ActiveWidgets library is currently licensed under GPL (not LGPL). In theory this should allow to include it into other open source projects, which also use GPL-compatible license.

GPL license essentially prohibits using the library as part of the proprietary closed-source software. However if ActiveWidgets ever achieves production-level quality and there is enough demand from commercial developers – it could be released under commercial license in parallel to GPL. As far as I know MySQL and few other companies use similar dual-license scheme.

Hopefully this would help the project to survive beyond the initial period of enthusiasm and excitement (at least on my side).

The real problem - does this scheme leave any incentive to participate for you, guys? I don’t yet know what is the best approach here, so any suggestions or just experience of other projects is very much appreciated.

Alex (ActiveWidgets)
October 29,
Isn't using it in IE a violation of the GPL then?

You are actively loading and executing the code in the address space of a program that isn't licensed compatibly with the GPL.

If you intention is what I think it is, you may want to investifate writing your own license inspired by the GPL that doesn't have nuances like that.
November 11,
But IE is just part of OS, isn't it? :-)

However you are right - there should be another license for cases incompatible with GPL.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
November 11,
If you go strictly by MySQL's policy, then perhaps you're keeping people happy. The way MySQL works is very simple - if you distribute your application it must be under the GPL or you must purchase a commercial license. However, you are free to keep any application closed as long as its not distributed - such as a web site. So by the spirit of the MySQL license you should allow people to produce web sites or applications using the toolkit even if those sites or applications are commercial in nature (i.e. they make money from the web site through subscriptions or advertisements) as long as they are not selling the whole web site or application, or distributing it under a non-GPL license.

But it's probably easier just to use the LGPL since this is really just a library.
November 11,
I might be wrong but according to GPL (para 2b):

"You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License."

Including a client-side script to a public web page is IMHO clearly a publishing and therefore comes in full under GPL requirements. Whether the same applies to internal websites is less obvious.

MySQL has the following summary of their licensing:

"This is our licensing policy in brief: Our software is 100% GPL, and if yours is also 100% GPL (or OSI compliant), then you never have to pay us for the licenses. In all other instances, you are better served by our commercial license."

( http://www.mysql.com/products/licensing.html )

At the same time GPL has nothing to do with the commercial nature of your website. You are perfectly OK to make money and still use GPL software. GPL only requires you to follow certain rules when you modify/include GPL software and publish derivative work. So as long as you are ready to make your application available under GPL too - there is nothing wrong with commercial use (This requirement does not apply to internal server-side software where no publishing/redistribution involved). Otherwise you would need a commercial license.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
November 11,
A javascript based app that runs in the browser is (arguably) distributed. The problem with web sites is that they tend to be much more creative than a desktop application - it's not just limited to the javascript. There is all the content and art that goes along with it. Are those forced into the GPL as well? It's simply much cleaner to use the LGPL - or go with the spirit (again) of MySQL which is that you can use it for free on a web site - even if it's commercial.

( http://www.mysql.com/documentation/mysql/bychapter/manual_Introduction.html#Using_the_MySQL_software_for_free_under_GPL )

When you use the MySQL database software in conjunction with a web server, you do not need a commercial license (so long as it is not a product you distribute). This is true even if you run a commercial web server that uses MySQL Server, because you are not distributing any part of the MySQL system. However, in this case we would like you to purchase MySQL support because the MySQL software is helping your enterprise.

November 13,
I would like to use this project, but I'm not going to restrict my application by using a GPL library. I would prefer an LGPL or BSD-style license.
Nick Heudecker
November 21,
ActiveWidgets will be available under GPL and (possibly) commercial license. In addition there might be something in line with 'private non-commercial use' but at the moment I am not considering non-restrictive licenses like LGPL or BSD-style.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
November 21,
ActiveWidgets looks great and I would love to use it, but by my understanding of the GPL I would have to release the source code for all pages that use it. Since I work for a private company this is simply not an option.

