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Discussion on: Explain Open Source like I'm five

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Matt Ellen • Edited on

(might work for 5 year olds with long attention spans or who are very interested)

fyo: what is open source? Is it like ketchup?

me: No, open source is a way programmers allow people to use their work. Do you remember what a programmer is?

fyo: someone who makes a computer do different things than it already can?

me: that's right, and we do it by writing code. Do you know what code is?

fyo: no

me: code is a special way of writing instructions for a computer to follow.

fyo: ok

me: We call the code that makes up an app "source code", or just "source".

fyo: so the apps on a phone are made of source?

me: exactly. So, as you know my job is a programmer, so I write code for a company. When I write code for them, I have agreed that they own the code, so I can't share it with other people. When someone won't let you see the code for an app, that is called "closed source".

fyo: ok

me: The company doesn't have to hide the code, though. They can let other people outside the company see and use the code to make their own apps. Then the code is "open source".

fyo: oh. thanks.