More and more, Open Source Software (OSS) is powering the world. Open Source libraries and operating systems run devices that you interact with every day.
Thanks to its broad adoption, OSS surrounds all of humanity, physically and virtually. Its uses range from infotainment systems on jumbo-jets to devices like TiVo, DVRs, and smartphones. OSS is so prolific in daily life that it’s hard to imagine what the world would be like without it. Could you?
The core premise of OSS is free software. That freedom creates jobs and multi-billion dollar industries, allowing millions of families to make a living.
It’s been 20 years since the term Open Source emerged. The fundamental difference between OSS and proprietary software is the availability of the source code, but at what price?
Let’s not confuse free as in user freedom with zero price. Software engineers globally volunteer their valuable time and experience to make their software available to the world. This comes at a price as volunteers often struggle to maintain a balance between making a living and investing in their OSS projects.
Not all OSS projects are governed by volunteers, exclusively. Some projects come from tech giants such as Google and Facebook. OSS consumers often consider using such projects a safe investment and hope that the ability to fund development will guarantee the longevity of support.
It’s fantastic that big corporations continue to invest significant resources in their OSS projects and communities. However, does that come at the expense of independence? Do the roadmaps of these corporate-source projects suffer from favoring the needs of the individual corporate identity?
In addition to being developers, most OSS authors are also mini CEOs. They worry about patronage, community building, support, and more. Authors and maintainers can and should be compensated for their work. Their salaries should commensurate with what they would be earning elsewhere.
Sustainable Projects are Independent
Maintainers’ independence is incredibly essential for the open source community. Not only financial freedom but also the ability to make sound choices that benefit all consumers.
OSS adopters, especially Enterprise users, depend on sustainable projects. Sustainability is measured not only by the ability to fund engineering, but also the independence in decision making.
Companies generating revenue off of the OSS should be giving back. Participating in revenue generation is fair and helps all sides grow.
One possible solution to this problem is creating transparent foundations for OSS governance. Ideally, foundations should have the ability to collect funds from various sources to support ongoing development and maintenance.
Funding an independent group of developers creates an effect of growing a collective intelligence of the community they belong to. That effect requires the kind of independence that’s not strained by corporate interest.
Foundations should also be helping with business aspects of running an OSS project. Enterprises want to be confident about the leadership and the ability to scale. How can projects establish the right leadership structure, so they don’t depend on an individual? How can the roadmaps be aligned with the needs of the community?
Bet on the Open Source
Successful IT leaders understand that Open Source Software allows them to deliver unique digital experiences for their customers and prospects. Giving back to the ecosystem is the right thing to do if they want to continue harnessing the revenue-generating potential of digital businesses.
With enterprises embracing multisourcing, their teams start assembling business capabilities faster and less expensive. This shift results in more modular infrastructure that helps software development teams act independently.
Open Collective is one such neutral foundation that helps bring crowd-funding to the OSS. Open Collective enables companies like Modus Create to double down on their investment in the Open Source. Financially we’ve been supporting some of the projects we consider to be the pillars of the modern application stacks such as Webpack, React Router, and recently Vue.js. We are proud to be the largest Vue.js supporter to date, and we will keep on raising the bar.
As a company that was founded by community members, Modus recognizes that giving back is the win-win solution for mutual growth. Our donations mentioned above are just one way we contribute. We also help by writing code, creating documentation, and we even help with business decisions that help projects stay on the right path. In addition to the three projects mentioned above, our team members actively contribute to Ionic, React, React Native, NativeScript, and others.
Recently we developed @ionic/vue – Ionic’s official bindings for Vue.js. Vue developers are now able to create rich PWA and hybrid mobile applications with a single codebase. The team behind that effort continues to improve documentation and examples to help the community comfortably get up to speed.
The Future of Open Source
Open Source is not a one-way street. There are many ways you can be a part of it, but there’s just one constant – share. Share your experiences, insights, time, skills. Does your salary depend on the work performed on open source? Does your company benefit from the open source? Open Collective is a phenomenal community for funding your favorite OSS projects. Give your marketing department a nod. Return on investment is guaranteed one way or another.
Modus is determined to give part of the profits back to the Open Source. It’s the right thing to do. We would love to see more companies and individuals recognize the value in it.
Give back. Plant a tree. It’s a win-win scenario.