Document Details

Title Putting It Out There Making the Transition to Open Source Software Development
Archive All Files / Documents / Publications / Newsletter Articles
Abstract

I have spent a significant portion of my scientific career developing and customizing computer software, both to process and analyze research data, and to build systems to disseminate these data to others. Throughout this time I did what the majority of scientists do, and kept this code mostly to myself. There were many reasons for my closed development approach, from the practical ("the code isn't sufficiently documented for someone else to use") to the paranoid ("I don't have time to answer questions or help people use it") to the proprietary ("why should I give away my hard work for free"). But looking back, one of the primary drivers for my attitude was a negative experience early in my career when I found myself competing against my own software for salary money, and lost. A former research colleague found it more cost-effective to hire an undergraduate student to run my software (developed for another project and shared) than to include me on the new project as a collaborator. Although that issue was eventually overcome, it had a lasting impact on my attitude regarding giving away source code.

Contributor Wade M. Sheldon
Citation

Sheldon, W.M. Jr. 2011. Putting It Out There - Making the Transition to Open Source Software Development. In: LTER Databits - Information Management Newsletter of the Long Term Ecological Research Network: Spring 2011. Long Term Ecological Research Network, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Key Words code, development, LTER-IMC, open source, sharing, software
File Date 2011
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LTER
NSF

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.