A couple of people have remarked to me that one reason that they are not prepared to make the open source jump is the lack of support.

Well, last week I wrote about a mastermap importer that I had found. I said I would like to be able to merge the huge numbers of shapefiles produced into more manageable chunks. I got a lot of good advice as to ways I might be able to do that using gdal, which is really handy, BUT I also emailed the developer about the same problem. Two days later he released a new version of the software with that functionality built in.

To me, this highlights one of the big advantages of open source. People want to make their software better, and are willing to listen to suggestions. Small firms or one-man bands don’t have the inertia of the major firms and can respond to requests quickly and easily. To the user, that means flexibility and control. In other industries, that would be seen as an advantage, not a disadvantage, so why not in software?