OSAF and software development

Don Park has some interesting thoughts on the OSAF…

Don Park has some interesting thoughts on the OSAF, free/open-source software, and the surrounding issues. One thing I didn’t see mentioned (need to dig up a link) is that, if I remember this correctly, most software developers do not develop software for the commercial software industry. Most software developers work on projects that are in-house and specific to their employer, which in most cases is not a software company. You could consider me a ‘software developer’ or ‘programmer’ but none of my apps are going to be sold alongside Photoshop or Word. I’d guess that over 50% of the stuff I write is for one-off use. The other 50% might be to fullfill some task that is specific to the company I work for. In fact, I think this is part of the reason open-source/free software flourishes. When you spend all day doing something you like (programming) but not really having anything neato-cool to show for it, it can drive you towards writing apps that you want, in the way you want to write them. Do I want to write an app that loads customer data into a SQL databases? Not really… Do I want to write an RSS aggregator that outputs pages that I can load onto my Palm III? You bet! I think the coverage commercial and open-source software get on the web, in weblogs, or anywhere really, shadows much of the software development that goes on in the world. I’ll write about Apache, or Mozilla, or even about holes in Internet Explorer, but I never really mention Email Lookup, which is an extremely useful app I wrote for the company. And in the case of Email Lookup there’s not much to say. I wrote it in about 20 minutes, it has no known bugs, there are no pending feature requests, it’s not for sale. It’s not outstanding in any way, except that it works properly, which oddly enough, might be the most outstanding feature, especially when compared to much of the software available today.