To open or not to open code - that is the question


No matter what a company does, at some point they will all face the decision of whether to open their code or not.  Many may argue that it is easier and less stressful to keep your code closed, which is relatively true, but the benefits, great challenges, and innovation pressure open code gives to a company are endless.  In a recent article for InfoWorld entitled ‘The secrets to LinkedIn's open source success’ Matt Asay explained the secrets behind LinkedIn’s open source success.

“Take a look at LinkedIn's GitHub page, and you'll discover the death of dozens of real or potential startups. Yes, LinkedIn, the company ostensibly set up to "connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful," is also a company that has released more than 75 open source projects, some of which have grown up to become huge successes with developers and the enterprises for which they work,” writes Asay.

Many tech giants have for years and years been into the spotlight for their open source, but LinkedIn has rarely been mentioned about its open source success and how it is helping various open source communities tremendously and continuously. "Numbers can often be vanity metrics. We consider community adoption to be our key indicator of success,” Igor Perisic, LinkedIn's VP of Engineering said for InfoWorld.

Opening code is just the beginning of a long journey that takes a lot of time and energy, but always pays off. “One lesson we learned early is that you can't just put software out into the community and not continue to innovate. We've also learned that many of the things that determine whether an open source project will be successful are related to how you engage with the community,” according to Perisic.

What many companies do not realize, is how their decision to open code is going to affect their own developers. Having their work presented in a way that can be reached by a large community and being on the frontline for criticism makes them become better at what they do, and present themselves in the best way possible by writing easily readable code that can be reused by others as their career also depends on it.

This way the company will not only help the open source community, but will continue to be more innovative, always seeking for the best version of itself and benefit from the constructive criticism they may receive from time to time, which is always helpful if used right.

“Working on an open source project exposes [our developers] to the developer community outside of the company where they work. It will help them become more aware of new trends, and help them learn how to assess the value of other developers' input,” Perisic told InfoWorld.


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