What Is Open Source Code And Why Is It So Great?
The open source concept
You may have heard about open source. The thing that sticks in most people's minds is the idea of free software. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Most regular users of open source don't use it because it's free - they use it because it's the best at what it does.
I'll be honest and say that I hate Microsoft Windows. Not that shocking I know... But imagine if I could pick out the parts of Windows that annoyed me most, look at the code and fix them. Then imagine if I could share those fixes with every other user of Windows. Now imagine there are thousands of other people doing the same thing. Pretty soon, Windows would be a pleasure to use!
That's what happens with open source code, which is why most web servers in the world run on Linux , the open source operating system, and use Apache, MySQL and PHP - the open source web server, database server and scripting engine. All our sites use this setup (often abbreviated L.A.M.P. for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) because it works efficiently, securely and quickly.
Open source on the internet.
Using open source code isn't always the easiest option, but it's often the best.
When I was first starting to build dynamic sites, I looked for a way to build e-commerce sites. Almost all web design companies use either a 'code base' to build their shops, or 'wizard' based shop building tools. It would be re-inventing the wheel not to.Design companies that don't do this tend to offer sub-standard sites that are hard (and therefore expensive) to update.
Many of these code bases or wizards are commercial projects. I looked into the majority of them in depth and came to the conclusion that open source shops are a far better alternative. This is because the code has been picked over by, in some cases, thousands of experts, which means that it is efficient, secure and does what it's supposed to do very well. Also, the fact that the code is open source means that I can change any function of the site to look and behave how I want it to for each client.
Of these projects, I settled on oscommerce as the cream of the crop. It is highly customizable, is supported by a cast of thousands, and is very efficient. It's also possible to really get inside the code and adjust any or all aspects to suit what's needed.
As well as online shopping, similar projects exist for blogging, forums, document management, image handling, and a whole host of other functions. Similarly, there are often commercial alternatives, but almost always the open source options are just better by nature of how they work.
What We Do...
We assess each individual clients' needs separately. Just because we usually do things a certain way doesn't mean that's the best way for their site. We recently built a site around a commercial shopping cart system, for example, because it fitted very well with what the customer needed.
Also, although many people use open source sites 'out of the box', with just a few minor tweaks, successfully, we use our coding skills to totally customize the site. You wouldn't look at one of our sites and know instantly that we'd used wordpress, for example.
We offer the best of both worlds - open source functionality with custom code and design that fits what you need.