Every day, we hear stories from clients and prospects about developers and agencies they’ve hired who just disappeared with their code. One day, they’re working on digital products. The next day, they’re gone.
As you can imagine, this can be frustrating, and its consequences can range from the need to start all over again to total project failure.
Every time we hear these stories, we ask the same question: “Do you, by chance, have a copy of the code so we can see where things were left?” And the answer, sadly, is that most of the companies we’re talking to have never seen the code.
This isn’t a licensing issue
We do a lot of work with open source projects, including content management systems like WordPress. Open source means, they suggest, that no one owns the code.
But the open source license is a matter of copyright. That’s not what we’re talking about. When you work with a developer, you’re paying for the work to be done, even if it’s not a “work for hire” agreement. And since you’re paying, we believe the code is yours. Even if the actual license is open source. The issue here is ownership. Accountability. Access to the code the whole time it’s being produced.
You need constant access to the code you’re paying for
At Zeek we have always believed that the code we’re writing needs to be fully available and accessible to our customers. All the time. That’s why, even as we’re writing it, we place it in a storage location accessible to our customers. We give them direct access to see progress, to review, and to be able to download – any time they want.
If the digital agency you’re working with isn’t making their code available to you while they’re working on it, we have one question for you:
What happens if they disappear mid-project?
That’s a reality that we hear about so often it’s not something hard to imagine. So our recommendation to you, even if you’re working with someone else, is to have the conversation about the code you’re paying for. Have the conversation early and often.
If you were to ask us, you’d hear us tell you:
“The code we work on is stored in GitHub, an online repository for code that we’ll give you access to, so you can see it grow, be able to review it, and get at it at any time. You’re paying for it. The code is yours.”