Simon Willison’s Weblog

22 items tagged “open-source”

What’s the best way to keep track of changes to a project you’re not directly contributing to on github?

This is what GitHub’s “watch” feature is for: https://help.github.com/articles...

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Is there an open source (or freely accessible) database of geofence coordinates for common places, such as cities or national parks?

Take a look at Flickr’s openly licensed shapefiles:

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What is the ways to view the examples without download the example files in github?

If you can view the file on raw.github.com you can drop the first dot to view it on rawgithub.com—a free proxy service.

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How could GitHub improve the password security of its users?

By doing exactly what they’re doing already: adding more sophisticated rate limiting, and preventing users from using common weak passwords.

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Why doesn’t Quora open-source its search interface?

See my answer to Simon Willison’s answer to How come Quora hasn’t contributed any significant open source tools?

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What are some good open source projects that VMware is directly part of?

To my knowledge they fund almost all of the development work on RabbitMQ, Redis and the Spring Java framework.

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How come Quora hasn’t contributed any significant open source tools?

Releasing open source software is a lot of work. You need to extract it from your own proprietary systems, clean it up, document it, release it and them deal with support queries, incoming bug fixes, suggestions and feature requests.

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For developers and Startup Founders, what software licenses would you prefer to use instead of open source options, if you had unlimited funding?

With unlimited funding... I’d still prefer to build my company on open source licensed components. It’s not about the price (heck, I’d use my unlimited funding to support the projects my company benefited from)—it’s about the freedom to understand exactly how everything works, fix stuff that doesn’t, and benefit from the community of others solving the same kinds of problems.

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What are the most commonly used or most interesting open-source packages and software?

I’d say the open source browser engines, Gecko (Firefox) and WebKit (Safari, Chrome, iOS, Android) are probably some of the most important and widely used pieces of open source code these days.

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To become a better developer ? To read more OR to create/contribute to open source projects?

Contribute to an existing project, rather than starting one yourself. There are a bunch of benefits:

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Is there a free/open-source software source code search engine?

If you want to search through actual code in open source projects, GitHub search is fantastic https://github.com/search—e.g. here’s a search for all Ruby code that mentions oauth https://github.com/search?q=oaut...

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Is Microsoft’s platform prohibitively expensive for large scale web deployment? Would licensing costs have killed Twitter/Facebook early?

I would argue that the cost of the Microsoft stack is a lot more than just the license fees.

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How can a new developer get involved in open-source projects?

I was going to say the same thing. Find a useful project in GitHub (preferably one that clearly has an active maintainer), fork it, fix a bug (look at the project’s issue tracker) then make a pull request.

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Which is the best open source tool to populate my database with test data for my load test?

I’ve seen tools that do this, but to be honest it’s very simple to write your own script for this (especially if you’re using an ORM). The other benefit to writing your own script for this is that you’ll have a much better chance of accurately representing your expected data, sizes etc.

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Do Python programmers have a tendency to write their own software instead of contributing? Why?

I think you’ll find that PROGRAMMERS have a tendency to develop their own thing rather than contributing to an existing project. It’s even got its own TLA: NIH (Not Invented Here).

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What are the pros and cons of open sourcing my website’s code?

I’m afraid if you’re expecting to open source your code as a magic bullet to get others to work on improving it for free you are likely to be disappointed.

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Is there an open-content alternative to Quora?

Stack Overflow releases all of their content under a creative commons license, and even lets people download full database dumps.

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What is the typical time overhead in using an open source package vs. an equivalent commercial package?

It totally depends on the software in question. If you are moving to popular, well maintained open source packages (things like nginx, solr, MySQL) you can often expect a large improvement in developer productivity due to the increased amount of tutorials, forums, mailing lists, irc channels and stackoverflow/quora posts you’ll have access to.

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What are the main conferences taking place in the US dedicated to Open Source?

We have a list here: http://lanyrd.com/topics/open-so...

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How do you stay up to date with Open Source products and technologies?

Lots of blogs and RSS feeds—in particular, I subscribe to the feed of the authors of the software that I’m using, if I can find them.

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What is a good business model for open source projects?

Consulting.

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Which major companies are using Solr for search?

The Guardian newspaper uses Solr for its Open Platform Content API. http://www.guardian.co.uk/open-p...

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