Supporting free software: My drive to donate

I’ve been a fan of free things for a long time, whether it be software or web sites. “If it’s for free, it’s for me.” Scanning through my list of installed programs and bookmarked web sites, I find the following.

Note: The list below includes free software that is not a free version of commercial software. As an example, Grisoft‘s free software is excluded, as those are feature-limited versions of commercial software.

There’s many more than those listed above, as well — those are just the ones I was able to identify quickly.

Most of those projects are voluntary efforts spearheaded by a few good men (and women) with no financial reward. Being a provider of free software myself, I realize how important it is to get the occasional donation — not just to help defray costs (my baseball game, CSFBL, costs over $250 a month just for the Internet connection and server, and the latter is woefully inadequate), but to also give you the incentive to keep plugging forward. Each donation becomes a validation that what you do is worthwhile and meaningful to someone other than yourself, and in many ways, getting that donation helps give you the incentive to keep plugging away.

That all being said, I decided that, starting June 2007, I will donate a small amount of money ($5.00) each month to one free project that I feel is worth the cause. Sure, $5.00 is not a lot — it amounts to $60 a year, an amount that does not reflect the economic value that these products bring to me — but my goal here is to start a trend.

We all use free stuff, and we all reap the rewards of it. Think how much more free stuff there would be — and how much better it would be — if each of us gave $5 a month to a single worthy product or service?

Sure, you can think, “It’s not free if we give money.” That may be true, but that’s not the point. Free software means that someone is giving you something with no expectation in return. By giving something to those people, we are saying “Thank you” and giving them the incentive to keep doing what they’re doing.

My first pledge goes to OpenOffice. They accept donations via PayPal, which makes it very easy. For $5.00 (rather 5 euros, so they get a little more than $5.00 thanks to favorable exchange rates), I have saved hundreds of dollars buying a commercial productivity suite. It’s money well-spent.

So, what do you say? Will you join the movement to pledge $5 a month to a free product or service that you feel is deserving? Make your pledge and let me know you’re on-board!

8 thoughts on “Supporting free software: My drive to donate”

  • I find myself trying more “open source” and independent developer software these days on my Mac. There are quite a few nifty Mac apps out there that are FREE to use, or are donation/shareware. I have been compiling a little list myself, and when I get the chance will try them out. However, right now I have made some donations, and or purchased the apps below recently.

    Textmate
    Journler
    CSSEdit
    Bean
    Camino

    OpenOffice is something I’m looking at as well since the announcement of the Mac OS X port and today was the first aqua release. Still has a way to go but it’s on my list.

  • OpenOffice for the Mac is early alpha, unless you want to install X11 on your Mac and run it that way.

    Free is great — let’s just not let the providers of free get away with not getting anything for their efforts. 🙂

  • just out of curiousity … how and what stuff are you using from the castleproject folks? and what are your thoughts on the ActiveRecord framework for NHibernate??? Personally, though I’ve just skimmed their docs, I like their attribute based approach and was wondering what your thoughts are on implementing something similar with your WorW framework.

    – wayde

  • Right now I use MonoRail in two major projects and expect to use it in all future projects (where clients will let me).

    Both the aforementioned projects use Paul Wilson’s O/R mapper and the WORW (which I’d call WOW had Blizzard not beat me to the name). I considered moving both to NHibernate/ActiveRecord, but ultimately decided against it because WORW does everything I need and had a shorter learning curve for me.

    NHibernate is very robust, and ActiveRecord is a solid framework. Both are very actively developed, which is one thing against Wilson’s O/R mapper (which suffers from a terrible name, but a nice abbreviation in WORM). Both offer features beyond WORM WORW, and probably always will.

    If I didn’t already have so much time invested into WORM (and WORW) I probably would be 100% on-board with NHibernate ActiveRecord, but I don’t feel that I’m short-changing myself by choosing not to go with them. WORM WORW do everything I need for now.

    Moving to an attribute-based approach is interesting, but it wouldn’t be simple, and it may require changes to WORM as well. The ActiveRecord attributes replace the NHibernate mappings files, so attributes would have to replace/define the mappings config file for WORM. At this point, I don’t expect trying to tackle such an effort.

  • First, I’m with you on the nervousity over WORM not being actively developed. WORM has served (and still is) my needs thus far … but I’m concerned about the lack of activity with regards to ongoing development. Is the project dead??? Some of Paul Wilson’s own words seem to indicate that perhaps it is in lieu of LINQ for SQL (at least that is how I read it).

    my 2 cents on Castle’s AR vs. WORW:

    AR Pros:
    * Active project and huge developer community
    * Built on NHibernate (I like WORM better but this seems to be the more recognized ORM and has the active developer community)
    * I like the validation attributes

    WORW Pros:
    * Allows for either ActiveRecord or Data Mapper approaches
    * Has built-in logging and caching support
    * Has Codesmith templates for generating mapping, entity and unit testing code
    * Generated classes hook into the ObjectDataSource control nicely out of the box

    Does that pretty much sum up things? If anything is left out or incorrect about my assessment I’d like to know.

    As a side note … is there an attribute you can set on the IsReadOnly property on EntityBase so the ObjectDataSource control doesn’t see it as a property to work with?

    – wayde

  • Well, consider these, too…

    * You can use a data mapper approach with NHibernate, but not Castle ActiveRecord.
    * Castle has logging and caching support, more robust than WORW, though a bit more complex to set up. In fact when writing WORW I referred to Castle’s stuff and NHibernate quite a bit.
    * There are ActiveRecord generators, even a graphical one.

    That being said, I could probably port WORW to NHibernate, if necessary, but I’m not sure how some things would change as a result.

    One thing that is very nice about WORM WORW is it’s very easy to get up and running, and has very narrow dependencies (two DLLs if you don’t use optional components, compared to six for NHibernate AR. Still, that’s hardly a big negative.

    On the IsReadOnly thing — there is a BindableAttribute. You can try this on IsReadOnly:

    [Bindable(false)]

    Let me know if that works for you — if it does I’ll commit it to the trunk.

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