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An Open Code

Open source allows young programmers to hone skills

open source

The introduction of the first large mainframe computers in the 1960s spurred the growth of the global economy, and it continued to advance in line with new technological innovations, applications and software. The global economy has become increasingly dependent on technology to maintain its scale, as its growth is intrinsically tied to fast-paced technological advancement. Today, computer technology is at the forefront of the global marketplace, prompting continued growth and development as well as linking industrial nations and developing countries to create a connected world economy.

Effective business operations have long been tied to efficient computer applications and software. Computer programmers play a central role in developing smarter, more efficient ways of doing business through technology innovations, software improvements and applications as well as new tools that streamline operations. The job market for computer programmers has been relatively strong throughout the decades, as economies have looked to stay on the cutting edge of business through technology. However, many regions lack qualified individuals to take the lead and further advance the global marketplace. Giving the masses access to open source coding is critical to curbing this loss. Open source coding gives young talent an opportunity to refine their programming skills and gain much needed experience in a highly-technical field.

What is Open Source?
Open source is probably best understood by first explaining compiled software: its counterpart. Most software on the market today is offered only in a compiled format, which means the developer has run their source code through a compiler that converts the code into a format that is easily read by computers. Source code that has been compiled is relatively impossible to modify or even view by outside programmers and companies. Most companies that choose to run code through a compiler are trying to eliminate the likelihood of their competition copying their code. Protecting a product or application’s code also helps maintain the quality of the source code.

Open source software, on the other hand, includes the source code with the compiled version of the product or application. Developers encourage outside programmers to use the source code to make modifications to improve software usability. As identified by HowStuffWorks.com, specific criteria must be met for software to be considered open source.

• The program must be freely distributed or part of a package that is sold.
• Source code must be included with the software.
• The source code must be made available for anyone to modify or edit.
• The license must not interfere with the operation of other software or require the exclusion of other software.

Building A New Generation of Programmers Through Open Source
Early developers and programmers considered free, open software an effective way to learn, sharpen their programming skills and improve products. Open source allowed programmers to unilaterally work on a program’s code to fix bugs, add applications and enhance its usability and then share it with a larger community who could then learn from the improved code. However, by the 1980s, many tech companies recognized the value of high level code and software and began charging for its use to garner profits and market share. Multi-billion dollar corporation Microsoft built its business on the model that software had real consumer value.

Many programmers still believed the only way to advance the field was to foster an open community of programmers who had free access to source code. Richard Stallman is often referred to as the founder of the open source movement. Stallman formed the GNU Project during the early 80s to combat the trend of companies eliminating the open nature of their code and software. GNU is a free operating system with open source software. He continues to play an influential role in today’s tech industry and even inspired the creator of the popular open source network, Linux. Today, many of our global economy’s biggest Internet companies have been built using open source technology, including Google, Amazon and Facebook. Open source technology is also advancing mobile computing, with Google’s Android leading the charge.

Open source code provides many young programmers with an introduction to the field and allows them to improve their skills through the accessible format. The open source movement has gained international attention, as many organizations have taken up the charge to foster a new generation of skilled programmers and developers. Raspberry Pi, a U.K.-based charity, has gained worldwide attention for its $25, credit-card sized computer. The computer is designed to provide people, specifically adolescents, access to an affordable computer to help sharpen their programming skills. Raspberry Pi plugs into your TV and keyboard and can be used for many of the same things that a typical desktop is used for, including word-processing, spreadsheets and games. The company’s mission is to grow a programming interest in the world’s youth to help develop a new generation of programmers.

Open source software stimulates the development and improvement of technology, applications and software, helping to grow and strengthen the global economy. It provides an outlet for young programmers to gain the necessary experience and skills to enter the job market at a higher proficiency level, allowing them to serve public interests and advance technology.

 

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