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3.2: Software Creation and Open Source Software

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    84113
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    Software Creation

    Example program "Hello World" written in Java
    Example program “Hello World” written in Java

     

    Modern software applications are written using a programming language such as Java, Visual C, C++, Python, etc. A programming language consists of a set of commands and syntax that can be organized logically to execute specific functions. Using this language a programmer writes a program (known as source code) that can then be compiled into machine-readable form, the ones and zeroes necessary to be executed by the CPU. Languages such as HTML and Javascript are used to develop web pages.

     

    Open-Source Software

    When the personal computer was first released, computer enthusiasts banded together to build applications and solve problems. These computer enthusiasts were motivated to share any programs they built and solutions to problems they found. This collaboration enabled them to more quickly innovate and fix problems.

    As software began to become a business, however, this idea of sharing everything fell out of favor with many developers. When a program takes hundreds of hours to develop, it is understandable that the programmers do not want to just give it away. This led to a new business model of restrictive software licensing which required payment for software, a model that is still dominant today. This model is sometimes referred to as closed source, as the source code is not made available to others.

    There are many, however, who feel that software should not be restricted. Just as with those early hobbyists in the 1970s, they feel that innovation and progress can be made much more rapidly if they share what has been learned. In the 1990s, with Internet access connecting more people together, the open-source movement gained steam.

    Open Office Suite

    Open-source software makes the source code available for anyone to copy and use. For most people having access to the source code of a program does little good since it is challenging to modify existing programming code. However, open-source software is also available in a compiled format that can be downloaded and installed. The open-source movement has led to the development of some of the most used software in the world such as the Firefox browser, the Linux operating system, and the Apache web server.

    Many businesses are wary of open-source software precisely because the code is available for anyone to see. They feel that this increases the risk of an attack. Others counter that this openness actually decreases the risk because the code is exposed to thousands of programmers who can incorporate code changes to quickly patch vulnerabilities. 

    There are thousands of open-source applications available for download. For example, you can get the productivity suite from Open Office. One good place to search for open-source software is sourceforge.net, where thousands of programs are available for free download.

     


    This page titled 3.2: Software Creation and Open Source Software is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David T. Bourgeois (Saylor Foundation) .

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