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How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For Me?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago

Programming 285

An anonymous reader writes "I am a biomedical researcher interested in having general-purpose, scientific programs developed and released as open source. Interface design and reusability of the code are of primary importance to me. For my purpose, Cocoa applications relying on Core Data seem to be the best way to get the job done quickly. While I have some programming experience, I have few connections to the industrial world. So my question to Slashdot readers is: how do I find someone (individual or business) to write high-quality programs? Are there reputable contractors experienced in Cocoa? What sort of rates should I expect, to use as a starting point in negotiations? Would a requirement that programs are released as open source make it more or less difficult to find someone to do the job?"

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er... (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675841)

The same way you find regular programmers. Just ask them to document their code and have in the contract that the work done is work for hire. When the job is completed, you own the copyright. At that point, release it under the open source license of your choice. For details, consult the GNU website on assignment of copyright.

Re:er... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25675999)

I am a biomedical researcher interested in having general-purpose,

scientific programs...for my purpose, Cocoa applications...

Whooo hoo ho ha HAAAA ha ha ha!

While I have some programming experience, I have few connections to the

industrial world.

Don't feel bad, Mac users are living jokes not taken seriously by anybody

except for their own kind.

how do I find someone (individual or business) to write high-quality

programs? Are there reputable contractors experienced in Cocoa?

Try Starbucks, maybe you can find 1 or 2 candidates with experience in

writing scientific applications for the iPhone.

What sort of rates should I expect, to use as a starting point in


Expect a 500% "Oooh, shiny" markup right off the bat. Though this is the

going rate for COBOL programmers, experienced Cocoa developers usually ask

for additional perks such as clothing allowances for Banana Republic.

Re:er... (2, Funny)

burris (122191) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676063)

I don't think Banana Republic is quite right. John Perry Barlow, in an interview he gave about 15 years ago, described the NeXT software development contractors as "Unix Weenies by Armani."

Re:er... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676207)

Yeah right stupid ass.

I dare you to edit video and create a tv show like I can on your PeeeCeeee or betteryet, do it under linux.

Linux video editing is a raging joke. The morons that make Cinerella cant program themselves out of a paper bag.

So mister fuckface. tell me HOW you can with your shitty windows and shitty linux and extra shitty BSD capture, compost and edit a TV show or movie without making it look like a 12 year old did it in his basement.

Adobe products suck, Everything else on your beloved PeeeCeee platforms sucks... Only FCP is a real tool.

I do work on my Mac that makes me money... you wanking off all day to free porn found on google images does not impress anyone.

Re:er... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676497)

I dare you to edit video and create a tv show like I can

Don't throw a tantrum, Turtleneck. You and every other MySpace kid or freshman in your second-rate art school create "TV shows" and "movies" with Final Cut Pro.

So mister fuckface. tell me HOW you can with your shitty windows and shitty linux and extra shitty BSD capture, compost and edit a TV show or movie without making it look like a 12 year old did it in his basement

Even a 12-year old in his basement could make "artsy" movies, TV, and photos using black and white with fades and soundtracks etc. Too much talent in the Mac pool, methinks. Mac software was designed for simpletons looking to "fluff" up their inner artiste'.

I do work on my Mac that makes me money...

I do work on macs that make me money too. I buy 'em from thrift shops and wipe 'em down, then sell 'em to idiots for $1000 and use the money to buy PC's.

you wanking off all day to free porn found on google images does not impress anyone.

I don't pay extra when I shouldn't. That money you would save if you bought a comparably-equipped PC could buy you a cute Pomeranian to go along with the rest of your gayness.

Re:er... (2, Insightful)

Markspark (969445) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676643)

So mister fuckface. tell me HOW you can with your shitty windows and shitty linux and extra shitty BSD capture, compost and edit a TV show or movie without making it look like a 12 year old did it in his basement

and how about the fact that Mac OSX is based of BSD? In my eyes, it's like saying linux sucks, but ubuntu is teh shiznitz!

Re:er... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676577)

If I had to take a guess, I would say you're more angry at yourself for picking Mac OS than you are at the GP. You understand that your platform has massive shortcomings and you make up for it by overhyping FCP and engaging in ad hominem attacks on the GP. Grow up.

Re:er... (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676381)

Be careful here. Simply saying "work for hire" in the contract does not necessarily make it so. Find a good form agreement recommended by a lawyer or a lawyer to draft a contract that includes an express IP assignment as well as work for hire provisions.

Re:er... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676499)

I think that's what he knows.

I think his question should have been "How do I find good OSS programmers?". From his article, I'm quite sure he knows that money will do the talking once he has someone for the project. I guess his problem is finding that someone, without that someone being just anyone.

