Free and Open Source
Unlike almost all Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS), BarraQDA is Free1 and Open Source.2 You might say that these are the software equivalent of Creative Commons in other creative arts. In short, what they mean is that all our work can be freely distributed and modified with the sole proviso that any copies or modifications thereby created be subject to the same requirements.3
What does this mean for you?
Firstly, and most obviously, it means that you can download and use the full working version of our software without going through tiresome registration or buying expensive and restrictive licences.
Secondly, if (perhaps when is more apt) you find that making the software work for your research project becomes a case of squeezing a rectangular peg into an ovular hole, go ahead and modify the software. Or have someone else (us for example!) do it for you.
What’s in it for us?
Besides the warm inner glow of making a positive contribution to the sum of human collective endeavour, there are sound commercial reasons for building a business using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). First, it means that we can make extensive use of the truly vast libraries of existing FOSS to accomplish the hundreds of small tasks that fit together to make powerful software. The alternative, commercial approach to software development would require either that we produce our own solution to the each of these tasks, or alternatively pay licences to use existing commercial solutions. Not only that, but we would need to protect our own copyright using technical and legal devices. All this would require a team of lawyers and accountants, and divert our energies from our goal of enabling high quality research.
Second, FOSS encourages communities of users to contribute their own improvements to our work. Their work is simply and rapidly incorporated through tools for collaboration, and thus made available for everyone else.
How do we make money by giving away our products?
Sometimes people like to offer us voluntary payment for our work, but fortunately we have other ways to earn a living. We sell support licences for our software, customise and extend it to measure, or get our hands dirty with actual research projects. See the ‘Our Products’ page of our web site for more detailed information.
1Free, that is, like a bird, not like a beer.
2There are some rather arcane arguments about the distinctions between Free and Open Source software. We try to stay clear of such disputes and adhere to both standards.