Why Open Source

According to GitHub, 99% of the world’s software has at least some open source code baked into it. Why is open source software so prevalent?

Whether you’re a developer looking to piggyback on tried and true code or an institution breaking away from a proprietary solution, open source is often a part of the answer.

Software is about creating solutions to problems. Open source solutions benefit from many bright people collaborating in ways not often possible with proprietary software. Open source offers the opportunity for and encourages multiple perspectives in creating the solution. Innovative solutions develop when people with different approaches, backgrounds, and skillsets work together. Solid, tested, and sustainable solutions come out of these collaborations.

Why reinvent the wheel? Software engineers like working with good code. They also understand the path of least resistance. When a vetted solution exists for a problem that is open and accessible – whether used in part or whole – utilizing that code is a sensible time saver. While not wanting to reinvent the wheel, developers are very keen to share their knowledge, thereby improving the wheel along the way. Both the developer and the project benefit from the prior work and time savings.

Further, open source aligns with the idea that working together brings about efficiencies and innovations that move projects forward. The open source community benefits from knowledge and progress sharing. The combined efforts and knowledge of the community elevate software projects. Teams can also access a larger talent pool to work with to solve shared problems.

Thanks to the transparency of code and code history, an organization can inspect the commit and contributor history to determine how active the project is for the particular codebase. Unlike proprietary or closed source solutions, open source allows organizations to peer into the platform’s inner workings to determine the sustainability of the software. They can be pretty confident that the code is stable and will continue to be maintained when there is consistent and continuous activity.

Github Samvera Hyrax Contributors graph

Fig.1 - https://github.com/samvera/hyrax/graphs/contributors

Often organizations want to implement an open source solution and manage it in-house. Many factors, including acquisitions, market repositioning, and pricing changes, can impact proprietary software, causing it to head in directions that don’t support an organization’s goals or budgets. Open source offers solutions that eliminate vendor lock-in with proprietary platforms and supports long-term content stewardship.


Code from open source software exists somewhere in most of the applications we interact with on the internet. Open source software leads to well-tested, durable, and sustainable code due to the combined efforts of a broad range of talented people working toward solutions to shared problems. Organizations can jumpstart or enhance their software development projects by engaging with open source software communities. They gain access to the code base and open knowledge sharing and collaboration among community members.

Samvera Stack

Fig.2 - Samvera Stack

DCE has built its hosted repository platform, Tenejo, on open source technologies including Samvera, Fedora, Solr, Blacklight, and IIIF. DCE has been active in the community for over a decade as partners, leaders, code contributors, consultants, and community event and training hosts. If you have questions about these technologies or open source in general, we’d be happy to talk.

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