Open or Closed Source?
Since the announcement of Reformed Academy, a few people have asked me if this was going to be open sourced. It’s a thought provoking question, and I have been thinking about it for a few weeks.
Should we open source Reformed Academy? On the one hand, we don’t want someone taking the code, duplicating all of the course content, and calling it their own. If it was closed source, it would be a lot tougher to do something like that.
If it was open sourced, anyone could contribute to the project, and the concept of a free and open learning experience that Reformed Academy will provide would be reflected in the code license.
The Value is in the Content, not the Code
I have run many projects where keeping the source closed was a good idea. There is a competitive advantage in doing so. If you are developing feature x in a closed environment, and your competitor is not, you have an advantage.
Reformed Academy is a little different though. The value is in the content, not the code. The source code isn’t what is most valuable (even though it is an important piece of the puzzle). The content is what brings value to Reformed Academy. I could put all the bells and whistles I could ever want into the website, but if it didn’t have quality content, it wouldn’t be worth much.
The Reformed Academy website will be completely free to use, and to coincide with these values, I’m happy to announce that Reformed Academy is open sourced under the General Public License (GPL). This means that you are free to copy the source code and distribute it as your own as long as your project also uses GPL. I chose GPL because the whole concept of a free and open learning environment should be carried on to subsequent projects using this code base.
This is a good license. Many open sourced project use it, with the most popular being Linux.
You can check out the project on GitHub (the ‘develop’ branch is where everything is happening). We still have a ways to go, but progress is being made. If you are a software developer, feel free to contribute!