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  1. #1
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    Monetizing a PHP library

    Hi all,

    I wrote a quite amazing PHP library that is actually an ORM (Object Relational Mapper). Pretty technical stuff, but programmers will know what I am talking about. This library has the potential to save thousands of hours for programmers by removing the hassle of SQL out of programming. The library nothing like anything that has been done until now in the PHP community and took me hundred of hours to write. It is innovative and has a very low level of entry: almost no learning required or special configuration.

    In other words, this library could literally change the way PHP coders write software.

    Now that I have showed off my library, let's go back to serious questions.

    I was wondering which licensing model I should go for. I know that in the Java world there are some proprietary ORM libraries that developers pay to use.

    However, I don't know any PHP library that is proprietary and I was wondering if the best choice would be to go for an open source licensing model and maybe make money on consulting/training/advertising services.

    In all honesty, I would be ready to pay big bucks to get my hands on this library (if it existed before I wrote it) as I know it would have saved me an incredible amount of time and headaches. However, it would be REALLY hard to prevent the library from being pirated (although I could encrypt it with IonCube) and it would be hard to market it because programmers like to try things for free before they buy. Therefore, maybe open source would be a better choice.

    PS: Please don't argue the pros and cons of object relational mapping in here !
    Last edited by r937; Mar 4, 2009 at 05:25. Reason: removed solicitation

  2. #2
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    PS: Please don't argue the pros and cons of object relational mapping in here !
    But, but...
    It's just not fun anymore...

    Seriously though. my opinion on ORM appart, I don't think it would work.
    ORM are more geared toward projects involving several developers (because of the convention), and I see php projects more the kind of a stand-aolne developer would do.

    I don't say php isn't adapted, but simply that it's a bit the "poorman" language.
    I like php, but you will never see it used in a firm of more than 10 people, where I live.
    If you do a serious web site, it's asp.net or jsp and that's all. At least, it's the feeling I had in the different enterprises I worked with.
    Those using php where those for which a web site was something in which you would pour the least amount of money and resources.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist praetor's Avatar
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    Is this thread a joke?

  4. #4
    Twitter: @AnthonySterling silver trophy AnthonySterling's Avatar
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    Good morning,

    Could you post the code? Maybe we could make a better decision on its value and propose an appropriate marketing strategy.

    @AnthonySterling: I'm a PHP developer, a consultant for oopnorth.com and the organiser of @phpne, a PHP User Group covering the North-East of England.

  5. #5
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    Is it better than cake php? Cake php claims to be the best framework.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tripy View Post
    But, but...
    It's just not fun anymore...

    Seriously though. my opinion on ORM appart, I don't think it would work.
    ORM are more geared toward projects involving several developers (because of the convention), and I see php projects more the kind of a stand-aolne developer would do.

    I don't say php isn't adapted, but simply that it's a bit the "poorman" language.
    I like php, but you will never see it used in a firm of more than 10 people, where I live.
    If you do a serious web site, it's asp.net or jsp and that's all. At least, it's the feeling I had in the different enterprises I worked with.
    Those using php where those for which a web site was something in which you would pour the least amount of money and resources.
    And what is the reason, according to your explanation, that makes that big enterprises dont uses PHP and they do with ASP.NET?

  7. #7
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    I think most of the companies use PHP instead of ASP.NET, on what basis you are saying PHP is not preferred?

  8. #8
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    I've worked in several types of companies:
    Big, medium, small, local, multinational and I've always used PHP.
    Currently in a company with 150+ employees and we use PHP.
    And we don't need to pour the most amount of money into these sites. There easy to build, fast and generate lot's of money.

    Can't agree with you there.
    Yours truely
    Mário Ramos

  9. #9
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    And what is the reason, according to your explanation, that makes that big enterprises dont uses PHP and they do with ASP.NET?
    Because managers want to be able to turn to 1 entitys if something goes wrong.
    Because all my superiors here are begging to become ms certified. And I pass over the self masturbation that our release cycle are almost as the ms windows release cycles are (except for the unit testing part. But we are "agile"! they says).
    Because simply mentionning that you don't use ms product you get looked with a strange bias.
    Heck, when I used python for a simple xml parsing task rather than vb.net, I've got literally blamed that the choice I did was bad, because "we do everything in vb here. I don't know what python is, but it's not allowed".
    And it's not only where I am now. Almost every other places where the same, except those where we where less than 10 people.

    It's the situation where I live.
    If you don't use .net or java, you are not credible.

    on what basis you are saying PHP is not preferred?
    Because after working 12 years as a web developer and seeing a dozen of the biggest web related enterprise in my country, none of them consider it as a valuable option.

    I don't have any studies, nor research papers asserting this.
    It's simply the reality of the field in central europe.

  10. #10
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    Yahoo, Digg, Wikipedia, Flickr, SourceForge, Facebook, and others, all run PHP.

    But, you're right, only small, singe shop programmers really use it.

    Sarcasm aside, you're right that a lot of large companies want to pay someone to be responsible should something go wrong, but your assertion that no large companies use it is incorrect.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by UFTimmy View Post
    Yahoo, Digg, Wikipedia, Flickr, SourceForge, Facebook, and others, all run PHP.

    But, you're right, only small, singe shop programmers really use it.

    Sarcasm aside, you're right that a lot of large companies want to pay someone to be responsible should something go wrong, but your assertion that no large companies use it is incorrect.
    He was taliking about central europe.