Re:er... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676639)

Under English law, at least, this is entirely wrong. You will need to specify in the contract that any IPR developed belongs to you, and that the developer will take all steps to perfect this, including undertaking assignments.

The developer is the author, and thus the default owner of any copyright work (source code) - as the commissioning party, you get nothing more than a limited licence, unless you specify it in the agreement. Plenty of companies have got caught out by this, and think that, by paying for development work, they necessarily own it.

Cash. (5, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675843)

Simple as that.

Even Easier (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676309)

Sexual Favors. Neither party pays taxes, the geek gets something worth more than money itself.

I think you are asking the wrong question ... (3, Insightful)

hedronist (233240) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675857)

Let us review some basic truths:

        1. Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch.
        http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/ [catb.org]

I don't think 'wanting someone else to do it for you' quite falls into this category.

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (4, Insightful)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675877)

Getting paid is, for most developers, a "personal itch" worth scratching.

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676097)

Getting paid for as little work as possible is the real nature of the itch. Recognize it for what it is; if your developers don't have any motivation to write excellent code, they won't. You'll end up with the barest minimum that satisfies your requirements list and any use cases you gave them, and not one iota more.

I say find a few other people who are in your same field who perhaps are more code minded. Get a group together with a common itch, and organize yourselves to do it together. For small niche products, that's pretty much the only way. Anything else will either be prohibitively expensive (hiring top notch developers with a track history to maintain) or result in mediocre results (hiring developers whose interest stops at the paycheck).

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (5, Insightful)

chrylis (262281) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676215)

Perhaps so, but if the programmer is aware that his code will be available for future customers to see, that provides a pretty strong incentive not to churn out crapware. This works in most of the rest of the economy, and it's hard to believe on faith, as so many seem to, that it can't work for software. I doubt that all of the programmers hired to work on Apache or MySQL always feel pumped about writing whatever regression test needs doing, but even if they had no personal pride in their work, there would be the external incentive.

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676567)

Very good point. Mention to the programmer that he will be able to use this as examples of his work that future prospective employers may like to see.

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676545)

Don't know about you, but it sure ain't mine.

Sure, I get paid to write code. But I don't write code to get paid. I write code that I want to write, and someone actually is stupid enough to dump money on me for that. We are currently fortunate that we may, to some extent, actually choose our work place. We're not forced to work in a field that isn't to our liking. Don't like SQL? Don't have to do databases, you can write drivers. Don't like that? Maybe frontend design and implementation is more your thing. People are sought after in pretty much every field, you have the free choice.

I think money is about the worst motivator for a programmer. He can get that anywhere. Any company that needs programmers will give him that. If you don't have anything more interesting to offer, I'll probably not stay for long.

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675957)

Not thinking of it does not make it a cool problem that would be interesting to a competent programmer to solve. "Not invented here" should be stomped out of everyone that pushes it.

I don't think that's his exact goal (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676111)

The second half of his question is about pay rates and how to find programmers for hire. He does mention open source in the first half of the question though.

It seems like he wants to scratch a personal itch, but he's willing to put up some cash for someone to scratch it for him. Then once it's working, open source it and have the community improve upon it. So it's not the typical open source scenario of "start it yourself, put it on sourceforge, then try to get people involved."

I'm picturing this guy as an open source project manager. Eventually anyways. He's going to start out as a client to some programming firm. Then he'll take the code he paid for and open source it on sourceforge. Then he'll go through an open source recruitment phase. Finally, he'll be the one saying "we need this feature" and "I'm not accepting that patch."

What I'd recommend is to read the commit logs and notes for a large project. Study your Linus Torvalds. Read how he manages kernel commits paying close attention to how he handles rejected submissions. And the occasionally poorly received edict (for instance, when Linus moved to a pseudo-proprietary source control system) X.org might not be a bad study either, especially around the time of the split from XFree.

Learn how to manage an open source project correctly, and your odds for success will greatly improve.

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (1)

Firewild (1251318) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676427)

But what if you have an itch, but implementing that itch is beyond your capabilities? It sounds like this doctor has a need for software that does a certain thing, and wants it to be available for everyone to use (most likely, other doctors). That doesn't sound like a bad thing to me. Especially if it allows other people to review the code for mistakes, particularly important if this software is involved in life or death decisions (immediate or prolonged, doesn't matter the time interval.)

Re:I think you are asking the wrong question ... (1)

OneMadMuppet (1329291) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676589)

1. Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch.

You know Microsoft sell a cream for that...

How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For Me? (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675861)

How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For Me?

