Open Source vs. Open Core

There's a timely debate brewing over "Open Core" companies and just what that means. Here's my take as it applies to MODx.

Ottawa Centre Debates

After our recent product launch (as in roughly a dozen hours ago), Barb Mosher indirectly raised a very salient question in her article:

Like Drupal, Joomla and WordPress, MODX is licensed under the GPL. This means that the MODX Revolution core software will remain open and free. But beyond this the field is open.

I'd like to offer some clarity on this question. MODX is an Open Source company, everything to date has been released under an OS license. We also don't want to restrict how MODX developers license their work, a different type of freedom than offered from many, if not most, OS projects. We think this will help companies transition from being slaves to selling hours into selling products.

The "Open Source vs. Open Core" debate is as close to a religious argument as it gets, and we'd prefer to stay out of that one. Anyone is free to label us however they prefer—we're OK with that. Managing semantics is not a prudent use of our time, as there is simply too much work to do on the roadmap for our OS-licensed products and add-ons. To that end, we don't plan to arbitrarily and awkwardly prune features to make an "Open Core" version where all the good stuff is only available with money attached; in fact we're fully against that. I can't vouch for what the community will do, but we'll give them a killer Open Source platform on which they can build either a service-driven or a product company should they so choose.

… we'll give them [MODX Developers] a killer Open Source platform on which they can build either a service-driven or a product company … Personally I think that in an ideal world everything would be Open Source. The reality is, though, there's really only a handful of people/companies in the world that can pull of a pure OS business model, and those are usually the folks at the top of their space or that have had significant exits in a previous life—they can do as they please without worrying about making rent or answering to spouses.

In closing, there's a host of technical and architectural reasons we can take this position with a 1000% clear conscience and that should appease the code purists out there. I'll let Jason Coward, MODX's Chief Architect, answer those after pushing out the next release and moving everything to Git. Enough cycles spent on this for now!

Further reading:

Ryan Thrash is the husband of an insanely supportive wife, father of 2 great kids and lives in Dallas, TX. Having co-founded the MODX content management platform in 2004, he looks forward to a world where HTML5 and CSS3 is the norm, and IE6 ceases to exist.

Contact Info

25 Highland Park Village #100-413
Dallas, TX 75205-2789
(469) 777 - MODX

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