the DrupalAppStore that killed drupal

27 January 2011 mortendk

This is my take on the whole "Drupal AppStore debate" that as many other good things started out on twitter #drupalappstore So instead of starting a flamewar there this demands for a decent analyze & maybe raise a red flag or 2.

If we wanna make another & better business model, theres other ways than a drupal App store, which is a very bad model, that will ultimately kill the Development Culture as we know it, and, will attract less talent to the Drupal project.

Let it be clear!

Before I dive in (and the flamewar guns get loaded) let me make it very clear that I have no problem what so ever with people making money & even getting filthy rich by making drupal "stuff". I make my living by drual & I feel blessed by that.
This has nothing to do with money vs. open source, or capitalism vs socialism, good vs. evil, foo vs. bar
This is all about the DrupalAppStore thats beginning to float around in the twitterverse & I think could end up destroying the development culture that in a lot of ways is what runs Drupal (wow that was a bit extreme statement)

To make a short summary. Appel did the App Store (and it looks like money are puring into the developers hands, well thats the story so far), Now theres open up an app store for wordpress WP plugins. (Not by the official wordpress community though) So not as a big surprise the question is, should we do the same in the Drupal Project?

The "Sexiest american boy in germany" mr. Robert Douglass is talking about this in Brussels at the Drupal Developer Days, and asked if somebody had an opinion about this...

Well I do, so heres my take on this, and why its wrong in so many ways to launch this in the drupal project:

Heres the Drupal App Store

The DrupalAppStore (DAS?) gets up and running on
The idea & hope is that this is gonna transfer some money to the developers so they can keep making modules, themes & tools they work hard on everyday. Thats a business model that have been tested over the years so that makes sense (...) the DAS will off course only support GPL apps, so everybody still can change, patch & make the app better. Everybody wins were still GPL so no problem with the way drupal used to work & now the developers gets paid (Drupal off course gets it 30%)

So now you wanna make a spanky new website & as the song says you go and download drupal
So with the credit card in hand you get what you need:

  • wysiwyg editor: 5€
  • File & image module: 6€
  • Theme that does html5: 9€
  • Token: 2€
  • Drupal7 Core: 0,- (priceless)

Thats a lot of cool stuff for a little amount of money. the site is build - you're happy - the clients happy so whats the problem dude? why are you screaming up against this business model & claiming it will destroy the Drupal project. "Its how the world works" right

By having an app store a lot of the motivation for doing anything in Drupal will be centered around getting paid, not to getting a common problem solved, not to fix bugs in another app - its all about getting paid. Off course there will still be developers who wont be charging, So the free as in beer still stands, but our basic value of sharing the love (em code) will change.

How did this work for mambo-joomla?

The first question I got when I claimed that I was gonna go 102% Drupal 4 years ago was by a local joomla/mambo developer here in copenhagen He couldn't understand how i was gonna make money on drupal - we just "gave it all away"...
That was kinda the litmus test i needed to be very sure that I was in exactly that community I should be in, It didn't mattered that the joomla/mambo was easy on the eyes & Drupal looked like a nerdy geek project (drupal 4.7) the basic foundation of Drupal was right, and more important the basic idea was very clear "Building a cms that sucks less than the rest of 'em".

Maybe it works for the joomla project to have a "we pay for everything" else than the core kinda thing, I would be pissed of not beeing sure when I had to pay, and when not to pay & even more pissed if the app didnt do what i hoped it would.
Another local which I later helped move to drupal, was tired that he felt it was impossible to figure out which apps was good or bad, and that every time he had to check anything out, he had to find his credit card - and then use 3 hours to maybe getting it to work. It gave the feeling that everything around joomla costed him money, and a lot of it was "useless" (didn't do what he hoped for) Even that it was small amounts everytime, that was the feeling he got, not the wow this is amazing, but a goddammit now i need to pay again.

joomla peeps I have no idea if its still that way in you community, so easy with the flames ok ;)

Turn up the Noise!

Besides of a change in the Drupal open source culture that will change from the "Hey check out how awesome this is" to a well we work together but if you wanna look at my code: pay up.
This will also raise some problems that will fill up the community with a lot of bitter fights and unnecessary noise, take the Twitter flamewars over the last 2 years and multiply them with 666.

Some of "fun discussions" that pops up in my mind is these:

  • Moving the extremely popular "Epic" module into core.
    That will be taking a lot of potential money out of the hands of the developer - if its decide to do that anyway, it could make developer pissed off.
  • If I do a patch to "epic module" , then why don't i get paid for it? it made your app better.
  • Im gonna copy "epic module" and change the name to "epic next generation", and now sell it for 1$. Then wont the epic module developer become a bit pissed of, flamewars on forums and all that?
  • I don't wanna merge my "epic module" with "awesome module" its mine and i feed my kids by making it.
  • Why should I use time to work on core, I make my money on "epic module"
  • Devs in X country only need 2$ to live for a day, I need 200$ to do the same, so how do we set fair prices ..

The list goes on & on The amount of noise this can make, and the cracks in the community is gonna be larger than we think, we have enough noise allready ;)

Don't change a winning team.

I joined the drupalistas cause it was a free, clearly open source project that had a kick ass community, was driven by the idea of making a tool to build web stuff on (A quick hand up if you did your own awesome-epic-cms before moving shifting to drupal)

I still thinks that "We wanna make the best motherfucking cms in the world" it maybe dont sound so pretty at the dinner table, but thats whats its all about. So let me clean it up a bit "Make a tool thats like everything else sucks a bit but not as much as the rest"

We could just try it out & "Let the market decide which model would work" (if you believe that theory) well hasn't that already been tried out: 1200 developers in Copenhagen this sommer, kinda made that statement pretty clear, or the 400+ that goes to brussels in 2 weeks, or the trillion of drupalcamps & meetups that goes on all around the world. Those arent there because

A golden rule is to not change a winning team, to have an app store in the drupal project would imho be like to exchange Aron Rodgers with jay Cutler (ups, sorry coudn't resist ;) )

apps is already being sold

"But theres other out here selling drupal stuff already, why fight it? the drupal project could benefit from it & make some $, wont that be a good thing?" you might ask...
There is other ways to do this and still keep our development culture, that so far have made the project move forward to a place none thought possible. Its simply not worth it to destroy that by building an app store on top of it.

