Open Source models have proven to be very successful for creating and maintaining high-tech products such as operating systems and general utilities. So far, Open Source is rarely used for larger scale, high-tech end-user applications, which to date remain mostly closesource/ proprietary. In this paper we will argue that Open Source systems can also be a good alternative for such proprietary (and expensive) systems. We believe that the future belongs to Open Source systems that provide a free base for general tasks while more advanced functionalities are offered in the form of plugins. Such plugins can either be released as free, Open Source extensions, or as proprietary, commercial ones. In this paper we describe the conversion of the closed-source d-Tect system into OpendTect that is both a functional Open Source seismic interpretation system and a research and development environment. Considerable intelligence, time and effort has been put in, and will remain to be put in the future, to maintain and extend the open source software. We conclude that the implementation and support of the open source model is not trivial, and requires resources and commitment to its objectives.
In the geosciences, like in any other discipline, Open Source software usage is rapidly increasing. On the Operating System level especially Linux is becoming very successful. One level higher, more and more geoscience applications use a number of generally usable Open Source toolkits. Good examples are the platform-independent GUI library Qt and for 3D visualization there are COIN and VTK. Until recently, there were very few Open Source alternatives at the end-user level. Open Source models have a range of potential benefits:
· Development speed.
· Acceptance level.
· Value for money.
Different users will prioritize these benefits in different ways. For major E&P companies continuity and stability are key issues that decide whether or not a software product will be adopted. Major companies are reluctant to buy software from small vendors as the future of such companies and their products cannot be guaranteed. Continuity is not an issue with Open Source models because the software will survive even if the parent company doesn’t. Many complex Open Source systems have proven to be more stable than alternative commercial systems because of the large developer base that helps to debug and test. Smaller companies put more emphasis on costs and value for money. For example, compared to proprietary commercial systems OpendTect is tens to hundreds of times cheaper (for academic users price is not an issue as the base system is free for R&D, education and evaluation purposes. Moreover dGB offers free access to its commercial plugins to Universities). More important for R&D users is that software like this is easy to use and stimulates new ideas, which can be tested fast and efficiently.
OpendTect is an open source software system that has originally been designed for seismic analysis, visualization and interpretation (Fig. 1).