An advocate of open source, Hopkins initially created the project for his own use, but after interest and support from open source developer communities, he approached CEO Rob Carpenter about making it open source. Carpenter embraced the idea and earlier this month the project launched.
“Rob could see from the business standpoint this made sense,” said Hopkins. “Contributing to the open source community is very important. If you release things that are coded well, that other coders can use…the developer community as a whole becomes stronger.”
The idea of strengthening, and even expanding, a market through open source, is gaining traction. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk recently announced his intention to make available patented electric battery technology for this reason. “The (patents) have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology…We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform,” wrote Musk in a statement on the company website.
Another benefit of open source technology is cost savings. Hopkins, who used open source technology like Laravel 4 to build Forret, said the app saves about a week of developer time.
“In the startup world, it’s so important to get the first version exactly right, but people can get trapped in a circle of perfection. Using a tool like Forret is a great way to get feedback from the community for a prototype early on.”
Forret’s startup benefits will factor into Hopkins’ upcoming talk before an audience of startup CEOs at One Million Cups in Boulder on July 30. In the meantime, he’ll keep developing “uncommented” code.