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What is open source web development?
Open source web development can be described as web development activities using open source programming languages, platforms or tools. The most popular environment that comes to mind when we talk about open source web development is the LAMP architecture. Here LAMP stands for Linux (operating system), Apache (Web Server), MySQL (database management system) and PHP/Perl/Python (Programming language). LAMP architecture is one of the most popular web development platforms and it forms the backbone of many popular web applications.
However, when we talk of open source web development, it doesn’t end with LAMP. There are other open source web development tools, languages, platforms, content management systems (like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, etc.), open source libraries and numerous other tools and resources which find mention in open source web development.
Advantages of open source web development
Open source web development offers many advantages over web development using proprietary tools. Open source tools don't require you to pay for a license, resulting in cost saving. Open source tools are usually developed and maintained by contributors and although many of them lack good documentation and proper technical support, they usually come up with bug fixes, updates and new features more promptly. The lack of technical documentations is not a deterrent in this case, as there are communities more than willing to help you with a particular tool in case you run into problems (and in most cases you will be able to find tons of unofficial documentation or study materials). One more advantage is that there are numerous existing scripts, libraries, codes, etc. available to you which you are free to reuse without buying rights. This makes development easy and fast. Availability of skilled developers is another advantage factor of open source web development. Being free and open source, these development tools are easily accessible and therefore attract many developers everyday.
Open source web development opportunities
So, how can you build a career on open source web development? Well, there are several ways. You can learn open source languages that are in wide use for web development, you can master the LAMP architecture, and you can also acquire skills on various open source platforms and CMS (content management systems).
You can acquire skills in database management systems like MySql, which is used in almost every Linux based web server. Open source CMS like Joomla, Drupal, Movable Type and WordPress, etc. have become popular over the last few years and form the backbone of many popular blogs and websites. The increasing popularity of these have also resulted in an increased demand for developers with skills and experience in this area. Also web mashups and applications (FaceBook apps, etc.) can also be developed using open source languages, and there is a growing demand for this kind of development too.
I have highlighted these development opportunities as they are among the most prevalent ones when it comes to open source web development. The truth is that there are open source tools to replace almost all kind of proprietary tools used for web development and with the growing popularity of these tools across various domains (from programming to database and graphics designing) the opportunities are also growing.
Is it a good choice?
Well, that depends on what you are actually looking at. If you are a programmer in love with the open source concept and want everybody to benefit from your work, well that’s the route for you. Go for it. And if you are a professional looking to build a decent career on it, well surprise, this is a good choice again! Open source web development is in much demand, mainly due to its cost effectiveness. Also, as Linux is used as the operating system in many web servers, due to its stability and reliability, taking the open source route makes the most sense when it comes to web development for Linux servers (preferably the LAMP architecture). And this is the reason; open source web development skill owners are in much demand now days. You can do a little research yourself on the demand of open source web development technologies in the job websites and find out. It makes more sense when you consider the cost of learning a propriety web development tool/platform with the cost of learning an open source web development tool.