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Open source/Open standards?

Posted on September 11 2003 by James Dalziel in reponse to The Open Source Portfolio Initiative releases 1.0

Just a comment on the quote "Even if you don't agree with Dalziel's suggestion that open standards are best supported by closed source software" from this article.

The point I try to make in the referenced article is that we don't yet know which approach to software development (proprietary "closed" source versus open source) is more likely to lead to open standards conformant systems. The article discusses pros and cons on both sides, but in particular it notes that the financial model of closed source software development may make it easier to implement open standards due to ongoing revenue streams which can be used for the expensive work of standards implementation. In an open source context, other forms of income or support are required to ensure this work is done.

My point is not that closed source does this better, but rather that we don't yet know which model is more likely to consistently produce open standards conformant systems. In practice, the answer will probably be different in each area depending on the nature of the closed source companies and the state of the open source developer community. What interests me is the overarching question of which approach to software development is more likely to lead to interoperable systems.

In passing, I should note that when I wrote this paper in April/May of this year, it was a "theoretical" exercise for me - I wasn't writing this with a particular example of this challenge in mind. Subsequent developments over the year have made this a far more "real" question for me, and the outcome of this may be quite ironic in the context of the quote above. ;-)

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