can be further shared and as a result, everyone can benefit from these improvements. Open-source software is typically (although not always) a community effort, where you have multiple developers contributing code to one central repository.

Based on this we can see some clear advantages of the open-source model. Many open-source projects are geared towards different niches. However, because it is accessible to the general public, it makes it much easier to obtain and incorporate into digital solutions.

Some popular examples of open-source software include Linux, Mozilla Firefox, Blender, Android, and a whole lot more. These are solutions that have evolved to meet the needs of their users over time as a result of the contributions of many open source developers.

At Absolute, we are big proponents of open-source as we have seen the advantages it has brought to our clients. There are so many open-source projects out there that can help you to achieve your performance, marketing, and integration goals, but navigating your way around the open-source world can be tricky. As many open source projects don’t operate on the same marketing level as many closed source or proprietary solutions, discoverability is harder, this is only because the efforts are typically focused more on the actual project and less on the marketing and promotion of the project. So it can be difficult for the prospective user to gauge whether the solution is right for them. You won’t always see slick landing pages with clear feature lists and video explainers for the software. But that doesn’t mean that the software isn’t the missing piece of the puzzle you’ve been looking for.

We’ve found that open-source solutions are the key to creating our unique, tailored digital experiences. So much so that we try and employ them wherever we can in the process right through the development stack. Being able to dive in and start integrating solutions into a project is incredibly empowering and liberating. By keeping as many of our tools open-source we can do this on any project.

We’ve also found that this helps to improve our learning and understanding. As open-source communities grow we can tap into the conversation and collaborative documentation of the project to gain a deeper understanding of how it works and what it can do for us. We can see real-world examples of the code in action and can learn directly from it. All of this means that we can make these first steps quicker and as a result were are not passing on these learning costs to the client.

The growth of open-source software is very organic. As solutions become more widely used and the community behind the solution grows, so does the quality of the software. It becomes more trusted. This is an important marker when evaluating solutions against the needs of a client. We can see how the solution is currently being used, and where it is currently implemented, again as a result of the increased transparency of open-source software. It can be more difficult to evaluate closed source or proprietary solutions without making the initial commitment to purchase or subscribe.

Perhaps the greatest feature of open-source is customisation. There are no limits to what you can do with open-source software. If there is a solution out there that doesn’t quite work for you, you are free to fork it and customise it to suit your own needs. We see this pattern emerging a lot in the open-source software world. For example, there are many versions of the Linux operating system, as they have been customised to best suit their task. But they all share a common backbone.

Here at Absolute, we like to build without limits so will often look to open-source projects with a view to them being customised to suit the particular client's requirements. A key part of successful integration and a polished end product is being able to tweak, alter and customise the underlying code in order to achieve your vision without having to compromise. Something that isn’t always possible with many closed-source solutions, which could impose their own limitations and restrictions which you will have no option but to work within.

If you would like to know more about how your marketing operations can benefit from the exciting developments taking place in open-source software. Whether it's giving your brand the edge in the digital marketplace, showcasing your products and services, or making deep integrations into your marketing workflow then get in touch today and we can help you get started.

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