Commercial developers

After seeing a post else where about someone's 'free' but very limited plugin being useless, I thought it might be worthwhile discussing it in a more appropriate group.

At the risk of enduring prickly reactions from plugin developers who market their work in the community, I agree to a point with the poster about some plugins being useless, and being them only as an advert for the 'full' version which has to be paid for.

Vasco and Team Webgalli are the two sellers who seem to appear most to me, but, it's not my decision whether to allow selling their work here or not. I did post somewhere on one of Vasco's plugin pages that I found it irritating to find when I installed it that it showed a lot of widgets, but trying to use them cause a message to appear saying that they were only available in the paid version. (I suggested not displaying what doesn't work, and making the advert more appropriate). I no longer look at any of Vasco's, Team Webgalli's, or any other plugin by someone who is selling a 'full version'.

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons, but here are a couple. Elgg, like Drupal, WordPress, BuddyPress, Joomla, etc., have very helpful plugin communities. I use Drupal mainly, and everything is free. There are very few plugins which are commercial, and when you find one, often the seller just adds a link to their sales site. The free versions do everything you could need, and when there is a commercial version, it offers very powerful extras normally only required by commercial companies and websites. In other words, they know most people don't have the cash to hand over, or if they do, they often don't have enough to purchase professional programming and support time.

Of course systems like Drupal and Wordpress are actually very wealthy commercial concerns. Matt Mullenweg received something like $29 million into WordPress from corporations in 2009, who invested because they use the product, and want it to grow and be around 20 years from now. Open Source does not mean "totally free to everyone" in every way, and WordPress (actually Automattic) have paid staff. Matt's personal blog makes very interesting reading.

So, back to Elgg. The Elgg development team are probably not well-off to the tune of $29 million, and probably don't employ a large team of staff yet. They've made Elgg Open Source for their own reasons, for which I'm grateful. I'm also grateful to plugin developers who spend many hours on things and give them away free, even if they would have done it as a hobby anyway. (I do so myself, though not in Elgg as I'm new to it).

I think that those selling plugins in this community should make them much more functional, and offer a lot more for those who can and will pay for more. Giving away a car with no engine and wheels in the hope that someone will buy the full car would be ridiculous, but selling the car cheaply and offering lots of goodies at extra cost works well, and always has done.

Oh, and the point about "useless". Yes, in the sense of "this does nothing I can make any use of". But in another sense, it's good that coders let others have and modify what they've done. After all, you could take one of the free plugins and use it for inspiration to create something very useful and powerful, then offer it freely yourself.

Elgg does seem different in allowing people to advertise plugins they sell on an Open Source community rather than just allowing links to their commercial sites as others do. I prefer that, but as I say, it's not my decision. What are your thoughts..?

  • My personal Opinion: ( I am sorry if it hurts anybody, but I don't have any such Intention)

    I am having in touch with Elgg for past 2yrs. Before that, I was with drupal and Joomla. I have seen this topic of Commercial Elgg development popping up occasionally, but here is my first voice on it.

    Personally I don't mind, if some developers put some advertise here in the community. As far as I know, they are not using Elgg for exclusive advertising. They have provided something to the community (as plugins/as help for the new comers etc). The people who are criticizing them should also consider about the time those developers spent for free codes/to maintain the codes. After every Elgg release we can see the community members scolding the developers to release updates on their plugins(eg: Jerome's "profile manager, custom style, chat" , "site manager: plugin etc...). No one, even those who claims to be the programming masters/ those who scold the developers are not ready to fix it/support it/or develop a similar one. I could not find any plugin/contribution from those who are criticizing these developers.

    Elgg should remember these developers thankfully, with out there contribution we people wont reach any where here. Some of the plugins in these categories where released in a stage where Elgg even had no documentations. And they where on the top download list. I doubt whether anybody contributed those developers even a single penny for their works.

    I am not telling the attitude of these commercial developers are 100% correct. But I think they also should be allowed here, so that we can have something from them. Till this date I could not find any contribution form any member here as a substitute to a commercial plugin. Even the Elgg core team (Thank you for releasing this great code as GPL) too is using this as commercial. You can see these links in the homepage itself.

    I liked the idea of "node" for dividing the plugins to free/commercial. Thats a good suggestion. Let the people can select what they want. Its always different Minds can bring different Ideas, and after all Elgg will be having the real benefit.

    My prayers for All.

  • There seems to be a variety of perpectives being presented here..

    Some want to make a real living from working with the most popular social networking platform in the universe..

    Some want to hold these same people back and throttle these developers from making their contribution to the community (while they also have a means to pay their rent/food/etc)

    And of course there of those code "beggars" who will make demands of the professional developers and want everything, everything for free.

     "..could not find any plugin/contribution from those who are criticizing these developers..."
    *** very true

    "remember these developers thankfully, without their contribution we people wont reach anywhere here.."
    *** very true - most of the PlugIns that have propelled Elgg forward into the 21st century have been developed by professional and commercial developers who (just like Brett and Cash and et al earn their living by working with OSS such as Elgg) , not *not by hobbyists.

    "We all help each other and Elgg won't succeed without involvement of all three sides. This is how all OS projects succeed"
    *** very true - considering that the success of Elgg today as the ubiqitous SocNet platform is in a very large decent part due to the "commercial vultures circling" LOLZ;-) Elgg.Org should consider cutting some serious deals with the heavyweight Elgg developers outside Elgg.Org - A simple "Policies.. changng by Nov" statement does not cut it.

