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How code marketplaces can cut application development costs

Paul Rubens | March 11, 2014
Buying code modules from a curated marketplace can help usher applications into production on time and on budget. Because code marketplaces guarantee that developers will actively maintain modules, concerns about support are largely mitigated.

"Don't re-invent the wheel." That piece of advice can help software developers produce applications on time and on budget - and one of the best ways to avoid reinventing the wheel is to use software modules that have already been written.

There are literally millions of open source modules available on sites such as GitHub. A high proportion of those has been abandoned by its authors, though, and is no longer actively maintained.

That explains the rise of curated code marketplaces. These offer software modules - and even completed applications that can be customized. Source code can be bought or licensed, along with support from the original authors.

Marketplaces such as Apptopia predominantly offer mobile games, but others offer a wider selection of code modules. Chupamobile mainly offers code for mobile apps, for example, whileCode Canyon and Binpress also offer code modules and scripts for desktop and Web applications and plugins for the likes of WordPress, Joomla, osCommerce and Zen Cart. The range of languages includes VB.NET, C#, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python and Ruby.

Spend Less on Code, Finish Development Projects Faster
The most obvious benefit of buying from a code marketplace is getting access to code modules for a far lower outlay than would be involved if you had to develop the code yourself.

Chupamobile cofounder Stefano Argiolas notes that some of the software offered on his code marketplace took around 1,000 hours of development time yet is offered for $500 or less.

That works out to less than 50 cents per hour - two orders of magnitude less than the rate you'd have to pay a developer to write the software. For that, he says, you get "a solid code base, reviewed and documented and with the full support of the original author of the project."

The savings may not necessarily be quite that large in practice, but they can certainly be significant. Jaime Enriquez, founder of software company Inode Entertainment, bought source code for $500 and then spent $2,000 customizing the code. He says he would have spent $10,000 developing code from scratch. "It's less money, and it reduces my time to market," he says.

Binpress CEO Adam Benayoun says the benefits go far beyond getting access to low-cost code. One key purpose for starting his code marketplace, he says, was to make it easier for open source developers in particular to commercialize and monetize their software. This gives them an incentive to maintain their modules - rather than abandon them on GitHub.

Code Marketplaces Offer Continued Maintenance, Support
Another benefit for companies that buy from a code marketplace is the guarantee that the module's developer will actively maintain and support it. Before founding Binpress, Benayoun worked on many projects that used hundreds of open source libraries. He encountered support difficulties time and time again.


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