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Programming Social Applications by Jonathan LeBlanc

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What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Open Source Standards?

Why should we even consider using open source standards? This is a question that usually comes up when a company first begins embarking along the open source path, and it’s one of the most valid to ask before starting integrations.

Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of open standards to help implementers decide if it is the correct approach for them.

Benefits

The benefits are numerous, but we’ll focus on just a few main points. Usually, open source initiatives that have any measure of success in the community have support from some major company. These companies often contribute heavily to the specifications and have a genuine business reason for doing so. In other words, these companies (e.g., Yahoo, Facebook, Google) are driving the future of the specification to fill some specific business need. This means that for the most part you, as an implementer, will be using a fully vetted specification that is geared toward improving that particular business need.

In addition to major company contributions, open source specifications tend to have a large contributor network composed of people who either have a passion for the technology or have a specific reason for contributing. In either scenario, you will be drawing from a large development pool of engineers—who are often some of the best in their fields—without having to expend your own resources to develop a custom solution to the same problem. You will ...

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