How open-source technologies improve mobile product delivery

For mobile teams looking to improve their mobile product delivery without building everything from scratch, here are the challenges and benefits of using open-source solutions for your mobile app.

Field of Dreams” had us believing that “if you build it, he will come.” But what if it’s already built — and he (a.k.a. your audience) is already there using it? Would you really bother to build it again?

Today, most IT platforms have shifted to Agile development, making reusable open-source software the new norm. And from a practical standpoint, why would you rebuild a perfectly usable baseball diamond? Or, in dev speak, why code from scratch when you’ve got open-source code that’s done the heavy lifting for you?

For that reason, open-source technology is essential to the modern developer workflow. In fact, Google’s DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) found that open-source components, platforms, and libraries are more likely to be used by elite and high-performing teams. These teams are also more likely to develop open-source code to use in the future. Similarly, the Mobile DevOps Assessment (MODAS) surveys mobile developers about open-source code usage — for now, you can check out the initial results for finance-specific mobile teams and more on that later.

And for mobile teams looking to improve their product delivery without building from scratch, there are challenges — but even more important, benefits — to using open-source solutions. 

Open-source technology speeds up development

Basically, open-source code is written by developers for developers to modify, so you know the benefits will be many. 

With open-source projects, developers have access to non-proprietary software or code, which they can enhance as needed. On the most basic level, this is beneficial for all engineering teams because it allows devs to modify a program’s performance, add features, and fix errors to suit the needs of their project. 

Open-source technologies have even more benefits, especially for Mobile DevOps, including rapid prototyping, collaborative participation, and cost-effectiveness.

Collaboration

Generally speaking, collaboration is the foundation of open-source code. Along with optimizing talents across teams, open-source products have support baked in.

The highest-performing Mobile DevOps teams create a workplace with continuous collaboration and communication, and open-source code makes that easy. 

Rapid prototyping

Rapid prototyping builds a working app from existing functional code that can be easily and quickly modified — kind of like adding a theme to a CMS. This allows for early and meaningful user-driven testing. 

When app users are involved in the design process at the initial stages, devs can make crucial build changes before investing too much money and time in the product.

Just imagine building a new feature that no one wants to use. Rapid prototyping allows you to mock up and test your product without substantial financial outlay, reducing your risks while steering your development to a product your users want.

Rapid prototyping is easier with open-source because you just snap existing code or software elements together like building blocks to make something new. You only have to build “new” code when an open-source version of what you need doesn’t exist.

Time and cost-effectiveness

Mobile developers know all too well that building an app requires time and a significant financial investment. Simply put, open-source code saves you time and money. First, you have lower mock-up costs for rapid prototyping. Next, you can focus on specific features for your build rather than base-level coding. 

Building an app from scratch is time-consuming and expensive. With open-source code, your only focus is on the features, specifications, or content that will be unique to your app. Building in an open-source framework and testing using open-source templates helps mobile DevOps save time and resources and ultimately deliver a better product faster. 

Security risks of open-source code can be avoided

Open-source code is everything we have claimed it to be, but there are easily overcome challenges that still need consideration, such as spyware and malware. Some of these vulnerabilities are inherited from other libraries or are issues that were fixed but reappear because of versioning. Whatever the reason, these vulnerabilities make it possible for hackers to exploit them.

To overcome or mitigate these challenges: 

Look for vulnerable open-source libraries. Before starting your project, find out what open-source libraries are in use and identify any vulnerabilities. Then create warnings for developers accessing vulnerable libraries.

Update at-risk libraries. Untouched or forgotten code libraries can cause security issues and problems for your app. Cooperation between app security and development teams helps determine when library updates will break an application.

Create enforcement rules on Continuous Integration servers that will fail the build if vulnerable parts of libraries with high open-source risk are used within the code.

Improve your Mobile DevOps performance with open-source code

How your team uses open-source features can vastly improve your mobile product delivery because:

  • It allows for rapid testing and an enhanced user experience
  • It creates a dev culture of community and collaboration
  • It is a cheaper and faster way to build without sacrificing product quality or security

If you’d like insight into how your mobile development, mobile testing, mobile monitoring, mobile delivery, and mobile collaborations stack up, jump into the MODAS survey now. Or see how Bitrise can help optimize your mobile builds. 

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