Don’t take any wooden nickels, part 3

Improvement, Techniques

So don’t trust consultants and don’t trust Microsoft (and by Microsoft, I really meant any vendor’s guidance). And it’s more a case of trust, but verify. But I digress…

Open source software can be a great solution to a problem you need to solve. Finding the right tool or library can cut precious time off of your schedule and greatly decrease your maintenance costs. Of course, if you aren’t careful an OSS solution can be the anchor that drags your project down to a watery grave.

As I said about consultants and vendors in the other posts in this series – it’s your responsibility to explore the in’s and out’s of the open source solution. Will the license work for your business model? Is it well supported? Is it a fairly good match to the way you and your team build software? Lastly make sure it really is better than the alternatives.

The alternatives you have to consider are commercial solutions and building it yourself. If you need to figure out how best to carry out that evaluation, there are plenty of sources out there to guide you. But that’s another show. If you can’t wait and need some pointers I use, feel free to email me.

The point of this series is that software is a tricky game. There is no one best solution that will apply to all problems, not even for a small related subset. Carefully consider the options. Learn from multiple sources. Read articles and books about things outside of your stack of choice. Heck, read about things not directly related to software at all (I’m a sucker for pop econ and statistics books – Freakonomics and Drunkard’s Walk are very good books).

Don’t blindly follow.