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Open Source: what does it mean?
  • The 'Source' part of Open Source refers to the blueprint of a software program.
  • 'Open' source should be understood as 'disclosed source', in the sense that the blueprint of a software program is exposed and available for modification.

The concept explained
Open Source is often referred to as 'free' software, because it comes with freedom: the freedom to customise and improve the program, or to redistribute it. Unlike some people assume, this certainly does not mean that there is no fee charged. The Open Source concept is about shifting the commercial value from the actual applications to system integration and support. Thus, when our client wishes to apply our services to Open Source software, it will indeed be charged for - just like any other service we provide.

Open Source development
To understand best how open source technology is developed, we can compare it to traditional closed source software produced by companies such as Microsoft.

Closed source software is hidden to prevent the user either viewing or changing the code. Such software is typically developed in isolation with a predefined team of developers. Its source code is deemed proprietary and often secret, preventing other developers from contributing their views and comments.

Open source software is based around the idea that the user can not only view, but change the source code of an application. After an initial release, open source software is exposed to the development community and undergoes a phase of evolution. It is subjected to thousands of professional developers across the globe who may highlight potential flaws, bugs and security glitches.

Suggestions and improvements are fed back to the developer who considers them for inclusion in his application. Thus often cutting development time drastically. However, Open source isn't just about having your applications developed using a low-cost method. By releasing new applications to the community, we are engaged in a process of mutual enrichment for developers around the world. New generations of developers create their own applications, which are fed back into the community and rapidly advance the growth of the whole system.

Open source technology has fuelled the growth of the Internet over the last six years with key applications such as Sendmail, Linux, Apache and WebStore, languages like Java and Perl, and mark-up languages such as HTML, WML and XML.

Open Source has matured
Because of the increasing availability of Open Source projects of excellent quality, Fullcontact has embraced a range of established Open Source projects. Integrating these projects in our solutions significantly increases our productivity, since it enables us to focus on component integration rather than on time-consuming development of new software. At the same time we are actively involved in the process of adding value to our products, based on a market-driven consensus.

A few examples of the Open Source projects we support:

"When people ask me whether Open Source is credible, I ask, 'Do you believe in the Internet?'" - Tim O'Reilly



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