Offerings of pizza and beer usually work.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (0, Redundant)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675935)

Of course, how much beer & pizza is an important factor. Given sufficient quantities of pizza & beer, hell, I'd do it.

Its not like programming with Cocoa is terribly hard or anything.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676075)

Its not like programming with Cocoa is terribly hard or anything.

I've had my share of difficulties figuring it out. These days most of my coding is done in PHP for web frontends, but I've also done a fair share of GUI development in Visual C++ as well as some using GTK+ in Linux. While I haven't sat down and hit it up hard, Cocoa programming has still confuzzled me. Maybe it's just that I have never programmed for the Mac before trying to jump into it, but even trying simple rewrites of programs that I'd done on other systems gave me trouble. Maybe I'll give it a whirl again though.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676297)

Haha, yeah, I'm going to simply say that you being a PHP "programmer" implies why you can't pick something else up. Have fun with your frontends, being the lowest of the lowest in the IT world.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

Isaac1357 (1359201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676609)

While PHP is technically a scripting language, not a programming language, there is no reason to attack him like that. I wouldn't say PHP folks are the lowest of the low by a long shot. And knowing both PHP and C++, while there are some differences, skills in PHP easily translate over to C++. Syntactically they seem very similar to me.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676729)

While PHP is technically a scripting language, not a programming language,

You're actually making a distinction there that doesn't exist. A "programming language" is any set of instructions that can be setup to produce results on a computer. It is inherently neither scripted nor compiled; implementations of it are. For example, QBASIC and QuickBASIC were nearly the same syntax-wise (and both were implementations of BASIC), but one was interpreted, and one was compiled.

In the same way, the PHP language is very much a programming language, but current implementations of it are interpreted rather than compiled. If one so wished however a compiled implementation could be created, and that wouldn't have any effect on the language itself ;).

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676673)

Actually I have a Computer Science degree and I'm most familiar with C and C++. It's just that my current employer doesn't have a need for that right now so any development I do there is as a hobby, and PHP is what I do for a living. I actually picked up PHP years after the others.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676701)

Yeah, you put that PHP layman in his place, Anonymous Coward! (Sarcastic)

Seriously though, I think you comment should be modded down. As someone who's worked with a huge variety of different languages and frameworks, on a variety of different platforms, it's sometimes a bit of a pain getting accustomed with how a particular framework is organized and meant to be used. Some are just easier to learn than others depending on what your prior experience is. The same is also true for a given framework's documentation -- just getting used to how it is organized can take a little time and effort. I hardly see that as a reason to belittle someone for primarily coding in PHP, however. The language alone is definitely not a good metric for measuring one's competence. Even given the "holy grail" of languages (none exists imho), a bad programmer can make the "lowest of the low." Also, when you speak about the PHP front-ends being the "lowest of the lowest," what are you referring to, precisely? Because the "front-end" is really just the markup generated, along with graphics and CSS in that world. While PHP dynamically generates the markup, nothing about the language forces anyone to put out horrible looking/functioning front-ends.

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (0, Troll)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676723)

...the lowest of the lowest in the IT world.

VisualBasic, anyone?

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676605)

Cocoa has its issues, and I think some things are a bit backwards (and too verbose). Key-value pairs are actually value-key pairs, which confused me for a bit.

"Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X" by Aaron Hillegass is all you need to get your head wrapped around it (make sure it's the latest edition, with XCode 3+ instructions).

Re:How Do I Get Open Source Programs Written For M (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676351)

I contracted a guy once that offered to work for pizza and beer. He quit working even though I tried to pay him with pizza and beer.

Not my fault he wasn't specific about what kind of pizza or beer.

a few ways (4, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675867)

If you find a project similar to your needs on freshmeat, sourceforge, etc. you can always contact the developer and ask them to modify/extend, etc.

A second option is to look at rentacoder.com - put out a request, your budget, and include the requirement about being F/OSS software. Get your bids, make a choice, etc.

Re:a few ways (4, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676489)

If you find a project similar to your needs on freshmeat, sourceforge, etc. you can always contact the developer and ask them to modify/extend, etc.

that's actually a very good idea. i'm surprised nobody thought to mention this earlier. there are already tons and tons of open source projects out there. there's no need starting a fresh new project when there's already an open source application that fits your needs and is much more mature and already has a development community around it.

if you're willing to pay the developer(s), there are tons of open source projects out there that could use the funding. who knows, maybe one of them is exactly what you're looking for. it's hard for open source projects to reach critical mass when everyone wants to create their own application rather than contribute to an existing project that might fulfill the same objectives.

one of the great advantages of open source is that there is room for both cooperation and competition. even if you don't find a project that fits your needs perfectly, you might be able to fork an existing implementation that you can use as a starting-off point. that reduces the amount of redundancy in the code space. and if you can revived a dead project, then even better.

i think part of what kills off open source applications is a perceived lack of interest, which is partially due to the dispersal of resources over too many redundant projects. luckily, FOSS being what it is, anyone can pick up a dead or inactive project and resume development on it. so before you go off and contract a developer for a brand new open source program, see what's already out there that might fit your needs.