So now what?!

While writing this post I had to think in broader spans than the twitter sized messages like "#drupalappstore you suck" and other non constructive comments (that would be misunderstood in 2 seconds)
Some changes I could see happening inside the Drupal Project, and that can help developers could get paid, without screwing up with the ecosystem of Drupal.

Support a modules

It would be neat if it was easier for the developers (& others) of a project to tell the world: Hey i make custom versions & provide über support for this module.
That way you can provide support for the project & we keep the development / sharing love as we have it & loves it.
Today its hard on the site to figure out where & how you can support a project. Having a unified ways of doing this would make it more obvious for the developer & the "users"

The Drupal KickStarter

What about an KickStarter inspired program, that platform sounds in my ears like a thing that could work within the Drupal project.
im still jaw dropped over the LunaTik watches

I have the first 1000€ for those who can make one image solution that works with (cck)fields & textfields, wysiwyg, imagecache / resizing.I brained about it 3 years ago ... I dont have the brainpower, but i would really love to see this happening, like RFN

Building AppStore's outside the Drupal project.

Just go ahead we already have a ton of those, they are called "drupal shops" some are large others are 1 man shops and others even have hosted solutions.
The first theme shops are allready here, but its not build inside of the drupal project.
Distributions, services, hosted solutions etc thats all good, and should be looked into. But ending up building with a credit card in hand while working with project, would mean the death of drupal as we know it

That was my 2 danish krones worth of opinoin.


Otherpost about this subject:
* Earls post about this same subject from another point of view:

Ive have now set up an Flattr account to support my little mothership project , apparently theres only about 10 projects thats on flattr today.

Flattr this

I completely agree with everything!

I've been using drupal for about 3-4 years, started with drupal 5. and I simply love the way it works, I'm a designer and use only drupal as my cms of choice, converting every WP client I come across to Drupal,
I use many drupal modules, and when a module doesn't quite work as it should I either try and fix it (as a designer my skill set is very limited) or I hire a drupal pro to solve the problem and give it back to the community.

The simple answer to how do you make money from drupal, is not really how much money you take in, it's more about how much fewer money you have to take out. We all I believe make money from drupal by not having to pay for 90% of the features, and then providing a custom tailored sollutions to our clients.

And I have to see from what I see about the job postings, I don't think any developer who would be able to create and sell apps (modules) in the app store wouldn't easially be able to find a great drupal position.

creating an appstore would slowly but surely destroy the great nature of drupal, and turn it into joomla.


Idan Arbel 27 January, 2011 - 11:40


The Drupal community might consider a Flattr ( kind of voluntary, financial support model integrated into the module/theme view on d.o.

The idea behind this is adding money to your account (once or monthly or ...) via credit card. Then giving Likes/Flattrs (however you call it) to modules/themes by clicking a button on their d.o page. On a regular (eg. monthly) interval your money is distributed to the modules/themes you liked/flattred. Depending on how many likes you gave to a project, this project will receive a bigger or smaller part of your money.

In my opinion this concept has some benefits compared to a traditional appstore
+ you spend your money voluntarily (!)
+ you decide about the amount of money you want to give
+ Flattr is swedish - so this is a Viking solution

Helge 27 January, 2011 - 12:01

The right direction

I agree that a donation based solution is a better way to approach this. People might say that well, some have a paypal button in their projecs, and they extremely rarely get any donations... this could be casued by the workflow of the paypal donation, which takes too much time to bother.

I wonder how much flatter keeps from every donation you make, this could definetly be an issue. However, I think this is the way to go, as far as how easy it should be for the user to put his money where his appreciation is.

Manuel Garcia 27 January, 2011 - 12:37

Transaction fee

10% unfortunately, which is quite steep. I've posted a question to Quora to find out whether this will change as they pick up steam. Perhaps they'd even be willing to offer a "bulk discount" of sorts for transactions..?

patcon 27 January, 2011 - 15:21

Flattr's 10%

That 10% i think can actually be split with the 'publisher' in this case not sure on the split rate, but it could then mean d.o. gets some love out of this situation as well.

a_c_m 27 January, 2011 - 16:53

This is true - if

This is true - if was to officially support Flattr then a share of the 10% could be split with the Drupal Association.

Also remember that if you donate directly to a user through Flattr then the fee is fixed at 0,2€ - that enables larger donations without the 10% getting ridiculously expensive.

Pelle Wessman 27 January, 2011 - 22:00

Oh wow, thanks guys! I'm

Oh wow, thanks guys! I'm really interested in Flattr, and, Drupal aside, you just layed to rest my primary concerns.

patcon 28 January, 2011 - 10:02

good idea

Ive setup a flattr account now

lets see where this ends :)

admin 27 January, 2011 - 13:24

Github pulled donations

Github used to have pledgie integration. It didn't really work out too well for them. See

Donations look nice on the surface but have not shown to produce much.

Matt Farina 27 January, 2011 - 15:08

Related RSAnimate video and Flattr discussion

Alright, so this video seems relevant:

I basically talks about incentives and drive. A great point is made near the end in which they state that bad things happen when the profit motive becomes unmoored from the purpose -- when profit obscures the pleasure of challenge and mastery and contribution.

