Open source software development is a specific software development process that peers can openly review. The stages of the development process are both accessible and completely transparent. This allows users the ability to offer input and suggestions on software development either through communication or actual modification of the software.
Both users and software developers benefit from the open source software development process. Users are invited to influence the development process and developers are encouraged to make software modifications based on their input, so the likelihood is high that the product will be developed to meet users' specifications and needs. The process that results in proprietary software couldn't be more different from open source software development. The development process surrounding proprietary software usually is very secret and, often, only employees working directly on the project are privy to the process. By contrast, open source software development makes the stages of a software's development public knowledge, and the public's input on the software at each stage is considered vital to the quality of the product.
An open software development process can be an incredible educational tool for software developers. The required participation of users and developers makes intimate knowledge of software systems and workings a welcome consequence. Familiarizing oneself with the software can also make frequent modifications, updates and improvements a reality for users who employ the software. Collaboration of this sort ensures that users are always presented with a version of the software that reflects their personal needs, desires and input. With proprietary software, users often are stuck with the version of software that the company decides to produce.
The process of open source software development differs greatly from that of its proprietary counterparts, but the resulting software is comparable. Some consider it to be better not only in terms of the actual application but also in flexibility and reliability. Open source applications and the data that is created from them usually are better reflections of real users' desires. MySQL and PHP are the result of open source software development.
Another advantage of open source software development is that the public can use and modify the software for free. Anyone, including passionate developers and curious users, can view the source code of open source software and modify the projects. They also can distribute the software without having to pay fees or costs associated with licenses. Open source software is free, so using products that are the result of the open source software development process actually can have the effect of reducing the cost of competing proprietary software.