Saturday, June 10, 2006

software: astride a mountain of Open Source riches

I've contributed a small amount of code to the Semantic MediaWiki project, which adds semantics to the system which runs Wikipedia and other sites.

Getting started was phenomenal. The Semantic MediaWiki code extends MediaWiki which is written in the PHP language, runs on the Apache Web server, and stores information in the MySQL database. I downloaded the code for SMW and MediaWiki, the XAMPPLITE bundle of Apache/PHP/MySQL and utilities set up to to run on Windows, the massive Eclipse software development environment, and the PHP editing extension to Eclipse. A few hours later, I'm making trivial enhancements on top of several million lines of source code. Every element in this is open source, free in price and free of restrictions so I can inspect and modify it. Their development takes place in the open on the Internet so I can search for bugs, documentation, and problems. The barrier to entry is zero!

It's like writing a poem, and not only is your typewriter free, but so is the printing press, the paper, and the ink.

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