First off, there's already a discussion of Flattr here:

Flattr would appear to be a great way to inject a flow of money into the drupal culture without overtly tying monetary transactions to the the appreciative gesture. A major problem with traditional micropayment systems of the past (as pointed in a recent Economist piece), is that each click was a payment for X dollars. While this was likely a small price, there is still a mental calculation that amounts to a "mental transaction cost—the additional time and effort required by users to decide, for example, whether a blog post is actually worth giving toward". Flattr busts this open in that your WHOLE MONTH'S COMMITMENT TO FLATTR'ING (a flat rate of, say, $20, decided in advance), is divided between every click you make. So each additional click isn't "costing anything", it's just further dividing that sunk cost that you're already giving to some hazy concept of "someone else". So the Flattr culture takes away the whole element of "paying for something" and hides it behind this curtain of simply "showing appreciation". There's no connection between any one click with any real amount of money -- it's just a gesture. But behind the scenes, there's an invisible flow of money that equilibrates in a hopefully fair way :)

And a nifty side-effect is that this equilibrium makes no distinction between issue queue creepers and maintainers and forum dwellers and patch testers -- every comment, modules, theme and forum post can be flattr'ed, so everyone's in on it.

All I can say is that Flattr is worth reading up on. It really compliments the community well!

patcon 27 January, 2011 - 15:30

Not so hot on donations

Experience; high praise + amount of downloads: a bit over 10.000.

Money made from donations: $ 10. ten ... US ... dollars!

Anonymous 27 January, 2011 - 18:16

Flattr really sounds like a good option here

I would love to have an easy way to donate money for a good module and for a developer who takes care of his/her issue queue. But I'd very much mind the Joomla model where I'd be forced to pay for modules. Also, this would totally have kicked Drupal out of our evaluation for an open-source, software-license-free Intranet solution.

itsnotme 27 January, 2011 - 12:34

open source everything

I think every module and theme page on D.O should have a donate button to either the developer or the drupal association. If works nicely for firefox add-ons. Drupal should follow the open source culture of linux, firefox, apache etc .. not joomla or the like. This product is core as in awesome and not corporate as in boring and retarded. Can you imagine the tax implecations ...yuk
I always think of the last scene in anti trust when they upload the code on the internet with drupal or any of these other software programmes . It makes it more then just a product, more like a passion,

money corrupts .. alot of money corrupts alot.

Anonymous 27 January, 2011 - 12:41

Firefox Add-on example might not be best one :)

Seems the Firefox pilot didn't really go that well, at least when I was keeping up-to-date on it:

Having said that, I really feel that Flattr is different. Anyone who contributes to the community in any significant way (particularly people in the issue queues and forums) will likely want an account so that they can participate. But you can't set up an account to simply receive -- you need to agree to give that minimum amount ($2, I believe). So it enforces a giving-centric culture, as opposed to a gimme-centric one. Really cool.

patcon 27 January, 2011 - 15:50

Firefox Contribution Pilot updates

Found some more recent blog posts:


I think the thank-you notes were in direct response to many complaints that when people contributed donations (particularly larger amounts), then would often never hear anything back from the developer, which left them with a sour taste. This would be an important thing to consider, but not sure how applicable it would be with Flattr...

patcon 27 January, 2011 - 16:01

The keyword is culture

The purpose of the Drupal AppStore is, of course, to refund the developers with their work. However, when or if it becomes possible to make a fast buck by writing modules it will attract lousy and unpassionate developers. The culture and atmosphere will change into the one you breath in while walking through a market in southern Europe. Cheap, cheap, come buy – Drupal modules $5, special price :D

Even though this is the main reason that we shouldn't go with the DAS, there is another huge difference: Drupal modules are not applications, neither products. They are tools. Which should be free for the developers to use. Can't really explain why, but you guys who fancy that business model so much, why not just switch to Microsoft SharePoint or EPIserver or something?

As a true viking, I agree w/ you Morten.

Didrik Nordström 27 January, 2011 - 12:52


My biggest concern is the fragmentation of the modules that will eventually occur if the most important modules change from free to paid. Instead of just one Views, there maybe Views Xtra, Views Pokemon Epic Version, Views Supa-Dupa, etc.

Instead of collaboration, every sub-module will go it's own direction, leaving it's users locked if/when the authour abandons his project, or if the project gets too far behind another similar project.

I also foresee a huge upgrade/update issue if the major projects fragment too much. Who are willing to provide upgrade paths for abandoned modules??

I don't mind contributing to the community in some way, Flattr sounds like a possible solution, or maybe honouring the best solutions/contributors/companies with awards and cash prizes (And the Droscar goes toooooooo: xxx ;))

Fair game to WP, Joomla/Mambo, etc. if they are going the app route, but maybe we should be carefull just following others, and instead cook up something truly unique and magnificent.

Fyrsten 27 January, 2011 - 13:03

Pareto clusterf*ck

You are spot on! Add to this the consequence of very basic principle that has been proven again and again:

The overwhelming majority of all warez on such an app store would never, ever bring in enough cash to cover the actual cost. Not even close.

It's the extreme, reverse pareto-prinicple rearing its ugly head. It's how it works on Apple AppStore, on the Android Market and any other place like that. Yes, some apps are making a profit, but in reality, they are few and far between.

So, a few projects may actually prosper (financially), but the price is a vastly crippled community, just like you describe.

A combined KickStarter/Flattr model, on the other hand, sounds very promising. If done right, even noob contributions, like a feature request, a bug report or a bit of documentation might end up with a share of the takings. Such a model would be truly visionary and worth a lot more to everyone.

Vingborg 27 January, 2011 - 14:38

There's another side, too...

I've been running a site on PostNuke for a few years. PostNuke became Zikula. I started looking at upgrading the site. No matter how hard I tried, there were gaps in the module set. I tried this module, I tried that module. Nope, wasn't playing.
B'sides, Zikula's a bit dead in the water.
So I started to look around. Joomla. WordPress. Drupal. Couple of others.
Plenty of downloading, installing, fiddling. Lots of modules downloaded, installed, tested, binned, before I settled on a reasonably core module set that's getting quite near to production now.

If those modules had been paid-for, I'd not have cast the net anywhere near as widely. I'd not have downloaded, installed, tested, played, evaluated anywhere near as much.

Adrian 27 January, 2011 - 14:38


I am totally agree with your opinion.
Thanks for this eye-opening-article and I hope we all can discuss this topic in Brussels.
The drop is always moving, but not in a (AppStore-) outflow.