    If the real Elgg heavyweights (the Commercial Deveopers) were to leave Elgg and go elsewhere - then the love of my life "Elgg" would wither away and die.

    No one criticises the leaches who send me private messages with a long list of tasks which would cost 2-4 weeks while they ask me to do it for $0 LOLZ - I actually do get many such PM's all the time.. and so..

    Why criticise the serious serious professionals - Vazco,  MarkBeachill, WebCubes, Jeroen Dalsem, Kevin Jardine,  Pedro Prez,  Diego Andrés Ramírez Aragón, Mahmoudimus, Mistress RavenGoth, DFusion, Christian Heckelmann, Divagater, BMan, IZap, Rajveen, RPGRealms, Kane, SiBaz, Cube, FxNion, Wade Benson (ShellCode), Mark Harding, ImcoBarn, WebGalli, Zak Venturo, Malaga Jack, DhrupDeScoop, et al.. ad nauseum ???


  • An idea worth pondering would be to have two different plugin listings: 

    1. The listings should only have free plugins.

    2. A market place that has only paid plugins and services.

    This would mean a bit of discomfort for the plugin developers, but it would take away a lot of the current problems.

  • The purpose of the community site is to provide a venue for users of Elgg to share plugins, get help, discuss the development of Elgg, and so on. The purpose is not to serve as a place for Elgg developers to advertise. When someone who is new to the community posts a request for help and receives a response along the lines of "that is going to cost money", it is detrimental to the community. This is one of the behaviors that we will be monitoring more closely. If people are uploading a plugin with lots of advertisements and/or crippled capabilities, that is detrimental to the community.

    People want to work with a platform that has a helpful, friendly community. Greeting them with requests or demands for money is not helpful or friendly.

    There are complications with the marketplace idea that I cannot get into here. There have been discussions on creating a mechanism to recognize plugin/site developers.

  • Cash,

    I do agree that a market place is going to be a complicated affair, but what you are looking root out is not a simple matter either. In fact, it is a very subjective decision that involves value judgements. I like the idea and it is probably the ideal outcome, but I do fear the enforcement will be a pain.

  • I think Elgg needs to have actual free plugins that actually WORK 100% before they think about a marketplace. Not only that, but they need to make it so these plugins all WORK with at least the next 1.x that follows.

    It is so hard to run an Elgg site, have everything ready, then a new version pops up and EVERY plugin breaks.

    And in saying that, I think it's time Elgg has a new default theme and a total overhaul. It REALLY puts off the first time users because it's coded all weird, almost to the point as being encoded software and NOT open source.

  • jessica

    There is no such thing as bug-free software. Just bugs that haven't been discovered. When you factor in that the plugin author has no idea and no control on the types of systems and configurations their plugin will be used, it is impossible to create something that will work on 100% of systems. The author also has no idea what other plugins the user may have installed, what modifications the user may have made to the core, and a number of other factors.

    Outside of the core plugins, there isn't really any way for a plugin developer to ensure that their current plugin will be compatible with the next version of Elgg. They have no control over the changes that may appear in the next version core that might affect the current design of their plugin.

    Issue like this are not unique to Elgg. You'll find it with any software that enjoys third party addon support.

    With regard to commercial support, I'd suggest something along the lines of what vBulletin used to do. They had a separate site for plugins and developers. Technical support and customer support was handled on the main site. They didn't sell anything on the plugin site, it worked basically like the current plugin repository does here, except they didn't discourage professional developers and even allowed commercial demos.



  • MOST WordPress plugins work for the next few releases, same with PhpBB, that's not the case with Elgg. You move to a new version and EVERYTHING collapses.

  • That's kind of the point of releasing anything other than a maintenance release. New and updated functionality. That often requires making changes that are not necessarily backwards compatible. Frankly there is a lot of legacy code still in Elgg where the developers are attempting to maintain at least some compatibility with older versions, but eventually this kind of stuff HAS to be removed. If you want Elgg to be improved, these things are going to happen.

    You acknowledge, at least superficially, that other software you use has similar issues. Both WordPress and PhpBB and most every other program out there supporting third party addons has this issue.

    Also, hyperbole doesn't help your claims...

  • @latest But phpBB is a fine place to look if you want ideas to run a community like this one. It is very well organized and their handling of new releases and plugins are worth noticing.

    Plugins get evaluated and have to live up to certain standards to be approved. And developers really eager after getting plugins approved, because it's a recognition of their work. It gives a different respect about things.

    Sorry to say so but in elgg plugin directory you'll find like 1000 plugins, but how many of those are up to date and worth using? Or how many plugins work when released? People upload plugins that are not tested properly and not work. If you like a plugin and if you try to point out problems, you must sometimes wait for ages to get support.

    If there is no approval and standards of plugins a lot of the released plugins conflicts. If you use this plugin don't use the other one. If you use this one remember to place it below the other one, and so on. It's like getting together a problematic family to a party .

    This thread being about commercial developers and in my oppinion the best solution would be to keep commercial stuff out of this community. If we want to find commercial solutions use google. Why should run a professional directory for developers?

    A better idea would be to put effort into building a directory for "Plugins under development". When these plugins are done they could be moved to the present plugin directory.

Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

Discussions about the past, present, and future of Elgg and this community site.