A bad workman blames his (open source) tools

A car mechanic, generally speaking, knows that Snap-on brand tools are some of the best in the industry and that it takes a proper monkey not to be able to use one of the company’s wrenches properly.The problem with open source software application development (if there is one) you might argue is that there are so many comparatively ‘ungraded’ tools out there that you can find yourself using a product that is not necessarily best suited to the job in hand.

A car mechanic, generally speaking, knows that Snap-on brand tools are some of the best in the industry and that it takes a proper monkey not to be able to use one of the company’s wrenches properly.

The problem with open source software application development (if there is one) you might argue is that there are so many comparatively ‘ungraded’ tools out there that you can find yourself using a product that is not necessarily best suited to the job in hand.

Purists might argue that by its very nature, open source relies on community contribution and engagement and that a level of ‘natural selection’ if you like arises from this.

In the survival of the fittest, only the most truly adaptable, fastest performing and most interoperable of anything will win. Whether it is Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos or open source driven GUI development framework toolsets, right?

With these thoughts in mind, I went looking for some discussion surrounding what types of tools are critical (or least most critical) to the success of software engineering with open source projects. Unsurprisingly, that is too broad a Google term to provide any sensible answer. But if you restrict your search to sub-sectors of the total software development process, then you can dig up a few morsels.

Do your own searches based on what aspects of software engineering you find most interesting, challenging or troublesome. I happened to choose IP licensing and compliance as I think the gateways for code-sharing and the potential to carelessly include comparatively “dirty code” in an open source project ranks as one of the most pertinent areas of concern.

When it comes to managing IP, VDC Research reports that Protecode, Black Duck and Palamida rate among the most critical in tools this space. All three companies mentioned here work in the automated preventative Intellectual Property (IP) management solution space with the former being arguably the most commercially successful and/or most popular.

Whether commercial success or apparent popularity should guide your choice at this point is still open to question, but it does give you some indication.

So there you go, don’t blame your tools and don’t blame your open source tools until you have done the some background reading and research commensurate with the importance of the project in hand.