Drupaldise 27 January, 2011 - 14:46

Different Thinking

I do think there is a space for an App Store. But, before I explain that let me say I do not think it would be good to have an App Store on or that the current development culture would survive in an App Store.

An App Store for Drupal should only happen if there was a new market Drupal was going into where it was appropriate. Changing the existing culture would be bad. For example, if there was a Consumer Drupal that an average (non-developer) could install and use. An App Store of features (not developer friendly modules) could be useful for them.

I am in agreement that an App Store on would be terrible. And the suggestions of donations isn't really going to help because people have tried and have seen little from it. If looks to monazite modules and themes beyond donations it will hurt the community and culture around Drupal in an unrepairable way.

Matt Farina 27 January, 2011 - 15:00

Couldn't agree with you more

Agree w you 100%, Morten!

mherchel 27 January, 2011 - 15:19

I totally agree a spp store

I totally agree a spp store will hurt drupal community culture.
I left joomla not only because I like the architecture of Drupal but also all modules are free to play around and mix and match to try different combination.

Adrian Mak 27 January, 2011 - 15:25


You hit all the points, Morten... great post...

A Drupal appstore would just kill what drupal is, and why we have all come to love Drupal.
Making 1 to 5 to even 10$ per download of shitty module number 1 is not how developers should make money... I think taking donations would be fine for those that really do LOVE a module/theme/project, and want to help out, but a "real" developer should be contributing as much as they can, which is then in turn followed by the karma of what you've done, and paid work for those efforts you have contributed for free.

I now get more theme/Omega work than I could ever hope for, all for the hundreds upon hundreds of hours I've dedicated to it for free. Such is the world of Drupal IMHO. If you want work, prove that you know your shit, and the work, and compensation that comes with that will follow..


Jake Strawn 27 January, 2011 - 15:50

Ubercart Bounties Forum

While I don't like the Drupal app store as you've mentioned it, I do think Drupal needs something to monetize the development which builds it.

Ubercart for instance uses it's own website for the module and there's arguably more information on than about Ubercart.

They also have a bounties forum and I have probably made a thousand or two dollars providing work, creating modules and modifying modules for those who are willing to pay for it. I donate the work back to the community after it's done. For me, I think this is a wonderful way of moving development forward, as when I'm getting paid to do the work...I some how find time to do it. It's also a work once, pay one, use many model.... which I think the app store should use.

I've recommended in the past that Ubercart setup some kind of appstore. My approach was different. It was an opt-in model where people who run Ubercart sites could pay a monthly subscription. They can choose the amount. $5 gets you a vote.

Alternatively the bounties forum (aka paid featured request forum) would get turned more into a queue. Users who have purchased votes, can request and vote on features in the queue. Developers can then freeze the feature when it's got enough votes, and start working on it for the amount of money in that features pool. When the work is done and say 60% of those who voted on it approve the work....the developer is paid.

I like models like this much they pay developers to move work along, instead of pay them for work they've already done. I think something like this could work for and I would force my clients who buy sites for me to purchase subscriptions. I'm sure my clients would be happy to fund future development of the platform that's running their website and I'm sure they'd be submitting their feature/bug requests and putting money down on others.

j0rd 27 January, 2011 - 16:21

Another key thing you lose in

Another key thing you lose in an app store is interoperability. If I write my module expecting monetary compensation via an app store, why would I then write my module to work with modules X, Y, and Z for free? If there are 10 modules in the app store that do the same thing, how do I choose which one(s) to integrate my module with? The lack of interoperability between plugins in other systems is what got impressed on me at last year's CMS Expo. Selling Features modules will result in the same (or worse) lack of interoperability.

Additionally, I think it's disingenuous to say that "if only I could make X dollars from this, I could write more features for it and support it better." The problem is you're still going to have to work for free up front. The amount of work to launch and maintain a module would actually increase, since contributors aren't just going to be jumping in to help without compensation (unless they're remarkably altruistic). Then once you finally have a stable version, you're going to rest on your laurels and let the cash come in while going back to work that directly profits you. Heck, once the big bucks started rolling in for "Epic", I'd fly my family to the beach and soak up the sun... dry myself off with all those dollar bills. : P

Ryan 27 January, 2011 - 16:33


Just kidding.;-)

I'm watching this DrupalAppStore discussion with a great deal of interest. ‘Germany's sexiest American boy’ asked me what I thought and I responded that I believe it to be a mistake. I also responded that I believe it will happen. Not so sure that I really think it has to be a problem, though.

Another Drupal dude form South Africa asked me if I felt selling extensions resulted in the Joomla community having lower quality and less secure work than Drupal. My response was I believe we are on different roads, heading to the same place.

Morten - I believe the early decisions by those of you who kick started Drupal, to share code, to collaborate, minimize duplication, and so on, have resulted in an amazing, empowered, intelligent, proactive community. You are right to be passionate about protecting that resource because it is truly special.

I fully expect to see a number of Drupal businesses (not the shared community space) begin marketing buffed out, shined up, well refined packages of Drupal love. It's a natural evolutionary step and one that speaks well to the health of the community.

Will it change the Drupal culture? Sure! Just like the White House announcement forever changed Drupal. Just like the huge investments into Acquia have forever changed Drupal. Just like the stripping video some designer shared in a Drupalcon Conference Speech forever changed Drupal. The culture is forever changing and evolving.”The drop is on the move,” right?

The one aspect of Drupal's culture that I do not see changing and is certainly worth protecting is how you guys work things out. It amazes me and I hope the Joomla community can start to use the same approaches. You guys talk openly. Critically. Specifically. On your blogs, in Twitter, in the Drupal Groups environment, everywhere. A pattern I have seen that I think is fascinating is how many of these discussions begin as the next DrupalCon advances. The passion over Designer involvement and how to best involve those folks into a developer-centric world of Drupal – I saw passion, anger, frustration, good ideas, support, agreements, a call to action, and progress.