We develop with VS.NET which has some decent server-side grid support (just renders html tables), but I would prefer a better scrollable client-side option. Especially since the grid can call a web service now.

Alas, having the source released under the GPL prevents me from even experimenting with it since I know I'll never be able to use it.

A LGPL license would be much better.

December 1,
When it comes to Open Source Licensing the opinions of people hardly ever agree. And while we can argue all we want it is always the authors choice to create a license that suits her or his needs.

The spirit of the GNU/Free Software Foundation rests on the idea that one's intellectual contributions should never become part of someone elses proprietary works.

On the opposite end of the scale we see MIT or BSD style licenses that pretty much declare the works to be fair game for anything.

However, you can chose the middle of the road as well. How? Just use an artistic/creative commons license. Create your own here:


I personally publish my stuff under the Apache license. Not only is the Apache Software Foundation the best organized Open Source forum I know but moreover, the spirit behind Apache is just great.

ActiveWidgets is a great endeavour. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with the desire and need to make money with software. MySQL is greatly respected and I have purchased plenty licenses.

Don't underestimate the effects of risking the adoption of your great ideas by chosing an unsuitable license scheme. For any open source endeavour to become of substantial significance you need a large enough audience. The GPL is not really suited for libraries and that is why the LGPL (== Library GPL) was created. OK, JavaScript is different because it does not come compiled and cannot be linked, but in general having a GPL'ed library will rule out that library for anyone who is interested in creating an application that for one reason or another cannot be published under the GPL.

An interesting thing to look at in this context is the Apache Geronimo project. Aimed at creating an Apache-licensed J2EE implementation they have been sued by JBoss - also an Open Source project - for violation of their license. The reason for Geronimo are plain and simple: The JBoss license is not suitable for many projects and SUN has refused to certify JBoss by Open Source J2EE standards because of their restrictive license. The outcome remains to be seen.

Nonetheless one should take the time to think of the reasoning behind Geronimo. What would motivate people to start from scratch on such a huge endeavour? The answer is simple: The community is there to support another J2EE Open Source implementation, and the Apache Incubation process is fabulous.
Felix A. Schupp
December 1,
Felix, many thanks for your observations. As you can see I am new to the open source and it takes time to learn the rules of the community development and the implications of each licensing scheme. At the moment I am planning to make ActiveWidgets available under both GPL and commercial license. I am also looking at other schemes but it is extremely time consuming to be a developer and a lawyer at the same time.

Best regards,
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
December 1,
Who would we contact for information on a commercial license, which would permit us to embed your ActiveWidgets within the web administration interface to our commercial server application?

Thank you.
December 13,
Please, contact sales|at|activewidgets.com
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
December 13,
Alex, I have just come across your project, and the grid looks really great. I was intrigued by this conversion, and think you will need to be wary of the implications you make above about the GPL license and it requiring entire web-apps to be GPL, especially if they are not distributed, but just displayed on some-ones public web-site.

The following is from the GPL FAQ at ( http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnreleasedMods ):

A company is running a modified version of a GPL'ed program on a web site. Does the GPL say they must release their modified sources?
The GPL permits anyone to make a modified version and use it without ever distributing it to others. What this company is doing is a special case of that. Therefore, the company does not have to release the modified sources.

It is essential for people to have the freedom to make modifications and use them privately, without ever publishing those modifications. However, putting the program on a server machine for the public to talk to is hardly "private" use, so it would be legitimate to require release of the source code in that special case. We are thinking about doing something like this in GPL version 3, but we don't have precise wording in mind yet.

In the mean time, you might want to use the Affero GPL for programs designed for network server use.

Just thought that it would be useful for you to know/see what GNU provides as guidance.
April 6,
Yes, thank you, I am aware of this. However this comment applies to the server-side software which is running on the website, i.e. it is only the output of the software being distributed over network (not the software itself).

