As of version 4.2 of the Broadleaf Commerce Framework, we are officially changing our Community License from Apache 2 to the the “Broadleaf Commerce Fair Use License”.
For years, Broadleaf has provided the core of our framework under the Apache 2 license. We have also had growing success with our commercial products where we provide support and advanced features that complement the Community Edition. We put a great deal of thought into this decision and believe that our new Community License better enables us to realize our vision as a company to enable commerce innovation. In this blog post, I hope to address what I believe will be the most pressing questions.
What’s the difference in the Broadleaf Community license and the Apache 2 license?
The new license is restricted to companies with less than $5 million USD in annual revenue. It cannot be used by companies building competing solutions (e.g. commerce frameworks or generic SAAS or PAAS solutions). See the full license here.
Why did you create a new license type?
We wanted to continue to provide a free to use, open source, extensible framework to smaller companies without cannibalizing the enterprise product. We do not believe any of the existing license formats allow us to achieve this goal.
Why make the change?
Market confusion, product fragmentation, and competitor enablement posed a long-term threat to the viability of Broadleaf.
The Broadleaf framework is most interesting to customers with highly customized commerce needs. It can be confusing when dealing with large customization projects to fully realize the value of the enterprise features, training, and support. The path of least resistance for some of these clients is to begin large, enterprise projects on the Community Edition without support. This can lead to false starts with the software and the possibility of failed projects that could inadvertently damage the Broadleaf brand. These project teams also may invest considerable time building features that are already present in the Broadleaf Enterprise Edition and then when attempting to upgrade in the future find themselves with a difficult upgrade project to reconcile the divergent architecture.
Product Fragmentation and Competitor Enablement
Over the years, a number of companies have invested to build frameworks and solutions that directly compete with Broadleaf that are based on the Broadleaf Community Edition. These companies benefit from the millions of dollars that Broadleaf spends on engineering and maintenance of the framework. By developing outside of Broadleaf best practices, these companies cause some market confusion of the Broadleaf brand. For example, a company building an eCommerce SAAS solution that “leverages the Broadleaf platform” but that has no relationship to the engineering team at Broadleaf would naturally seem like a bad idea, however that’s exactly what we have observed. Going forward, we think it is best for us not to enable these practices.
I believe that our new “Community License” best protects the interests of Broadleaf which better enables us to serve our existing and future customers in the original spirit of the product.
Benefits of the License Change
There are some significant benefits of our license change that the community will begin to realize in the coming months and years.
Enhanced Community Edition
Over time, we will be able to share more features with the community than we would have been comfortable doing with the Apache 2 license
The new approach allows us to introduce marketplace concepts where developers can add functionality to the Broadleaf ecosystem in a way that can be provided to enterprise customers, community customers, or both
What is Broadleaf’s position on open source?
We love it! The Broadleaf framework would not be possible without the great work from products like Spring and Hibernate. We will continue to build and leverage the best-of-breed open source technologies. Broadleaf will continue and even accelerate our investment in open source under this new license model.
“My team has invested a lot in Broadleaf and you’ve put me in a lurch. I’m really mad. I hate you. What should I do?”
Well first, relax. We understand that some companies may have made significant investments in the Broadleaf community edition and may be concerned about the viability of that investment. We’d like to talk to you about your specific situation and are prepared in the next 90 days to provide some grandfather licensing to non-competitors. Reach out to us via the contact us form on our website to discuss further.
Ultimately, we’re proud to provide a product that supports merchants from mom-and-pops to leading Fortune 500 brands. Our mission is to provide the best solutions for enabling commerce innovation. Daily we enjoy solving eCommerce complexities - it is important we safeguard enterprises from unaffiliated third-party buildouts that do not follow Broadleaf best practices. We welcome any questions or media requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.