The Drupal community has a way of pulling together with a common goal of openly resolving whatever question arises and it seems to me that somehow through that process, a general consensus emerges, and the community advances together in that direction. That’s what I think is worth preserving and I suspect that’s what you don’t ever want to lose. It’s pretty special.

There has to be some way to compensate contributors for their efforts. Designers and Site Builders enjoy a strong market due to the combined efforts of the community, and truly, on the backs of the developer work force. (Note: I am not saying designers and site builders are not contributors. I am saying that there is a strong avenue for their compensation by building sites.) But, it can be very difficult for a free software developer who shares their work freely to find financial compensation and feed their families. That's the reality of where we are at in our free software communities and no one on either side of this debate begrudges compensating developers. It's just how to do it and what that means to the culture of collaboration that is at play that remains a question.

Let's not forget - users and contributors – are different. Contributors should be compensated and have different rights in a community. Creating a market for users to contribute (money) is a reasonable way to help address the problem of compensating developers. The trick is to do it in such a manner that it does not negatively impact the collaborative foundation of the Drupal community.

In my thinking, an app store can be a viable solution provided it is off property and private with the strong recommendation that those businesses leveraging community assets do so in such a manner that it helps compensate developers and encourages further development activity. It could even be good avenue to better ensure the designer skillset is better leveraged.

My strong belief is this is going to happen and the Drupal community will evolve and adapt to this change and be just fine because you guys will settle for nothing less.

Peace. Amy :)

Amy Stephen 27 January, 2011 - 17:24

Formalize a Bounty System

When I pay money for a product or service, I expect that I receive 100% of what I paid for.

When I donate money to a cause, I expect that it gets handled responsibly and actually does some good towards helping that cause.

Unless you're a stripper, nobody is going to pay you money arbitrarily because they "like" something. The person with the wallet ALWAYS expects something in return. And we can't attach a monetary value to modules for all of the reasons Morten mentioned above.

What DOES work is collecting bounties. The developer gets paid and the person with the wallet gets the product they want. Period.

Also, nobody ever says, "Gee, it'd sure be swell if somebody developed this cute little module someday". In reality people offer bounties because "Dammit! There are no working recipes out there for what I need, and I'm willing to pay someone to fix it RFN!"

So maybe the ultimate plan is to formalize the bounty system. Some neat advantages:
- A client would not have to wonder about "how" to post a bounty... the functions could be right there on D.O.
- The monetary transaction could be handled right through D.O., in a system maintained by the Drupal Association.
- Multiple clients could contribute to the same bounty, increasing the value.
- Developers could receive bounty notifications for modules they maintain.
- Anyone could accept a bounty, not just a maintainer.
- If a bounty is accepted, the developer could choose to collaborate/sub-contract with other developers to split up the workload (and the bounty).
- The finished module remains free for the community. And of course, patches to an existing module need to be approved by that module's maintainer.
- The Drupal Association could get a small cut for each bounty paid (for providing the bounty transaction service in the first place).
- Perhaps the Drupal Association could take their earnings and use it to fund grants for top developers to work on large Drupal core issues.

This way, the developer still gets paid for their time, the client gets what they want, the Drupal Association gets some funding, continual progress is made on Drupal core, and the community stays open-source. Everybody wins.

Fr0st 27 January, 2011 - 17:58

This would never work!

This would never work.

If the problem is that Drupal does not have enough features, someone needs to go back to the people who make Drupal and tell them it's time to ante up and increase the quality of their product. I am a long time Drupal user (more than a year now) who understands a lot about the history and the way new features have made their way into the platform over time. It's not simple, and a lot of people from the outside don't always understand that.

Between testing, QA, focus groups, client surveys, crash reports from the OS and other services, you have to collect data before you can make a big change to anything. There are almost 50,000 web sites that use Drupal, including some big ones like Fox News, and making changes to fix one thing could affect a lot of others.

If you are just paying people to create patches and put them in every new release of Drupal, you are asking for trouble. The code needs to be tightly controlled to make sure it's not going to break things for everyone else.

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:38

Double license for my patches ...

If DrupalStore is launched, all my patches for the Drupal core shall be delivered wih a double license:
a) Usual GPL
b) An explicit exclusion to be use for applications being sold in the DrupalStore

Of course, ... community will be free to reject my license policy and to refuse commit such patches.

jpsoto 27 January, 2011 - 17:59

If something like Drupal

If something like Drupal appstore comes up, I'll make a mirror site for releasing EVERYTHING for free.
I don't FUC*ING care if the developers feed their kids with the work from their modules.

NO ONE will ruin our brilliant drupal community and get away with it. Not even Dries.

Anonymous 27 January, 2011 - 18:41

That is too much. Someone

That is too much. Someone says AppStore and you say stealing is how to deal with it?

Piracy is not cool, no matter how seriously you believe you are being ripped off. It cost someone money to pay to develop the software you are downloading, when you download things for free you are stealing from them.

The challenge is that stealing like this only increases the cost for everyone else. I have been developing with Drupal for almost a year now and have NEVER used a pirate copy even when putting up test servers for my company to QA on. We always pay for a new license and have the budget and receipts to prove it. Everyone should work like this - the product only gets more expensive if you don't.

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:34


While you can charge money for GPL software, the license means there are no restrictions on anyone else distributing it for free. So a mirror store would not be 'stealing' - in fact nothing would stop anyone taking pay-modules from the 'app store' and uploading them to

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 04:14

Excellent article

I'm in complete agreement with everything you (and merlin in his post) have said about this. This would essentially kill the Drupal culture as we know it.A Drupal Apps store has no place on Drupal dot org. I don't think it's worked that well for the Mambl/Joomla community and it isn't likely to work for Drupal.

I don't know what the answer is; I actually haven't thought much about it before this App store idea came up on twitter. As you point out, many Drupal shops large and small are doing nicely'selling' Drupal. The other commenters here, who know far more about it than I do, have all made very good points.

Just my $0.02 US (which is not much!)

mjohnq3 27 January, 2011 - 19:05

If someone wants to protect

If someone wants to protect the culture around a product, the key is to make sure you have a lot of marketing. You need hats, t-shirts, jackets, computer tote bags, USB keys, product placements in movies and all the other stuff to make sure you stay on top and everyone knows you are number one.

