Dedicated to openness

Typesafe release open source position statement

JAXenter Editorial Team
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The company behind Akka, Scala and Play Framework has underlined its commitment to open source technology and commented on the sometimes difficult line between commercial and open source users.

Typesafe have published their open source treatise and shown the world the dilemma they face between commercial and free technology. On the one hand, the company wants to focus on open source software, however, it must also balance the need of their commercial users in order to finance the further development and improvement of existing open source projects.

A fundamental cornerstone of its open source philosophy requires Typesafe to ensure that all open source products offer the full functionality of each feature. All commercial products must therefore exist within this limitation.

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Another area of conflict identified by Typesafe between the open source community and commercial vendors is the way that commercial products are marketed. Typesafe want users who are satisfied with their open source offerings to be left to their free devices.

They acknowledge however that there will be an audience who are interested in, and will benefit from, commercial offers via advertising. The group are working to ensure that the differences between their open source projects and commercial products are clearly identified.

Where and how to draw the line?

The biggest challenge that Typeface address is where the boundaries between open source projects and commercial offers be drawn. According to their position statement, this is done on the basis of three categories:

  • Rate of change: Open source users demand more of the latest features, with the latest releases regularly trying to follow extremely rapid release cycles. Typesafe wants to separate commercial users from their open source counterparts by way of legacy support. This means that Typesafe will provide long-term Reactive Platform support via open source channels for a period above and beyond what is currently offered.
  • Time: Open source users scour problem mailing lists, ask questions and weigh the answers received against each other, so they tend to invest more time than money. Commercial customers per contra get targeted responses from Typesafe developers, due to their business-critical problems requiring immediate attention – they invest money in order to save time.
  • Commercial product integration: When integrating Typesafe products into commercial products, the company often charges fees for the integration modules. An example of this is Slick, with the commercial option of Slick Extensions. When used with open source databases like MySQL, Slick remains free. For use with commercial databases such as Oracle, however, the commercial module (Slick Extensions) must be purchased.

Typesafe is hoping to continue pursuing a collaborative relationship with users on all sides of the spectrum:

Our goal in the open source world is to be a good collaborator with you. We are not doing charity work for you, any more than you are doing charity work for us; we are working together as colleagues: because we have shared goals. We hope to avoid disrupting our shared goals, and we strive to be good colleagues to work with.

While they emphasise the importance of working together, they also hope that users of their open source software like Scala, Akka and Play Framework will understand that in order to keep up these projects, they still need to cater to and provide value to their paying customers.

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