Open Source Software and Oscommerce

Open Source Software and its Relation to osCommerce

E-commerce sites such as osCommerce function through the use and continued success of open source software – in fact, open source software is what makes these sites free. So what exactly is open source software? The purpose of article is to help you better understand what open source software is.

Basically, open source is based on the idea that when people have access to a software’s source code they can change, improve and evolve a piece of software at astonishing speeds – a characteristic that ends up produces really great software that meets the needs of its users.

Open source software is not just free code for website and software. Open source software is “governed” by the Open Source Initiative. According to the website for the Open Source Initiative it must meet several criteria to actually qualify as open source:

First of all open source software must not restrict anyone from selling (or giving away) the software. In other words, it cannot require a royalty or fee. For a product to be open source, it must also provide the source code so that the users can easily evolve the software to fit their needs and any software created with free software must be free as well. Furthermore, open source software distribution cannot discriminate against people or fields.

So, how did this concept begin? Most experts on open source software will agree that the concept of open source software began with the creation of the internet which was created and improved upon by it’s users who continually changed the code to make it work for them.

Then, when computers were first used, programs were often sent as a printed version that had to be entered into the computer line by line. Programmers not only entered the programs onto the computers, they also were able to “play” with the programs and make changes as well as share there ideas with others.

Once computer became more mainstream and people other than programmers began using programs, the need (and desire) for the source code declined. This is when software companies began realizing the economical benefits of keeping their source code for software private. This also began the influx of new and incompatible operating systems which further declined the ability for programmers to share and collaborate with one another. While there are benefits to creating and selling software in this manner, some programmers realized the limits this posed on the usability of the software.

Without keeping the source code open, the users were bound to the limits of the software and were not able to alter it to fit their individual needs. This is what began the development of the GNU Public License operating system for open source software. The premise behind renewing the concept of open source software is that software development would be faster and more efficient in giving people the programs they need and want to use.

Today, open source software is becoming more and more mainstream and is used quite frequently on the internet for websites and browsers.

How does it all relate to osCommerce?

Obvious by its name, osCommerce is based on the concept of open source software. This means that osCommerce is free to use and the community members can feed off of one another to continually develop the code that they use. The store owners don’t simply purchase a software program (such as a shopping cart code) that they need to implement as is. They can design, develop and evolve their store presence to meet their changing needs. The beauty of open source code in a situation such as this is that the members of the community can help one another develop new code on an ongoing basis.