A few days ago, Yahoo released some source code and guidelines for user interface construction and design for the Web. Called YUI (Yahoo UI), its a robust but basic set of cross-platform cross-browser script samples, code libraries for AJAX-y style web applications.
I'm not quite sure what to make of it.
YUI is (at first glance) robust, clean, well thought through - its not perfect or stunning or anything, but it is, most surprisingly, commercially material. Most of the intellectual property that companies tend to release as "open" fall into either the "Look how smart we are/educational" camp - and so are valuable but not usually in a quantifiable commercial way - or into the "Its free [in any and/or all senses], but it furthers our strategic ambitions". Google's really good at the latter, for example - its not that their stuff is not good for developers, its just that its usually (read: almost always) also good for Google.
But that doesn't appear to be the case with YUI. Its genuinely valuable to developers - educationally, and because it will save man-months and years, and also because it will more easily enable and advance the development of enhanced features and experiences. But I can't really see how it helps Yahoo, even strategically, except in that "Oh, aren't they super-nice?" kind of way.
And I'm torn.
As a consumer and a developer, I'm (more or less) ecstatic. Its basically free money (go download it now!)- whoo hoo!
As a businessman and coroporate officer (in the broad sense - I'm actually pretty far down in the food chain :)), I have to admit it strikes me as a little irresponsible. Its basically free money - what are they thinking?
OK, I'll admit that I'm not that torn: good job, Yahoo!
They've also released, as I mentioned, what they're calling their Design Patterns Library - a set of UI guidelines for the Web-at-large. I think this is VERY good for end users, but (cynically), I feel that standardization of experience favors the incumbents.