We've seen a groundswell of support for the GNU General Public License (GPL) and its variants among commercial open-source companies, including MySQL, Funambol, Alfresco, SugarCRM, and others. But Appcelerator is bucking the trend and changing from the GPL to the Apache Public License for its Rich Internet Application developer tools.
Why the switch? According to a blog posting from Appcelerator CEO Jeff Haynie, it's all about adoption and matching one's code (and its license) with one's community:
We've clearly heard a very resounding theme: GPL is not the right license from a community perspective because of the implications that it brings to redistribution, especially as it relates to building Web applications and how they are incorporated and downloaded by a Web server...This was a clear indication that our license didn't match our business and technical goals.
I'm a big fan of the GPL, but I completely agree that it's not always the right tool for every job. Adoption is the first order of business for any company, and Apache-licensed code is going to be more broadly adopted than GPL-licensed code in many instances.
Where Apache is weak, however, is in facilitating direct monetization of software, an issue that Haynie highlights in his blog.
I would assume that this will therefore lead Appcelerator to turn to commercial extensions for its Rich Internet Application solutions, similar to how IBM marries Apache-licensed projects with proprietary complements. Given the increased flexibility of Appcelerator's licensing at the core of its product, this may well be a trade-off worth making to ensure that Appcelerator is able to feed its community...and itself.