The Exponential Evolution of Open Source Web Development
Over the last few years it’s been hard to overlook the incredible speed at which website development is evolving. From standards in front end design, to back end functionality, the bar is being raised at a rate that is hard to keep up with, even as a spectator.
It goes without saying, that the primary reason for this phenomenon is the proliferation of ‘open source’ project collaboration. Open source has always been there, however it seems that only recently has the ecosystem and economy around it exploded to a level that is engaging and understandable to even the newest web designers.
A number of open source projects may come to mind, for example, Bootstrap, or jQuery, but there are few, or perhaps none, whose propagation has impacted the website creation community more than the open source CMS (content management system), WordPress.
WordPress: A new hierarchy for web development
WordPress has existed in one form or another for over a decade, but not until a few years ago did it really start its hyperbolic rise to become one of the dominant site development platforms. Initially targeting the blogging community, it served as a convenient and functional way for people to share information and have a site they could call their own. This image and attitude was the driving force that helped to popularize WP, and establish itself as a ‘household name’ with the online community. More recently, however, it has evolved to take on a form that is much more encompassing than putting together a simple blog site.
The rise of this new platform is seriously disrupting the more traditional method of web design and development, and changing the business structure and economy around the creation of new sites. The open source nature of the CMS means that it is no longer required to have an in-house team to build everything from scratch and ensure that it is all maintained and up to date. Rather, the platform is constantly being scrutinized, optimized, and updated by anyone in the development community with the right expertise, who wishes to contribute to the project. The end result is a system which benefits the entire community surrounding it. It acts as an extremely powerful tool that enables smaller web design groups to offer quality and functionality that they simply could not have previously.
A quote from WordPress.org:
Everything you see here, from the documentation to the code itself, was created by and for the community. WordPress is an Open Source project, which means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it. (More than most commercial platforms.) It also means you are free to use it for anything from your cat’s home page to a Fortune 500 web site without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms.
I think it is fair to say that WordPress is quickly becoming a wonderful platform where new ideas can flourish, in the same way that technologies of the past have served as a foundation upon which newer, more efficient, more amazing things could be built.
Some examples of sites powered by the world’s most popular content management system: