At LECKR, I'm developing open source components for the apps I'm building. Instead of making everything specific to the apps I'm working on, we look ahead and see that some of the things can be used universally across multiple apps
(Let's call this process "opening up"). It's a bit more work*, and we give away free code, so the advantages might not be very apparent immedeately, but in this short essay I'll try to make you see why I choose to do so. An old Dutch saying goes
De cost gaet voor de baet uyt and it's true, first it will cost you something, but then there will be ROI.
* = Making your code universal means different abstractions and taking into account more possibilities. This takes more time
1. Feature Separation over mechanical separation
Most apps are separated in screens, store, components, util, wrappers, and stuff like that. I call this
mechanical separation. However, when you
open up, you will enforce yourself to do something called
feature separation. Every library contains all kinds of mechanics, but just one feature. The advantages are huge, in my eyes. For one, you keep all things that do the same thing together in a folder. That's nice when you want to work on that feature! Secondly? There were more advantages, but I forgot.
2. Attract Devs
open up, other developers will start using your code (Doh). This can be very benificial because you may be looking to grow your team! And it can be very hard to find experienced developers in your technology. Well, this is the way, my friend.
3. Loss of mass and community PR's
In Dunbar, about 75% of all LOC of the app is
opened up now. That means the app itself becomes 4x as light, 4x less work, to maintain. People from the community that use my libraries will do their part in fixing problems of the
opened up code.
4. Extra hustle on the side
If you do this right legally, you can use GNU Affero GPL or a similar legal binding to your
open source code. This licence makes it possible for everyone to use it for free, but they need to open source all modifications as well, and if they are a commercial company, you can charge them for it. This may take a while to set up, but it may be quite lucrative in the long term.
5. Whitelabel your product
When you make open source front-end, you can also think about not just putting UX and UI there, but also whole data-fed functionalities that actually do something. These things that people donwload your app for, can also be encaspulated into other apps if you open up. Of course, you'd need a business model, but it can be a great way for
strong exponential growth.
6. Viral Growth
Talking about strong exponential growth, I'd like to go one step further. What if you made a functional component that had your logo in it? You can only use it with the logo added, or you'd have to fork the library. Some apps would choose to do so (I do so for a google address component that fetches addresses with their API, and I kept the
powered by Google. It's a good brand anyway). If your brand gets that good, this may be very good for virality because users of different apps will be taken to your app! Wahahaaaauuuu!