david heinemeier hansson

david heinemeier hansson bw

partner with Jason Fried at 37signals.

and while working there, in 2003, happened to create – Ruby on Rails. [a series of libraries and frameworks – a work environment – that made it easier to program web applications.

he open sourced the framework and called it Ruby on Rails. Rails was an immediate hit with programmers, because t allowed them to do more work more elegantly and efficiently than they could in any other language.

The developer community that rallied around Rails helped build out and improve the framework, adding new functionality fixing bugs, adding patches , and son on. By sharing the Rails platform with a developer community, 37 signals was able to recruit an army of developers that collectively extended and strengthened it in ways that the company never could have done by itself. And giving the code away cost them nothing. Says Heinemeier Hansson:

I’m going to be no poorer because I shared this open source software that I developed anyway. I needed it already. So if I give it away after it’s already done, what iam I losing? Exactly nothing. I”m gaining a ton of stuff thought. I’m putting this into a wonderful, beautiful commons and everybody else is doing the same thing and all the actors walk away from that richer.

37signals doesn’t sell services of commercial licens for the framework. They simply share it and use it themselves to get work done. All of their software is built on Rails (basecamp et al), and thanks to the worldwide developent community, their software is better, faster, and stronger than anything they could have accomplished on their own. 

In a Chicago Tribune interview, via Jason Fried, 

That’s one way to stay small, let other people do your work for you. I think people who think about proprietary technologies are thinking in the Old World.

above from Dave Gray‘s The Connected Company


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