[Freedom-misc] Web development and Free Software

rfb at libertymail.net rfb at libertymail.net
Mon Jun 22 21:47:58 CEST 2020

Hi everyone,

I plan to freelance as a Full-Stack Web developer in few months. I’m  
currently learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MySQL and Ruby. If there’s any  
Web developer in the Trisquel community, I’d like to have your feedbacks on  
a question I’ve been having at the back of my mind for some time now: how  
do you cope with being a freelance in that sector and write free software?

Let’s split the various freedom issues in two: front-end and back-end.
For the front-end, the main issue is the JavaScript code that gets loaded in  
the user’s browser. If that code is not published under a free software  
licence, it’s proprietary software. Client-wise, how do you approach this?  
How do you make them accept that the code you write for them is free/libre  
and that everyone can modify and share it? Is there any legal steps to go  
through like making them sign an agreement saying that the code you write  
will be published under, let’s say, GPLv3?
For the back-end, I’d say it depends on the purpose of the ‘Web app’.  
In the case where the client doesn’t intend on releasing the software so he  
or she uses it on their own server and infrastructure, it’s de facto free  
software because the client is the user and have the four freedoms. If its  
purpose is to be published, then the same issue as for the front-end arises.

My main worry is to find enough clients, under these terms, to have a  
‘decent’ source of income. By that, I mean earning between $1,500 and  
$2,000 net a month.

Perhaps I’m lacking imagination and there is a whole part of the market  
that is free software-friendly to freelance as a Web developer, who knows?

And finally, I’m not considering the Service as a Software Substitute  
(SaaSS) issue because it could be avoided by choosing the right projects to  
work on.

Many thanks,

P.S. Of course, if you aren’t freelancing in that sector but are writing  
free software for any reasons, I’m also interested in your feedbacks.

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