I am curious if there is interest in our community to create an open source licensing framework for commercial Eclipse plugins and RCP products.
My experience with Eclipse is that there are really tons of products and add-ons built on Eclipse, but commercial products are offered primarily by big and mid-size vendors. There are de fact no (or at least I am not aware of any) commercial products or add-ons offered by individual developers or micro vendors. Perhaps, the reason for this is that the efforts for implementing the licensing part for a small plugin is equal or even greater than implementing the plugin itself.
Of course, the current status quo has pros and cons.
- All of these small Eclipse plugins we have today are all open source, so we get them for free
- Code is available, so we can learn from it, fork it, change it and contribute back.
- A large number of these open source plugins are abandoned soon (or in best case a couple of years) after their start. Projects at Eclipse Foundation are indeed more sustainable, but those "in the wild" are not really. Of course, commercial plugins are not immune to this problem too, but in some cases it may make the difference.
- We have still a lot of functional gaps in the different usage scenarios of Eclipse as an IDE compared to competitive platforms. Perhaps, these gaps might be filled with small plugins by individual developer who have the financial incentive to do it.
So, I believe that having an easy-to-use licensing framework at Eclipse Foundation may attract the creation of more commercial Eclipse plugins and RPC products. This will attract more developers in our community. It will improve existing usage scenarios and cover new ones.
Such licensing framework might be also helpful for mid-size and big vendor who has already implemented their own licensing for their products. Based on my own experience, it's not trivial to do the licensing "right" and it is very helpful to have a place where you can look for best practices.
I will appreciate to hear your thought on this.