Open Source Tools: What They Are and How To Use Them

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Rafael Timbó
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Rafael Timbó
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Chief Technology Officer
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Open source tools offer a lot of advantages for new and experienced programmers. Learn how to use them and how they are beneficial.
Published on
January 24, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

Open source tools are a vital part of programming. They offer a wide range of benefits, such as access to a wide range of software that can be helpful for new and experienced programmers alike. Whether you're an up-and-coming or already established developer, these tools are also free to use and modify, making them a cost-effective option worth using. Therefore, they're a great starting point for those looking to develop cloud-native applications, cloud computing applications, and other open source or public domain software. And yes, there's a difference between cloud-native and cloud-based applications.

But how exactly do you use these tools? In this article, we will explore what open source tools are, the advantages they provide, and how to best use them in your programming projects.

What Are Open Source Tools?

Open source tools are code libraries, applications, and other software that are publicly available for anyone to use and modify. The open source model allows everyone access to source code, meaning they can make changes or additions to the project as they see fit. This makes open source projects extremely collaborative, as anyone can contribute to improving the code. It also makes open source tools very flexible, as you can easily customize them to meet the needs of any project.

Because there are numerous tools available, it can be overwhelming to try to choose open source tools. A good place to start is to identify the specific needs of your project and then research which open source tools can best meet those requirements.

Some specific project needs that can influence your choice of open source tools include:

  • The programming language used: Different open source tools are designed for specific programming languages, so it's important to ensure the tool is compatible with your chosen language.
  • Security: Like any software, open source tools may have potential security risks. Make sure to thoroughly research the tool's history and any known vulnerabilities before implementing it in your project.
  • Functionality: Consider the specific functions you need for your project, and find open source tools that can efficiently accomplish those tasks.
  • The type of project (mobile app, website, etc.): Different types of projects may require different open source tools. For example, a mobile app may require a tool for testing user experience, while a website may require a tool for optimizing web page performance.
  • The size and scope of the project: A larger, more complex project may require a more robust open source tool, while a smaller project may only need a simpler tool. For instance, a small website may only need a basic content management system, while a larger e-commerce website may require a more advanced tool with multiple features, such as inventory management and customer relationship management.

You can also consult with other programmers to get several recommendations and an idea of their experiences with different open source tools.

How To Best Use Open Source Tools

Open source tools can be extremely helpful in a wide variety of programming projects. You can use them to speed up development time, add new features, or simply make existing code more robust. However, it's important to remember that open source tools are not always the best solution for every problem.

Before using an open source tool, be sure to evaluate whether it's the right fit for your project. Some factors to consider include the size and complexity of your project, the skills of your team, and the time you have available. If you decide to use open source tools, follow these best practices:

Collaborate With Other Programmers on a Source Community

One of the great advantages of open source software and tools is that they allow for collaboration with other programmers. If you're having trouble using an open source tool, or you want to suggest a new feature, the best place to start is the open source community. Most open source projects have online forums or chat rooms where you can interact with other programmers using the same tools. Other open source projects have developers communicating through mailing lists to discuss issues and project decisions.

No matter the method employed, collaboration is a great resource for getting help, sharing ideas, and making pivotal decisions on projects. You could even stumble upon recommendations for software development tools that could boost your team's productivity in the course of collaborating.

Choose a Source Platform That Combines All the Tasks You Need

There are many open source development models and platforms available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it's important to select an open source platform that offers all the features you need. Be sure to evaluate the needs of your project before selecting a platform. Some features to look out for include:

  • Version control: Allows for efficient management of project updates and changes
  • Integrated development environment: Offers a comprehensive workspace for coding, testing, and debugging
  • Project management: Helps organize and track project tasks
  • Collaboration tools: Facilitates communication and sharing among team members
  • Issue tracking: Allows for easy identification and resolution of problems
  • Code review: Allows for peer review of code to ensure quality and accuracy

Some popular open source platforms include GitHub and Bitbucket.

Examine the Code To Make Sure It Does What You Want

One of the great advantages of open source tools is that they allow you to examine the code before using it. This is a great way to ensure that the tool does what you want it to do and that it is compatible with your project.

When examining the code, be sure to look for comments from other programmers that can help you understand how the code works. You should also check if there are any open issues that need to be addressed.

Bonus tip: Before using open source code in your project, it's important to create a test environment. This will allow you to ensure the code works as expected and does not introduce any new bugs.

Improve Your Programming Skills Using Developer Tools

In addition to being a great resource for code, open source tools can also be used to improve your programming skills.

There are many open source developer tools available that can help you learn new programming languages, improve your debugging skills, and more. Some examples include the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE), the NetBeans IDE, and IntelliJ IDEA.

Using open source tools is a great way to improve your programming skills and become a more well-rounded programmer. By using these tools, you'll be better equipped to handle any challenges that come your way.

Additionally, you can make the most of open source developers and tools by following these tips:

  • Stay up to date on the latest releases. New releases often include bug fixes and performance improvements.
  • Don't forget to document your code. Open source projects are often collaborative, and it can be helpful for others to know your thought process.
  • Be open to feedback. The open source community is full of talented programmers who can help improve your code.

5 Open Source Tools and Their Unique Offerings

There are numerous open source tools available for programmers, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are five popular options and their unique offerings:

Eclipse Che Allows You To Mimic Production

Eclipse Che is an open source IDE and cloud workspace platform. It offers a centralized model running on OpenShift or Kubernetes as the developer environment. One unique offering of Eclipse Che is the ability to mimic production environments, allowing for easier testing and collaboration.

Eclipse Che's workspaces allow users to replicate application runtimes, together with their microservices, by using Eclipse Che factories. The main advantage of Eclipse Che lies in its expandable workspaces, allowing for smooth collaboration and onboarding and giving administrators complete control over user permissions.

