Developing plugins for money - advantages and disadvantages

You can find original discussion here:


Just to follow on my comment re the front page commercial mod and charging for mods to be used on  open source platforms.

If you and other mod developers charge for mods that are created for open source platforms in the thoughts that you should be rewarded for your time and effort, then does this not mean that dave and everyone who created elgg and are working hard to advance the system for free should charge for additional updates and only supply the original core platform for free?

trademark an hour ago

In case there was any doubt about this, Curverider, the developers of Elgg, do have paying clients. LIke many other open source developers, they release much of their paid work as free plugins with their client's blessing.

Kevin Jardine 35 minutes ago

This is a discussion that will always popup on opensource projects. There are always people who will try to make money, but that is a good situation. It means that people are going to take the product seriously.

On the other hand, if everyone would charge money for their plugins, then Elgg wouldn't be that good/popular/accessible as it is right now. The best thing we could wish for is that people pay us for development, and that we could share with the community for free. I'm trying to do just that.

If you are trying to make a living out of Elgg, you need to charge money for your work. This can be done in various ways. Vazco's way is one of them. Dave's team also can't do it for free (check out

Just a side note, vazco published his main_pagewidgets plugin under GPLv2, so you can use it and modify it so it will work without the limitations. GPL is also one of the terms of uploading plugins on

Jeroen Dalsem 29 minutes ago

Jeroen has made an important point. Open source developers can develop a business (and feed their families) by charging for development time, not for software. Many of my plugins have features paid for by multiple paying clients. That way the software just gets better and better and everyone benefits.

(Why is this a page by the way? Forum posts can be edited, but not page comments ...)

Kevin Jardine 18 minutes ago


Cost of developing the mainpage widgets mod would be 100-150$ if I couldn't resell it. This is the cost not everyone can afford. This what I give to people by writing commercial mods is a choice. Everyone can buy a mod which otherwise would not exist in the community, and can buy it  for one tenth of it's development price. They can also download demo versions without the full functionality for free, under the GPL license.

If I couldn't make money from my work, I wouldn't write plugins. I think everyone's work should be appreciated. Curverider earns money, and they created Elgg to earn money. They serve big companies and organizations. My aim is to help those who don't have so much money to afford Curverider's complex services. Noone here is a non-proffit organization. People who use Elgg, very often do it for money as well.

If I didn't take money from my work, my work simply would not be available in the community. My plugins give people better choice. They give chance to develop plugins for a smaller fees as well.

vazco 18 minutes ago

Kevin, your way is good too. I already created a few plugins which were paid by the development time.

This what I did with the vazco_mainpage is an experiment. When payed for a development, one person pays for something everyone uses. Commercial plugins allow to split the costs. I plan to get similar proffit from the commercial plugins that I would get from the plugins I develop for the client.


We can move this discussion to the forum. Do you know any group suitable for this?

vazco 9 minutes ago

Perhaps the plugin development forum?

  • @Cash The plugin versions I offer on are under the GPL licence, and are functional. You can use those versions with success on your production site. This is the difference from the purely commercial plugins.


    @Kevin you're right about the GPL license. That's why this what I offer has only a partial value in software. When someone buys my plugin, he actually buys a membership in a group that gives access to a new plugin versions, support, and exchange of information. The plugin's cost is rather something that allows to lower the development costs and find people who are willing to contribute to the development of Elgg. It won't generate the actual proffit that can earn you a living, at least not in case of Elgg.

  • @vazco - All I was saying is that it is permissible to charge a fee for the distribution of GPL software (and as Kevin pointed out, someone can redistribute that same software for free). My comment was not related to your free as in beer, limited functionality, GPL plugins and your commercial, full functionality plugins.

    I'm not sure that GPL 2 allows distribution of a commercial software that is just an extension of the GPL software. My understanding is that the plugins that you are selling are GPL licensed because they are extensions of GPL software and so anyone that pays for a copy can redistribute them (for no cost if that person so chooses). If my understanding is correct, someone could upload your commercial plugin to the Elgg plugin repository for other people to download under the terms of GPL 2. Those that downloaded it, of course, would not receive membership to your support group. You may want to look into using a more permissive license for this type of thing like LGPL.

  • @Vazco

    What and how you are doing with respect to your plugins is quite OK, according to Gnu.Org

    Remember what Gnu.Org says about their GPL license

    "Since free software is not a matter of price, a low price isn't more free, or closer to free. So if you are redistributing copies of free software, you might as well charge a substantial fee and make some money. Redistributing free software is a good and legitimate activity; if you do it, you might as well make a profit from it."

  • @Dhrup - Did I say anything different?

