As Progressive Lawyer is passionate about helping lawyers and law students make a difference and as I prepare to launch the site in October, part of my mission is to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” Part of that talk, as outlined in the values of the site are that the site be built on Open Source software and that the design incorporate sustainable web design.
On a personal note, while I consider myself to be quite “geeky” and I do have experience running websites, I am not a professional web designer or developer. The great thing about the tools that I am using for Progressive Lawyer is that they allow anybody truly interested in building a web presence the opportunity to do some cool things with a not too steep learning curve. When you get to the point where you are in over your head you can always then go to a developer to help out but at least you will be comfortable in running and maintaining your site which is always helpful moving forward.
Open Source Software
Progressive Lawyer is built upon a foundation of Open Source software. What is Open Source? Open source software is source code that is distributed freely and may be redistributed and modified, unlike for example OS X or iOS 8 by Apple which is proprietary to Apple and only they can make changes to it, for good or bad. With open source, the software is developed by a passionate community of users who modify, extend and strengthen the software regularly and often. The result is robust, extremely capable software that often outshines its proprietary competitors in efficiency and capability. Two examples of open source software used in the building and maintaining of Progressive Lawyer are the Linux operating system and the WordPress content management system.
The Linux operating system was originally developed by a computer science student in Finland, Linus Torvalds as an operating system that he could tweak and modify on his personal computer. As he developed the core software, he made it available over the Internet so that other hackers could use it and modify it to their hearts content. This sharing of the code has resulted in Linux powering everything from smartphones to tablets, desktops to super computers and is one of the most popular operating systems on Internet servers today. It is Linux that powers Progressive Lawyer on our server.
WordPress started out as a fork of a popular blogging platform by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little that exploded amongst web designers and bloggers much like Linux did. Today WordPress powers approximately 26% of all websites on the Internet and is infinitely expandable and configurable. WordPress powers everything from the Wall Street Journal law blog to eBay and innumerable blogs on WordPress.com. There is not much that WordPress cannot do. And the amazing thing about both of these is that they are free!
The flexibility and power that using open source software like Linux and WordPress in building Progressive Lawyer is truly amazing. In my opinion anybody interested in creating a website or online service using anything but open source software should seriously plot out the pros and cons of such an approach. With an amazingly helpful and enthusiastic community for support and with your software costs being so low, open source really is the way to go.
Another huge supporter of open source software is Progressive Lawyer domain registrar Gandi.net. From extensively utilizing open source software in all their services to supporting and sponsoring a number of open source projects and open Internet and privacy initiatives, Gandi take their “no bullshit” pledge seriously and I highly recommend them.
In part 2, I will detail how I am using sustainable web design to make Progressive Lawyer an efficient, environmentally responsible denizen of the Internet. Look for it next week!