Modifying Free Software

I am familiar with technology, but this is over my head. I downloaded a free piece of software, although it is not open source. The copyright on the software has expired, via the disclaimer prior to download. The creator of the software is no longer in business. I like the software, for the most part, but there are a few things I would like to change to make it more functional. Rather than start all over, is there anything I can do to modify it?

I don’t have the skill to do some of the stuff I would like to do, like adding a connection to a scanner that can use OCR to automatically populate some of the fields based on the item scanned, or having the software search through a particular database to capture the requested info.

I am no developer and have only basic skill to write code for web pages. I do not want to reinvent the wheel, but is there an easy way to do this? Or even a piece of free software that allows me to toggle between the source code and the output as I create it (like CoffeeCup)? Or do I just need to contact a software developer?

It sounds like this software is compiled code, like C++. So it’s put into bitcode or something, not regular html syntax code, and people use HEX editors to make modifications – but I wouldn’t bother that’s a tedious skilled job that would require tons of time.

It is not as easy as you think. You would need a C/C++ compiler, and everytime you want to test the changes you would have to recompile it, you would need the actual source code too.

With a HEX editor you can save it and see the changes by re-opening the changes. I’m not skilled in this craft to give any good advice.

SmartMom, firstly, how do you know that the copyright has expired? I hope you are aware that copyright isn’t based on the date the (c)copyright information is added into the application… copyright exists for the lifetime of the individual who produced it (as the sole creative works of that person), the copyright does not automatically expire post the year that it’s written down (that’s just a notification, not a statement of copyright). That’s a common misnomer and is factually incorrect.

As for the application itself, if the product is not open source I’m guessing you don’t have access to the programs source code, as such… physically decompiling the application and attempting to add additional functionality into the product will be next to impossible. It takes an extremely high knowledge of code and a lot of time to be able to understand hex code to be able to hook a compiled application that has no formal API, to be able to open it and edit the source code in it’s entirety “like an HTML document” is not how it’s going to work. Software applications aren’t written in HTML, their certainly not that simplistic and even if you could decompile the application you would need a knowledge of the development language used for the product (Possibly C++ or something like that).

Software applications aren’t like websites, it’s a totally different environment and you can’t just add a few tags, refresh and voilà. In summary, if you’re not a software developer (an experienced one with hacking skills - to decompile the app), not equipped with the coding knowledge in that language and all you have to go on is some basic web coding knowledge… don’t even bother. If you want the extra functionality, buy a different piece of software… paying a software developer to do that kind of complex work would cost you a LOT of money (if you could find someone willing to violate license agreements). :slight_smile:

no. even if you are a skilled programmer and can read/write hex/assembly there is no easy way, - but if you had these skills it would make it a bit easier

rewriting an app without the source is never easy.

yes, - if you want a new sw. I don’t think there are many who would try to do what you want, without the source.

…and if the app is free, why don’t you have the source? :shifty:

Probably because free doesn’t equal open source, there’s tonnes of freeware which isn’t accompanied with source code. :slight_smile:

yeah, many people thinks freeware means open source. seen quite a few cases of that through the years

Thanks for the informative responses! You are right…it is free, but not open source. I don’t have access to the source code. And AlexDawson…thanks for clarifying the copyright expiration issue…in fact, it was the Trademark that has expired…and I don’t want that anyway.

So, since it is impossible to modify this particular piece of software…how about if I create my own…or have someone do it for me? I can handle creating a Software Design Specification document, in fact, I have started listing all of the functionality needed as well as a few “when”, “where”, and “hows”. I even have some sketches to show what the interface should look like to the user in certain instances. I know exactly what I want. I also think this is going to be a profitable veture, since I have found a market for it, but I’m just not sure to what degree.

There is an additional component I would package with it and would need licensing to provide it to the users with either a Server License or Unlimited distribution license…that is going to cost me some investment!

My next question is…would it be easier/better to maintain the info on a server and have users log in to access the functionality of the software and have it saved on the server rather than selling a copy to each individual from a website? Mind you…I would still have to create a website to do this from!

Should I post this as a new topic in the DB?

You could post it in here and we could guide you to what direction you will need to go as it’s related to what you initially posted about :slight_smile: