The Spin Cycle

Open Source Package Kludging

Software Development | September 2, 2008

I've noticed the job of a programmer has change a lot in the 12 years since my first real foray. I'm noticing a trend where there is less crafting of algorithms and more of a tendency of taking open source packages and kludging them together to create an entire application. The benefit of doing this is a super quick time-to-market for a new app. From a coder's perspective it is becoming increasingly important to keep an eye out for new packages, frameworks and modules to make sure time is spent most efficiently.

Their are definitely downsides to this method of development. Architectural restraints come by the bucket full when taking on a new package. There's sometimes little that can be done but it is hugely valuable to spend the time to do as much research as you can possibly afford because it's easy come across complications during the integrating.

The biggest challenge in coupling different open source packages together comes from the variety of different methods used to create the package and the lack of fore-thought to possible integration with other packages. This is definitely something that will get better with time but there a host of open source apps that are getting long in the tooth and will perhaps die out before they become easy to integrate with an app (I'm looking at you phpBB!).

Community based development has totally shown what it can offer - and it's MASSIVE! It does take time to keep a breast of what packages are out there and what's worth while considering but when time is of the essence it can easily make more sense to start kludging than reinventing the wheel.

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Luke is the founder of Flickspin Media and editor-in-chief / developer for the Flickspin writing community..
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