Developing plugins for money - advantages and disadvantages

Last updated by Mike Zacher (vazco) Comments (16)
  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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 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 ...)

  • Trademark,

    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.

  • 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?

  • Perhaps the plugin development forum?

  • ok fair comments, I take into account what everyone has stated on here, personally my site is not for profit, i do have advertising space on there in the hope that i can recoupe some hosting costs, thus making the site pay for itself.  I do think though that plugins based on freely available software should be the same,  I have purchased mods from developers in the past and when you need support for them, nothing is recieved, ( by no means am i saying this the case with anyone on here) , but if you purchase code from someone are you covered by consumer rights as you would be if you purchased a product from a shop? Does paying for code guarantee that you get support from its developer or that they wont disappear when they have recouped there costs? ( again this is not aimed at anyone individual, just my thoughts )

    Not everyone is out to make money! but develop websites for informational, fun or charitable purposes.

    Thank you all for the free mods that you have submitted to the elgg community and wish those creating a buisness from there programming skills the best of luck :)


  • Trademark, taking fees for software, and not development time, has this advantage for consumer that the programmer has to provide support for what he does, fix bugs etc. Otherwise, he will loose a reputation, and his software won't sell good. [ I tend to give support for my plugins anyway, as people I worked for can confirm ]

    Also, if someone is able to fund the development of the plugin, I'd gladly create it and release it to the community for free if this is his will.

  • @ everyone
    open source ?
    free plugins ?
    so one day soon...
    i will pay $ 0 to walmart for grocery
    i will pay $ 0 to the bank for mortgage
    i will pay $ 0 to the college for my kids' education
    and of course then i will code plugins also for $ 0

    btw - just like for vazco and many others.. people do actually pay me $$ for my ideas, while i also do serious elgg plugins code work for free for those that cannot afford...

    that's just the way life goes.......

  • FIRSTLY, I dont think the thread is titled properly. I don not think the issue was about developing plugins for money BUT about posting plugins as "demo software" and asking for money for a full featured version.  This is where the problem is.

    I think it has a danger of destroying the spirit that make elgg what it is.

    Elgg is open source software

    Most publicly available plugins are open source as well. In fact, this is the first I have seen that is created as a demo and asks for money for a fully working product.

    I am a developer myself. I sometimes get projects for Elgg. I appreciate the fact that time, effort and skill is required to create something and it makes sense for someone to expect payment...

    I also acknowledge the fact that people spent time and effort to have the brilliant product we call Elgg. Up to today, I have always known by default that all plugins posted here are open source. I have never seen anyone post some condition for having a fully working product. This is where (I think) the problem is.

    Calling a demo plugin that then requires payment for full use,opensource is a bit devious.

    I dont believe it is proper for anyone to post a partially working code(particularly an ELgg Plugin) and place a condition of payment to get full use. This would not be the right platform to do my opinion. I think it would be better to have it in your profile and maybe advertise on the googlegroups if you have such products OR rather just have a plugin with its functions and leave out the bits of having to pay for this or that.

    We run the risk of making people mis-understand the plugins.


  • Maybe I have misunderstood, but this is what the Elgg website says:

    If you would like to contribute plugins to the Elgg project, please do so. The only thing we insist upon is that you release it under a GPL compatible license.

  • here here tino, well said :)

  • Tino, the 'demo' plugins that I release to the community are under the GPL license.

    This what you call a 'partially working code' took me two weeks to develop in case of vazco_gmap, and two days in case of the vazco_mainpage. There are already 125 downloads in case of the mainpage plugin, while only 5 people bought the full version. The rest is using the 'unfunctional demo' I assume.

    I think it's better those plugins are available in the community in the version without some features, than if they were not in the community at all.

    I'm not sure what's your goal. Do you want me to develop plugins for free? This is something that I can't afford. Or do you want me to stop developing plugins for Elgg at all?

  • I must say that I was shocked when I saw that you were charging for a few kb of text for an open source package. But I can see that you need to fund your efforts in producing the plugin, unfortunately you are screwing the end user in this case, maybe an alternative revenue stream could be found?

    $13 or whatever, is quite a lot for a plugin that does hardly anything. Honestly I wouldn't even pay $1 for it myself. $1 in the iPhone world would buy you an actual application that was built from source, with much more functionality and effort involved, so $13 for a few text files and a couple of folders is pretty awful......

    I think you will find that yes, we live in a corporate society and this is nothing different to what everyone else does....  is it moral? matter of opinion i suppose, but I think you can see that this so called internet generation would disagree, If people wont be screwed by the bigger corporations like microsoft/apple/adobe...etc for their software, then why is yours special?

    @Dhrup: The screw or be screwed cliché is a very weak argument at best. I will leave it at that, as i've seen some of your other posts and "Money" seems to be a common issue.

    There's a revolution, but unfortunately you guys seem to be on the wrong side of the fence........

    Nothing personal, just my opinion.

Mike Zacher (vazco)

I'm an Elgg expert and CEO of - the first plugin store for Elgg. We focus on development of highly scalable and highly customized Elgg websites.