VersionPress licensing

Important update: VersionPress will be 100% GNU GPL-licensed! Read more in this blog post.

We have been asked about VersionPress licensing a couple of times already so we thought we’d address that.

When you head over to versionpress.net and scroll down to the campaign section or further down to the FAQ, you’ll find a note that the licensing model is not set in stone yet. This concerns some people and their point is valid – they don’t want to contribute to something they don’t know whether will be open or closed source / commercial. However, from our point of view, this is the most honest thing we can say about licensing at the moment. Let me explain.

First and foremost, we want to see VersionPress built. We believe it is a hugely useful thing for WP admins and we, ourselves, always wanted that something like that existed. It is our top-most priority to build it and properly support it in the long run.

For that, we need to be realistic about funding. The current crowd-funding campaign will cover the initial development (if successful) but think about all the 3rd party plugins that do “interesting” things to WP sites, their combinations, various hosting configurations etc. VersionPress is a huge undertaking and if we want to do this professionally and keep the users (you) happy, realistic funding is key.

That’s why we cannot announce anything definitive about the licensing today. The campaign has been out only for a couple of days and we don’t know, can’t know, how things will work out. For instance, if some major sponsor appears we would be more than happy to make VersionPress available as open source, free to everyone. But what if there isn’t? We believe that in such case, it’s better to offer a reasonably priced plugin than nothing at all.

To sum up, the best we can announce today is that we would love this to be OSS but we’ll need some time to make a final decision on this. If you’re not comfortable with this, please do not contribute to the campaign and we’re sorry that we’ve lost you. However, we hope that many of you understand our situation and will support VersionPress just as a project that makes sense, regardless of the license.

Thank you and if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.
Borek

P.S. Thanks to all the people who brought up this issue on Twitter. Based on your feedback, we have also updated versionpress.net to make things clearer.

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6 thoughts on “VersionPress licensing

  1. I’d suggest you’ll get the support you’re looking for more easily if you did promise that the licensing model will include a fully OS version. That could be in the form of a “basic” version that is free, with the option to upgrade to a paid pro version. Most paid plugins use this model to encourage usage and sales anyway. I’m sure you can figure out what type of features could be put in a pro-only version. Also consider having integrations available at a price while keeping the main plugin OS.

    I think it’s a good idea but if you don’t clarify your position on the licensing you’ll miss your targets and somebody else will probably take it over.

  2. Hi Joel, just theoretically, if you look at the features at versionpress.net what would you, personally, include in the “basic” version and what would you leave for the “pro” version?

  3. Alright I’ll play along… the basic version would “not respect your workflow” and would have “shaky internals”. In seriousness the feature list you have is big picture concepts so obviously you can’t break them up. Which is the answer in itself, get more specific about what the detailed features are and then look at what options stem from that which can be used to differentiate versions. The basic version has to still embody the core concept, it’s can’t be a broken piece for instance that only saves half your version. So the version control itself is non-negotiable. What else is in the interface or the management options? History of versions springs to mind for me. Maybe the basic version only stores a limited number, such as 10 versions. Once you hit the limit, you start losing the oldest version. If you feel you need more depth, you upgrade to pro. I’ve seen this approach with backup software. 10 might be too restrictive… you have to pick a number that makes the version useful yet is somewhat limiting, I’m not sure what that is in this case.

    Another approach to the limit might be “number of days”. Maybe you can have a more generous number of versions (50?) but your oldest version can never be more than 6-months. That way some users will say, I need 1-2 years to feel secure so it’s worth the upgrade cost.

  4. One other idea for basic/pro differences could be granularity of rollbacks. I just noticed every small change is saved and can be individually rolled back with the “undo” button. That’s a great feature, but maybe you could trim that in the free version to only offer batch rollbacks? Like maybe snapshots would be taken instead so it would list 10 or 20 changes includes in the snapshot.

  5. Pingback: Announcing full GPL licensing | VersionPress blog

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