    My key points were

    1. You can charge to distribute GPL software

    2. Someone else can pay up and then turn around and distribute for free under the terms of the license.

    3. My understanding of GPL v2 is that software that is a derived work of GPL software and is distributed, also takes on the GPL. The implication for vazco is that according to my understanding someone is within their rights to upload one of his full plugins to the Elgg community site.

  • @Cash... LOL ;-O nope !

    I was going to post " Cash, Vazco, Kevin, Rob, AddClose.. we are all saying the same thing...". Most of the posts here are pretty much on the correct mark. It's ok to charge $ for our time. It's ok to upload GPL s/w for free, it's ok to charge a few $ for download costs.. it's not ok to demand GPL s/w for totally free because beer is not free ;-O )...


    You should by now know who the Elgg heavy coders are if you want to offer a slice of the pie and approach those coders via messages privately ;-O


    While people have been discussing, arguing, etc re: $$ for plugin effort,  CurveRider / Elgg officially says 

    " If you would like to help fund any of these developments, or perhaps something not suggested here, we will set up a paypal donate option shortly, all contributions welcome."

    Read it for yourselves ;-)

  • I believe that everything developed to work in contact with ELGG , like plugins must be developed under GPL2. due to the fact that ELGG is GPL2. [BTW is dead.from]

    Based on GPL2, ELLG developers are properly asking contributors to "release plugins under a GPL"  .

    Let me point out that there is no option if the core is GPL. I've learned this the hard way ...

    Plugins for other GPL platforms like Joomla, that attempted do so under a proprietary license and even encrypted soft usually end up changing to gpl.

    I personally appreciate people like Izap or Pedro Prez, because I feel that they are a real asset to the this particular free community.

    At the same  time
    I also appreciate Vazco and Dhrup that wish to monetize every line of code they write [and are absolutely and legally entitled to do so], but I do hope that developers like them understand what GPL2 implies .

    Under GPL2 developers are entitled to charge whatever they feel like for their work but the phrase "Redistributing free software is a good and legitimate activity" usually works quite well as a deterrent for those  who  intend to abuse the first part of the sentence.

    Now selling a subscription for support ,  patches and updates, etc. beyond having the potential for becoming a vicious cycle [thus the proliferation of crooks in a community] could also be a vital motivation for many developers and a proven way  to  improve  this  kind of projects [like,  Microsoft does haaaaaa haaaa]

    So down to the question "Developing plugins for money - advantages and disadvantages" I'm absolutely  in favor of profit and free enterprise,  but doing so under the shadow of gpl2 may be not profitable, so if the motivation to develop plugins for this project is just money, you might be barking at the wrong tree.

  • @ jededitor

    I'm with you on this. I have paid for plugins to be developed AND encouraged the developers to sell commercial versions. I also don't mind giving FREE advice on how something should work in their commercial plugins. It only makes it better for all of us.

    It's becoming more discouraging to me to ask a developer to make a demo or free version available. Especially, when people bitch about having to pay for some individuals hard work to get the extra features. Or, it doesn't work exactly the way they want it to.

    Personally, I would like to see the developers that do give out their work at least attach a donation button to it. Like Dhrup has always said. If everyone gave even "JUST ONE DOLLAR". This would encourage the growth of the elgg platform. 

  • @ DHRUP

    Too bad you deleted your last 2 posts.

    To prove my point,  I downloaded the plugin MySpace 1.5-2009-03-26-01 kindly supplied under GPL 3 by DHRUP  to see what a "real coder" does .

    It was no surprise to see that the core of that plugin reads, " MySpace Content Grabber @  Copyright (C) 2009 Michael King" and its not  DHRUP's code.


    DHRUP  I'm not sorry to say that you prove my point.

    Many communities, like Joomla, have wannabe developers  that port GPL applications from mambo and drupal, and then start charging for the Joomla implementations.

    I personally believe that this will just ruin the spirit of this project.

    What attracted me to ELGG was  ELGG's free open source and the attitude from people like Izap or Pedro Prez that I would be more than happy to contribute with money , code or resources if I ever get a site on line for profit.

    Don't get me wrong DHRUP , but if was to hire you to make changes or customization its out of the question you should get compensated dearly but if everything on line was like you insist,  there would be no "online".

    NO Michael King , NO Dhrup plugin,  do you see it? 

    Applying your criteria [ and not what you did to develop your plugin ] there would be no ELGG.

    HEY! nobody is preventing you from selling your work anyway, 
    just don't use the FREE platform to advertise your SALES,
    go build your own site, pay for listings etc. whats wrong with that?

  • @MK

    So using your logic its wrong for the developers to advertise their paid services on this site as well?