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Drupal app store

Submitted by nk on Sat, 2011-01-22 14:37
  1. The GPL says you can charge for your code. But you can't stop anyone else from distributing your code for free. It happened with MySQL Enterprise.
  2. Whether the Drupal Association wants to be a seller of apps I do not know. The payment infrastructure exists. We have code repos. It's a decision to be made. I do not know who makes that decision and how.
  3. But before that, answer the big question: what can sellers of apps provide compared to the free modules already out there? Marginally better code is not it. Edit: so far, distributions and themes have been mentioned. I would think that distributions would lean more toward the support model -- but maybe a theming store would make sense. Discuss more please.

Commenting on this Story is closed.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 15:08.

An alternative model for individual developers is to ignore the GPL and release modules under a different license. This is what AlexisWilke ( does.

It is not like anyone's going to sue.

Submitted by mattfarina on Sat, 2011-01-22 16:31.

If AlexisWilke is violating the GPL that is one issue, if there is going to be an app store based around violating the GPL we have another issue all together. Someone may sue over that.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-24 08:34.

We adopt this crazy idea and you might as well hammer the last nail into the coffin. I once spent $40k building a custom platform with some developers in Russia. It was an excellent piece of work, but abandoned it for Drupal, because of the COMMUNITY.

Kill this community and personally I will either opensource the framework, sponsor a fork of drupal or migrate to the next sensible developer-powered platform. No more hiring some one based on thier drupal skills. Now lets see who lost what. You lost a $20k project because you wanted to charge $100. Very smart!

Submitted by mattfarina on Sat, 2011-01-22 16:43.

Charging for support already has a model and people do so. Being paid to add features also has an existing model.

When I think of an app store I think of better products for a different ecosystem. A lot of the popular Drupal modules are great for developers. They are designed for developers by developers. The audience we always talk about is developers when it comes to Drupal.

An App Store seems more fitting for a crowd that wants to by well rounded products. A forum system that does everything out of the box. A podcast setup that you don't build out... you just install. This is a different crowd from the one we have now.

It this a good idea or something we want to pursue? I'm not sure.

The other place an app store can help is for big modules that require a lot of work. Some companies are willing to back that work with their time and money. Sometimes you get people from different companies who are able to pitch in and do it. And sometimes you have modules that are the best we have but still not competitive with what our competition has. Not because there isn't interested but because the resources aren't there to build them. The media module comes to mind as one of these. Even with Acquia pouring resources in (along with others) it still isn't what it needs to be yet.

An app store could (maybe) provide an influx of cash to help modules like these become more well rounded and to the level we need them to be.


Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-24 04:07.

When I get paid to work on modules, it is to fix bugs for (usually quite large) sites that are using them.

I have not counted but even though I don't maintain any popular modules and don't do contrib work for fun, I probably contribute between 5-20 patches (or reviews/testing of patches) per month to contrib either for clients, or for sites I build in my own time (certainly the latter would not be using any paid modules, and that's how I got into Drupal development in the first place)

If those modules move to some kind of app store and off, then it will get less and less likely that I run into them when doing client work. I would also personally feel much less obliged to contribute patches back to such modules (especially if they don't have open code repositories etc to roll patches against - if I have to run a diff against two tarballs, then you've made it about 50 times more annoying to roll a patch.

Now I have no idea exactly how much this maps to other code contributions to contrib, but while it might in some cases mean more funds for maintainers themselves, it runs a massive risk of sucking away all the ad-hoc testing and code contributions that happens in the issue queues.

Also, I have at least one site that would benefit from a 'forum system that does everything out of the box', it's likely I'd use it if it existed and was well maintained, some company releasing one to an app store would decrease my initial trust level of such a project to around zero, compared to a community supported release on

It is hard to tell how things will go with the media module, but given it's only a couple of weeks since 7.0 was released, it's in a considerably better state than any equivalent module was when Drupal 6 was released, so I'd give it a bit more time before looking to something like an app store of all things to speed it up.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 16:55.

I know what a paid model would lose from the community, me as an active member if it got as obnoxious as the Joomla for-pay ecosystem.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-24 04:08.


Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 17:29.

I can assure you that the DA is not planning to create an app store.

There are intentions to create a "marketplace" but that is something completely different.


Submitted by Willem on Sat, 2011-01-22 18:00.

Before Drupal I dabbled in DotNetNuke because my employer at the time was into .net and would have to sustain that particular site eventually. However all critical modules, even basic file management were available only on a paid basis. You couldn't set up a full system without paying for some of the work or developing high level modules by yourself. This is why I didn't like Joomla and this is why I tire from the voices that complain about the lack of Drupal themes compared to Wordpress. If that is what you want you can create a distribution, add an app store and turn all that theme and proprietary module stuff into a paid platform and have your fun with it.

