Smaller Project for Free Open Source as Leverage


Is it smart to release a small project as free and open-source to display my abilities as a programmer.

I don't mean that in a "Hey, look at me, I'm awesome!" way.

I mean it in a "This is the quality of work you can expect out of me." way.


  • Aside from my full-time job, it takes 5-10hrs/week
  • 1st Beta release complete within 1 month
  • Product is a tool for my exact peer-base
  • Product does not have ability to scale
  • Could only charge ~$5/month/license

Pricing Software Open Source Free

asked Oct 10 '11 at 06:02
118 points

2 Answers


Releasing a product as open source is a great way to get people interested in it and using it. If you do the right open source licensing you can always offer a Pro version later. Or, make money of consulting services, or hosting it.

If you don't have a lot of examples of work you have done then yes, an open source project can be a great credibility builder.

answered Oct 10 '11 at 13:23
Ryan Doom
5,472 points
  • Yes, all of my coding at work is proprietary. I was also thinking of consulting as a possibility in the future. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for the project to scale nor offer a hosting. – Jberger 13 years ago
  • Sounds perfect for open source then – Ryan Doom 13 years ago


I wouldn't personally look up your open source work to see your quality if I was looking to purchase/subscribe to one of your apps. I would make the decision based soley on the app I am interested in. With that in mind, I wouldn't do an open source project for the purpose of credibility in my commercial app.

I think people too often underestimate themselves or the ability to make something of value and sell it. Just make a good product and put it for sale, you don't need to justify or build credentials about yourself, let the product speak for itself.

answered Oct 10 '11 at 13:59
Joel Friedlaender
5,007 points
  • Joel, thank you for the response. I'm also thinking about point-of-views from possible future employer, company that may want to buy licensing to update/edit, etc. For instance, on stack overflow careers, many companies note: "open source projects a +". However, although I am humble, I definitely don't feel that I underestimate my abilities. I also do agree and thank you again for your insight, particularly, "Just make a good product ...[and let it] speak for itself". – Jberger 13 years ago

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Pricing Software Open Source Free