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Open source innovation

Published on Sep 24, 2014

🚀2 mins to read

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Picture Courtesy: Sean MacEntee

Occasionally, I get emails from people across the globe based on my github profile. These people are conducting research on open source contributions and communities. They usually request for a survey form to be filled or a skype interview. I always try my best to help such people out. After one such skype interview I had the opportunity to prod for more questions. One such conversation had me thinking pretty deeply.

Innovation in the open

Picture this. For about 200 years now, the moment someone has a great idea, they will lock themselves in a room and tell no one about it. Once they are done, they would announce their amazing idea and the product they developed based off of it.

On the internet though, its the opposite. The moment you have a great idea, you put a small prototype together. And invite everyone to work on it. Inviting feedback from your users and other developers. Not just from your project stakeholders. This is innovation happening out in the open.

I love the web’s unique culture of that openness and sharing. This has led to a plethora of tools, some forks of others and others wholly innovative ideas. Every major corporation has a strong open source footprint. Facebook, Google and a lot of small scale product companies. Everyone doing their bit to make it easier for the person next in line. It’s hard to see this kind of mentorship or open innovation in any other field.

Amazing tools and frameworks

The problem with frontend landscape today is a problem of plenty. Having too many tools makes it really hard to commit to a single solution. It makes it equally hard to find the right one. As such, us techies have a problem of second guessing our tech stack. Are we using grunt or gulp for our next project? What about broccoli? There is atleast two noteworthy tools being published on a daily basis. It’s hard to keep up with the pace at which things are happening.

That brings us to the usefulness of frameworks. Frameworks take the efforts to sort out all these modules or plugins, batch them together to provide us with a great starting point for our projects. So that we don’t have to spend time breaking our heads about things that are tangential to what we are trying to solve.

The future is now

It is a huge privilege to be a developer in this day and age.

The web wasn’t what it used to be. Not so long before, we had issues with IE6 and browser compatibility. Had it not been for a handful of folks who took it upon themselves to take care of the web, we wouldn’t be here. Tools like caniuse and frameworks like polymer are completely redefining the way we work with the web.

Just a few days back I had this realization that we are in the future of web designing. It’s easy to build a fully functional, production ready, full stack, end to end, scaleable application in a matter of days and weeks.

This is the future.

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