If the post title is lost on you I recommend you stop reading this, go watch Zoolander then come back and read this. Much like viewers of Zoolander either seem to love it or want their 2 hours back, open source software seems to be viewed in two ways, there are the authors that love contributing and being a part of it and there are those software developers that don’t seem to see why anyone would want to contribute to something for free.
I’m certainly from the school of like on both. I think Zoolander is an amazing comedy that gets funnier every single time I watch it (I’ve seen it over 10 times at this point). I also love writing and contributing to open source software.
I think people generally get started contributing to open source in similar ways. The software you want is either not available or expensive or you need to extend something that already exists and is open source. I got started writing free open source software (FOSS) when I wanted a twitter app for my windows mobile phone. This was ages ago when there weren’t many third party apps especially for mobile and the timeline was restricted to 20 requests per hour. The great thing is I got to write it exactly how I wanted it. I got quite a bit of feedback from users, some great and some frustrating. The nice thing about it being free software though is there’s no motivation to please everyone and if someone wants to have a particular feature added in you can certainly branch the source and add it in your own copy or contribute it back to the original copy. This is true of most open source projects.
I get asked pretty often what I get out of it. There are certainly good and bad sides of writing and contributing to open source. I think your exposed to more of the bad if you write and distribute a piece of open source software for end users than if you are contributing to a larger project. Lets break down some of the advantages.
There are tons of positives beyond this list, but there is also a darker side to open source software that can drive you crazy as a developer. Lets take a look at some of the downsides.
If you’re not currently contributing to an open source project I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re using open source software and don’t think you have it in you to start something from scratch see if you can contribute to an existing project, there’s always bugs waiting for developers to fix them. Don’t be afraid to modify an existing open source project for yourself either if you want a new feature it’s pretty likely that others do too.
Work on PlainNote is continuing. Eventually it will hopefully turn into the PlainNote ecosystem. I’m currently working on a sync library to sync up with a server that doesn’t exist yet. The server side is going to get some help from @funkatron. We have been collaborating on a google doc for the API.
Notable Items about the API
Current Methods include
In the interest of being open I thought I’d get some information out there on what we’re working on. The ultimate hope would be to have the ability to view and edit notes across any device as well as the web and have it all play nice together. There are a lot of timing issues to think about as far as updates on multiple devices without sync. For simplicities sake I think our current direction is going to be take the latest edit as master and not try to merge.
Good things to come shortly…. (like the below WebOS version of PlainNote)