If you have been anywhere and done anything in our line of work, you have a stash. Maybe it’s a .cs file or two that you drop into a project when you need them. Perhaps you’ve gone to the trouble of packaging it up in a DLL. But somewhere, you’ve got a stash of code that is so dadburned universally useful that you sprinkle it like a pinch of nerd salt onto every project you touch.
So. If it’s that universally useful, why aren’t you sharing it?
I Hope You Brought Enough Nerd For Everyone
“Nobody paid me for this code”, you say. “Why should I share it for free?”
I get it. I mean, that’s your code, after all, isn’t it?
Tit for tat. Quid pro quo. A day’s work for a day’s pay. Time is money. These adages of our parents are still totally relevant in the day to day machinations of modern business. But they don’t allow for progress–no one has ever moved the ball forward by sitting on it.
What I am getting at, of course, is open source. Yes, Open-flipping-Source, those words that make many devs and IT managers of a certain generation and platform preference slightly incontinent with uncertainty. Yet the nerds who do share their ‘ware on sites like GitHub and CodePlex raise a tide that lifts all of our boats.
I’m not asking for you to spend your witching hours bathed in an icy display glow, birthing software that blows the dorito crumbs out of every neckbeard on app.net. And I’m definitely not telling you to share your boss’s/client’s intellectual property, that’s wrong.
What I am asking you to do, though, is to dig up that file/library/plugin/thing that you are being so precious about, install GitHub for Windows, and share it with your fellow monos de código. Throw some spitshine on that useful little bauble, comment it up (or not) and hand it to the world. Yes, I know the world did not pay you for it. They never will–your day’s pay for that code is a sunk cost. But it’s going to help someone, somewhere, who has had the same universal problem to solve.
That’s Hippie Talk
All right. Let’s say you’re in it for you. You take the last of the coffee without making a fresh pot, and you sure as Stroustrup don’t care about giving your fellow developer a high-watered leg up. It’s on them to work it out for themselves, right? That’s why they pay you the big bucks, right? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, right?
Open sourcing your code can be pretty self-serving, too, if you’re into that sort of thing. Your project gets a permalink with your good name on it, and that becomes a part of your de facto résumé. So, even if you are only in it for number one, opening some of your code will pay dividends the next time you are looking for work, and someone you want to impress googles your good name.