How to Earn money with Open Source?

Monday, September 26th, 2011|Uncategorized|by Romans

OpenSource is an amazing phenomena, but how safe open-source projects are? Would commercial project be safer over the community-supported project?

Frameworks can’t exist without their core team and In this article I look at how different PHP frameworks are supporting their core developers.

Why Core Team is Important?

I’m keeping lookout for the other interesting frameworks based on PHP. Quite sadly it seems that Akelos framework have  been inactive for a while. Maybe the author is taking a vacation or maybe he’s got a job at Google, but a well-known and powerful framework can loose the main contributor and quickly cease to exist.

As a developer eager to learn a new framework, how do you make sure that the framework of your choice remains available, supported and will receive new features? Regardless of how much we wish for everything to be free, developers need to earn money and framework maintainers would end up loosing interest if framework can’t at least support their creators. Luckily some frameworks have a good plan to support themselves.

How Zend Framework is supporting itself?

Zend Framework is designed to eventually pull you into the Zend Studio suite and Zend Platform altogether. It’s a great solution and probably with some cluster solutions from Zend you can overcome the low performance of the Zend-based software. But what is important is that even through Zend is published for commercial and non-commercial use in open-source or closed-source projects, there would be enough support for framework core maintainers to continue what they are doing. Zend will be around for quite a while.

How Code Igniter is supporting itself?

Code Igniter is very easy to learn and many of you might have used it already. The framework can be used freely in any project without any implications. The core guys behind Code Igniter are promoting Expression Engine. That makes sure that Code Igniter core team is happy, being paid and will be around for quite a while.

How Symfony is supporting itself?

Symfony is one of the most complex frameworks requiring a lot of training. The company behind Symfony is focused on developer training, courses and certification. That means core team is being paid and Symfony will be around for quite a while.

How Agile Toolkit is supporting itself?

Unlike the frameworks mentioned above, Agile Toolkit is available under OpenSource AGPL license. Technically that implies that you should make source code available to the users of your website. This license is used for two reasons – encourage developers to share their code or purchase a fairly priced commercial licenses for Agile Toolkit and legally be able to restrict access to their source code.

Licensed sales are a ticket for long life of Agile Toolkit. A similar model is used by Sencha and Highcharts and is aimed to receive contribution in exchange for the added value Agile Toolkit provides. With license sales Agile Toolkit is able to support the core team, hire extra developers or supporters and work on some amazing products which would make the platform even stronger.

Why “yet another framework” will be gone soon?

No matter how generous authors of those frameworks might be or how much time they put into the framework, if there is no way for them to support their kids, core developers will move on eventually. Majority of those small PHP frameworks licensed under MIT or BSD licenses wouldn’t stick around for a while. I’ve seen quite a few of a nice frameworks slowly fade away.

Donations work in few very rare cases (such as wikipedia), general community support is in most cases too unreliable and all the talented people who use the framework are too busy to contribute back.

Frameworks with community-only support fade faster and all that time 3rd party developers have invested has gone to waste. The only exceptions are the mini-frameworks. Those are usually so small that they don’t need any active maintenance.

Conclusion: What you should know if you making your own framework?

Making new frameworks is fun, however, if you share framework with others, be responsible about the support. Make realistic goals and try to have a plan for a next few years. If you are the author, think who will support the community when you decide to move on.

My message to developers

Support the framework of your choice. Regardless of the framework you are using, authors want to make your life easier, be nice and help them out. If developers offer you a way to support them commercially, strongly consider that. I know for sure that if I would come over a great framework which would be innovative, fun, simple and engaging then I’d certainly play my part. I myself as a framework author would continue to increase the value of the framework and than you earn back every $ you spend.

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