Open source is a term used with software and means that the code is available to the public and anyone can use, modify, improve and share it. Source code isn’t commonly seen by us computer users; instead, it’s what developers work with to control how the software functions. The fact that WordPress is an open-source is beneficial to all of us, though, developer or layman.
The concept of open source goes beyond code. It also defines the values shared by developers: a collaborative, transparent approach to projects. For some, open source is about community, sharing and behind the initiatives that you believe in.
For others, it is attractive. Based on licensing (more on that later), developers may charge for the software they have changed and released. Or, they can charge for services and support – the software remains free, but they can make money by helping people install and use it
Open Source Licenses
Open source licenses, sometimes referred to as “copyleft” licenses (get it instead of “copyright”?), Can tell whoever modifies and releases the software and also can release its own version. Both the original source code and the new source code must be open source. You cannot charge a license fee for your version of the software.
The WordPress.org License
WordPress.org operates a GNU public license: GPLv2 or later. There are many things in that license, one is that derivative works must also carry a GPL license. Some people feel that this means they can fulfill their little heart desires with WordPress plugins and themes. They can demand or steal plugins and themes due to freebie licensing. However, this is incorrect.
The “free” part doesn’t mean free cost. The “free” isn’t the monetary definition, it’s about freedom. There are no restrictions on the source code itself, but the additional software doesn’t have to be no-cost.
Let’s illustrate “free.”
Public places are free to the public, you can go into them anytime and also use them regardless of who you are – you don’t have to be an employee to see them. Restaurants may let you walk into their kitchen and they may even give you their recipes.
Open-source software is like a restaurant that lets you inside into the kitchen to chat with the chef and he can give you a recipe card so you can make that meal at your home. But you don’t get those things without at least ordering a soda or anything.
There’s also open-source software that doesn’t require you to pay a thing. That’s their choice, though. There’s nothing that says they have to give you their version of the software free of cost.
What the license does say is that once you have access to the software whether you pay for it or it’s given away for free, you will have access to the source code, and you can make any changes to it as you want.
Some developers will have split licensing for their software. That means they’ve made changes to the software and want to release their own version. Part of the software remains under the GPL license, but the part doesn’t (like the CSS or media, for example). This is legal, but some frown upon it ethically.
If you come across a WordPress plugin or theme that is not based on GPL-license, you can’t ignore the current license because you know the license is invalid. You still have to follow the current license until WordPress enforces the correct licensing.
5 Benefits of Open Source Software for Developers and Users
There are a number of benefits of open source software for both developers and users:
1. Control Over the Software
Having control over the source code and the software means developers can add tweak in code to perform how they want. Even non-programmers can also get benefit from this. However they can use the software they want, and they are limited only by their capabilities, not licensing. For example, you can change your website to a membership site or market; add third-party integration; invite as many users as you want to contribute or manage your site.
Without access to the source code, you could end up stuck with a website that doesn’t look or work as you want. You may not have control on the layout, colors or fonts. If you don’t like an aspect of your website, you can not do much about it – you’ll have to live with it or find another theme and plugins to change looks and functionality.
2. Frequent Updates
The collaborative nature of open-source software means that it’s frequently updated by their community. Developers always use the latest trends and techniques to update the software code, and users benefit from these upgrades. With new updates, the code comes more options and functionality when building a website.
3. Improved Coding Skills
Beginner developers can improve skills by open-source software. The fact that it’s accessible by the public makes it easier to study and play with it. The coding can be shared with other developers who will then criticize and comment on it. This is a good way to uncover mistakes in your code.
There’s a large amount of give-and-take here. Developers of any skill level can take benefit from helping others. Explaining entry-level concepts can be a useful refresher for a beginner developer, and you never know when a new developer is going to hit on something creative.
4. Long-Term Stability
If you use open-source software for a long period of time, you don’t have to worry about that it’ll become unusable if the original authors quit working on it. If other developers are going to stop working on the software and release updates that they are using, there is not much they can do. It’s still better than being stuck with stale proprietary software that nobody can do anything about, though.
5. Better Security
This one’s a bit of a hot topic, but some peoples feel that open source software is more secure than other software. More people viewing the source code means more opportunities to spot errors. And since anyone can work on open-source software, you don’t need to get permission to make the necessary fixes.
A Little More About How Developers Utilize Open Source Software
When developers are able to access source code, they can improve it or fix it by adding useful features and tweaks or fixing bugs. The developer may:
- Work with the original authors of the software in order to further develop and improve it.
- Make the software more useful for their own use
- Make the software more useful to other users who will pay for the upgraded software or support
Depending on how a developer uses open-source software, it can also be beneficial for their career. Open-source software allows developers to showcase their talent. Long-term, which can mean a well-rounded, impressive portfolio; Healthy competition with other developers; And praise from the tech world.
Viewable source code means that experts will know that how software work and the changes that improved or fixed it. People won’t just see what you did, but how you did it and why your way is so good.
It’s kind of like breaking a world record vs. setting a world record. Setting a world record is awesome because you were the first and single person who did it but beating a world record is Doubly awesome because someone already did it, so you need to do it better and you figured it out.
No matter how you’re using open-source software, the open-source nature of WordPress.org is beneficial for both developers and non-developers because of the freedom it allows. Freedom to make changes in the code, freedom to hire a developer to make changes for you and freedom to host it wherever you like. Open-source software doesn’t automatically make you capable of working with it, but it does put all control in your hands, however, you decide to use it.