Understanding the pros and cons of open-source software and proprietary SDKs

Understanding the pros and cons of open-source software and proprietary SDKs

Understanding the nuances between open-source software and proprietary Software Development Kits (SDKs) is crucial in today’s technologically driven business landscape.

InsurTech company ScanbotSDK has explored what makes these kits so important for businesses.

Open-source software stands out from proprietary software due to its publicly available code. This unique attribute enables any expert user to inspect and contribute to the code. Such projects are typically the brainchild of a large, primarily volunteer, developer community. These well-managed open-source initiatives regularly receive updates from the community, including new features and security patches.

The “Free and Open-Source Software” (FOSS) concept extends beyond simply sharing the source code. It establishes four essential freedoms, including the freedom to run the program for any purpose, study and modify the program, redistribute copies to assist others, and distribute altered copies. ScanbotSDK stated that these liberties underpin the “free” aspect of FOSS, which is distinct from “freeware” — software that is available at no cost, but the code may still be proprietary.

Licences play a pivotal role in open-source projects. Open-source software comes with various licenses, each having unique conditions regarding its use. For instance, some software prohibits commercial use. The concept of “copyleft” is also employed where any software using such a license cannot be made proprietary. Conversely, permissive licenses permit the integration of the code into proprietary software with minimal restrictions.

Occasionally, corporations acquire popular open-source projects, leading to community forks of the project. A notable example is MariaDB, a fork of the MySQL relational database management system, triggered by concerns about its future after its acquisition by Oracle.

There are clear advantages and disadvantages to open-source tools, Scanbot SDK said. Although usually free, independently developed, and secure due to public auditability, the community-driven nature can lead to potential setbacks. Developers may abandon critical software components, leaving them outdated and vulnerable. For instance, Sonatype’s 8th Annual State of the Software Supply Chain Report highlighted a staggering 742% yearly increase in software supply chain attacks from 2019 to 2022.

Building a mobile app with open-source software presents its own challenges, especially when considering the varying licenses of different software components. This necessitates careful review to ensure legal compliance, which could entail substantial time and resources from your internal development team.

In contrast, proprietary SDKs offer a comprehensive solution that is easily integrable and adjustable to a company’s needs. Continuous updates and new functionalities are automatic, ensuring compatibility with operating systems and cross-platform wrappers. Furthermore, proprietary software license purchases ensure extensive support and a seamless user experience.

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