If you are paying the bill... (5, Informative)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675869)

...I should think you would be determining the end result of the program. If I read the question correctly, that is. You want to pay someone to write a program or programs. Then, you want to release them to the world as open source. The contractor would not own the code if as part of the RFC you stated the code would not be owned by them in any manner. The programmers may insist proper attribution in the source code, but attribution does not imply ownership.

The more specialized, the more expensive (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25675881)

That's the basic rule. Based on what we pay for our contractors (Qt experts -- they are really hard to come by), count on between 600 and 1000 euros a day.

Re:The more specialized, the more expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676679)

I agree - Qt would be the way to go for this... Cocoa programmers are going to be quite rare, and if you want any open-source traction (e.g. for the open source community to actually contribute to your project) Qt will give the finished product a native OS-X interface AND allow it to work on everyone's favorite OS (even if that favorite isn't OS-X).

To the parent, where are these Qt expert jobs posted?

Re:The more specialized, the more expensive (1)

w3woody (44457) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676713)

That's about the same in the United States as well.

Unless you can find an individual who has a personal itch to scratch or a university writing something similar that is in alignment with what you're doing, or there is a private company already trying to enter your market and is willing to allow you to give it feedback on it's software to add the features you want, then you're looking at perhaps $85/hr to $130/hr for someone who has experience and has specialized skills.

The Academic Route (5, Insightful)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675889)

Perhaps you could contact a University with a good CS program, or something of the like. You could fund a few grad students to develop your program for beans, with the stipulation that the source code be GPL'd. Grad students can be cheap, believe me - I am one, and I make a whole lot less than minimum wage.

Re:The Academic Route (5, Insightful)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676013)

I second this idea... especially the grad student part. Better yet, find a way to make this work part of a thesis for one of these students... then you might not have to pay them at all. :)

Re:The Academic Route (4, Insightful)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676575)

No! No! No!

CS grad students are in their program to do research, not develop software for other departments. Their time should be spent working towards their thesis. There is no research value in applying software engineering practices to develop an application for a researcher in another field. I know some schools allow theses along the lines of "A Software Framework for Cool Science Problem X", but these types of projects only shortchange the CS student. The projects are simply software engineering and should be handled by software engineers, not potential researchers.

There's also the problem that most CS grad students have never developed large scale software and are essentially in the "0-3 years experience" range. While they are usually very bright, they are not skilled practitioners yet. The code they develop will have all the same problems that plague young developer's code: little reuse, lots of reinvention, tendency towards trendy solutions (Oh! Let's do the whole thing as an Eclipse Plug-in/OO Framework/Scheme Interpreter/etc), and overly clever solutions. If the research wants to learn software engineering, their time is much better spent earning decent wages at a real software company with people who can provide proper mentoring.

Finally, there is the conflict of interest. A researcher's main goal is to perform research and publish papers. Software does not count as a publication. Thus, the software will be developed up to the point where there is something to publish and not much beyond. And, once the student completes their degree, they are off to greener pastures and support will quickly dry up.

So please: Stop using CS grad students as software developers!!! It hurts everyone!!!


Re:The Academic Route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676737)

God forbid that we have the CS grad students do something that's actually useful...

Re:The Academic Route (1)

rnaiguy (1304181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676109)

If you're at a university, undergrads often work just as well, and there are tons of them looking for work/study (cheap) or "independent study" (often free) jobs. Advertise and see what you get.

Re:The Academic Route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676213)

Is there any central website for student jobs? I need some help with "Ajax" based application, Where can I find grad students?

Re:The Academic Route (1)

fiziksphreak (925865) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676559)

I definitely agree. I am an undergrad working on my CS degree and I volunteer in a physics research lab writing custom simulation software. I do it because I will be listed as a coauthor in articles submitted to research journals. I intend to go to grad school and that is a make or break selling point at most decent schools.

Re:The Academic Route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676117)

If you continue pretend you work 80 hours a week you make less than minimum wage. If you're like 99% of grad students and put in _real_ 5-15 hours a week you're probably doing quite well hourly...

Re:The Academic Route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676517)

that's how many hours per week i work at my full time gig...

