Why Is SilverCart Open Source?

On thursday Ramon and I had a SilverCart presentation at the London SilverStripe user group. The visitors worked a lot with Magento and I was asked at least by three different people why SilverCart doesn't cost anything.  At first I was a little disturbed but then I realised that thisquestion is very natural in our economic system. If someone is investing time and effort in a product he wants to get compensated one day. The longer he waits the more money he expects. One example is Blizzard. They are developing "Diablo 3" for 4 years now I think and they don't even have a release date. They invest a lot of money and expect a high profit at the end. Well, I don't like computer gaming any more (I only "play" SilverStripe) and I have a whole other idea about software. I believe that open source is the future and I believe that our economic system is about to change.

"Shoot Me Straight!"

To avoid boredom I want to give you some answers and then talk about my thoughts on open source in general.

In the beginning we had the idea to open source SilverCart core and earn money on modules for SilverCart: Voucher module, payment modules, newsletter modules, ERP module, etc. After a discussion over a week we decided to publish all modules open source as well. Some of the features that were encapsulated as modules were added to the core module and made the installation process easier. All payment modules and the voucher module are public now.

A commercial software prevents users from using it. Customers compare it to other softwares that may be a lot worse but have better marketing. Now you must invest in marketing. Selling software costs money and you are likely to fail commercially. By selling software you need to gain developers interest. If they payed for a license they expect a polished product and a good bug support. Support and debugging/testing costs money. Selling a module for 100€ and spending two days on support because it has bugs you haven't found yet is not a good deal. it is not a good way to gain the developers confidence.

Open source projects often attract a whole bunch of developers and customers that test the software, give feedback and bug reports and maybe even new features. Good programmers want to join development. With todays social coding networks like bitbucket or github this is very easy.

We will earn the money we need to live and grow with the reputation of SilverCart. If it spreads out, customers will ask for it and come to us. Developers will ask us for project support and training. We will offer workshops with the usual pricing for developers. We will offer a shop rental solution and people will buy it because SilverCart will be known among developers and clients.

"What Is In It For Me?"

You have many different clients and you know them well. They love their money and they won't give it away quickly. The only way to earn more money is to be more efficient. SilverStripe has a clear MVC structure and is highly customizable, so is SilverCart. You will be faster and more reliable. You raise your hourly rate but still charge less money than you would have to working with magento or os commerce.

A Quick Look Into The Future

I believe that the future belongs to the smart. Material property will be less important. You don't need 1.000.000 € to hire developers that create a software. All you need is internet access. There are a lot of online manuals, support forums, wikis and tutorials. There are really great open source products that compete or even beat commercial software: UNIX, LINUX, NetBeans, Eclipse, MAMP, XAMP, WAMP, Apache, SQL, Webkit, etc. The same thing with web technics: PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery. Learn them like a wizard learns its spells and you will be a powerful person. You can open a business or join one.

One More Thing

We profit a lot from other open source products. It is just fair to give something back to the developer community.