For the client-side library (like ActiveWidgets) the story is completely different - it is the software itself traveling over network and executed on the client machines. There is no ambiguity in this case - it is clearly goes under the redistribution clause requiring the full web application being GPL'ed.

So my view is actually quite simple:
- use free version for 'open source' development
- use commercial version for anything else.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
April 6,
This is a really great tool. However, I think your marketing strategy is going to backfire on you . Yea, you get free beta testing, and marketing and all but a lot of people are going to feel used (the price you pay). You can't change the licensing in the middle of a project and expect anything other than a lot of hate. idea: I'll put this tool on sourceforge and since everyone thinks it's great I'll go ahead and put a restrictive license on it. Most people with one or two scruples would have resisted that temptation. But not Alex Widget.

This is a slap in the face to open source. I mean, now your even seeking counsel for free. At least they can show how naive you are in court (this is your site isn't it?). Your project should be immediately removed from sourceforge.
How about this, I'll call mine CM's Table Renderer, how is that? All because you're "new to the open source" and don't know anything about what it takes to make it in the software business (inconveniencing a community of programmers was my biggest clue so far) Why don't you write a book about it to make your money and make this thing LGPL? If you did that, everyone would love you.

ps I hope your "support" forum flames you until you need to join a support group of a different kind.

(This is probably a sign of things to come dude. I personally don't care one way or another but others in here who treated you as though you were part of the Open Source community will feel betrayed, and rightfully so)
Cursed Monkey
December 27,
Cursed Monkey,

There is absolutely nothing wrong with open source projects having a commercial component.

After all... dont the bills need to be paid ?

One of the reasons open source projects die off is that the initial founders move on to do something else. There is less tempation to do this if they can earn a living from it. I have seen very few people comment on this list who show the skills to carry this Open Source project on if Alex moved on to something else. Hence open sourcers need to be rewarded by users in order to keep their projects alive.

If commerical users of the technology are happy to have the opportunity to pay for support etc then it is much more likely that those behind the project will be able to hire additional people to move the development forward at a pace which will ensure the projects survival in a software environment that is ultra competitive.

Nobody wants to work with, or indeed on, a technology that wont be around in a year's time.

If the "Open" source community was truly "Open" it would allow people to use it for whatever they like... including their own proprietary solutions. Just because it is appropriate for someone to open source their app does not mean that those same reasons apply to every conceivable user of it.

It should be about people getting the most out of the technology that is currently available and not about whether your opinion on commercialisation of software is "at one" with everyone elses. That will never happen.

I for one am happy to have paid for these grids and will continue to pay for them.

Felix laufer
January 20,

The point is, the licensing was changed after it was realized how useful the thing is. This is making it very difficult for those of us who knew about it initially, and incorporated it into our sites. I mean if we didn't know the licensing had changed, we would be breaking the law without anyone knowing about it. It doesn't matter what Alex Widget says now. Pretty soon, he'll have a clever attorney see an opportunity to screw a whole bunch of people. This thing is that useful and it is going to stay that way until the next generation of browsers. The only solution is to create a replica of it's functionality. LET ME HAVE THE ATTENTION OF WHOEVER DOES THIS. Do not buy a license. You are just setting yourself up. I guess you could try to do like Kevin Roth: On your website put a "make a donation" link. Everyone will then love you, although few will actually donate. Nobody donates shit when they don't have to. They will tell you your great and all that bullshit, but who cares? Money is the only thing that matters. Only a fool like Kevin Roth who looks like he is 12 and keeps wedding pictures on his home page would do a stupid thing like that. Anyway, I digress, this must be done as soon as possible and before everyone knows about Active Widget. If I was Alex Widget, which I am definitely not (Alex Widget is 7 feet tall and looks a movie star) I would make the Active Widget.com homepage a picture of a raised middle finger.

I don't believe in the Open Source Bullshit either.
I love you Alex!!!
Open O
January 25,
ActiveWidgets 0.0.1 was released under GPL in October 2003 (it was called ActiveUI at this time). It was never available under any other open source license.
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
January 25,
Hi Alex,

I thought I would ping in here:

1) Couldn't you just ask for donations, and use the "Code Hostage" approach?

