Open Access = Love

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I’m an engineer because I want to understand how things work and I love to expand on that knowledge to make new things work. Recently I stumbled upon an analysis of web browser architecture. It is not surprising that most details in this analysis are from open source browsers (e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox), as opposed to the proprietary source browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Opera, and in part, Safari).

Deep analysis like this lets me write better web applications that are faster and more beautiful. And it does not stop there. Open source browsers have led the way in supporting developers and their needs. HTML/Dom inspection tools and JavaScript debuggers have found a standard place in a developer’s toolbox, saving countless hours of guesswork and supporting the development of rich applications. For a smooth user experience, page load analyzers are the tool of choice. The open source world puts little in the way of using these tools – they are free to download, can be used as long as needed and can be developed by the best experts in the field. Some are built-in and some are provided by third parties (e.g. Firebug, YSlow).

In addition, open source browsers compete vigorously for speed and standards compliance. Not that closed source browsers don’t, but they seem not to lead in that regard. It seems to me that the open source community was more willing to start the effort and now everyone is on board.

Last but not least open source projects are transparent about their future plans and experiments. While not all open source projects are equal in this regard, projects with an open governance body, such as Firefox or WebKit, let you follow the discussions as they happen.

In a proprietary world, one lives on a diet of press releases and trials or beta releases. Open access to the components that I deal with, on the other hand, helps me make better informed decisions. That is why I love open source.


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