I would be less concerned about an appstore ruining it and more concerned with making sure the people who build Drupal have a good distribution network in mind. There is a web site called Cafe Press where they will actually print most of this stuff for you for free and let you charge people to order it online. I went there and saw there was no merch for Drupal at this point, which was funny because I could get just about anything else that I was after.

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:31

Shades of grey

We should not see this too much as black and white.
It sounds as if making money off drupal was a despicable thing. But actually most community members make quite some money off the software by site building. Bigger agencies are in a stronger position and make even more money.

We have established some rules, especially concerning what happens on d.o. I don't see anything changing that too soon. And as Amy points out, I believe the basic values are a good thing and quite strong, so no need to worry about that. People who try to abuse the drop lose the support of the larger community and will continue to do so.

But the fact that a lot of module maintainers work their asses of in the issue queue basically for free is not a viable money. Actually you might be unlucky and your module is very popular. There are quite some that managed to acquire some fame because of their great contributions and I am pretty sure it pays off for them.

But why not opening the lid a bit and be less GPL-religious? There can be middle roads. Create an incentive for people to give money. If this is donating, fine. But they need to see a gain for them if they give money. E.g. Wysywyg has had a chipin badge for long. Nothing much ever got donated. Getting 10$ for 10.000 downloads may easily happen.

We should think of the benefits of a culture, where direct monetization is accepted. If people get money, they have to offer something more than others do for free. Especially as I see quite some keeping up the great work completely for free. Well, it is never for free: It is personal promotion for them. No one is that altruistig, or he will die of hunger.

I am pretty sure there are ways to do app shops "the drupal way". They will never be successful nor be accepted if they don't. So let's be creative and think it through, and not shoot it down as "the devil"s work".
Lots of discussions arose from Acquia, and actually they get quite some bad reviews, even if nobody does it openly. Do we fear Acquia threatens our business model? Does anyone lose money because someone else makes it on drupal?

Many of us have a "community face" and a "business face". Why do we so insist to keep our community face pure and without a stain? Nobody can wear it all day if he is not funded for it anyway. Controversial topics, yay!

Quite some agencies have developed a successful business model. I guess Open Atrium and all the other great stuff they create pays off for Development Seed. This is a business model as well. And they could never keep up the great work if it wasn't. There is lots of room for all of us.

eigentor 27 January, 2011 - 19:20

Please read the very first

Please read the very first paragraph again where I state this very clear that money is a good thing.

The problem here is what this will do to the culture that we have in the drupal Community, theres no problem with selling you're stuff when its GPL (and theres no shades of gray ether you gpl or you are not)
You can today sell all you want outside of the d.o (set up a feature server & you ready to be to go)
But what will happen if we put this into the core of drupal development. My believe is that it will kill the Drupal project, and that isn't a thing anyone of us can afford.

Again if you read my whole post i come with a couple of ideas to what can be done & ways that maybe could work to gather some funds to developing, but we need to really be sure what were doing before we open up pandoras box - cause the thing we have here is really special.


admin 28 January, 2011 - 00:27

The thing that strikes me

The thing that strikes me about what you said is that there needs to be a features server to sell things through an appstore. It's not really necessary - you could put everything in boxes and sell directly to consumers through retail outlets.

I have never seen Drupal available at Best Buy or Target before, where is where I buy most of the big applications I am going to use (unless I am downloading them from the pirate bay). Drupal is really, really good for my blog, but it's never going to get huge until people start selling it at different stores that are out there.

I mean, it is so much more convenient to be able to buy a copy of your software when you are also looking at TVs and cameras. If you think about it, this is how you can make sure that everything is going to work together. The web is an increasingly convergent place where things NEED to work together, Drupal included, and I want to see that my site is going to work through my XBox, my cell phone, etc.

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:28

One thing I haven't seen

One thing I haven't seen discussed much is of liability. That should be a big concern. Take this from the GPLv2:


Free is the keyword in there and once you take that away (which would happen in an AppStore), you are now opened to liability. The question is who will be liable - the developer or the appstore? And while there's a chance that a court ruling could remove liability, would any developer really want to absorb the legal costs to fight it?

Jamie 27 January, 2011 - 20:11

The company that sells Drupal

The company that sells Drupal would be liable, since they are the ones who made it in the first place. They should be cchecking their appstore for anything they release to make sure it is going to run on all computers befiore it goes out.

Like, I build software for a living and no one is going to sue me if they have a problem with it. They are going to sue my employer, who technically owns it in the first place.

I was confused when you said free, what is the point of an appstore if it is just giving away things?

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:23

Good stuff

Great thoughts on this Morten.

I think "building with a credit card in hand while working with project, would mean the death of drupal as we know it" really sums it up perfectly.

What I think might be better (as someone went into above), is to further develop/promote the "bounty" concept. People & organizations offer bounties to get specific problems solved for their immediate needs, then the community gets to benefit from the solution.

The forums are filled with people offering to pay for help with specific problems... we need to give that greater organization and visibility.

Brian C 27 January, 2011 - 20:52

I am strongly against

I am strongly against DrupaStore promoted from, except if ... all goods are sold using only bitcoins, only bitcoins

jpsoto 27 January, 2011 - 21:16

100% Agree

I sadely agree with your analyse that this app store will kill this nice CMS.

I hope drupal team will make at least a vote on their homepage to know what comunity thinks this choice.

Anyway, if Drupal takes this way, for sure, another fork will born ... and show must go on

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 01:34

a fork will be like shooting ourself in the both foots

To make it clear, this whole idea about an appstore is still only a brainstorm that Robert Douglass called out for a couple of days ago.

"The Drupal Team" is basically all of us (well some more than others)

The reason im screaming this out now, is to make sure that the debate is gonna be taken in another level than "wow so I might gonna get rich" okay then let me get paid, and then in 6 months ... whoops wtf happend wheres all the others.

