The Benefits of Open Source


If you are a building a website or a forum, chances are you are using a web editor or paying for message board services. The costs of using these "out of the box" products can add up, especially if you are trying to grow your business. Let's look at some good "open source" options for you to consider. You may be surprised at how much money open source can save you.

What is open source? The webopedia describes it as follows: Generically, open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations.

Not all open source programs are worth downloading, but there are a few that merit further attention, including:

1. PHP Originally called Personal Home Page, PHP is the backbone of many message boards. Yes, you can use proprietary software such as vBulletin, but you will pay a licensing fee and fees for updates. For one site, the cost may not be prohibitive, but if you run several sites your costs can easily become a significant part of your budget. Search the internet for a free PHP provider such as PHPBB2.

2. Web Templates Finding decent templates does not have to cost you dearly. There are sites offering some very well made templates that would cost you as much as $100 if purchased separately. Naturally, "everyone" downloads the copies, but you can modify it accordingly to give it your own look. The best ones are CSS derived and web standard compliant.

3. Web Browsers Internet Explorer isn't the only name in town when talking about web browsers. Yes, they are dominant, but so many web savvy folks have tired of Microsoft's dominance and are switching to Netscape, Firefox, Opera, and Safari to name a few.

4. Email Client Thunderbird is the name of another project developed by the people who brought to you Firefox. With Thunderbird you can send and receive email, stop SPAM, and add plugins to design the program the way you want it to look.

5. Office Software MS Office rules as WordPerfect barely hangs on. Still, there are options to these two productivity suites in the form of OpenOffice.org. A big freebie associated with this site is the *pdf maker, saving you lots of money over purchasing Adobe Acrobat. Certainly OpenOffice isn't as snazzy as MS Office, but for the price -- F-R-E-E -- it is worth a look.

Are all open source products great? No, absolutely not. Some proprietary software developed by corporations are far superior and worth it to you if you do not have the time or inclination to make a move to open source. Still, open source provides a wonderful alternative to cash strapped and Microsoft weary web developers. In a day when corporations throw their considerable influence around, it is nice to see developers donating their talents to the worldwide web. Become a part of the growing open source movement today!

Matt Keegan is an article writer and web designer who enjoys using various open source programs. Please visit The Article Writer at www.thearticlewriter.com">http://www.thearticlewriter.com for samples of some of his work.


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