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JFrog's Fred Simon: It's All About Developer Freedom and Faster Build Time

JFrog's Fred Simon: It's All About Developer Freedom and Faster Build Time

"There is no real competition between open source and proprietary. It is no longer a contest!" asserted Fred Simon, JFrog's chief architect and cofounder. "Once you have tried it, you will understand why. We are riding a huge open source usage wave. That is why the only competition to arrive in this market since 2006 is open source companies."

By Jack M. Germain
10/29/13 5:00 AM PT

For software developers, success is being able to maximize their chosen programming language to speed up build time. Almost as important is being able to speed up product distribution.

JFrog's Fred Simon
JFrog's Fred Simon

In order to accomplish those goals, software developers need a better distribution system and access to other developers' code to build in compatibility and integration. One way to do that is for software engineers to use a language-agnostic tool that integrates with other developer tools. A second way is to give code writers a new approach to storing and distributing their software libraries.

"Software development is a complicated world where even the slightest mistake can slow down a project or build for days at a time," Fred Simon, chief architect and cofounder of JFrog, told LinuxInsider.

In this interview, LinuxInsider talks to Simon about the issues confronting software developers today.

LinuxInsider: How competitive is today's developer environment in working with proprietary or open source development tools?

Fred Simon: First of all, there is no real competition between open source and proprietary. It is no longer a contest! Once you have tried it, you will understand why. In our space -- that of software developers' tools -- there is no competition from proprietary companies. We are riding a huge open source usage wave. That is why the only competition to arrive in this market since 2006 is open source companies.

LI: What business strategy must software developers pursue to gain more traction in the free versus pay software market?

Simon: The key to success is giving potential customers more reasons to buy into the professional version after they have tried the free download version. We focus on being pure open source. Find a way to keep both the free users and the professional users happy.

We learned that from the others who came before us. In order to get the top enterprise performance and all of the integrated support, users need to get the professional version, but for those who continue to use the free version, do not slow down. Do not provide them with less of an engine.

LI: How can software makers encourage developer freedom and social sharing?

Simon: Make integration between the free and professional versions as easy as possible for the users. In our case, we open sourced much of the features and the code except for the IP of the professional version. But all of the APIs and product integrations with servers and such are very vibrant among the different developer communities.

We encourage developers to make their own integration routines. So we get a lot of interaction from other developers, and we are supporting them. This gives customers a lot of flexibility and choice in deciding what they want to use.

LI: How does a software maker work with a generic developer tool platform without locking into a set programming language?

Simon: An approach that worked for us is to employ a server-side component. The user installs it on his server and selects the particular language he wants to use. This is similar to what you do using your video editor. You select the format you want to output to play back the edited or created video.

LI: Several binary repository management platforms are gaining popularity. How does this distribution method change the way developers store and manage their binary libraries and allow them to have complete control over the full software release flow?

Simon: This is something that is not well understood by most users starting out. Prepackaged modules are prepared in a developer's binary source code format. These are distributed through a binary repository. You can install your own system's package manager and install the binary package from the repository. Another option is to get the source code on your own and add it to your system. So you have access to the binary exchange coming from the outside or coming from the inside.

LI: What do you see as the fundamental challenge with marketing as an open source developer?

Simon: The marketing process takes two steps. First is the difficulty in creating an open source project that will become successful. This is the biggest challenge in the open source environment because there are so many projects available. A lot of times it depends on who you know and what you need.

Then, once you have established your company, your main goal is to be careful with how you conduct your marketing. You do not want to annoy your community. Much depends on how you manage your marketing. Your marketing strategy will reflect who you are as a company and how you work with the community.


Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear.


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