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How To Build a SaaS Product Using Open Source

The Cisco Annual Internet Report claims that, by the end of 2022, 75% of cloud computing workloads and workstations will be in the form of a SaaS model. This means that the SaaS industry is full of opportunity — but also competition.

When working on a custom SaaS development, speed and scalability are vital. If you are not familiar with open-source software, it is free and generally easy to incorporate into another product. It can also be modified or customized to suit your specific needs, making it even more appealing.

Unfortunately, many new businesses using the SaaS model overlook open-source software in the creation process, not realizing that these tools can be used to accelerate growth and build a successful SaaS product.

Please read on to get the lowdown on how to use open source to build your next SaaS product. Some of the many benefits may even surprise you!

What Does ‘Open Source’ Mean?

“Open source” generally refers to something people can modify and share. The term most often replies to software when the code has been made publicly accessible.

The term promotes open exchange, collaboration, transparency, and community-oriented software development. It’s easy to see how this is an excellent opportunity for many businesses.

How To Build a SaaS Product Using Open Source

Use Open Source Libraries or Frameworks

The first question to ask yourself — Is my team regularly exploring open source libraries? And are we discussing this option so that everyone knows the benefits of exploring open-source libraries when building SaaS products?

If they’re not searching for existing open-source code as a first step, it’s probably time to remind them that open-source libraries are an excellent place to start.

You might be wondering, what, exactly, is an “open-source library”? Well, simply put is an online source with a range of free-to-use software and code. These libraries usually include code for solving problems software developers frequently encounter.

The list includes, for example, code that:

➡️ Simplifies the use of dates, timestamps, and time zones.

➡️ Helps with the encryption and decryption of data to meet industry and security standards.

➡️ Helps to transform data from one format to another.

By now, I’m sure it’s clear how open-source software and code can be invaluable for SaaS business models. Why reinvent the wheel when the code you need for your product already exists?

Simply take what you need from an open-source library to save time and then modify it as necessary to fit your needs.

Another term we want you to keep in mind is “open-source framework.” An Open-source framework means a network of developers produces the templates for software development to speed up the software development process. What now?

An open-source framework could help you create a complex user interface much faster than writing the code from scratch. It is important to note that when you choose to work with an open-source framework, you take on the specific tools and methods associated with it.

This can be very useful, but it also means that you need to choose carefully to make sure you end up with a solution that’s 100% in line with your needs and goals.

To summarize, using open-source can make your software team’s job a whole lot easier, as they will have to write less code which is very time-consuming.

If they use foundational code from libraries or frameworks, they can focus their time and energy on producing the code for functionality specific to your product.

These fundamental elements will help set your product apart in the rapidly growing SaaS market and make it more valuable and unique.

Build On Existing Open-Source Products

To be clear, this is different from using open-source frameworks and code. Usually, it’s completely legal and possible to take an existing open-source product and build on it to create your commercialized software product. In this instance, we’re talking about taking the software product in its entirety and adapting it.

Fortunately, entirely usable open-source products exist and are there for the taking. Using an existing product can save your developers a lot of time; perhaps as much as 80% or 90% of the code you need will already be written.

The chances are high that nothing already out there will suit your needs, but this is an excellent solution if it does and is worth checking into it.

Take note: 
It’s always best to check in with your attorney to ensure you aren’t violating any intellectual property rights.

Use Open-Source Products To Complement Your Business

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “complement” as “something that fills up, completes, or makes better or perfect.” Now, who wouldn’t want to make their product better?

Let’s say you’ve created most of your code from scratch, but there are some non-core, complementary functions you need to add to perfect your product. Finding open-source code to use for these secondary features could be the way to go by saving you much precious time.

For example, suppose you’re building a business communication service and need to add some content-creation tools to the offering. You could go digging for content creation-related code that already exists and save time, money, and effort in the process.

Build Your Brand Name by Contributing to Open Source

So far, we’ve talked about how you can use existing open-source software to enhance your product. But in the spirit of community and collaboration, you can also contribute to open-source projects by making some of the code you’ve written for your software product available as open-source too!

This may seem like a waste of time and energy, but it’s always good for software engineers to build their reputations. And if they are linked to you, it can also help you build your brand awareness. People always appreciate generosity and sharing and you’ll be doing good in the software community by creating much-needed code or finding solutions to frequently encountered problems.

Learn more about the benefits of using open source for your SaaS product and how to avoid its risks for SaaS businesses on PayPro Global’s blog.

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ActiveCampaign is a marketing and sales automation platform that helps growing businesses meaningfully connect and engage with their customers. Its SaaS platform enables businesses to create optimized customer experiences by automating many behind the scenes processes and communicating with their customers across channels with personalized messages.


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