Open Source vs IP in the New App World

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Open Source vs IP in the New App World - Advanced Integrators OklahomaWhen I started doing consulting work in the accounting software arena 20+ year ago, it was a different world.  Competitors were competitors – we didn’t mingle much and we certainly didn’t collaborate.  But the mindset on that has been changing for I’d say the last ten years or so.  Now when I go to a conference to network, I’m truly networking.  I’m meeting new resources and sharing ideas – bouncing things off of other consultants.  I presented a session with Bob McAdam of Dynamics Communities and Rod O’Connor of Briware Solutions at the GPUG Tech Conference in Fargo last month where we discussed some of our favorite things around Dynamics GP and opened each topic up for discussion/sharing.  The session was a big hit and there were a lot of great tips learned.

Why Am I Talking About This?

Now, all of that said, let me highlight the reason for this blog post.  There is a new product by Steven Endow of Precipio Services that is an Open Source product.  Steve has created GP Transaction Search as an Open Source product to encourage collaboration and sharing among the Dynamics GP community.   If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know what Open Source is, but I’ll do a quick little definition section just in case.

Open Source is when some creates code and then shares it for anyone to use and/or modify for free.

IP (Intellectual Property) is code (or something similar) that is written and kept confidential so it can be sold.  That’s not an exact definition, but it works well enough for this article.

In the world of crowd sourcing and Kickstarter and collaboration, the idea of Open Source sharing is an interesting idea to get my head around.  For the last I don’t know how many years, every Microsoft event I’ve been to has included strong suggestions to create your own IP – build something that you can bundle and sell along side the accounting packages we resell.  And now with Dynamics 365, the buzz word is “App”.  You build your IP and then package it into an App and sell it on the App store.

Open Sourcing your idea/code could lead to some really great products being developed that might not have been otherwise.  But according to Microsoft and other software gurus out there, we need to bundle those great ideas and sell them ourselves.

So what’s a consultant to do???

Well, I installed and started playing with Steve’s new product.  It runs really fast and is easy to use.  It was a bit different to install since I’m used to a nice click through install, but I do like the functionality.   As I played with it more, I thought that I would love for it to have a lookup for vendor id.  And then it hit me, it’s Open Source – so I can make that change myself!  The beauty of the Open Source in its essence.

One snag is that I don’t code, but guess what, with all my networking I now know a lot of people who can help me out with that!

At the end of the day, each developer will have to decide if their code is Open Source or IP.  Maybe the difference is whether it’s simple code or whether it’s all dressed up with bells and whistles.  Or whether it took 2 hours to create to 20.  But I hope we see a good bit of both in the future – who knows what we can do with a little Open Source coding.