A great example of this is WordPress – the most popular Content Management System on the Internet (and which we use to build almost all of our websites with at Wider). Even within the code of WordPress there are other open source projects included, such as TinyMCE text editor. Thousands of people around the world contribute improvements to this code and projects around it, such as translations.

What! You give this away for free?

The Open Source principle is often something that is hard to understand for more commercially orientated individuals. The idea of pouring resource and expertise into something that is effectively given away for ‘free’ does not align well with the commercial world of profit margins! To be clear – Open Source code doesn’t necessarily have to be free of charge, but is often the model adopted by those that develop it. Creators support their efforts financially in lots of ways; by either selling support or bespoke custom development around their project.

However, if we take the example of web code (be it PHP, Javascript or CSS), there are many positive benefits for releasing your code as an Open Source project, compared to a ‘closed source’ private project:

  • It encourages other people to contribute to the project for the benefit of everyone that uses it, including the original developers.
  • By exposing your code to the outside world, bugs are often spotted and fixed quicker.
  • There are clear security benefits, with more interrogation from more users, security issues are usually spotted and fixed quicker.
  • It makes you produce better quality code – if everyone can see it, you become a more diligent developer!
  • It helps other people learn from your techniques and develop their own skills.

How do Wider contribute to WordPress?

Here at Wider in our Solihull design studio, we fully embrace the Open Source philosophy. It allows us to use our extensive in-house expertise to help others build faster, smarter websites. Indeed, a handful of the tools we use in-house for web development we release for anyone to use – for free. Some of these include:

  • Wonderflux – a powerful theme framework for WordPress
  • Flux Layout – the most flexible and lightweight responsive design CSS system available
  • WP-CMS Post Control – a powerful plugin for WordPress that simplifies editing screens

In addition to this, we also submit patches to the WordPress core code (some of our code is in it right now – meaning our code is running on literally millions of websites around the world!) We also have a couple of exciting projects in development that we are launching in 2017, so keep an eye out for announcements on those!

Why is it important to contribute to Open Source?

We truly believe that if you have the expertise to contribute to Open Source projects that you use, you should definitely contribute in any way you can. As mentioned, this could be in lots of forms – testing, translations, improvements – even documentation. All Open Source projects rely heavily on users being involved for the benefit of all users.

Take a closer look at the tools you use – did you even realise that some of them are Open Source? If so, it’s time to give a-little back, especially if you rely on these tools for your business. For instance, have you spotted a bug in something you use, or have an idea for a new feature? Find your community and contribute – you might be surprised about how rewarding it can be!

Are you considering a new WordPress website?

Are you an organisation looking for a new website? Come and speak to the experts – we are highly experienced web developers that create amazing things with WordPress and other Open Source tools.