Support » Plugins » Best practices with commercial plugins

  • Hi, I am planning on building a commercial WordPress plugin, and I am wondering what are the best practices here ? I’ll be thankful for all the information I can get. Here are some questions that interest me in particular:

    1. do you obfuscate the files of the plugin ?
    2. do you use some more advanced like Zend Guard or Ion Cube ?
    3. how do yo charge for the plugin – a one time fee, or recurrent billing (anualy) ?

    So far, the only commercial plugin I managed to find was PhpBayPro. I downloaded it’s lite version, and it was base64 obfuscated, which is really easy to crack. I am not sure how useful will be something like this.

    I tried looking for other commercial plugins on, but the website is down.

    So, I’ll be really thankful for all the information I cen get, and — thank you in advance!

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42) Admin

    Be aware that WordPress is GPL licensed. Any plugin that uses any of WordPress’s internal structures or functions is a derivative and must also be GPL-licensed (or using compatible licensing in some fashion).

    A plugin that “tightly integrates” with WordPress (almost all do) but which is not licensed in a GPL-Compatible fashion is in violation of the license and is illegal.

    Thanks for that information. Considering this, what’s the correct approach ?

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42) Admin

    I don’t understand your question. Correct approach to doing what? If you want to sell your plugin, then sell it. Nothing in the GPL prevents you from doing that.

    If you want tips on protecting your plugin from other people redistributing it or protecting it, then we probably can’t help you. The purpose of the GPL is to specifically allow for redistribution.

    Basically, you’re wanting to know how to implement a DRM scheme, and since we’re all probably pretty much opposed to DRM, it’s unlikely you’ll get any good advice here.

    Essentially, we don’t generally talk about non-free products in this forum. Non-free products are not generally welcome here.

    Thank you a lot.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42) Admin

    If I got the GPL part correct, I should license the plugin under GPL too, and by doing so I can not sell it and it should not be obfuscated.

    No, you can sell GPL plugins all you want. You can’t obfuscate their code, I grant you, but there’s nothing that says that you can’t sell GPL code.

    Obfuscation is always trivially easily bypassed in PHP anyway. It never works in any effective means. I’ve yet to see any PHP obfuscation technique that can’t be cracked in under 5 minutes.

    The other alternative I see is to not sell the plugin but offer “a site-building service”, which will involve building a digg-style site w/ GPL licensed stuff and charging for the work and not for the product. Is this correct ?

    The service professional approach, yes. Generally speaking, that’s the more common way of doing things. More money in it too, because everybody wants their site to be different, so you customize.

    Correct approach to doing what?

    In general. You pretty much hit all the points I need information about.

    If you want to sell your plugin, then sell it. Nothing in the GPL prevents you from doing that.

    Thank you, I was never good at understanding licensing stuff, and your replies helped me clear out some stuff.

    One last question regarding the licensing stuff: about the service approach – the custom-build plugin will be GPL licensed, so can the “customer” re-distribute it ? Not without my consent, right ?

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42) Admin

    If something is GPL licensed, then yes, they can redistribute it as they see fit, as long as they abide by the terms of the GPL as well. Without anybody’s consent.

    Thank you, you have been really helpful!

    Kaloyan – how did you get on with making your commercial plugin? I’d be interested to know your experience.

    We made a WordPress plugin for our Magic Zoom tool. The tool is commercial (costs £25), though it is free for non-commercial websites. It is not released under the GPL so we are unable to include it in the WordPress plugin directory. Without a listing in the directory, we’ve found it hard to promote the tool, even though it is free for non-commercial use (most WordPress blogs are non-commercial).

    My conclusion is that a different business model is needed to selling licenses. Many of the popular WordPress plugins generate revenue from ads on their sites and they request (optional) donations towards the development. The code is released under GPL, but the developers actually have a commercially viable plugin.

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
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