Thank You, Part 2. Joomla’s 10th Birthday.

10 years ago, I was standing in a classroom on the north side of Atlanta, Georgia.

My job was teaching English to the children from Central America whose parents had flocked to Atlanta, looking for construction jobs during the enormous housing boom.

I found out about Joomla’s arrival while sitting at my desk, grading papers during a lunch break.

The growth of Joomla gave me the confidence to start my own business. Joomla allowed me to work from home and see our two children (now 4 and 5) grow up.

The majority of our business today is not Joomla-related, but Joomla is where it all started.

When Joomla’s 5th birthday arrived, I wrote a post for Joomla.org called Thank You.

Now that Joomla’s 10th birthday has arrived, let me say “Thank You” again.

Can your GPL software use license keys?

Back in 2007, Joomla.org decided to stop listing any software that used license keys. They did this because they believed that license keys were incompatible with the GPL license.

Fast forward to 2015 and many (most?) commercial WordPress plugins now use license keys. Some of these license keys just provide access to updates and support – those aren’t the issue here.

However, some license keys lock down the software to a single domain, disabling the plugin even on test sites and localhost installs.

Does this use of license keys violate the GPL?

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The World’s Best Podcast: From Our Own Correspondent

Over the last 5 years, I’ve not missed a single episode of From Our Own Correspondent from the BBC.

The brilliance of From Our Own Correspondent is its discipline:

  • Each episode is 30 minutes long.
  • Each episode has 5 segments from different countries.
  • Each segment is about 5 1/2 minutes long.
  • Each segment only ever has one person talking.
  • There are never any sound effects.
  • There’s never any news. The show is all about stories and personal anecdotes.

Oh, and the show is going to be 60 years old this year. It’s an incredibly successful example of creativity coming from a strong restrictions.

The only flexibility in the show comes from the breadth of the stories told and how they often swing from tragedy to comedy within a single episode.

You can get the From Our Own Correspondent podcasts here.

This show gets me thinking about how I could improve by putting tighter restrictions on my work.

It’s the user’s responsibility, not ours

I keep hearing statements like this from open source developers:

  • “This is complex software. If you don’t understand it, you shouldn’t be using it.”
  • “Why not use the terminal to do this? If you’re building a website, it’s your responsibility to learn a few shell commands.”
  • “There’s no way we’ll provide automatic updates. That’s the user’s responsibility not ours.”
  • “If you don’t have a large budget and IT staff, you shouldn’t be using this.”

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Almost no developers understand the GPL. We need boilerplate GPL terms.

Richard Best has a really interesting post about how few WordPress developers understand the GPL:

Theme and plugin shops deploy a range of approaches as to how they describe the GPL-licensing of their products, from good to not-so-good to bad. I’m not suggesting that all theme and plugin shops whose terms fall in the not-so-good or bad camps are deliberately misleading customers. I suspect the reality is that some are doing this, for economic reasons, while others or their lawyers have either misunderstood the GPL or used language which just isn’t quite right, if not quite wrong.

This is true. I’ve seen multiple plugin and theme developers add so many restrictions to their “GPL” software that any freedom of use is lost.

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Ecosystems vs Platforms

Stratechery does a good job of distinguishing between a platform (often very closed) and an ecosystem (open source software):

I think there is an important distinction between platforms and ecosystems. While these words are often used interchangeably, I think of a platform as, well, a platform: something that is built upon. In the case of the iPhone, iOS is the platform on which apps are built. An ecosystem, on the other hand, suggests a more equitable relationship: different pieces that work together to mutual benefits.

This is why I love working with open source software, rather than app stores.