Beware developer lock-in! Why you should choose an open source website solution

Beware developer lock-in! Why you should choose an open source website solution

If you are in the market for a new website, you are likely to come across all kinds of attractive offers from web developers and agencies looking to secure your business.

This can range from huge discounts and free add-on services to web development grants. While some of these businesses may offer good value for money, we caution against signing any agreement before you know what type of framework your website will be developed on.

In particular, we recommend you should always opt for an open source solution where possible.

What does 'open source' actually mean?

Simply that the software is released on a special kind of licence which permits others to access and modify the code. Open source programs and frameworks are, in effect, community resources. Anyone can access the codebase and take apart and build upon it.

The benefits of open source software over proprietary models

When it comes to website development, open source frameworks and content management systems like WordPress, Symphony and Laravel, offer a wealth of benefits over proprietary 'closed source' alternatives. Eyes Down use all three of the above frameworks for our customers' websites.

Avoid vendor lock-in

One of the key benefits of open source software is that it avoids the dreaded 'vendor lock-in.' When a codebase is restricted, only the owners and licensees can work with it. This becomes a problem if you fall out with your developers, find a more cost-effective agency or onboard a talented developer of your own.

With open source software, If you're not happy with anything: the relationship, the speed of service, the level of support, the price – you can just walk away and take the bulk of your website with you.

Minimise license fees

Another benefit is that open source software is often provided for free. This means that the bulk of your budget will be used by developers to work on your website and won't be inflated to cover licence fees.

Adapt and scale

Agility and scalability are another two benefits native to open source software. This will be particularly important to organisations in fast-changing industries where a website may need to quickly incorporate new features to keep up with the competition. With open source software, a sufficiently talented developer can quickly make those changes. With proprietary software, such changes will need to be requested from the licensee and this can take a long time or even be denied.

Attract the right talent

Working with closed source software can even turn potential employees away. Many developers will run a mile at the thought of having to work around proprietary code as they know how slow and frustrating the process can be. Therefore, open source systems can help you to attract talent to grow your business or organisation.

Is it safe?

Finally, it is worth looking at how security is managed with open source software. While having transparent code may seem like a security risk, there are many more people looking out for bugs and exploits and fixing them. This community-based approach is in some ways more secure as proprietary code is often exploited for some time without the vendors' knowledge. They then have to release updates which can take more time.

If you are currently looking for a website partner or expect to be doing so soon, make sure you ask which systems they intend to use to build your site and whether they are open source or not. It could be the most important question you ever ask.

Topic: Content management systems

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