Forking will be the dumbest thing we can ever ever ever do.

admin 28 January, 2011 - 02:59

Who Owns Drupal?

Who actually owns Drupal? I saw the license from the GPL and checked but could not find a company with that name. Is that short for somebody's name?

The Drupal team is awesome regardless and I like the idea that people can get to know a company this closely and get to learn about their products. At some point I would like to go to a Drupalcon and get to meet other people from there.

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:20

The Appstore is an Awesome Idea

An AppStore is an awesome idea!

I have been using Drupal for just over a year and have discovered modules the other day. It was really surprising to learn there are all these other ways to use Drupal, I found one that made the site work like a word processor and another that I am planning to use to build a site like Facebook.

If I could log into my website, the same way as my phone, and simply push buttons to get these apps automatically, it would save a lot of time and make my Drupal user experience a lot more exciting. As it stands now, it looks like there are a lot of modules, probably over 100 of them, and finding the right one to make my site work just the way I want it to is a lot of work.

Having something that is clickable, user friendly, does not involve too much reading to understand what it does, and makes the site prettier all at the same time would be excellent. I would gladly pay up to about $5 to do all that for me. I know that it takes time and work to get an app built in the first place, and it is appropriate that someone gets paid for their work (just not too much, otherwise I am just going to download the torrent).

Is the AppStore already available and can I download it? Is it possible to get it on my phone? I checked Drupal and Apple's web sites and did not find anything, but it's possible I was lost.

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 03:16

you can do that for free

There is already a plugin manager module in Drupal 6, and the update module in Drupal 7 core - these allow you to install modules via the interface on your site.

There are improvements that could be made in the user interaction (and funding would probably help that happen), but the feature already exists, and it does not cost $0.99 every time you download.

This is a good example of why an #appstore would at best be an 'outsider tax' - taking money from people who don't know any better.

catch 28 January, 2011 - 05:03

friggen hilarious man

friggen hilarious man

kthull 28 January, 2011 - 07:01

App store is a bad idea

I completely agree with the article and believe that an app store will just mess things up.

Jimmy Berry 28 January, 2011 - 05:08

I agreed, app store suck for drupal. But Flattr need this too!

I'm totally agreed that app store would ruin Drupal just like how paid plug-in do to other project. The thing is Drupal should not become a product because we have very unique user and developer base, which we should be proud of. And these unique user are not the same as those Apple or blablabla... App Store users, which mostly are end-user who just consume product ... they have no need further design, develop, integrate, or build new functions out of them after they bought. They just use it as is, and just throw it away if it don't work, outdated or feel boring.

If there would be App Store, it shouldn't be on the name of Drupal. Just let it be on a distro, or on individual products like said. Users who feel comfortable with paid module get what they want without make other users get upset, when they found that they have to pay $5 ten or hundreds time ,then evaluate all the modules to get a site up and running. It may take their $5,000 worth mental image and working time to do that! PAINFUL.

Also, I agreed with Flattr idea, but without some key it wouldn't work because supporter need motivations to really donate or fund the project. So they need promise, they need to know why they should fund the modules, and what would be special thing they will get if they do fund, follow, and get involved in the project development. Funder should be special and get some thing special related to the amount they supported, not just get the same thing like others. It should be work like how thing work on .

Drupal is all about community. If we really need funding to drive Drupal fast, it should not be just commercialize App Store, nor individual donation model. It should be 'Community Fund'.

Lastly, sorry for my English!

David Lee

David Lee 28 January, 2011 - 09:43

drush dl awesome_module

drush dl awesome_module --cc=1234123412341234 --exp=10/13 --cvv=123

Anonymous 28 January, 2011 - 10:17

Hot topic, huh?

GPL v2 isn't great at all for reselling code. Because, I can get your code (buy it) and resell it for any price. And this is legal. So the whole idea of the business with the Drupal App Store is stupid. It will not only kill the giving community, it will create a lot of speculations around with 'stealing' (however, legal) and reselling same code for a different price.

Moreover, Drupal is more considered as a professional product unlike Wordpress, and those modules are going to be sold mostly to developers and not to end customers as it happens with Wordpress. So, creating DrupalAppStore is the idea about how to make Drupal developers to pay other Drupal developers for using their modules. But hello people, arren't you earning enough with providing Drupal services? Or you want a passive income? If yes, then create an uber cool Drupal distribution (mind Open Atrium) and sell it as SaaS, what's can be simplier?

Tim - Drupal Developer 28 January, 2011 - 16:24

Drupal App store would

Drupal App store would SUCK!

I would probably stop using Drupal if you had to start paying for blocks to build with.

Im all for generating more money for the Drupal community but it should come from our expertise and unique skillsets.

If Drupal continues the way it is demand will continually increase which means rather than a recruiter looking for a developer with good PHP / Javascrupt skills, they will just say Drupal development.

I earn a good living out of my Drupal Development and I don't make themes or modules (will do soon). I think we should be concentrating on promoting Drupal folk who contribute large amounts so they are more likely of being snapped up by big high paying projects. If you were the primary author of this awesome module you should be able to have it earning big points with employers.

that is all

westieuk 29 January, 2011 - 12:07

no to app store

no drupal app store, open source code is the way to go with a flexible GPL license.

Geshan Manandhar 29 January, 2011 - 15:32


[...] the DrupalAppStore that killed drupal, mortendk [...]


[...] Dutzende von Blogeinträgen über dieses Thema mit sehr interessanten Kommentaren verweisen (z.B. mortendk, Boris Mann, Rich Beyrent, Tim Millwood, chx). Falls Robert, oder sein Arbeitgeber Acquia, ein [...]


[...] the DrupalAppStore that killed drupal, mortendk [...]

Drupal app store will make acquia some good money :)

I think the plan is rather obvious.
It is not about small developers selling a calendar module and a couple of themes.
It's about Acquia creating an app-megastore that will, initially, add value to the company.
If you actually check who are the people who push for this change you will realise what is going on.