But exactly the fact that Drupal as a framework doesn't follow this system and has small and big parties contribute powerfull modules, open source is what makes it a solid ecosystem. Like the slogan says, "...stay for the comunity". Somehow within the Drupal community there's this realization that if you flock together and don't shit in the pond, you grow strong together: strong enough to go up against the world. Members of the Drupal community believe that the world is large enough to sustain us all. This trust, this lack of fear, this bet on an overall stronger system by a stronger community helps Drupal trump similar systems and allows us to grow against the flow.
It is also what allows you to develop your business plan on a strong core. It is likely why you started using Drupal in the first place. As soon as you try to make the system your business plan, you sign both Drupal's death certificate as well as your own.

I have this wonderful Telementa sticker on my laptop that says "hook_world_alter()"; let's just keep at that.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 18:35.

^^ What he said!

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 20:02.

Really? Are you against this because you're worried it might cut into your own business model of selling modules?

Thanks to the GPL, I see no reason why a Drupal app store couldn't co-exist with a thriving community. In fact, I think being able to /directly/ profit financially from contributions to Drupal as one of the missing pieces in the community right now. However, I really see the only way it being done viably is through "premium support" style of contracts as opposed to actually selling individual modules. Though I think it would be nice to see more premium Drupal theme options available for purchase.

Submitted by Willem on Sat, 2011-01-22 21:29.

You have me confused with another Willem. I'm a themer from the Netherlands.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 21:59.

lol! my bad :)

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 20:02.

I don't think creating a Drupal app store will be bad in itself, if anyone would care to do that. However, I strongly believe that the best code will still be found on, and that it will only keep being good if it's free (as in both speech and beer).

The reason there are so many good modules out there is because I can download any module I want, and I can try as many as I want until I find the one that will suit my needs, at which point I'll actively try to help in improving it in any way I can. That wouldn't be possible if I had to pay for any module that I thought might do what I need.

A lot of the modules that I download, try, and commit patches to, are in the process of development. Would anyone really feel comfortable selling/buying access to code that's still in the early stages of development?

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 23:34.

"I don't think creating a Drupal app store will be bad in itself"

Sorry, but i think it will. Using joomla as sample, you can not have a seo friend site if you do not pay for the modules, because the free versions are too limited. Most of good apps in joomla start free and latter becomes a paid app.
If we have anything like this on drupal, things like panels, views will become sooner or latter paid apps, and their funcionallity will not become part of drupal like cck does, because the authors will make it not happen. Maybe panels and views are not good samples, but will happen with others important modules.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-24 04:12.

At a minimum, it would be bad in itself, in the same way that having contributed modules for Ubercart hosted on and not was bad in itself - those modules, while still GPL and free to download, had no proper issue queues, version control etc. - so were completely outside the radar of anyone working on itself.

Also it is the kind of thing that has led to forks in other software systems - I know that if modules I use moved to an app store and off, I would seriously consider personally forking them back to myself (although likely many of the maintainers of the modules I care about feel the same as I do and wouldn't do such a stupid thing in the first place).

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 21:46.

The term app storm makes little sense for Drupal and I am not convince the idea does either. As others have stated modules are designed for developers in general to which an app store would be useless.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 22:01.

Modules are too developer oriented to work as apps, I think. A successful product has to be ready to use, and so if anything is going to be sold like that I think it will be install profiles. How that plays out with payment models remains to be seen.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2011-01-22 23:30.

What is perfectly valid and does not imply GPL problems is a Theme store on d.o.
You can sell themes all right, because you do not need to make the css and images free. What would need to be solved is that this could not be in the default Repo, since it implies having everything under the GPL. A loose connection with a clever legal construct could do.
At the moment there definitely great-looking drupal themes, but they are scattered around different Template clubs and stores.
Having one central space on d.o. might considerably increase sales for the authors, and at the same time make a solid start to solve the "Drupal is ugly and has no themes" problem.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 2011-01-23 00:03.

I think you are very right to say that our developer centered community and modules would not live well in an app store.

If there were going to be a viable app store it could be if there were a consumer market for Drupal features and more consumer users. Some of this community may already exist. Only a fraction of the people who use Drupal for their sites are involved in the community. If something like this were to happen and be successful it would have a different taget audience from most of what we have now.

Put simply, if someone pursues an App Store it needs to be for a new market of Drupal users or to satisfy an existing unmet user group. Otherwise it is a bad idea. Does this group exist? Can or should someone expand into that market? That I can't say. Someone needs to answer these types of questions before pursuing an App Store.

But, if we can't solve the performance issues with Drupal (especially core) soon than Drupal on shared hosting will start drying up along with many of the people who would think of using an app store. Cores direction away from being performant on shared hosting is going to put a damper on these plans to begin with.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 2011-01-23 15:36.

Mollom already demonstrates a model for paid apps on Drupal. Next step would be for app-store platforms to emerge (and I hope that's plural), providing large-scale managed hosting, payment and app aggregation.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 2011-01-23 19:45.

