Sometimes it’s just cheaper

This is funny, although not if it happened to you.

Now I’m a big fan of open source software. I use a whole lot of it myself. I use jQuery and Bootstrap and other free programming stuff, both at home and at work. I use Atom for web site development, and Postman for API work. These are things that are so good and/or popular that I use them at home but also work as well, where I can actually buy software if I need to.

On the other hand, I use Gimp at home to edit family photos because I don’t want to pay for a certain popular photo editing too. Gimp is really good but not quite as smooth as a certain popular photo editing tool, so at work I pay for the other tool, because getting the job done quickly is more important than saving a few dollars. Also, as great as it is, sometimes I run into problems with Gimp or need an extra feature that it doesn’t have and then I’m happy to have access to the other editing tool.

So there is a time and a place for free, and a time and a place for commercial stuff. Like yesterday.

I was talking to someone yesterday who was not a happy camper because he had just spent all day trying to fix a bug in a minified JavaScript plugin for WordPress. I can actually relate because I recently did the same thing with an obfuscated php module some thoughtful person had managed to drop on my WordPress server. Fortunately the company I rent space from periodically does full scans of their systems and caught it and flagged it for me. Which led me to wonder, “huh, I wonder what this actually does?”. Which then meant de-obfuscating the code. It was not fun, but that’s another blog.

So I could totally relate to this poor guy spending all day working on a minified file to fix the bug. Because it was a free plug-in and even if he had been able to contact the author, getting the author to drop everything and fix the problem probably wasn’t going to happen. And he needed to get it working. Right away. For a client. So… deep dive into unreadable code. Yuck.

Sometimes it’s just cheaper to buy something.

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