According to this post:
"...The corporate blessing brought by the inevitable acquisition of Acquia by a larger player will spur a series of acquisitions of other Drupal players, and the new corporate parents aren’t necessarily going to have the same philosophies as today’s independent owners and partners.

N.B. I am no longer an employee at Acquia and have no more inside information on the company’s plans than you do, I just believe it’s inevitable that the company will be acquired at some point in it’s lifetime. As a shareholder I hope it’s for a big number and in a short time."

Anonymous 7 February, 2011 - 16:53

Actually, I think it's quite

Actually, I think it's quite clear that I don't work for Acquia any longer. I wanted to be honest to say that I own shares, and it's not unreasonable to assume that I want any company I own shares in to do well.

It's easy to use that to question my motives, but it really warps what I wrote. I don't actually care of there is a for pay app store for Drupal. What I want is for people who are users of Drupal code, rather than producers of Drupal code, to have a simpler way to find code and incorporate it into their site. The app store metaphor provides a good framework for presenting Drupal code to the users of that code.

I prefer to look at this discussion as about "how does the Drupal community apply the lessons of the app store model to how we distribute our code" rather than "how do we make a lot of money from our code in an app store" or "how do we stop people from ruining our community by charging for code." It's a more interesting discussion, but doesn't fan the flames and feed the trolls quite so well.

Chuck D'Antonio 8 February, 2011 - 08:54

I disagree with the comments

Currently Drupal has one of the best platform for finding "code" ie. modules. The central repository on is currently the only place 98% (or more) search for code. I'd personally like to keep it this way, but I'm not against integrating some kind of donation based monetization into it, to fund future development and features in modules. I don't like the idea of paying for modules.

I don't think an appstore would improve the way one finds modules. Ratings on on the other hand could.

What an appstore could assist with though, is having developers improve their code for the end users, where they add enough value to it, that their modules are actually worth paying for. This is making modules/bundles/features/profiles more for the end user, than for developers. This is something I would like to see Drupal modules go. Solving more specific use-cases well, instead of being a piece in the puzzle and requiring a load of duct tape. If it helps me setup a clients site faster, I could simply pass the costs onto them, and everyone is happy.

This is the direction Drupal will head in any case, with or with out an appstore.

As for paying for modules, the only one I've paid for has been an Acquia mollum subscription. Personally I felt (and this is speculation on my part) that had purposely made their module shitter than Captcha, so that it would reduce the load of their servers, for people using the free version.

I'm talking about the ability (that the Captcha module has) of integrating a mollum captcha into any form via it's $form_id. As a person who paid for this module (two subscriptions on one multilingual site), I found it ridiculous that even paid subscribers didn't have this option. So the idea of paid being better, as we all know in open source...isn't the case. This is an example of where the profit motive (again speculation) has made a module shitter.

Issue in question:

j0rd 8 February, 2011 - 09:51

I disagree with the comments

Currently Drupal has one of the best platform for finding "code" ie. modules. The central repository on is currently the only place 98% (or more) search for code. I'd personally like to keep it this way, but I'm not against integrating some kind of donation based monetization into it, to fund future development and features in modules. I don't like the idea of paying for modules.

I don't think an appstore would improve the way one finds modules. Ratings on on the other hand could.

What an appstore could assist with though, is having developers improve their code for the end users, where they add enough value to it, that their modules are actually worth paying for. This is making modules/bundles/features/profiles more for the end user, than for developers. This is something I would like to see Drupal modules go. Solving more specific use-cases well, instead of being a piece in the puzzle and requiring a load of duct tape. If it helps me setup a clients site faster, I could simply pass the costs onto them, and everyone is happy.

This is the direction Drupal will head in any case, with or with out an appstore.

As for paying for modules, the only one I've paid for has been an Acquia mollum subscription. Personally I felt (and this is speculation on my part) that had purposely made their module shitter than Captcha, so that it would reduce the load of their servers, for people using the free version.

I'm talking about the ability (that the Captcha module has) of integrating a mollum captcha into any form via it's $form_id. As a person who paid for this module (two subscriptions on one multilingual site), I found it ridiculous that even paid subscribers didn't have this option. So the idea of paid being better, as we all know in open source...isn't the case. This is an example of where the profit motive (again speculation) has made a module shitter.

Issue in question:

Drupal Commerce Themes & Development

j0rd 8 February, 2011 - 10:14

No trolling, I question

No trolling, I question everyone's motives and it'a a model that has served me quite well so far.

"What I want is for people who are users of Drupal code, rather than producers of Drupal code, to have a simpler way to find code and incorporate it into their site". So obviously you believe that charging for code is a simpler way for users to incorporate code into their sites. Interesting...

But what I have noticed so far is that this change is mainly being pushed by Acquia team for example Robert (and this is just an example). It would be interesting - since we are talking about a community - to use a poll for people to vote whether they find this a good idea or not. What people vote will obviously not dictate what will happen but we will really know how the community feels about it. There's plenty of information about the appstore out there, lots of pro and against articles so why not ask the community how they feel about this...

Anonymous 9 February, 2011 - 12:23

Keep Drupal OPEN

Please don't tell me Drupal is considering charging for modules! I abandoned Concrete5 for that reason. I want to contribute once I get more familiar with Drupal. It's called SYNERGY. If you want to make money from Drupal, get a freelance gig to customize a module or build some websites using Drupal. Let Drupal users have the option to contribute to modules, whether it be development or $. And it's nice when larger commercial companies can help, too. A lot of the modules are dependent on others, let's keep the ball rolling and not complicate things more than they already are :)

Anonymous 20 May, 2011 - 23:01

under siegen dollar $eyes$

If it goes real - this is da death sentence. "deathlyappstore"

Big greetz from north-east-germany

..::::::Only death fish swim with the flow::<-::...

Leviathan 27 May, 2011 - 20:03


[...] read more [...]

I been givin support on irc

I been givin support on irc for drupal....i dun wanna charge for that...then why u gonna charge me for using the codebase we all built become influenced by money...Drupal is not Joomla please keep it that way...SIGH

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