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Wed, 25 Jun 2008

Why you should release your company's code

Geeks often want to release some of the code they write at work as open source. But often they don't really have any good idea why they should do it, other than that it feels like the right thing to do. Well, here's a damned good reason for you, and what's more, it's one that your boss will like.

Just under two weeks ago, I released some of my code. I didn't really expect anyone else to be particularly interested in it, but releasing it couldn't do any harm. But a few days later, someone submitted a bug report. What's more, he included a patch, and regression tests.

If I hadn't released my code, it would still have bugs in it, which would no doubt bite me in the arse later and figuring out what was going wrong would waste a lot of my time. By releasing my code, I got someone else to test and fix my code for free.

So now, when your boss asks you to justify releasing the code you've written for him, point him at this post, and tell him "open source bugs get fixed by other people, for free".

The most recent version of the code in question, including the bugfix, can be found here.

Posted at 20:01 by David Cantrell
keywords: geeky | work
Permalink | 2 Comments

A while back as a Lotus Domino 'developer' (for my sins) I used to post some of my company's/my code to Usenet/forums and get loads of help with bugfixes and problems quickly and of course for free.

When I told my boss about this in a rather triumphant 'aren't I clever?' way, he said "we pay you for your code not to have bugs in it in the first place so stop putting our property online".

Guess it depends how smart your boss is :)

Posted by Ben on Thu, 26 Jun 2008 at 10:14:10

Many managers are disconnected from reality, many are not...

I've fixed submitted patches to modules so that it makes our life easier having our fixes and tweaks included in the standard code - it makes our life so much easier as time passes.

I've also contributed to forums on work time from which I've obtained solutions to work problems. It's a fine balance but me helping others on company time can be balanced by them helping me on company problems.

I have also released code improved on company time, though nothing developed from scratch on company time.

Posted by Adam on Thu, 26 Jun 2008 at 10:58:33

Sorry, this post is too old for you to comment on it.