Open Source Licences: The Why and the How

Let’s start with what Open Source means. If some software is described as open source, it means:

  1. The source code is available to the end-user
  2. The source code can be modified by the end-user
  3. There are no restrictions on distribution or use

You might be wondering why someone would want to open source their project. Well, imagine you get an idea for a cool front-end framework that will save the world, blah blah blah. The only problem is, you have a day job and can only work on this project on weekends. Since you may not have the time and resources needed to continually maintain and improve the project by yourself. You might choose to open-source the project so other people can contribute to making your idea a reality. This happens a lot with development tools and libraries, case in point, AngularJS, React, Twitter Bootstrap, etc.

Choosing an Open Source License

There are many open-source licenses which differ slightly in what other the licensee can do with the software and it’s source code. Choosealicense.com has a great overview on the various open source licenses and helps you choose which one will be suitable for your project.

Adding The License to Your Project

To add the software license to your project, create a text file (typically named LICENSE or LICENSE.txt) in the root directory of your source code and copy the text of the license into the file. You can get the text of the license at the aforementioned choosealicense.com. Replace [year] with the current year and [fullname] with the name (or names) of the copyright holders.