Tag Archives: Varien

Magento, license could be a serious trouble

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The only meaning of this post is to raise a critical point of view about the OSL license (choosen by Magento), absolutely not to discourage someone from using Magento itself, I simply love it.

Magento, the last and most promising open source e-commerce platform beeing developed, is released under the Open Software License 3.0.

The license is really difficult to read if you’re not an English expert, anyway let’s take a look at what GNU says about OSL (bold by me):

The Open Software License is a free software license. It is incompatible with the GNU GPL in several ways.

Recent versions of the Open Software License have a term which requires distributors to try to obtain explicit assent to the license. This means that distributing OSL software on ordinary FTP sites, sending patches to ordinary mailing lists, or storing the software in an ordinary version control system, is arguably a violation of the license and would subject you to possible termination of the license. Thus, the Open Software License makes it very difficult to develop software using the ordinary tools of free software development. For this reason, and because it is incompatible with the GPL, we recommend that no version of the OSL be used for any software.

We urge you not to use the Open Software License for software you write. However, there is no reason to avoid running programs that have been released under this license.

Being incompatible with GPL it’s a big issue, it avoids avery integration between Magento and any GPL software and it’s a big limitation.

A normal day of a free software developer:

I write a patch for Magento. That patch is released under OSL becuase that’s what OSL impose. I send the patch to some public mailing list or post it to a forum because I want to help developers creating a better and bug-free software.

In this situation I’m violating the license and I’m loosing my right to use the software anymore. I think this is a serious trouble that should be avoided and solved.

A note from OSL wikipedia page:

the OSL has never been tested in court and is not widely used

In fact we can see that only 3 project are listed (in that wikipedia’s page) to be using OSL.

Final thoughts:
In a forum post Roy Rubin (CEO of Varien, creators of Magento), says that a big difference from GPL is that OSL defines distribution over a network as a distribution. If this is the most important aspect Varien is taking care of, than I suggest to switch to Affero GPL 3, which is completely compatible with GPL 3 and takes care of the network distribution of a GPL software.

We all know that many people do not pay serious attention to all the license implications, but all the others could stop using Magento because of all the problems above and I don’t think this is a good thing for the project.

UPDATE: AGPL3 would not be suitable for the frontend, the license switch proposal is just a provocation.

Magento and translations, a better approach

Magento the last and most promising open source e-commerce platform beeing developed, but it has some critical points, such as translations.

Magento (which is still in beta) is releasing a bunch of CSV files containing 2 columns, the original string is the first, the translated string is the second. When a new string is added to the english codebase all translation files must be updated and delivered to translators, which have many difficulties merging these new files with the one they were working on.

This approach isn’t effective, brings many efforts and could lead to corruption between translation files.

Ok, critics are over, now let’s be constructive.

When we had to build the new translation system for P4A we did deep researches to find out how many free translation services where out there, result? We found a few but only one was good: Launchpad Rosetta.

Did you know Launchpad Rosetta before? I think you know it. It’s the software being used by Ubuntu and thousands of other FLOSS projects.

Developers create a POT file with the strings to be translated, they upload that to Rosetta and all languages are automatically updated and merged in the codebase, with no effort at all.

Magento guys, I think this is the only way (ok, someone could also build an “ad hoc” translation software but Rosetta is already there…) to fix all the translation issues and to be sure that all translations will be ready before the 1.0 release.