This has niggled me for the last few years. I go back and forth on whether or not I agree with it. I wanted to get it out in a blog post because it's too long for a Twitter status, so here goes...
I love using Umbraco to build websites. It's an amazing Content Management System which is completely free. No hidden costs. You don't have to buy a licence for it, subscribe to anything, pay them to host it, nothing. They do offer paid services such as cloud hosting, which is very good, but you don't have to, that is my point. Thousands of people and companies make websites for their customers using Umbraco and charge them in the thousands of $$$ for it. All without having to pay Umbraco a penny.
Umbraco has been built in a way which allows other developers to create packages for it. They plug in nicely and enhance your website, you can get all manner of packages, most of the ones I use add functionality to the backoffice. There are a lot of free packages out there, some of the best and most popular ones are free.
Here's the issue
I know this will divide the Umbraco community, but I just don't see how you can charge money for a package which wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for the free platform it was written for. Why should package makers be the ones making money here? Surely if anyone should be making money, it should be Umbraco. I get that it might take package developers lots of hours to create a package, but how long do you think it took Niels and co to get it up and running in the first place?
What about eCommerce?
There is an exception to this for me, and that is eCommerce packages like uCommerce. This is an application in itself, it's a beast. It does have a free tier so you can use it for free to get started with an online shop, but if you want some of it's extra features then you will need to go onto the paid plan. Also it would exist without Umbraco because it has been built to work with SiteCore and Kentico too.
Focus on the core
Instead of creating a package which does something better than Umbraco does already, why not contribute to make Umbraco better. For example the improvements to the user management area in 7.7. That could easily have just been a package but it was sent as a Pull Request.
I spent time writing this, why should I give it away for free?
If this is your argument, then Umbraco should be paid for too. They should at least get a cut of the earnings from your package.
Is there another way?
There is one paid model that I do like, that is the Patreon model. Two of the most prolific Umbraco package developers Matt Brailsford and Lee Kelleher have setup a Patreon account in their new company name UMCO. All they ask is if you are enjoying the benefits of using their packages for your client work then please think about becoming a Patron. You can choose which tier you want to sign up for starting from $5 per month. There are different benefits for each level. Check it out. I like this because it is voluntary. No one is saying you have to pay and it's not expensive. If enough people contribute on a monthly basis then they can put more time into supporting the packages they create.
What do you think?
I'd love to know your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below.
A .NET Web Developer from Derby (UK) who specialises in building Content Management System (CMS) websites using MVC with Umbraco as a framework. Paul is passionate about web development and programming as a whole. Apart from when he's with his wife and son, if he's not writing code, he's thinking about it or listening to a podcast about it.