Open source software

why? - use it - make it

Scott Chamberlain

Closed source software is great!

Yeah, but open source is better for a lot of reasons

It's free!

Bugs can get fixed quickly

User community helps each other (see Stackoverflow)

i.e., you can get help much faster than with closed-source software

Additional functionality added as fast as you can write the code

Open source is forkable

Companies are supporting open source

AT&T hearts open source

@tenderlove contributor to Ruby and Ruby on Rails

Supporting open source ≠ less profit

Academics making open source ≠ less power

Be a good open source citizen

  • Learn a programming language
  • Contribute code
  • Can't code? Contribute documentation
  • Report bugs
  • Stackoverflow/etc. - Do your homework before asking questions

Making open source software

  • Version control
  • Collaboration
  • Documentation
  • Development framework
  • Testing
  • Give it a proper home


Building community in open source

  • Soooooo important (unlike companies, OS needs people, redundancy when some lose interest, etc.)
  • Be nice! (super important)
  • Make it easy to contribute (good docs, respond to pull requests, etc.)
  • Google groups/or similar
  • Get a Stackoverflow tag

Getting credit for software development

  • There currently are very few incentives for software dev
  • Papers give credit, but not best way to talk about software
  • Shouldn't we get credit for the software itself - not papers about the software?
  • NSF starting to recognize other products in academia, including data, physical collections, curriculum material and SOFTWARE!!! See here


  • Use permissive licenses
  • No one best license - do your research
  • GitHub has help for you on this at
  • OS licenses on the Open Source Initiative site here