The best software April 22, 2006Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
One of my practices that I follow and I tell other people is to use the software thats best for you. I hear it all the time "Open Source produces the best software" or "Proprietary software is the best". To tell you the truth I havent found any development model that produces the "best" software. I have ridden on both sides of the fence. I use Open Source software, I use Proprietary software and yes both have their advantages and disadvantages.
One of the things I hear all the time is Linux and Open Source is the best. When I ask why almost everytime the answers range from, "Its free" to " I get to see the source code". Good reasons and one of them is true, You do get to see the source code. But when I ask, " What changes have you made to the source code and what new functionality have you added to the product?" the next common answer is "nothing " and that holds true for most users, most Open Source software users do not alter the code, they simply use the default configuration thats supplied. I think I have met maybe a dozen people who have actually modified Open Source code, I’m sure there are more I just havent met them. Now for the zealots I get responses such as "FREEDOM!!!!!!!!!" in Mel Gibson in Braveheart type bravado, no I am not kidding and I have actually seen that happen, other responses include "I hate Microsoft" or "Bill Gates is rich enough" and my personal favorite is "Im not Bill Gates whore" Funny though how many people categorize Bill Gates and Microsoft with proprietary software when there are thousands of proprietary software companies out there today.
Now, when someone tells me they use Microsoft or Sun proprietary products and I ask why the answers come back "They offer good support" or "They work well with Company X other software" also very good answers. So if both sides have adaquate reasoning what makes one better than the other? It doesnt. A lot of times in geek crowds software zealotry and religon finds it’s way into any argument and often times it filters down, like lava from an exploding volcano.
So how does this translate into "The best software." It doesnt. No software is 100% perfect. I have never considered myself an Open Source advocate, I have never considered myself an traitor to freedom proprietary software advocate. I advocate the best software for me to use for a particular task. I use Apache, I love Apache. Why? Its faster, its more flexible and if I am running Windows 2000 Server, which I do, and a Windows Server 2003 box I dont have to worry about the different versions of Apache like I do with IIS on Microsofts platforms. I run MySQL on both 2000 Server and Server 2003. Why? Becuase its a leaner product, its hardware requirements are not as intensive as SQL Server. Is it because its Open Source? Nope. Is it because its free? Nope. SQL Server Express Edition is also free and quite adequate for my needs. For what I need it for both products work, they work well. On the desktop side I use OpenOffice.org on all my desktops. Why do I do this? Well, in this case its because its a free product. I have in total 9 PC’a. Some laptops some desktops and 1 tabletPC. I am not about to do $499 x 9. But for my basic word editing, the presentations I do and the little spreadsheeting I do, its fine. Do I use it because its better? Nope, hell I cant even play background music through an entire slideshow in Impress without having to write some BASIC code for a Macro. How many non tech users can even write a BASIC Macro? Thats how come I will always have at least one copy of Office 2003/2007 installed. I use it because it offers advantages. One being, its free. The second being, it runs on many platforms besides Windows so I dont have to worry about purchasing CrossOver Office to run Office on Linux. The third being, it works fine for what I need it to do. I happen to love VB and C# so I do buy Visual Studios, I also do a lot of home movies so I do buy Adobe Premiere. Both cost a lot of money, but both also are the best software for the categories for which I use them. For my audio work I buy Adobe Audition its the best software in my opinion to do audio work.
When making a choice of what software to use dont base the decision on the development model. Thats like saying all black, chinese or hispanic women are better in bed than all Caucasian women. Dont let religon and whats cool and hip influence your decision. Make the decision based on your needs, sit down and make a list of the advantages and disadvantages to your needs. Find out what the software can do and what it cant do and what features you may need or want. In some cases an Open Source solution may work better than a proprietary solution, in some cases a proprietary solution may work better than an Open Source solution.