Mollom is that of a paid service. The Mollom drupal module provides integration with that service. While this is a good model no everything someone would want to write is service related like Mollom.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-24 04:18.

Mollom is 'freemium'

Most sites can download mollom and use it for free, without ever needing to buy a subscription.

Also Mollom depends entirely on that to make money, since just their paid contracts would not provide a large enough sample size to improve their spam algorithms (let alone 'reputation' which depends on tracking the same people across different web sites iirc), and they can't get paid customers unless their spam algorithms are good. The way out of that catch-22 situation is to provide the service free to sites that individually aren't a massive resource drain.

Modules which are only usable alongside paid subscriptions, is something that will eventually lead to conflict - especially if the 'service' ends up being something that unlocks features that could have been provided just from PHP in the module itself.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-24 01:38.

It's really not about licenses, code quality, or other points.

Paid modules are a bad idea. All you have to do is look at the Joomla/dnn etc communities who charge for 98% of the extensions. It split the communities, different modules don't work well together in a lot of cases, and there is infighting from the top of the ladder to the bottom.

Drupal's strengths lie on that of its developers and the possibility that it can do anything. It's not a trick- okay, my site is installed. Oh, $20 for a text editor. Hmm, $50 for custom content types. $100 for query builders. And so on, and so forth.

Submitted by nk on Mon, 2011-01-24 01:59.

This we have clarified already. Right now paid distributions and themes are on the table.

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2011-01-26 12:59.

App store seems silly. chx makes my main point, but I'll expand: Every Drupal module/app MUST be GPL. That means as soon as you sell your first copy (and possibly before based on how the app store works technically), it is now distributed, and this means two things:

1) Whoever has a copy can distribute in the same manner(s) as you, and
2) Anyway can ask you for a copy of the code, and you have to provide it, charging only for reasonable media/transmission costs.

I like the idea of getting paid for the code I write; however, in a GPL ecosystem, you don't do that by direct sales of software.

Josh Benner

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2011-01-26 13:19.

@robertDouglas corrected my #2: GPL only compels you to release source to any party that has received a binary distribution that does not include source, so is moot here. However, point 1 stands.

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2011-01-27 16:33.

I'd love to see Acquia partner with major distro companies (Devseed, Phase2, Lullabot, others) and allow them to leverage the Drupal as a Service tech behind drupalgardens with them providing support / maintenance for their a jump start to DaaS, and following the gardens example of 'no vendor lock-in' by providing export can wish...


Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2011-01-27 16:38.

I think this could be the basis of a marketplace, and as it expands allow offerings like GetPantheon to come on board so one could begin to pick and choose their dream drupal, DaaS provider (or host), and support. With built in tools/methods for helping partner offerings play well together.


Submitted by Willem on Fri, 2011-01-28 17:51.

Edit: sorry I should have posted this beneath Lessons from dnn
Edit: added link to Ryan Szrama's article

I just learned at the Drupal 7 Symposium yesterday that all this refers to Robert Douglas' cryptic session proposal for the Drupal Dev Days at Fosdem in Brussels. (Teaches me not to take twitter vacations). Among the people I spoke to was Bèr, who thought it was ok to try it and its failure would help it to shift into something more practical. I expressed my concerns that this initiative could actually kill Drupal in the mean time, as I voiced above. We were all talking on the premise that an appstore would live on or close to Also, in the mean time other articles on this subject have surfaced, notably the ones by Morten (voicing my stance), Earl and now Ryan.
Also, I am so not going to repeat Adrian's tweet on this. People might get ideas. :-)

To address Earl's objections to the non-paid model I would rather suggest following Mozilla's lead with their chip-in option regarding addons. You get redericted to them after you activate an add on. A more user friendly system would be Morten's flattr implementation. This would have to be implemented from within The main reason a similar system for Git failed was because more than 90% of developers didn't bother to activate it, not because it wasn't viable.
Another better-than-an-appstore alternative to compensate contrib developers is to use part of the money gathered by the drupal association through the membership fees and the (ridiculous) ticket prices of the latest drupalcons. The way to set that up would be through distribution of funds based on install base and/or peer review and perhaps the amount of subprojects. The way to set up peer review would be using the community member's karma level with a floor value (karma based on the getting involved guide:
Looking forward to next week.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2011-01-31 02:03.

I'm on the fence regarding this whole discussion, but I would posit that we do not think of modules in an appstore, but that we think of 'apps'. They would need to be fully baked, pluggable apps delivered to your site cleanly from a trusted appstore.

As most of us know, one of the biggest barriers to getting into Drupal is the learning curve. I imagine that the appstore notion mainly exists as an idea to help mitigate that. We need to work out a way to keep all of the Drupal extensibility and flexibility, while also creating works-out-of-the-box solutions (either as apps that can be plugged into a core download or as distros) if we are to move Drupal into the sort of space that Sharepoint exists in.