Parth's Blogs @Techjoomla

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Joomla The CMS, The Framework & the License - Thoughts & Questions

If you are active on twitter, Facebook & follow Joomla related discussions there or on the Forums, you might have heard of a major discussion on in the community currently. That of the decision of considering a license change for the 'Joomla Framework' to LGPL (From GPL) . Note that this proposed change is for the Joomla Framework, currently a separate project than the popular Joomla CMS we all love & use. 

In order to try & put my thoughts together on this issue, i have put together some questions that i have myself answered the best as i can which basically explore my own views & the impact of this proposed change. Note that these are my personal thoughts & should be treated as such. I am not an expert on licenses or legal matters :) 

Q. Why are we doing the Joomla Framework ? Doesn't the CMS Deserve more attention ?

A. The framework allows us to adopt more modern practices of Developing Web applications.. Which is what the CMS is ( a Web app) .. The investment in the framework now gets us prepared & working with the latest best practices could possibly power future versions of the CMS. In short in the long term the Framework might help us be future ready & stay ahead of the game. Think of it as a long term investment in the CMS. 

For the more short term items since Joomla started doing feature releases in the 3X series, we have seen some really awesome features being contributed from the community. So this is more about handling both Short term & long term goals in parallel .

Q. OK.. But Why do you want the Framework License to be LGPL ?

A. Well the Joomla Framework as its currently building up will be a pretty powerful base & its libraries can be used to build any Web Applications. The GPL restricts the wide variety of PHP developers from considering the Joomla Framework from being used in Projects that need to be closed source. The LGPL allows this.

 Q. But isn't that bad ? The free GPL code being used in closed Projects ? Won't it promote developers from not contributing their improvements & additional code to the Framework ?

A. Not really.. Contributors will still contribute.It doesn't restrict anyone from contributing. In fact it will drive adoption. More people using it will give rise to more needs & more contributions. There are several real world examples of this being done. Video LAN for instance ( this i learned from a Post on this topic in the Joomla forums) 

Q. How Does this Affect the Joomla CMS ? Will this result in Wars & Forks & all the Bad stuff ?

The Joomla CMS already uses LGPL libraries. This does not affect the licensing of the Joomla CMS. It continues to be GPL. It does not need to result in Wars or Forks :) . The Joomla framework is at this point , essentially a separate Product that possibly sometime in the future serve to power Joomla .. So there is no question of a Fork imho. 

Q. The framework doesn't even have that many adopters now ? So is all the anguish in the community over licensing really worth it ?

A. Well as i said, The framework is a promise to have the Joomla of the future & the output of our Practical steps as a community to iteratively get there.. The Licensing is one of the things that needs to be done to remove any roadblocks to the wide adoption of the framework.. And wide adoption will lead to improvement & finally benefit for the Joomla CMS long term.

Conclusions ? 

I think the Framework is an awesome idea.. and it will help take Joomla ahead in many ways. I also at this point, based on the various discussions I have read that removing roadblocks to adoption of the Framework ( like re-licencing of the Framework to LGPL) .. especially if it does not harm the CMS in anyway , might just be a good idea.. Do you think otherwise ? Do comment & discuss why. 

In Fact, we did a Framework Hackathon with our full team at Techjoomla & Tekdi last week & the team had a blast. We are going to be blogging soon about the team experience, the prototypes we built & video bytes next week. So watch out for that & get our first hand impressions of the Framework.  

Coming from a pure Marketing perspective , It would make sense IMHO to have a name that relates it with the Joomla CMSbut does not confuse it with the same..

The question of the Developers being able to use the Joomla name & getting recognized can easily be solved with Joomla endorsing the framework as an official project and at the same time solving ideological issues . In fact it will also help solve the Marketing Positioning problem for typical end users who get confused by the CMS & the framework.  Howeverthat's just my thought and not really relevant from a licensing perspective ! 

Discuss, Collaborate & Resolve !

The discussion on the forums has been at times heated & everyone has had their Strong opinions have been voiced from people who support GPL as well as LGPL & i see some really good information has come out of this discussion. Its been a learning experience for me. I suggest you read & contribute your suggestions on the thread (currently 16 pages long ! But i do recommend that you read it ! ) 

Whichever way we go, lets all get together & find a direction that will be great for the Project ! Do i see a #jpositiv in here somewhere ? :)

Your thoughts ?

Update 

The LGPL License was approved for use for the framework on 28th March 2014. https://developer.joomla.org/news/582-lgpl-license-change-approved-for-the-joomla-framework.html 

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