Open source…taking the step for a hobbyist.

A quick off topic post about open-source software and how, rather than why, I’ve got to the point where I’m happy to put all my code out there.

HeartbleedIt is not a co-incidence that I started doing a lot more open source stuff after the heartbleed bug came out. In principle this is strange: heartbleed was a major blow for the ‘security by openness’ doctrine and dispelled the myth that ‘it must be secure: it’s open source so someone would have noticed if it wasn’t’.

The, rather sad, reason that I hadn’t released any code openly on GitHub before is that I was, basically, afraid that people would make fun of my code. I’m a good designer of algorithms, and I like to think that I can hold my own, but there are a lot of impressive people prowling the Internet and I’m aware of the massive amount I don’t know. Plus the fact that the projects I have up in JavaScript and Python are (effectively) the only projects I’ve ever completed in those languages and the coding resembles a child’s fingerpainting.

The thing I learned from heartbleed is that “almost nobody is going to bother to read your code”. The second thing that follows up is this: if someone is reading your code: it’s to find out how you did something. The people who intimidate you aren’t reading your code because they already know how to do it: that’s what makes them intimidating.

Realising this meant that I’m now releasing almost all of the hobby/project code I do. It’s being forked and modified by people and I’m learning a lot from the process. Also because I do like to take pains to make things at least mildly pretty before I do l, it’s making me a better coder. And the more people that make the switch, the better we’ll be.

EDIT it’s been pointed out to be that another reason not to release code it that it’s embarrassing if your code turns out to be wrong. To which I say: yes it is but there are two ways you can find out code is wrong: either someone reads it and points it out, or it goes very very wrong link. So stop being me-me-me and suck it up.

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