Why Isobar Uses, Supports, and Creates Free and Open Source Software

Isobar is a longtime user of free and open source software (FOSS). We’ve been using FOSS for years for many different uses throughout our business. FOSS can take many forms, including operating systems (such as Fedora), complete applications (such as the Chromium browser, the Drupal content management system, and the PostgreSQL database server) or components to use when building solutions (such as the React javascript library). In addition, Isobar uses FOSS on a number of different levels. As users, Firefox is a popular browser,  as developers, we look to Java, Spring, Eclipse, Visual Studio Code, C#, ASP.NET, Android, React Native, and Vue.js and as supporters, we submit issues and pull requests to various projects we depend upon; and as creators as we even published a few works of our own. So, why do we use, develop with, support, and create FOSS? Let’s explore.

The high level answer is straightforward: FOSS improves Isobar’s value proposition. It enhances Isobar’s ability to deliver the high quality deliverables to our clients quickly and at the lowest cost. It does this by streamlining the software procurement process, saving us from reinventing wheels, improving collaboration and helping with recruiting, sales and marketing.

Because FOSS is free, Isobar doesn’t need to worry about procurement. There is no need to contact a vendor’s sales department, no need to secure funds to pay for product licensing (and therefore no costs along to our clients) and no managing of license keys (nor do we have to train clients to do so). In that way, Isobar can operate faster and with less expense to provide an easier, better experience for our clients.

With millions of developers in the world contributing to FOSS, many problems that Isobar encounters have already been solved. As an example, I was recently working on AWS Cloudformation templates and wondered if there was a static analysis tool that would tell me if the template follows best practices; it turns out, not one, but two tools exist: cfn-lint and cfn_nag. So, there’s no need for us to create one and no need to go without.FOSS also saves Isobar from having to deal with the same problems on each project, which is a big efficiency win. Withnon-FOSS proprietary products, if a bug is found, the project using the product will work around the bug. Every other project using that product that encounters that bug will also have to work around it. With luck, the vendor has a bug tracker so users can at least share their workarounds… but that’s often not the case. However, with FOSS, bug trackers are always open, so there’s  the potential to collaborate on workarounds and solutions. And instead of just workarounds, the problem in the product can be fixed immediately – eliminating the need to wait and hope that a vendor will fix the issue. This workflow is much faster and more efficient than the proprietary alternative.

Isobar also publishes some creations entirely on its own for a number of reasons. First, it’s a great mechanism for knowledge sharing. When one developer or team of developers creates something, publishing that creation is an easy and effective way to share that creation with their colleagues. Second, a non-Isobar developer may see it and contribute something to it, essentially giving Isobar free work. Third, the creation can help recruiting; someone may see the work and decide to look into working at Isobar. Fourth, the published work assists Isobar’s marketing and sales efforts; someone at an existing or potential client may see the work and become aware of Isobar’s capabilities.

I’m sure at this point it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that we intend to continue to expand its use, support, and creation of FOSS.   If you have any questions about implementing the same at your company, feel free to reach out!