Every startup is attempting to solve a unique problem, but many of the technology building blocks used by startups are often the same. Most startups need user management, online payments, social integration, analytics, admin consoles, data capture forms, stylish and user-friendly UIs, security measures and user onboarding, for instance.
At BlueChilli we wanted our own set of reusable building blocks, so we could build an MVP tech platform for the 100+ startups in our portfolio in a fast and effective way, without reinventing the wheel.
So from almost the beginning of the company five years ago, we’ve been gradually developing BlueChilli’s ChilliSource framework: a broad set of web, cloud, and mobile UI controls, abstractions and wrappers for common integration points, developer and prototyping tools and language extensions – all intended to standardise and accelerate the development of startup software.
Until today, the only way you’d see ChilliSource in action was to work in our team or for one of the startups in the BlueChilli portfolio.
But that ends today!
We’ve been working for some time to open-source the ChilliSource framework, in order to make it available to a much wider community. We’re close enough to releasing the first open-source module that we wanted to talk about some of the benefits we’ll gain from doing this.
If you’re building your own tech platform, you should also consider releasing all or part of it as open-source. Here’s why:
Openness – make due diligence easier
At BlueChilli we aim to build great tech platforms for the startups in our portfolio, but we also hope to migrate our startups to their own development team when their startup has validated their basic model, gained some customers and revenue, and raised sufficient capital to start hiring.
Open-sourcing the framework gives founders visibility into the foundation of their technology stack from day one.
No secrets, no strings attached. And once a startup is ready to hire its own development team, the transition and handover process will be much simpler because of the documentation and quality measures that are fundamental to open-sourced projects.
At the same time BlueChilli benefits by demonstrating our software engineering capabilities and services, and thereby attracting more of the types of developers, founders, and investors that understand and value our technical expertise.
Collaboration- get help from the best people in your space
Imagine you could have the best minds in the world working on your startup. Ok, so that can be a tall order. But having a global open-source community of experts contributing to the framework that your products are based on is not too shabby at all. And did I mention that it’s free?
The more people contributing to the ChilliSource framework, the more features are added and the more cool stuff you get for free!
You’ll also get major brownie points for your own contributions, which will in turn help other startups and accelerate the entire eco-system. To infinity and beyond!
Quality – don’t kludge, your peers are watching
Open-source projects are visible to the whole world and are therefore subject to rigorous reviews and strict quality measures. This means code reviews, documentation, unit tests, version management. Given the incredible speed at which startups are built these days, it’s reassuring to know that the base framework underpinning a technology startup’s main value proposition is well taken care of.
Recruiting – what better way to test job applicants?
If you’ve ever had to hire technical staff, you know it’s not easy. Great developers are few and far between and assessing their skills takes time you probably don’t have. This is where having an open-sourced framework provides another opportunity: developers from anywhere in the world can contribute to the framework, and if their contribution is good, that is great skill evaluation. You can offer them a job with less time and effort. Plus, half of their onboarding is already done.
Conversely, having an open-source framework and providing visibility into how the BlueChilli development team works is also a good way to attract high-caliber engineers.
So what’s next?
We have started 2017 with a strong focus on open-sourcing the framework, and it is our goal to make the main components for the Web, Cloud, and Mobile platforms available this year.
Creating a global community around the ChilliSource framework is the next logical step in BlueChilli’s rapid expansion, and we are very excited to be part of this journey.
If you’d like us to let you know when our first module is released, leave your email address and we’ll notify you when it’s ready.