Re:The Academic Route (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676403)

You could fund a few grad students to develop your program for beans

Yeah. Problem is, if a maintainable, well-design result is your goal, a grad student might not be the greatest idea... ;)

Re:The Academic Route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676599)

This is the typical of professors, and, sadly, grad students buy in. If you able to write commercial quality software, why work for beans? Use your brain, do real software development for a contracting firm. The idea of exploiting grad students to benefit the professor's cv (or worst his income) is sad, but tolerated.

Step 1: (3, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675899)

Find an interesting problem that people would like to work on.

Re:Step 1: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676305)

1: Find an interesting problem that people would like to work on.
1a: Elect Obama
2: ???
3: Prophet!

Simple.... bribe them (1)

mediis (952323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675905)

Go to their Amazon wish list... and grant a few wishes.

Danger, Americans: Open Source (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25675923)

On hte Open Source front: a leaked Secret Service memo reveals that the worst fears of Americans have come true. President-Elect Obama is Italian. Yes, our next president is a secret agent of the nefarious Italians! Write to your Congress Man today! Do you want your children and or grand-children to live in caves and wear hats made of cheese? Or do you enjoy American things like Hot Dogs and Apple Pies? The choice is yours America but it requires eternal vigilance in the global struggle for Freedom.

Know Your Targets & Draft the Requirements (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675943)

There are a few things about this blocking your path to open source success ... and even then, it's not guaranteed. So right off the bat, if you're depending on this to get a job or research done, you might want to exhaust all other options (footing the bill yourself/coding it yourself/seek help in your department).

First off, the Cocoa requirement reduces your target development community substantially. Is this necessary? Are you opposed to Linux based development and execution? Personally, I haven't done a darn thing with Cocoa nor do I own a single Apple ... and I'm not a fan of the cost associated with OSX. But if this is a hard set requirement, you're winnowing down your possibilities. Just get them out there, put them on Sourceforge, post them here, get eyes looking at them.

Second, where is the list of requirements? I know you're not a Systems Engineer but if you're not worried about this stuff getting out there, why not link us to a list of requirements. I know very little about what you need and therefore would have a hard time advising you on who to approach and how to do the job. I know a little bioinformatics (FASTA) ... is this what you are interested in? I recommend your first step being to approach a friend who is a system engineer (again, seek help) and drafting requirements for your initial program. Once you have that, it will both make development very easy to do via open source and help you concrete your end vision.

If you do end up approaching a business to help you, research them. Do they have competitors? Is this their bread and butter or a side project? Have they historically contributed to open source? Figure out these answers so you don't have a pitch meeting that they take as an insult.

Re:Know Your Targets & Draft the Requirements (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676145)

It is important to consider the cost savings that proprietary libraries might provide. It is obvious that the OP has a specific goal in mind apart from just having the program written. If OS X has a built-in library that does the job well, the expense of the operating system and hardware may very well be less than the time he or a contracted party would spend re-implementing the same functionality using only OSS libraries.

For a more concrete example, let's look at audio. Core Audio, OS X's audio API, is well thought-out and well-documented, and the system comes with licensed codecs for a number of audio formats. Linux has OSS and Alsa that take care of basic PCM audio, Jack to implement the audio path functionality of Core Audio's Audio Units, and the whole legal issue of unlicensed codecs. If you're writing audio software, which is easier (a.k.a. cheaper) to use to gain the same functionality?

Re:Know Your Targets & Draft the Requirements (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676343)

I'd be willing to bet that where he works uses Macs, so it's easier to get software that runs on the machines they already have, instead of having to run Linux on all of them, or buy new machines?

Re:Know Your Targets & Draft the Requirements (3, Interesting)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676465)

It sounds to me like you might be trying to change his mind purely because of your own personal development biases. It's not like Linux is supposed to have some sort of monopoly on open-source software. And in a medical setting, you're going to want as few potential technical problems as possible. Using a Mac there makes quite a bit of sense.

Cocoa is by far the easiest application framework I've seen so far. If you know C++, you can learn Objective-C in an afternoon on a weekend. And you'll be better off for it, as it's a dream to use. If he wants software made on a Mac, there's almost no reason to avoid using Cocoa.

The best thing that this guy could have done is to get the backend in C++/C so its portable and keep parts like the GUI as Objective-C. The parts between can be compiled as Objective-C++. It's not like if it was a Linux/Windows application you weren't going to have to rewrite the GUI-code to port in the future it anyway. I can tell you if the programs I wrote weren't Cocoa apps, they'd have taken much more time, and if that had been the case I probably wouldn't have even attempted them.

If you know Cocoa's history (dating back to NeXTSTEP), you'd also realize that for scientific research, Cocoa really can be ideal. Scientists/researchers are often able to program, but they're not "professional programmers", so when they do it, they want it to consume as little of their time as possible. A scientist's priorities are not the same as a programmers priorities. Cocoa definitely makes sense there. I doubt this guy would be asking for an open source app in the first place if he didn't plan to at least review and consider modifying some code himself.

Re:Know Your Targets & Draft the Requirements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676655)

It sounds to me like you might be trying to change his mind purely because of your own personal development biases.

Try "my own personal development experience." Are you disagreeing that he is narrowing down potential coders by selecting their platform for them?

Cocoa is by far the easiest application framework I've seen so far.

Great! Now, how the hell do I start that when I refuse to pay over a grand for a machine just to get the OS? Or are you asking me to buy into Apple just so I can learn Cocoa?

you'd also realize that for scientific research, Cocoa really can be ideal.

I think it is you who are trying to force platforms & technologies on others.

Should have known never to speak about Cocoa lest an Apple fanboy hear me.

Cocoa? (2, Insightful)

andy753421 (850820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675949)

If you're looking for Free/Open Source Software, you'll probably have better luck if you use F/OSS development tools such as GTK+ or QT.

Re:Cocoa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676223)

yeah and then development-time will double caus GTK+/QT are far inferior to cocoa in terms of RAD. (well and GTK/QT UIs just suck)

Re:Cocoa? (2, Funny)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676743)

Are you saying that I only need to double my development time to get a 3,000% increase in user base!?!? Where can I find this GTK+/Qt?...I want to start using them today!

Re:Cocoa? (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676573)

Well, there's also GNUStep, but that wouldn't be possible if Core Data is used. From my understanding, Core Data is more-or-less a database without a database - basically a uniform way of storing data objects so they can be read by many different programs (much like the dicts in mac, which are XML files, if I remember correctly).

The alternative would be to have an actual database backend and write the programs to use those data objects.

    The advantage from the mac end is their data model ties directly into the Model part of the model-view-controller (MVC) presentation model, so it is fairly easy to write front-ends because you can do almost everything with gui tools where in the past you needed to write the data model as code. All data processing is still code, however (it's more of a convenient way to tie in the displaying and storage of data). I'm not sure how reusable it is because I've mostly just looked at some demos (most of my serious dev time has been devoted to Vista... not intentionally, more because Vista has been a hellish nightmare to support).

Your best source (2, Insightful)

shareme (897587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675961)

Your best source are those students in your labs with CS classes already completed..Bioinformation Degree students usually have that area covered

Bribery... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25675987)

Offer them food or women... or tickets to the latest sci-fi/fantasy flick or linux expo...

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Beaver pelts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676021)

I would expect to pay around 150/hr for quality work. the f/oss nature will probably not get you any discount, if that's what you're after. no programmer should really care if their code becomes f/oss, the code isn't theirs anyway.

Appeal to their better side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676031)

You can always try appealing to their sense of citizenship. If you are trying to develop software that will be of benefit to society, then you can post on message boards (such as SourceForge) asking people to contribute for the good of humanity.

That is how the metagovernment project [metagovernment.org] got started. Even so, it only attracted people who were deeply concerned with the state of their governance mechanisms. Likewise, you will be best served appealing to people who work in your field who happen to be programmers too.

Start with Google (1)

oprahwinfree (466659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676065)

There are places like getafreelancer.com and similar sites that have developers for hire who will code to your standards. You yourself can choose to release the code under whatever license you choose.

You might also check out Sourceforge and try to find developers there on the forums.

advertise, yes, depends, no diff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676157)

There are many good Cocoa app developer consultants out there. You should figure out your requirements first with as much detail of what you need as you can figure out. Use some of that information in your advertising or posts looking for help as you can. If you're still connected to a school, ask around the CS department about consultants. Check with Apple, they may have some sort of registered consultants. And of course go to apple related blogs that are about the nasty bits and pieces of Cocoa.

As for the other questions. Making it open source is a non issue. You hire them to do the work where you own it, then it's yours to license as you wish. A good consultant should be able to help with that aspect and with hosting it somewhere like sourceforge. The rates depend on the region of the world of course. In the US rates these days for good quality contractors (but not giant consulting houses) seem to be in the range of 75/hr to 150/hr. As you go to bigger consulting firms the rates of course go through the roof say from 175/hr to 300/hr.

Do what other researchers do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676169)

Get enough grant money to pay a programmer to write code, either as a contractor, or an employee, then advertise for a person to do the programming. Forget about students doing anything worthwhile - their priorities are elsewhere.

