Perspective Number 3: You won't ever be separated from your code again

Sep 17 2007

So you're a software developer.
You spent your last 3 months working on great code, going to painful extremities to take advantage of every way you could find to make your code efficient. You created libraries just so that the functions you wrote could be used again easily when needed. You spent countless hours trying to create an architecture that would fit well for other purposes than initially planned. And today, you're leaving your company to launch a new business venture you feel could change the way people look at software. In theory, at least.

Uh - oh.

Indeed, for you project to work you need to use part of that code you spent days to polish. Part of that closed-source code that your previous company has copyright upon and won't let you use now. Maybe you shouldn't have left, no matter nobody let you try and experiment on your project back there. In a quick survey he ran a few years ago against Apache developers, XWiki's CTO Vincent Massol asked people whether they were working on an Open-Source project for the sake of humanity. One of the answers he got:

"Not really. Mainly it is selfish thing as I was sick of rewritting the same code over and over as I moved from company to company. Apache gives me a chance to have some stability between jobs and reduce the amount of duplication in code."

Open-Source does not make sense because of grand principles, it makes sense because of its practical benefits. 

To sum it up, Open-source means freedom.
It means that the effort you make today will remain available for others to enjoy tomorrow. It means that nobody will suffer from the lack of vital information retained for some obscure reason hidden under the seal of closed-source copyright. And that's not the only way to look at the problem. When you write your code for your company, it keeps the copyright and the code, meaning that nobody will ever know that you wrote that great program. Recognition goes to an entity rather than to individual contributors. In Open-Source development, you always get credit for what you achieved as an individual.

Outstanding work deserves great recognition.

The world is waiting for talent to emerge, the Open-Source philosophy lets it stand out.