The Difference Between Open and Closed Source

At i3 Digital, we’re website and digital experts. We love what we do and we know a fair bit about the ins and outs of our industry so we can stay on top of our game and deliver the very best digital solutions for our lovely clients. Speaking of clients, they often don’t know quite so much (and why would they? We all have our own stuff going on!), and one of the things we often get asked is “What’s the difference between open and closed source websites?” Well, here’s the explanation.

Closed Source

Source code simply refers to the code written by developers that informs and tells a computer/website/piece of software to do certain things. In terms of what we do at i3 Digital, it’s the backbone of your website or app that your user never sees. By editing and evolving a website’s source code, programmers can improve, fix, modify, or add functionality as you request or see fit.

With closed source software, the source code is not shared. Closed source programs will have restrictions against modifications or updates, and you can’t experiment too much with it or use it in any way that the creators don’t allow. In a recent article by Information IT, they suggested that in terms of closed source, “you’re not actually purchasing the software but are just paying to use it.” That’s a fair statement.

Open Source

We all owe open source software a big pat on the back. The internet was built using open source technology, so we’d all still be writing letters, looking up the Yellow Pages, booking hotels over the phone, and even TALKING to each other directly…face-to-face, if it didn’t exist! I gest, of course, the internet hasn’t ruined the art of human communication, our total dependence on it has. We’re i3 Digital, and of course we love the digital world, but we’re people too and we know that all technology and communication has its place!

Open source software generally means the source code is available to anyone and everyone that wants to access and use it. There are some exceptions – look at our main partners, Kentico. Many people think Kentico is a closed source technology platform because developers are few and far between, and expertise can take years to craft. It isn’t, however. Kentico is a “Licensed, Open source” platform, meaning it is available to agencies like us, as long as we are fully licensed partners and recognized as having the experience and expertise to work on it.

However, the general way to consider open source is that its code is very much open and available to the world to use, craft, experiment, play, upgrade, improve, break, fix and enjoy! Oh, by the way, open certainly doesn’t mean “free”. A lot of open source companies make billions of pounds per year through support, maintenance, hosting and management fees.

So what’s best for you?

Well, that’s a question we just can’t answer until we find out a little bit more about your project needs. There are advantages and disadvantages of both, and your specific needs require tailor-made solutions. If you want to find out, we’d love to talk with you. Leave your details and we’ll be sure to get in touch for an initial chat. Good manners and great coffee are guaranteed, pressure and hassle are, we promise, out of the equation.

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