The open source path can be a delightful and cost-effective way to go for a web-based project. However, if you don't understand the primary dos and don'ts of open source, a "free" open source website can quickly become a costly and difficult bear to manage. As open source software becomes more popular and more relevant to the needs of non-tech-minded people and organizations, we thought we'd offer some basic background on how to use -- and not to use -- open source for a web platform.
Read on....

It's a business methodology, not a religion.

Forget the image of programming idealists spending their days and nights writing code to give away. The open source world is a rich and vibrant area of the economy -- and it's growing. Opting for free open source software like Drupal is a business decision, with clear and definable benefits and costs. On balance, as a business methodology, open source has its definite advantages. On the upside:-

  • You own the code (under the GPL)
  • It's free
  • You're free -- free to change the code, free to add new features, free to have anyone come in and do these things for you.

What comes with this is responsibility. You own the code running your site, so you're responsible for its upkeep. While you don't need to pay any licensing fees for proprietary software, you also don't have a proprietary software vendor maintaining that code for you, meaning you need to maintain the site yourself, or have someone do it for you.

What do you want to do ?

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Databases also allow you to set up rules that ensure that data remains consistent when you add, update, or delete data. Imagine that your imaginary car sales company has two salespeople named e.g. Julie Smith. You can set up a database to ensure that each salesperson has a unique ID, called a unique identifier (so that the Julies don’t get mixed up); otherwise, telling who sold which cars would prove impossible.