Potential Risks of Using Open-Source JavaScript UI Libraries in Business Apps

The history of the emergence of free and open-source software goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. However, with the advent of web technologies and the widespread adoption of JavaScript, the popularity of open-source software such as UI libraries has been growing fast. Now such tools are rightly considered a driving force behind innovation, collaboration, and cost-effective solutions in web development. But open-source libraries certainly have some soft spots that may harm your project, especially if it is an enterprise-grade undertaking.

In this post, we will touch on the topic of open-source JS libraries’ popularity and focus on the potential risks of using such tools in business web applications.

Open-Source Software is on the Rise

Today, it can be said that open-source software is booming and some numbers prove this fact. For instance, the latest Octoverse survey reported 420 million projects registered on GitHub, where 98 million of them were launched in 2023 and the number of first-time contributors (those who joined the platform in 2023) to open-source projects reached the highest numbers than ever before (2.2M). In addition, many professional developers who took part in the latest Stack Overflow Developer Survey claimed that outside of work they are involved in open-source projects, thereby also contributing to their growth.
Developer Survey 2023 - open-source
Source: Developer Survey 2023

Now, let us talk specifically about JavaScript. According to Statista, last year, the total number of open-source project versions reached approximately 60 million. Among these, the majority was in JavaScript, accounting for about 37 million projects. It is safe to assume that open-source JS libraries played a significant role in delivering these projects.
Statista - open-source versions
Source: Statista

Open-source JavaScript libraries as well as other free-to-use tools are extremely popular among web developers, and there are many reasons for that. The combination of cost reduction, transparency, community engagement, and the ability to customize and innovate makes open-source JS libraries valuable for web developers in achieving their goals.

But not everything is so rosy about open-source JavaScript libraries in some niche areas, so let us see what can possibly go wrong with their usage in business apps.

Possible Drawbacks of Using Open-Source JavaScript Libraries in Business Projects

Open-source JavaScript libraries can be a suitable option when working on small and medium-scale business apps with straightforward requirements and a limited budget or prototyping new solutions. However, if you decide to stick with open-source tools for complex projects, where advanced feature set, security, and long-term sustainability are the priority, you can face many potential challenges. Let us discuss them in more detail.

Maturity concerns

If you feel like extending your technology stack with a business-oriented JavaScript UI library, you’ve got to be sure about its stability, and overall readiness for production use i.e. its maturity. A mature library should typically undergo several stages (extensive testing, bug fixing, etc.) in the formation of a stable and reliable codebase. With open-source libraries, it often turns out to be a hit-or-miss game since they often appear overnight and fade into nothingness very rapidly. If you are unlucky to go with an open-source library that is not mature enough, be ready to face potential problems such as issues with dependency management, scalability, etc.

Limited feature-set

When you prefer using open-source UI libraries, most often you can expect a standard set of features that will cover only common needs during the application development process. But what if your project requires feature-packed tools such as a Gantt chart, event calendar, Kanban board, various diagram types, etc.? Open-source UI libraries rarely offer some unconventional features, therefore you’ll have to perform customizations or find a viable alternative.

Issues with documentation

The availability of complete and well-written documentation complemented with useful materials (snippets, samples, demos) is another potential weakness of open-source JavaScript libraries used in business apps. It is often the case that the documentation quality can vary greatly across open-source projects. Some of them may have proper documentation, while others may have serious documentation gaps, outdated information, or no documentation at all, complicating the learning process and the overall usage efficiency of such libraries.

Lack of timely and dedicated tech support

Implementing various business functionalities is definitely easier with a UI library than from scratch, but it still can be accompanied by unexpected difficulties, which require explanation. If you don’t want to waste time on such obstacles and stay on the project schedule, you will certainly need professional tech support. Unfortunately, open-source JavaScript UI libraries are unlikely to come with the required level of technical support. At best, you can count on community support, the effectiveness of which often depends on the popularity and relevance of a given library.

Also, it can be really hard to find a particular vendor accountable for the product which calls into question not only the possibility of any tech support but also the maintainability and longevity of the product. For instance, if at some point, maintainers lose interest in the product, they are not legally obliged to provide any services related to it, and you risk remaining alone with all potential challenges.

Vulnerability exposure

Open-source libraries are known and loved by many developers for their transparency, enabling developers to scrutinize the codebase and perform comprehensive testing. But at the same time, you must remember that the code of open-source projects is available to everyone, including attackers. They may find a way to integrate malware into the code that will increase risks for your project.

For instance, Sonatype reported over 245 thousand malicious attacks on the open-source software supply chain in 2023, aimed at exploiting any weaknesses in upstream open-source ecosystems, including JavaScript. This figure represents a nearly 280% growth from the previous year and is over double the sum of the attacks from all the reported previous years (2019 – 2022).

Statista -  vulnerability exposure
Source: Statista

License compatibility

And finally, we have to say a few words about possible licensing pitfalls with open-source libraries. Commonly, open-source tools are offered under different licenses (GPL, MIT, Apache, BSD, etc.). Therefore, it is recommended to go through all license terms since they may contain some restrictions. For example, some licenses for open-source products may include special conditions that restrict the commercial use, modification, and distribution of the software.

All in all, open-source JavaScript UI libraries can be effective in many cases, including common business scenarios. For instance, you can use an open-source version of our Gantt component to create a JavaScript Gantt chart equipped with essential features as shown in a short video tutorial below.

But still, you have to bear in mind the potential threats discussed in this blog post. If you are not sure that open-source libraries you come across on the internet are good for your business app, it can be reasonable to consider proprietary libraries that usually minimize such risks.


Summarizing the above, we do not claim that all open-source JavaScript libraries should necessarily have any of the drawbacks described in this article, but objectively speaking, such tools are more susceptible to them. Many vendors of JavaScript UI component libraries for business like DHTMLX offer open-source library editions, besides proprietary ones, that can be great in particular circumstances. But if it is critical for you to have access to advanced features and high-speed tech support, giving preference to the editions distributed under proprietary licenses is recommended. As an alternative, you can also take a hybrid approach, where open-source libraries are applied in combination with closed-source ones to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and additional features/support.

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