If you want to find a competent developer, it won't be easy, and they often don't come cheap. Incompetents usually do come cheap. Sometimes you can find a beginner that wants the experience, and is really talented - take care of him if you do, they don't come by often...

The Open Source requirement (1)

49152 (690909) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676191)

"Would a requirement that programs are released as open source make it more or less difficult to find someone to do the job?"

I do not think this will make it any harder. But if you approach commercial companies be prepared to pay a substantial extra to have them give up copyrights. They would also have to make damn sure they actually have the right to open source (or sign away the copyright for) all the code that goes into the project. In some cases this might be difficult.

I know for a fact the company I work for would at least double if not triple the price.

If you hire a developers directly "work for hire" and pay them from your own funds then you will own the copyright and it is not a problem.

I used - Rent a Coder (3, Interesting)

jchawk (127686) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676235)

I've used - http://www.rentacoder.com/ [rentacoder.com] for a few different projects.

You can put the request out with whatever terms you'd like and the let the market set the price.

Re:I used - Rent a Coder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676555)

Something similar to this is oDesk (http://www.odesk.com/), "Hire, Manage, and Pay remote contractors as if they were in your office."

what, you've never seen the movies? (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676245)

as a biomedical researcher, you can:

1. inject them with a lethal toxin or virus that gives them 48 hours to live. you possess the antidote, but you won't give it to them until the programming is done. you may find this code to be slapdash and hurried

2. reprogram their genetic makeup so that they slowly devolve into an insect. revertion to homo sapiens status only occurs if the programming is done. their coding effort will be highly hierarchical, with independent nodes functioning in close cooperation, like a hivemind

3. surgically insert a biomechanical morphine injector directly into their spine. press the button, and give them rapturous pleasure. get them addicted, then demand they get no more fixes until the programming is done. code produced from this approach will be alternately pure genius, and pure garbage

combine #1,#2,#3. be the perfect bad guy. code will resemble naked lunch

Raise Money (2, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676325)

First off, please realize that custom software development is likely to be a 5-figure investment. Just because you want to open source the end product doesn't mean that it will be cheaper to do. You may find someone to quote you a really cheap price but I guarantee you that you won't be happy with the end product and you'll probably end up spending more over the long run than if you had paid up front to do it correctly.

With that in mind, there are plenty of quality software consulting firms that will do this for you. To your developers, it shouldn't make a difference what you do with the end product. If you want to open source it, thats your business because you've paid for it.

If you don't have the money to pay someone else to do it, I'd start learning to write software and/or reach out to other lab rats in your field who may want to help

you need someone you can trust (3, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676337)

Over the last 20 years, I have worked for several small biotech companies in the boston area, and all have had large (> 200 K) budgets for software. The take home lesson is that there are a lot of really bad programmers out there, and the only way to survive is to have someone you trust , who knows how to code, vet them.

My current company has a really sharp VP/programming (whatever his real title is, thats what he does) and he hires good people.

This may seem like chicken and egg advice, but it is all I have

For examples, scan through almost any story at www.thedailywtf.com

Osirix / Slicer / VTK / ITK (2, Informative)

mma (1151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676411)

Post your job offer to the mailing list of any projects listed in the subject:
- Osirix (www.osirix-viewer.com/)
- VTK (http://vtk.org)
- ITK (http://itk.org)
- Slicer3d (http://www.slicer.org)

They are all 'BSD' type, meaning familiar with both the open source people and the industry !


Networking (2, Insightful)

cybaz (538103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676419)

Since you plan to release this as open source, I expect that you believe there are others who would be interested in this software. I would try to identify other people who may be interested in it. Then see if they have the time/talent or know others who do that could assist.

step 1 (a lulu): find someone competent (2, Interesting)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676493)

I commend you for trying to find a programmer to work on this, rather than a biology student. As a bioinformatics programmer, I've seen the wreckage that results from the latter, and it's not pretty. There's a reason they don't let me in the wet lab, and it works the other way around, too. (I would never discourage anyone from learning to program for their own enjoyment, but if the results matter, you should act accordingly.)

The most difficult part of what you're trying to accomplish is finding a programmer who's competent and has the right mindset. I've been programming for decades, and it's still difficult for me to figure out whether a particular person is good until I've observed them for quite a while.

Regarding Cocoa, I think you should consider very carefully whether that's actually a requirement or whether it's simply something that sounds good. It's kind of like going to a doctor: you don't necessarily say "I want you to give me a bypass"--rather, this should be a long conversation with an expert in which you describe what you're really trying to do, and he/she provides suggestions and information about the pluses and minuses of various approaches. There may very well be alternatives that will be much cheaper and that you would be much happier with in the end.

