Saturday, April 26th, 2008
There has been a lot of noise revolving around Ext JS and the open source license decisions. Under the original license (LGPL-ish) many thought that it wasn’t actually an open source license at all. Jack changed to GPL last week when he announced version 2.1, but others have been upset with views on forking the old code-base.
I have publicly tried to stay out of the discussion, but today Jack published his thoughts and timeline, as well as frustrations with personal attacks.
This is all such a shame, as Ext JS is great stuff, and I wish that Jack could be spending him time on building more great functionality, and growing his business. I am sure these debates have taken way too much time and energy.
Here is the history from Jack’s point of view:
- For 7 months I wrote yui-ext full time from my home, gave it away under a BSD license and loved every minute of it. There werenâ€™t many donations and no official support from Yahoo. With my third child due, and savings running low I had to find a way to continue building what was now changing to Ext JS and also find a way to earn a living from it.
At this time I contemplated switching to a strictly commercial framework. I openly discussed this decision with the community in the Ext forums. If you want to read the discussions, they are here:
â€œOfficial Commercial License Input Threadâ€
â€œOfficial Open Src License Thread (Commercial License Part 2)â€
In the end, after much discussion with the community, I decided to go to the LGPL.
- Shortly before 1.0 is released, there numerous Ext â€œclonesâ€ started popping up that were hacking Ext themes, css and other resources from 1.0 – before we had even released 1.0. Here I had 4 new themes for Ext JS 1.0 that I had spent countless hours working on (I am not a great designer) and what could now be considered competitors were already using it before I even have a chance to release Ext 1.0.
Thatâ€™s why the proprietary license on the â€œAssetsâ€ (CSS and images) was introduced in Ext 1.0.
- Ext JS 1.0 is released under the LGPL, minus the Assets license as mentioned above. Shortly thereafter 2 major publicly traded corporations (names withheld) embedded Ext JS into their development frameworks. With no mention of Ext JS except in credits files that no one ever saw. No support for all the work that had been put into the framework. Neither one of them even contacted us. How can that be possible? Can they do that? How can we compete with them taking such a large chunk of our potential customers? These are the questions I was faced with and so began my â€œIntro to Business 101â€³.
The next release of Ext JS was released under the Ext License, to serve as proxy to the LGPL and add the additional â€œno framework/toolkitâ€ restriction that was present until 2.1.
Then things got public:
- This blog post comes out on CNET out of nowhere:
- Alex Russell publicly bashes the Ext License on Ajaxian (sorry no link, I couldâ€™t find it) and then continues his attack on the license with me personally over email. He then follows with this blog post:
- Matthew Garrett decides in his infinite wisdom to completely disregard our Ext License or Assets license:
- Dion Almaer of Ajaxian privately informs us of concerns he has about the Ext License. His points are very clear and sincere and he is only interested in the open source community as a whole.
- Several private conversations were held with customers regarding the license, spurred by the links and discussions above.
Then Jack talks about some personal attacks, which I won’t go into here.
This reminds me of my old days running TheServerSide. These kind of situations happened pretty regularly. Controversy was the norm, especially with characters like JBoss around… oh and CocoBase brought a lot of hilarity too with their fake legal stupidity.
Anyway, I have been very happy to see that Ajaxian hasn’t had the same level of controversy in the Ajax community as I saw in the Enterprise Java one. Controversy is great for page views, but life is too short. I hope that our community stays strong and united around the simple goal:
Let’s grow the Open Web. The bigger we grow it. The bigger the pie. And, then we all succeed.
Posted by Dion Almaer at 3:03 pm