[ShellVent] The importance of open standards

Hi gang!

I'm probably addressing a topic here which most of you will realize by now but even so I felt like doing this so here you go. I suppose it might not be 'too' offtopic (in a way this also directly applies to FreeBSD) but I didn't want to take chances.

Also apologies up front for the wee bit of "spam" (my talk about a commercial product) but I honestly think its a good example to get my point across.

Open source / Open standards

Open source means something different for everyone it seems. For some (most?) it's a source of free software. Yes, sounds very unflattering but its the truth nonetheless. Freebie! For others it's almost getting close to a religion although in all fairness we're mostly talking about the open source licenses rather than the open source software itself. Each to their own is my motto here.

But although open source has had a major impact and really accomplished a lot, it's actually the open standards which originated from all that which made a major difference I think. Although in all honesty the two go pretty much hand in hand.

Good for business

So yeah... I happen to favor certain (commercial) modeling software which was developed in Java and therefor has a bit of the "run everywhere" ideal surrounding it. The software also has a freely available community license and is made available in the ports collection, which is basically the reason I mention them (though not directly).

So first of all I think the sometimes jokingly mentioned "hippie software" can actually be a massive boost for small to medium -sized businesses. After all: you can get your hands on readily made software and pretty much make it your own. Or use this as a free API of some sort.

Which is what the software I'm talking about is doing.


All the licenses neatly put in one single spot

But back to open standards... An obvious example of this would be PGP. The concept behind PGP quickly became an (open) standard, which is what allowed GPG to be build.

Yet there's so much more which open source and open standards can do.

So here I am on FreeBSD with a KDE powered desktop. I'm trying to run the software briefly mentioned above but although they provide their own libraries I just can't get things to work "out of the box". Some people (like the official package maintainer) suggest to use Linux compatibility layers, but I discovered something much more useful...

As it turned out the software relied on sqlite-jdbc. Something provided in FreeBSD through the java/sqlitejdbc port. But there is a problem... This port is the so called "Zentus"port. Which is good, but many others use the fork by Xerial instead. Which by default only supports Windows, MacOS and Linux. But not FreeBSD.

So what to do? Easy: open standards, right? Not just the Xerial port, but POSIX itself too. It was meant to be used on Unix-like / POSIX systems, and guess what? It's perfectly doable to build this on FreeBSD as well. The only thing you need to do afterwards is replace the distributed ("limited") library version with the one you just build. And after that... you'll have yourself a fully working modelling suite.

Open source and open standards can be so much more than just freebies. They can easily help your business / software products come to live on environments you totally didn't account for at first.

(Visual Paradigm is modeling software which is mostly supported on Windows, Mac and Linux. I took things one step further and discovered that with the right sqlite-jdbc library it also ran perfectly (and natively!) on FreeBSD. That's what open standards can do for you).

In the end the whole thing goes so much deeper than just "free" software alone I think.

So yeah, figured I'd share.

Using open source / open standards can easily result in your software being able to reach markets you might not have imagined were there before.