What does open source mean?
Open source means that the software source code is available publicly to programmers and users, so that it can be continually studied, improved upon, used, and distributed. Open source software is often developed collaboratively online, drawing on the collective wisdom of programmers and developers around the world. That collaboration does not just occur once; open source software is constantly tinkered with and upgraded by the best developers in the world.
How does open source compare to proprietary solutions?
By now, most lawyers have heard from at least one online marketing vendor about an awesome “proprietary website content management software.” What most lawyers don’t know is that proprietary solutions, even if seemingly cool, are mostly just rip-offs of open source solutions, and they are the very jailers that hold your websites perpetually captive, keeping your law firm stuck in a contract with a vendor it may no longer prefer.
Open source solutions are cheaper, do not lock your law firm into a vendor relationship, and often provide better ongoing quality as they are updated more often and more easily.
The downsides to using a law firm website vendor proprietary solution include:
- Migration of your website out of their platform is at worst impossible, and at best extremely difficult and expensive.
- The entire goal of a proprietary solution is to constrain the user’s ability to access the software’s code. You will be told that this is because their system is easy to use and you do not need access to that information or that they will handle the copy edits and uploads for you (at a price).
- The product is in most cases inferior and outdated when compared to open source solutions.
- Your law firm does not own, control, or even in some cases have access to the mechanism for updating, modifying, and otherwise working on its own website. You only license the access and/or use of someone else’s mechanism, which is likely a trade secret that you can never have access to or copy.
- No one outside of the company’s development team ever sees or vets the source code of a proprietary platform.
- Sales of proprietary solutions over-promise and under-deliver.
What are the best open source platforms to use to build my website?
CMS Critic has some great suggestions of what you should consider when selecting the CMS for your website. Our company recommends and builds within WordPress, ModX, and Ruby on Rails. We do, however, have significant experience with custom and proprietary solutions (both building and using them), and can work with your existing web vendor’s CMS fairly easily in most cases.
In case you are still skeptical about using an open source solution instead of a high-priced proprietary solution, a few representative companies using open source include: Twitter and Yellow Pages who use Ruby on Rails, and the New York Times and eBay who use WordPress.
Join the Jailbreak: Build Your Website in an Open Source Solution
We build websites on open source technology to liberate law firms from proprietary vendor CMS captivity. We only use open source solutions in the creation of our law firm websites. If you would like to break free, and control your own online destiny, contact us today.