"Drupal Connect": a marketplace for commercial Drupal modules?

Anonymous's picture


I run an agency focusing on open source software, mostly Drupal, Magento Commerce etc. Magento have an interesting marketplace for commercial extensions, "Magento Connect". Magento is licensed OSL 3.0, but its extensions can be any type of license, e.g. GPL, OSL, commercial, etc.

What I want to discuss is a kind of "Drupal Connect" ecosystem, for commercial Drupal extensions. These extensions, like Magento Connect, would not be hosted on Drupal.org, but acquired from third party websites. But Drupal Connect simply brings them all together.

For me it is already lucrative business to sell Magento extensions (mostly payment methods). I want to start doing something similar for Drupal Übercart, or D7's Commerce module, by providing commercial-class, well-supported payment extensions.

I have read Dries' take on this:

Basically, Dries expresses a bit of worry concerning licensing and a commercial ecosystem for modules. I don't see the problem. Just for the record, I do provide several free modules, http://drupal.org/user/214103 But the opportunity of increasing cashflow with commercial-class Übercart/Commerce payment extensions is very attractive. I've seen some other people sell commercial Drupal modules already, http://www.magictoolbox.com/magiczoom/modules/drupal/, so from my point of view I'm just gonna go ahead.

But I have some questions...
Are there plans for a kind of "Drupal Connect" commercial marketplace?
What would be the right approach concerning code and licensing? (I don't need to host the code on Drupal.org, I have my own download store.)
Is Drupal limited to GPL-only code? E.g. you can't mix anything else into a Drupal project?

If you have any ideas on this subject, please share them!

Let's build a "Drupal Connect" ecosystem for commercial extensions! :-)


Let's build a "Drupal

greggles's picture

Let's build a "Drupal Connect" ecosystem for commercial extensions! :-)

Surely you could (depending on the specifics of the license). And there are others interested.

But don't call it Drupal Connect

Alright we won't :-) I don't

morningtime's picture

Alright we won't :-) I don't necessarily want to build this myself, would rather like to see a community effort.
Like a "commercial" section at http://drupal.org/download
I think the main obstacle is the GPL licensing.
I've read others discuss this, http://drupal.org/node/131074, saying their modules must be GPL.
Somehow allowing commercial licenses for self-hosted modules would open up opportunity for a commercial ecosystem.


Crell's picture

You are correct that Drupal modules must be GPL licensed. There is really no legal structure available, nor, for that matter, the community desire, to find loopholes in that to enable proprietary-licensed modules.

Also, see this comment in the blog post you linked above:


Commercially-sold modules are by nature non-collaborative. Non-collaborative modules, especially those not hosted on Drupal.org, are generally regarded as second-class citizens. Many people actively avoid them. I do not see that changing any time soon, and, speaking for myself only, I hope it does not change. This is a community that values collaboration as its lifeblood.

There may be business opportunities around selling feature suites (based on features.module), or distributions, or hosted services utilizing either of those. But I really don't see a per-copy license purchasing of modules as a viable business model, nor a good thing for the community.

If you're still game to try, then as long as you honor the GPL on all PHP and JS code it's legal.

Agree with all of Crell's

Boris Mann's picture

Agree with all of Crell's comments.

You might want to join the community fundraising discussion: http://groups.drupal.org/node/142779

Or read about bits and pieces of appstore discussion if you want to go down the feature / install profile direction: http://bmannconsulting.com/2971/drupal/buying-ponies-drupal-app-store -- in short, must be GPL, but copyrighting some elements will allow you to "sell it".

The GPL might have been

Acubed's picture

The GPL might have been called an obstacle however there's no reason you must publish a Drupal module under any particular license. Without being distributed with the Drupal source to form a single work, and without being derived from Drupal source code, the GPLv2/v3 licenses do not apply to new modules, and all legal precedent points in this direction, and indeed such a term (if it were legal) would be a violation of the Open Source Definition. There are of course other issues with commercial copyright-enforced licensing, legal and personal issues abounds.

"This is a community that

morningtime's picture

This is a community that values collaboration as its lifeblood.

Indeed, Drupal is!

But I really don't see a per-copy license purchasing of modules as a viable business model, nor a good thing for the community.

Why wouldn't it be viable? I do exactly this for Magento Commerce and it is good business.

This is how it works: with Magento Commerce I noticed that the "free" community payment modules were full of bugs. Even after years. A specific module not been updated once since 2008, but hundreds of people needed it to work. Then I stepped in and built a bug-free commercial extension. With the feedback from the first clients, it even became a "community" effort. I constantly listen to customer feedback to improve my extensions.

See, a lot of people just want their module to work well, not necessarily to be "free".

Anyway, for now, I'm thinking of this approach:
- GPL license
- but as "paid download" for support and bugfixes

Thanks for all the comments!! I think I found a solution.

A more accessible bounty system would be best

davidgibbens's picture

As a user - I absolutely will pay for important modules that work - where they don't exist or don't work properly. In fact that is what I have to do anyway - it's called getting a developer to do some work for you.
But the best way is for users to club together to fund work that is then ported back to Drupal and available to everyone. So the developer gets a one-off fee not a continuing stream and the community benefits. I think that is supposed to happen already but I suspect it is way, way under-used. You need a reliable third-party bounty holder to make sure no one gets ripped off and clear and respected, reliable, understandable processes.
Creating a system that would leverage more effectively the very significant amounts of funding that end-users put into Drupal development would be the single biggest step forwards for the Drupal platform and community that I can think of*. Drupal really would blow 'em out of the water then.
(* caveat - Though I don't know much about the Drupal community, being in a remote part of the user galaxy).

David Gibbens

The Drupal Source Exchange is coming!

carlmcdade's picture

This weekend a sneak preview of the new drupal.se domain. The site will be at http://drupal.se/development. The mission? To mash-up the following website types.

  • odesk
  • binpress
  • extension.joomla.org

Gpl: no better way for modules

dominique.charny's picture

full in phase with davidgibbens user's point of view. Of course modules have to be robust and clean for development, but GPL spirit pursues collectively this purpose. Free access to modules is the way to investigate promptly solutions with components on the shelve... final aim being to achieve the customer IT solution considered, as a set of softs ( even to be improved-tuned ) also composed with technical elements (OS , Php Server,Network), legal requirements, data IProperty, assistance and other related services.
This requirement seems to overcome module policy considered as a business by itself.
GPL brings community notoriety & acknowledgment and implies as reciprocity donation-Gpl of new modules.
I'd better consider LWG developing GPL module promotion activities
- guide of best development practices
- quality evaluation ,
- quality rewards
- modules sites references
- incentive of modules programs