When Should You Open Source Your Code? – A Quick Guide to Open Source

2 min read

Open source is something we all love, due to it being free and transparent. Developers also love it because they know what the code means and they can help the project become better. This means that everyone gets better software, for free. But, as a company, should you open source your project? What does that mean for the project and for the company? Here is a short guide as to when you should open source your project and what to expect.

Open Source When You are Ready

Not every project needs to be open sourced but if you really want to do it, you as a company or individual need to be prepared for what is to come. If your code is ready, that’s just part of the picture. You need to have a healthy relationship with the community you will hopefully build. As a developer, you still need to work on the project, but the community will help with every aspect of the project, hopefully.

Have a Clear Goal and Roadmap

Working with open source is impossible unless you have a clear goal or a clear roadmap. Both are essential to open source. The roadmap needs to be shared with the community as then they know what to expect and with which aspect of the development process they could help, potentially.

Be Open to Code Changes and Roadmap Advice

Once your project is open sourced and you have shared your plans for the future, be ready for advice, code changes and optimization. Ego can sometimes get in the way of anybody’s progress and when you’re a developer, note that working in a team with other people can lead to wonderful things, just think of what we’ve already achieved technologically.

Advice on development and code changes will hopefully flood your inbox when your community starts responding.

Open Source Does Not Mean Without Profit

Please have this in mind. You can still receive donations as most developers who built something unique still do. Open source projects like MAME or OBS would not exist otherwise. People might not need an emulator for all the video games from the 70s and 80s, but we still love it and the developers behind it, not to mention the free streaming software, OBS.

All of these developers still have work and money, so do not be afraid of open sourcing a good program.

Open sourcing can be scary, as anything you share with the community, but it can also be much more rewarding than scary. Be aware of that, be considerate and update your project frequently. Communicate with your community and work with them. Teamwork is key for open source projects, just like it is for many other parts of our lives.