The open source development cycle is the most crucial process in the field of global development. Most of the here described steps have already been in use for decades in the field of software development but the hardware realm is just taking off. The main difference between the two is that in the software world we are dealing with source code which are basically text documents eventually being turned into machine code (i.e. in zeros and ones that a certain computer “understands”) while in the hardware world we are dealing with graphics (product designs, blueprints) and STL files which will be turned into finished tangible products using automated production facilities on a local level. We can still treat both kinds of documents as “source code” since both contain instruction code to either turn it into a piece of software or a certain real world product. The most important aspect is that all created source files remain open to the public and their finished products stay accessible for free to all humanity. See GNU GPL Licence and Creative Commons for more information
- the raise of affordable personal computers
- the widespread implementation of the internet world wide
- open source software (Linux, Integrated development Environment software, merging tools e.g. github )
- world wide developers who take up the challenges to solve problems or advance ideas.
How it works
All of our technological achievements are basically the evolved results of a long time gradual redesignment or improvement of an idea or a solution of a particular problem. The rise of human settlements and the first civilizations favoured collective developments of all sorts of things like agriculture, construction, writing, mathematics, city administration, legislations, medicine, trade and other technologies and it continuous today in a much faster pace.
Today we are living in a networked world which favours collective development on a global scale never experienced before. Lets use it to our advantage!
At the very beginning there is an idea in some ones head. After rethinking and reprocessing the idea ripens to a practical product idea which might help to do something more easier or more efficient or it might be something completely new and revolutionary. This person uses a 3D modelling app or an IDE and loads the primary design or source code up to an on-line repository like github. Other like minded people review the uploaded design or source code and some of them download this particular design or source code and add some improvements to it before reuploading it to the online repository again. With a world population of billions connected to the internet it only requires a tiny fraction of the online users to contribute improvements to develop a very cool product in a very short time. As soon a certain maturity is achieved rigorous testing and bug fixing takes place. In the case of real world products two forms of testing will be applied. First of this testing will be made virtually using supercomputers simulating real earth conditions . When the product tests are satisfactory prototypes of this design will be made and subjected to real physical tests. All these testing can be performed on different locations around the globe while the results will be send back to the product repository for review. Then finally a public release product candidate will be published so that everyone interested in this new product can have a copy automatically compufactered at his nearest location without paying a dime. Today already millions of people are designing and sharing printable models which are available online like the Thingiverse from where they can download and print them out on their local 3D printers.