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I have found an open source library that can work fine with my project, but I have noted that It's not frequently updated and I'm afraid of not having the necessary support.

Is the frequency of updates a proper criterion for choosing an open source library rather than another?

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You have the source. What more support do you think you might need? –  S.Lott Nov 23 '11 at 16:20
    
You're right but any software update required time. –  A.DIMO Nov 23 '11 at 16:54
    
"any software update"? What do you mean by this? If the updates are not frequent, what do you need? I'm not sure what you can't do. Can you more clearly define the problem you anticipate having? –  S.Lott Nov 23 '11 at 17:01

3 Answers 3

It can be, if you expect that the code you're reusing will often have defects that will cause defects in your application, and therefore have to be fixed. (Of course, you should thoroughly test the part of the library that you actually used and verify that it does the job correctly before you ship it with your product, but we all know the world isn't that tidy.) If this is the case you should not make commercial success dependent on third-party libraries where you are not sure about support - whether open-source or not!

But bear in mind that "few updates" and "likely to have defects" is not necessarily correlated. In fact, it may be anti-correlated for very wide-spread, very mature products. And of course, the bonus of open source is that if there is a defect with a clear and obvious fix, you can just make the fix without having to wait for external support at all.

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You are worried about the lack of updates but you don't tell us how long ago was this open source library published. Also, is it used by many users?

If its a new one, then yes the lack of updates would be disturbing but if its fairly mature then I don't think its a problem. Maybe nothing serious has been found.

If the code is on github or anything similar I would check the feature requests and the bug reports it has. Maybe send an email to the maintainer and ask him directly. He will be in a position to give you more information than any of us.

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The software in one of my products has not been updated for 18 months or so, primarily because across the 50000 or so instances where it is used there have not been any bug reports. This is closed source software but I do not think that any of the users of the software are upset about the lack of updates. In some cases performing an update is a logistical nightmare.

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