What is the "Code Hostage" approach?

A: It is when the primary developer of an open source (GPL) application will not release the next major vesion of the software without donations meeting a donation goal - to feed the developer.

2) Are you making any real money from the commercial licensing? Is this your primary source of income?

3) I would be more than happy to help you develop the grid (for PHP server-side projects) and contribute to the grid if it was clear that this project was completely GPL.

I could only imagine how many other developers are scared of publicly releasing their extensions to the grid only to find out that all their hard work will be lost in a future license fiasco. Therefore, their hard work would only benefit one person. Namely, the owner of the grid.

Frank (Canada)
January 25,
Open O,

What you are saying here,"The point is, the licensing was changed after it was realized how useful the thing is."
is that a majority of open source applications are worth a damn. And I agree.

ActiveWidgets is a great utility and will make web-based applications actually become useful to numerous end-users of such services.

If Alex doesn't make any money off of this, it will just become a bastardized subset, or worse yet, just die off.
January 27,
Without a financial incentive for Alex to continue work on this project, it will probably die off. If you take a look at most of the questions on the board, there are only a handful of people who really understand the innerworkings of the grid. I, for one, would rather pay the rather small licensing fees and get a quality product than spend a ton of time implementing this into our apps only to find that we are stuck should Alex decide to dump everything.
Alex (not Activewidgets)
January 27,
Just a suggestion here.

Wouldn't be an option to release the basic framework under a free (LGPL) license, and just put the actual widget (the grid-control) under the more restrictive GPL ?

If the framework was free, other developers could create competing widgets, that would be compatible with each-other. Not only would this allow for a very rich toolkit, but it also wouldn't make the paying customers as dependent on you (Alex) to maintain development.
March 8,
If anyone is willing to build commercial widgets based on this framework - please contact me and we'll try to find the good solution (current commercial license explicitly prohibits this).

It's quite funny (though I understand what you mean) that you refer to LGPL as 'free' compared to GPL. So it looks like GPL is not free :-)
Alex (ActiveWidgets)
March 8,
OK, "free" may be the wrong phrase, admittedly.

If the core of the framework was under LGPL, it might inspire other open-source developers (such as myself) to chip in, and build widgets. Or use it in other open-source projects. As it is now, a lot of free dhtml-widgets are available around the web, but since every developer has his/her own strategy, combining them becomes a nightmare. If they were based on a common framework, this task would be much easier. I see ActiveWidgets as a good candidate for such, but to be succesful, GPL is too restrictive.

I think the central point has to do with the purpose of your project. I suppose that ActiveWidgets started out with the need for a grid-control, but eventually has evolved into a framework + a grid-control (And as far as I understand with plans for more widgets). I just humbly suggests that now would be a good time to split the project into two branches with different licenses.
March 9,
This discussion is bogus
This software is commercial!!! just say so!!
Stop pretending !!!
Its like an school style shareware programme.
At the moment there are no restrictions
I am sure he will introduce some in an upcomming release

Open source is about the freedom to modify the code.
Not just free access to the product.
This guy has even obscured the CSS.

Most of the users seem to be MS/VB guys who don't have a clue about what OSS licensing. You've actually got people worried about using this product with IE??? What rubbish

I think you should remove all references to GPL
I am sure the FSF will be interested in the abuse of their license

Please note ALEX there is an alternative out there so your days of holding us hostage are coming to an end!!!
May 30,

this software is commercial, I don't see anything wrong with it. There are many very well known corporations, banks and government organizations who are using it in different countries. In addition the current version is also available under GPL for anyone who is developing open source software. If you believe there is an abuse please be more precise and explain what you mean.

I am also very glad that there are many alternative toolkits now and I never took anyone hostage :-)

Alex (ActiveWidgets)
May 30,

This topic is archived.

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