Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Can Open Source become too popular?

In his Log Book entry Lucas Vickers discusses his experience with Open Source support and contrasts it with his experience with Microsoft support. He also poses an interesting question at the end, thqat as more folks use Open Source the expertise level will go down and more Open Source developers will be bombarded with newbie questions. Do you think this will happen? If so, how can Open Source developers handle the support demand?

As an added bonus in his Log Book, Lucas gives us a pointer to another rule base language, Drools. In a later blog entry I will give you my impressions of the Drools tool. Later!

Lucas Vicker's Log Book Entry:

Open source is the topic of this week’s discussion, and it is something that I am fairly interested in. I have worked with open source products, and I have also worked with Microsoft products. I know using Microsoft as the model for what comes out of corporate development is a little unfair; however I am going to do so because I have the most extensive experience with them. To be honest I have found Microsoft products that work really well, and I have found open source products that work really well. I once developed a program for the pocketPC platform using Microsoft tools, and oh my that was one of the buggiest platforms I have ever worked with (this was back in 2002). I have also recently tried to integrate Drools, an open source and java based rules engine. After a few weeks of heavy coding with Drools I found that there was a major flaw in the implementation which halted my work. What I am trying to say is that each product has its flaws. The difference is as soon as I had a problem with drools, I sent off an email to the developer, met him on IRC on #drools, and we resolved the problem with in a few days. Any problem I had with Microsoft all I could do was search MSDN and pray that they have an answer to my question. I think that one major factor to consider is the group of developers behind a project. Open Source developers really love what they do, work in their spare time because it’s a passion, and are very easy to contact. Microsoft developers, however, hide behind the veil that is Microsoft and it is near impossible to get an explanation for why a function works a certain way. I think knowing that OS developers are developing because they want to and love to, and are accessible, gives open source software an edge. I wonder if this edge would disappear once the average user began attempting to use OS software and the developers became flooded with repetitive and useless questions.

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