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..?

  • Yes, I know pretty much every script has the same problem. I have Elgg sites that are still stuck at 1.5 until TEN of the plugins it's using are updated. Usually I can just find an alternative, but most Elgg developers have taken advantage that hardly ANYONE uses the platform and force us to cough up cash for everything.

    And that's the problem here. Elgg is GREAT, it's POWERFUL, and it's what people REALLY want, opposed to BuddyPress, that MovableType social network thing, and instead of using sites like Ning and Wet Paint.

    However, Elgg is still crappily built. You can't even SEE changes in realtime, there's too much going on in the headers, and it's VERY complicated to create plugins. It hardly even is HTML Valid.

    And if you're an open source project and all you have are greedy developers wanting to cash in on it, is there really a point? You could have ALL the designers in the world coming to make REALLY amazing themes, but why would they when you can't even do it like normally? Who the heck decided that CSS would be called via PHP instead of the ordinary .css? Who in the world thought that no one would need to edit the Spotlight text and NOT put it in the administration settings?

    Elgg needs a BIG facelift, otherwise it's just going to rot like SMF and most of the CMS platforms. We need to think outside of just developers and meet the needs of our users. We NEED to be the WordPress/Vanilla of social networking, otherwise someone else will come up with better software that all our struggling community will move on to.

    We're almost to version 2, yet we went to a GOOD directory of plugins to probably less than 100. Most don't even work. And that's not a problem?

  • Jessica,

    I think we are going a bit off-topic here trying to discuss the merits or demerits of Elgg and the design choices made here. Also, saying things like it is "crappily built" really kills any possible constructive dialogue. Elgg is technically a different kettle of fish compared to PHPbb or Wordpress. It has a much steeper learning curve (this is coming from someone who initially went and mucked around in the core libs first to change things) and just because it can be installed by just about anyone it does not mean it is up to the technically non-inclined to deploy massively customized sites.

    The purpose of this thread and other similar threads is to try and improve the community and ecosystem around Elgg. Most here would agree that there are many areas that could be improved, but at this stage what could really help are suggestions as to what/how things could be changed than more feedback about how much things suck.

    The quality of the code that is in the core is not something you can otherwise buy off the shelf without spending a few thousands of dollars at least. Even though nobody is saying you need to pay up and get help, I think we will all be much better served if we can give back in whatever little way we can. That way, everybody benefits and a lot of the issues you have pointed out will also go away.

  • Almost a 100% of plugins written for Elgg 1.5 worked with Elgg 1.6. The only exceptions were themes that overrode the header view (which is a bad thing to do) and those plugins that only worked with jQuery 1.2.6. The change in 1.5 that lead to this was an upgraded version of jQuery.

    The plugins that did not work with Elgg 1.7 but did with Elgg 1.6 were those that did not implement a security feature that had been around since 1.5. The fix was extremely easy to implement.

    We have now seen releases for 1.7.1, 1.7.2, and 1.7.3 that fixed a lot of issues and were completely backwards compatible.

    As to the plugin repository, there are a lot of really bad plugins in there. This is a community were anyone can upload a plugin. There are no standards that have to be met. The idea being that the top plugins will rise to the surface through recommendations and downloads (and if you are not taking the time to recommend the best plugins, well, that is part of the problem). We will continue to improve the plugin repository - better search, better sorting by download and recommendations, sorting by version compatibility. If people have other ideas, please create a thread in this group with those ideas.

  • @jessica

    My bet is those who know how to program would vehemetly disagree with your claims that Elgg is "crappily built"...



  • @RPG -
    you bet right lolz ;-)
    i (think) i know how to program;-D
    and as y'all knows a bad workman quarrels with his tools ;-P
    and i ain't fighting with the love of my life "Elgg"
    since i gave up a $90K f/t job to go the Elgg highway my way...

  • @Jessica Elgg is fine. Period. Elgg Community? Good, just needs more rules =) (and some sort of marketplace)

Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

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