Eclipse Che also provides an uncluttered user interface, which not only improves efficiency but also boosts productivity. For instance, you can use color highlighters in the editor, which can help users resolve any discovered issues immediately before they escalate.

Visual Studio Is a Robust Code Editor

While not entirely open source, Visual Studio has a free Community version that offers many powerful features. One of its unique offerings is its robust code editor, which incorporates features such as code refactoring and IntelliSense.

As the most popular code editor, there are compelling reasons to use Visual Studio. Features like IntelliSense code completion and debugging, for example, provide a smooth edit-build-debug cycle. It also supports hundreds of languages, integrates with build and scripting tools, and makes workflows faster. You can also customize its features to your liking, in addition to installing your favorite third-party extensions. The result is more time executing and less time fiddling with the environment.

OpenShift odo Supports Fast, Iterative Development

OpenShift odo is a tool that creates applications on Kubernetes and OpenShift Container Platform. One of its unique offerings is the support it provides for fast, iterative development, with features such as a command line interface. With OpenShift odo, you don't need a deep understanding of the OpenShift Container Platform and Kubernetes to develop, test, debug or even deploy a microservices-based application based on a Kubernetes cluster.

That's because OpenShift odo allows developers to focus on coding, not how to deploy their applications. Indeed, it not only supports fast and iterative development but also improves the developer experience with OpenShift due to its simple and concise design.

A major advantage of using OpenShift odo as one of your internal tools is that it gives instant feedback when you save changes to your code. This means you can validate any changes made in real time while enjoying the design and syntax design, such as the application, component, and project, already familiar to developers.

MiniShift Allows You To Work on a Local Machine

MiniShift is a tool for running OpenShift locally on a single machine. This can be helpful for rapidly testing and developing applications without the need for a remote server. One of its unique offerings is that it allows you to work on your local machine using the same commands and workflow as OpenShift. MiniShift also supports add-on installation, giving you the option to add databases, message queues, and more.

Additionally, MiniShift allows for easy scaling and cluster management, making it a valuable tool for development teams. It can also be used to demo OpenShift features without the need for a hosted cluster. Overall, MiniShift can improve both development speed and efficiency.

Jenkins Boasts a Free Automation Server

Jenkins is a free automation server that can be used for tasks such as continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD). One of its unique features is its ability to adapt to different environments, supporting technologies such as Docker, Amazon EC2, and virtual machines.

Jenkins also allows for the integration of third-party tools, expanding its capabilities even further. Additionally, it offers easy configuration through a web interface, making it user-friendly for teams to set up and use. Overall, using Jenkins can streamline development processes, improve productivity, and decrease errors through automation. It is a valuable tool for any development team looking to increase efficiency and improve their workflow.

Benefits of Using Open Source Tools

In addition to being free and easily accessible, open source tools can also have many other benefits. These include:

Eliminates Exclusive Control Better Than Closed Source

Since anyone can contribute to open source projects and make changes, there is less chance for a single entity to have complete control. This can lead to a more diverse and robust tool. On the other hand, a closed source project or software has source code controlled by the entity (person, team, or organization) that created it.

Copying, inspecting, and altering closed source code is only legally permitted when the original authors do it. Indeed, commercial software vendors such as Microsoft typically require payment for access to products like Microsoft Office. However, open source tools can be used without any payment, as well as allowing for inspection and modification of the code by anyone.

Provides Freedom To Alter Code for Custom Applications

The open source nature of these tools allows for the freedom to alter code to fit specific needs or create custom applications. The advantages that come with the ability to create custom applications can include improved user experience, greater efficiency, and increased competitive advantage.

Additionally, you don't have to work with predetermined software if you can modify code to create custom apps more in line with your strategy or business procedures. There's better integration, reliability, and a personalized solution with custom applications.

This level of customization may not be possible when using closed source code or commercial software. Indeed, doing so would require purchasing a license or gaining permission from the entity that controls the code.

Source Code Is Shared With Others for Greater Growth

Since the source code is shared with others, it can lead to faster growth and improvement for the tool. The benefits of open source programming and open source programming languages such as Java, Python, PHP and C++ extend far beyond programmers too. They can lead to more efficient and effective solutions for users, as well as increased security and stability. For example, everyone who uses the internet benefits from the open source Linux operating system that powers much of the web.

Open source tools also foster a sense of community and collaboration, as they rely on contributions from individuals and organizations.

Code Can Be Used For Any Purpose

Unlike closed source tools, open source code can be used for any purpose without restrictions. This can lead to more innovative and creative solutions. For example, since open source code is available for anyone to view and alter, it can lead to better security as more individuals and organizations test it and find vulnerabilities.

Because they're free to use, open source tools not only provide a reliable base for custom applications but also save individuals and businesses a lot of money. They also provide a much wider range of software to choose from than if you were to use proprietary software.

Work With a Recruiter To Find Experienced Open Source Programmers

Ultimately, open source tools offer a wealth of opportunities for programmers. Not only do they provide access to free code, but they can also be used to improve skills and streamline development processes. Even so, you need experienced open source programmers on your team to truly take advantage of all these benefits. That's where working with a professional and reliable IT recruiter can come in handy.

Whether you're looking to get DevOps or developers, a recruiter can help you find the right fit for your organization's specific needs and goals. They can also assist with the recruitment process, from sourcing to onboarding. As an unrivaled talent platform for tech talent, Revelo is trusted by leading enterprises and startups to match them with world-class remote engineering talent from across Latin America.

Not familiar with local regulations when hiring internationally? How about dealing with sourcing, benefits, as well as payroll and taxes? Hire pre-screened remote talent with Revelo today and enjoy the freedom to focus on programming.

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