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01Nov2017

Why there are fewer free extensions available for Joomla

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369 hits Updated: 02 November 2017

Developers cannot afford to maintain their work for nothing

As an independent developer of extensions for Joomla, I rely on the Joomla Extensions Directory [JED] as a place to do business.  The past twelve months have been difficult for developers of Joomla extensions because of new conditions imposed on us who want to use the JED.  People who download products via the JED may be unaware of the effort we put into ensuring that our products—whether or not they’re available at no cost to the end user—are reliable, robust and secure.  It’s a thankless task:  the people who manage the JED are as indifferent about our lives as are most of our customers who siphon the software from our websites.  Is it any surprise that fewer freely-downloadable extensions are being added to the JED these days?

For as long as I have been involved in this game, I’ve offered a mix of software that are available at zero cost as well as products that are available on a pay-to-subscribe basis; roughly a 50:50 mix.  The main benefit that I obtain as far as “free software” is concerned (apart from the “prestige”) is that once or twice every few years someone writes to me to say thank you.  That’s the only tangible benefit I obtain.  In every other respect, the amount of time and money that I spend in building, updating/maintaining, documenting, hosting and marketing my work far outweighs any tangible return on that investment.

If I were relying on sales of my Joomla extension development as my only source of income, I would have given up more than 10 years ago.

It’s not a difficult thing to do, for people who siphon software from developers’ sites after using the JED, to say “thank you” in some way: perhaps they could write a review—share their experience—offer their feedback to the developer in order to help improve the product in ways that the developer may not have thought of?  But, no.  Sadly this is the real world and common courtesies like “thank you” are outdated, outmoded or unfashionable.  The echo chamber of public opinion is silent or it’s damning in criticising the altruism of others.

One of the original guiding “rules” with the JED was to not overtly solicit reviews on the JED as part of the conditions of use. In other words, pressuring people to write reviews or over-egging “please review our products on the JED” text were no-nos.  I am aware of some products that encourage reviews and, frankly, I’m not opposed to this approach even though I don’t use it myself.

The fact remains that we, as developers, generally don’t obtain any compensation, support or encouragement or feedback for what we do and we’re at the bottom of the food-chain when it comes to the gluttonous demands of an uncaring, unsympathetic public.

As a consequence of the increased costs in time and money, our obligations to satisfy the ever-growing demands from the JED management team, combined with an uncaring, who-gives-a-toss, freeloading society, people will probably see the transition from “free-to-download” to “pay-to-download” products on the JED.  These are not easy decisions for us—we take them individually—but they are the realities of the world in which we live.  The costs of producing our work simply outweigh the benefits that we receive by offering it for nothing.  As I foreshadowed a couple of months ago, from today the software that is available for download from this website will only be accessible on pay-to-subscribe basis.

I have taken this decision not because I want to make money.  I have taken this decision because I want people who genuinely want to use my software products to inform me that they’re willing to support the development costs associated with providing an increasing range of extensions for Joomla.  If people choose not to support developers then, it follows, extension development will cease.  That's not being mercenary; that's just being matter-of-fact.

So, if people ask naïvely, “Why are there so few free-to-download extensions available on the JED?”, my response would be, “You only have yourselves to blame.”

About the author:

is a Joomla professional and former member of the Kunena community for more than 8 years—a substantial contributor to the original Kunena documentation project with over twenty thousand messages posted at the Kunena forum. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.



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