On the whole, the requirement that the results be released as Open Source should actually make it easier to draw good people.

use the source luke! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676529)

Write them yourself, or grab the code from another project and fork it to your personal needs.

You need to knowledge to do this obviously, but that's what books and friends are for.

Yes, I'm a prick.

First of all.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676625)

Don't limit yourself to Cocoa.

Go with an open source cross-platform toolkit, and then you won't be stuck with OSX apps if someone needs to run the program on Windows. The realistic choices in this area are GTK+, WxWidgets, and Qt. I would recommend Qt because it has the best documentation and is by far the most mature and provides far more functionality than the other two.
The only disadvantage of Qt is the GPL license, which means you won't be able to make it closed source if you decide you want to in the future (you have to buy a commercial license first to do that). But if you're going for open source anyway, it is the only sensible choice for getting things done quickly.

OSX? (2, Insightful)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676645)

For my purpose, Cocoa applications relying on Core Data seem to be the best way to get the job done quickly. While I have some programming experience

Why don't you either get more than "some" programming experience or stop making decisions on the framework / platform. This kind of crap happens all the time when non-technical people make high level decisions on language, framework, or platform.

And if you want it open-source why are you tying it to a particular OS?

If you use QT, or GTK, or WX you can still have it on OSX as well as others.

Research Software (3, Insightful)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676687)

Developing software in a research environment is challenging. There are a number of constraints and conflicting interests that make it difficult for researchers unfamiliar with software to be truly successful. To make matters worse, the relationship between academics and professional software developers is almost non-existent, in large part simply because the research community has limited funds available for software development.

I've worked with a number of research labs to help bridge this gap and have developed a basic set of guidelines for developing software in research environments. In the end, the most important thing to do is draw a clear line between research tasks and development tasks. Understand what is in your area of expertise (research) and what is best handled by software engineers and other professionals. Then, depending on your resources, either hire a full time development team, a part-time consultant, or work with your university's IT staff to find local resources (many universities provide software development services). The place not to look is in the CS department: those students are there to do research, not write software.

I've put together a presentation that outlines a number of the challenges and how to address them. This presentation has evolved over the last 5 years based on a few ongoing academic research projects that have applied the ideas in it. Most of the ideas are standard practice in industry, but applying them to academic projects can be trick.

The slides are at:

http://www.osl.iu.edu/~chemuell/projects/presentations/vt-software.pdf [iu.edu]

Good luck with your project!


My company does work-for-hire (1)

jcoleman (139158) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676695)

My company develops on Macs on a work-for-hire basis. We have experience in the defense field with scientific legacy desktop applications, server-based enterprise apps, and process simulation. We charge $100/hour for development, develop using agile methods, and are extremely customer focused (redundant since I already said agile). You can do whatever you want with the code when we're done; you will own the copyright. We are quite comfortable with OSS; we rely on it for our dev tools and the frameworks we use to develop our products. We're not a huge firm like CA or SAIC; you'll deal directly with the lead developer and project manager. Since we develop with agile, if you don't like what you see after 30-60 days, you can stop us, pay us for what we've done, and find another team. You get to keep the code we've already written.

Check us out:

http://www.traxintl.com [traxintl.com]

You can contact us via the Contact Us [traxintl.com] form or by contacting me via Slashdot (click my name above).

School's CS department? USE IT!! (0, Redundant)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676697)

Do you do your research at an academic institution?
Alternatively, Does your company maintain close ties with one or more academic institutions?

You can leverage this to the advantage of both you and their CS students.
There are undergrad practicum courses, students hungry for internships, etc. etc.

It probably won't be as fast as a "rent-a-coder", but it's a great way to get things done "on the cheap", and a lot more people than just the open source community will be helped in the process.

College Capstone project (1)

chemosh6969 (632048) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676719)

Go to a college's CS department and offer it as a capstone project. Someone may or may not do it, but it'd get done for free.

I'd check the universities (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676753)

Depending on where you are, you may either land a job with students who need money for their tuition (US) or profs desperate to prove that their ivory tower actually produces anything useful for the economy (Europe).

In any case, I'd start looking around the universities. You have a vast pool of highly intelligent people who will probably work for rather little money or even free provided the software may be used in their research and/or they can use it as proof for their interdisciplinary research efforts for more grant money.

Some universities teaching CS have a medical/biomed branch because, as you may have noticed (hehe), there's a need for programmers who know both. I'd start looking there. There's always students looking for money and something for their thesis, and of course departments looking for "reality based" problems to show off and cash in on.

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