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How to Understand Open Source and Make It Work for You

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How to Understand Open Source

 

When you are planning a new website development it is rare to start from a blank screen. Most websites use an application that forms the underlying infrastructure and this is then built upon, expanded and modified to get the end product. The vast majority of these applications are open source. You can easily download them for free from Mojo Marketplace.

 

It’s difficult to draw a comparison between open source applications and things in the offline world. Imagination is necessary. So, imagine you are moving into a new house. An open source house would have all of the essential elements in place like the foundations, walls, roof and windows. But it would not have a kitchen, bathroom, floors, decorations etc. Once you get the house you would add all of those things in the precise style that you want.

 

And the most important part of open source is that the house…is free.

 

Open source means the code behind the application is free for anyone to use and modify. They are applications built by those who are using it. For those people without programming knowledge or experience open source means free applications that not only save you money but also development time.

 

Build Websites and Blogs

 

There are lots of things that you can do with open source applications. But one of the most common is to build websites and blogs. Often they are content management systems - which means they can cater for big websites and small. Some of the applications are more complicated than others but they are all easier than learning to code your website from the beginning.

 

Some examples of website and blog building open source applications are:

 

 

Ecommerce

 

If you are creating a new online shop you have an alternative to building it using a CMS like Wordpress and Joomla. That alternative is to use an open source ecommerce application.

 

They are designed with online shopping in mind rather than as an add-on which makes them more powerful. And as with blog and website builders there are several to choose from including:

 

 

Other Open Source Application Options

 

There are several other options in addition to website builders and ecommerce solutions. It is possible to add some of this functionality to a shop built with Magento or a website built with Wordpress but many people prefer the direct focus that solution specific open source applications offer.

 

  • Education - Developing and improving online learning environments is becoming increasingly popular. If your project involves online courses or education related functionality an open source application like Moodle can help.
  • Forums – Forums have remained popular despite the huge growth of social media over recent years. Many are now powerful archives that provide help and assistance to internet users every day. Open source applications that will give you a forum include Vanilla Forums, MyBB, phpBB and PunBB.
  • Support and Help – Support and chat applications are used in a variety of situations. The most obvious is in the IT industry but there are other uses, particularly when it comes to applications that give you live chat functionality. Examples in this category include osTicket, phpFreeChat and X7Chat.
  • Wikis – Wikis are websites built by users. Typically it is a collaborative effort where everyday users add, modify and delete content. Open source Wiki applications include PmWiki, MediaWiki and DokuWiki.

 

Other things that you can do with open source applications include email, forms, surveys, photo galleries and social networking. You might have to buy add-ons to get the functionality that you require or you might need to hire an expert to help you configure the application. But the application itself is free and because of the collaborative nature of its development there is usually a lot of support available.

 

This makes them a must-have choice for most website design projects.