Interview with Ryan Demmer from

GPL WeekThis week we’re publishing a series of interviews here at

Every day this week we’ll be talking with a Joomla developer who works with a commercial GPL business model.

Our fifth and final interview of GPL week is with Ryan Demmer from

1) Could you explain a little about your Joomla product?

JCE is a WYSIWYG content editor based on Moxiecode’s TinyMCE. It extends the functionality of the original by adding a selection of plugins and a Joomla! Component that allows for easy configuration of the editor’s parameters as well as the installation and configuration of optional plugins.

In a nutshell, JCE tries to make content editing easier, especially for users not familiar with HTML.

There is also the JCE Utilities mambot, a Lightbox/Slimbox/Thickbox clone, with tooltips, that is intended as a companion for the Image Manager Ext and AdvLink Ext plugins.

2) What subscription packages do you offer currently?

There is only 1 subscription package at the moment that grants an annual membership for a $20 fee.

3) What extras do you offer to people who subscribe?

The Administration Component and Editor Mambot are freely available for download, and 2 powerful plugins, the Image Manager and AdvLink, are included in the standard package. Members get access to a further 6 plugins, 2 of which, the Image Manager Ext and AdvLink Ext, are enhanced versions of the standard ones, the other 4 are unique:

  • Media Manager – helps to insert streaming media, like flash, quicktime etc.
  • File Manager – creates links to files that you upload
  • Template Manager – the newest plugin and a rebuild of an old favourite. Assists in inserting snippets of html code into your content items, with automated variable replacement, creation and modified dating and content modification.
  • Captions – create captions around images with options for borders, background colours etc.

As the main subscription benefit is download access, there is no limit on how many plugins can be downloaded and no limit on the number of downloads and/or installations of each plugin. Therefore new plugins added are immediately available for members.

There are also members only threads on the JCE forum that I obviously try and give priority to.

In the future I hope to provide more benefits, apart from new plugins or enhancements to existing ones, such as better tutorials, a PDF manual, stuff like that.

4) You started on the subscription model before the recent decision by the Joomla core. Why did you decide to offer subscriptions instead of selling your product?

In truth, the main reason I started was to get a couple of bucks to help with hosting and ADSL access charges. I couldn’t request Paypal donations as there is very limited Paypal support here in South Africa, so a subscriptions system seemed like a good idea. With a subscriptions/membership model, JCE would still be freely available to all Joomla! users, but I could offer extra stuff for those willing to pay. As I found myself spending more and more time working on JCE, many of the originally “free plugins” moved to become “members only”.

5) How did you handle the introduction of subscriptions? Were people willing to subscribe or did you need to educate people about the benefits?

I didn’t do it very well initially, and I think there is still a lack of information. I’m not very good at that sort of thing, and I’ve got a lot to learn about marketing. JCE has also grown a lot quicker and a lot bigger than I ever dreamed it would, so the response has caught me by surprise. I’m still trying to recover.

I still have to direct people to the “Subscribe” page, either through e-mail replies or forum posts, but I’ve had a little time to work on the advertising part, and integrated some stuff into my membership component, so it?s not too bad. When I get some time I hope to finish off the FAQ section, which will include more information about subscriptions, and also update some of the articles I have up already.

6) Do you mind us asking about the level of subscriptions? How many of your users subscribe?

It’s about 25% of registered users, on average, but I think the percentage of new users to subscribers is higher, around 50% to 75%. I think that’s a pretty good percentage, but I’m not sure if its testament to the quality of the plugins on offer to members, or the limitations of the “free” versions 🙂 Community support has been very good.

7) Do you think that now or in the future it will be possible for you to make a full-time living from a GPL business model?

Yes, but at the moment my personal situation won’t allow me to take the leap. I do hope this will change in the near future though.

8) Do you have any other thoughts or advice about Joomla moving to the GPL?

Not really, although I do agree with the decision.

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