The idea of open source information gathering has been utilized in the scientific community for centuries. It is no secret that sharing information created by communities of experts provides the most productive basis for advancement, regardless of subject matter or field of study. Business engineers developing on the Mendix platform utilize our own MX forum and AppStore to discuss, learn, and share their thoughts for the betterment of their applications. Our Research and Development team use the forum to make the Business Agility Suite better for our users. It is, at its very heart, a cyclical philosophy that mutually benefits those who learn and those who create.
Again, the advocates for open source are vast and ever growing. The following anecdotes aim to portray our wholehearted belief in using open source in the advancement of our technology.
1. Sharing is Caring
The Mendix AppStore is a fantastic example of our own community embracing open source. Most of the content in our AppStore is open source. Our partners have been busy creating interesting software modules that can save other developers time and money. In return, they will have access to other developers applications, widgets, and themes. The AppStore is available to our partners and users now, but will be open to the public soon. Developers also share the ability to make the contents of our AppStore better, as discussed in the following…
2. Concealed knowledge is static knowledge
A century ago, intellectual property laws were all the rage. In many industries, they still serve a valid purpose that may very well foster innovation. For instance, pharmaceutical research must remain concealed in order to protect the value creation that finances it. (Then again, Andrew Witty of GlaxoSmithKline, is placing his bets on open source research to find a vaccine for malaria.) In many cases, however, when knowledge is concealed from the public eye, it remains static and unchallenged, and therefore compromised.
The often overlooked side of what makes an open source philosophy valuable is in the review of content. While creation of content by the masses demonstrates the initial benefit of open source, the ability to have innumerable judges critiquing that very content is equally valuable. Shared content is validated by peers, rather than say, the reputation of its creator. In fact, the MX Forum rates its users based on their contributions. This way, reputation is directly related to the reaction ones contributions receive.
3. Disseminating knowledge is just as important as creating it
It turns out that an open source philosophy contains within itself a similar relationship to that of the chicken and the egg. Which is more important: The supply of new knowledge, or the ability to communicate it? The Internet has given us the ability to communicate and create vast amounts of information simultaneously. Open source philosophy, as it has developed online, has become hugely more impactful as the Internet evolved into its current state. With more access to knowledge comes more knowledge, and with more knowledge comes more innovation. Again, a cyclical growth of intellect is fostered by open source.
My motivation for writing this post came about when our forum, the MX Forum, was featured on OSQA – The Open Source Question and Answer System – well, forum. This site is an interesting demonstration of open source philosophy, as it literally centralizes open source forums within its own open source forum. Since the team at Mendix applauds open source philosophy, we were happy to provide our forum to its visitors. If you’re looking for our source code, you can find it here.