Open source

Cover Image for Open source

Open source is a huge part of the developer ecosystem. Without it, many of your favourite apps and websites wouldn’t exist.

So how does open source work anyways? How do these projects come to be in the first place? While there are plenty of individual contributors, people like you and me, the largest are often the companies using the technology. That makes things a little interesting too. The more that a particular company contributes to a project, the more that project will likely sway in the direction the company itself is headed. There have been some great contributions to open source from many companies, but it’s almost certain that those contributions first filled an internal need before they were available to the community at large. That means, based on which companies are using the technology, some problems will be much easier to solve than others.

Take AirBnB for example. Their customer’s ability to choose a date of their stay is integral to their business. Naturally, AirBnB needs a great date picker for their product. Recognizing how useful a well-made date picker can be, they eventually made the project available to the public.

You might be thinking, there’s no way a date range picker is steering the future of React. And you’re not wrong. But open source projects like that are ultimately greater than the sum of their parts. One date range picker isn’t going to change the world, but it’s going to make building apps that need one much easier. If you’re building a scheduling app, it might be enough reason to use React instead of Vue. It, along with other projects like Shopify’s Draggable (a JavaScript drag & drop library), are a large part of what help draw new developers into a language or framework in the first place. They solve actual problems that developers are facing. And that’s good for everyone. More developers using a language means more developers pushing it forward. Rinse. Repeat.