    Is the same scenario in the USA or there big fishes uses PHP on daily basis?

  12. #12
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    but your assertion that no large companies use it is incorrect
    I did not said that.
    What I did say was:
    If you do a serious web site, it's asp.net or jsp and that's all. At least, it's the feeling I had in the different enterprises I worked with.
    Those using php where those for which a web site was something in which you would pour the least amount of money and resources.
    That's the image that php and usually open source have here.
    I know you can do a lot with PHP, and I like it (but I prefer python).

    Again, what I told here is merely an opinion based of a local market.
    But as there are other ORM for php (at least, it seems) and that I don't think that the typical lambda php programmer is interested or knows about orm, I don't think this library would have much chances of success.

    And just to say it, no, I don't like ORM.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard siteguru's Avatar
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    How does any of this (other than the first reply) in any way relate to the original post?
    Ian Anderson
    www.siteguru.co.uk

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by siteguru View Post
    How does any of this (other than the first reply) in any way relate to the original post?
    Nothing...

  15. #15
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    lol. I knew this would happen. Can't you guys read ??

    PS: Please don't argue the pros and cons of object relational mapping in here !
    Well, I guess I should have mentioned no language war too...

    I am looking for serious BUSINESS advice. Now, if you find it funny that someone wants to commercialize a PHP library, just keep it for yourself or let me know why I should go for open source. Also, please don't ask to see the code to see how good it is... I'm not trying to sell anything here. I am simply looking for advice, so just assume the library is as good as I pretend it to be.

    That being said, thanks to all of you who took the time to write an intelligent post.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    I have a hard time believing that you could have come up with something that can compete with some of the free solutions out there (Doctrine for example), but that is not to say that it can't be so.

    PHP has roughly two very different kinds of users; The hobbyists/one-man shops and what we could call enterprise. I think you'd have a very hard time making the first group pay for anything, let alone something as abstract as a library. If that is your target group, your best bet is probably to use something like ioncube, but honestly I don't think you will ever get a penny out of it.

    The other group might be willing to pay, if the quality is really substantially higher than the free alternatives. If this is the target, I would suggest that you go with an open source license. Perhaps you could adapt a dual-license, so that the hobbyists can use the library for free, but for-profit companies have to get a license. That is a scheme that is fairly common. The benefit of this is, that you might gain some popularity in the "cheap" end, which would help to get accepted in the "expensive" end.

    Then there is the third option, which is also quite common, that you make the library open source and free to use. The plan is then to cash in on consulting, once the library has gained enough popularity. This is very much an all or nothing strategy, but it is perhaps slightly easier to execute than the others.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for your helpful advice kyberfabrikken.

    I have a hard time believing that you could have come up with something that can compete with some of the free solutions out there (Doctrine for example), but that is not to say that it can't be so.
    I have tried most free solution out there and I do believe that my library is superior. That is actually why I wrote it in the first place: because I didn't like what was out there. Anyways, let's not get carried away and let's just assume I do have a competitive product even though I might be wrong.

    PHP has roughly two very different kinds of users; The hobbyists/one-man shops and what we could call enterprise. I think you'd have a very hard time making the first group pay for anything, let alone something as abstract as a library. If that is your target group, your best bet is probably to use something like ioncube, but honestly I don't think you will ever get a penny out of it.
    I am very well aware of PHP's user base. I have worked with hobbyists and there is a considerable difference between the latter and real professionals. I do agree with you on the fact that it is very unlikely that hobbyists will want to pay for a library. The ROI would be much higher on large scale projects and for any programmer that works full time with PHP.

    The other group might be willing to pay, if the quality is really substantially higher than the free alternatives. If this is the target, I would suggest that you go with an open source license. Perhaps you could adapt a dual-license, so that the hobbyists can use the library for free, but for-profit companies have to get a license. That is a scheme that is fairly common. The benefit of this is, that you might gain some popularity in the "cheap" end, which would help to get accepted in the "expensive" end.
    I thought about adopting a dual-licensing model (such as extj.com) but then, where would I draw the line between hobbyists and for profit companies ?

    Then there is the third option, which is also quite common, that you make the library open source and free to use. The plan is then to cash in on consulting, once the library has gained enough popularity. This is very much an all or nothing strategy, but it is perhaps slightly easier to execute than the others.
    The problem with the open source option is that I really doubt anyone would need consulting. The library is very SIMPLE and requires almost no learning... Maybe I could sell advertising on the website ?

    Right now, my first choice would be the dual licensing model.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard cranial-bore's Avatar
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    As mentioned I think you're targeting a small segment of the PHP market, especially when so much is free. However you won't be the first to sell to the PHP audience. Zend have commercial products, people pay for high end hosting, people buy books etc. I think it's going to come down to marketing.

    Regardless of who you target people will need to be able to at least try it for free. So perhaps you offer an IonCube encoded trial download. The trial could stop working 60 or 90 days after download (this wouldn't be hard to implement), but realistically I think anyone who buys it would want the option of viewing/changing your code for their app. It does open you to piracy risks, but that's probably a cost you'll have to wear.

    Advertising to get traffic might help set a commercial tone as opposed to a 'community' tone, and your visitors might be more willing to pay.

    I think people will pay for convenience. For example I use Shadowbox when I need a lightbox. It's free for private use, but when I'm building a client site I think the $20USD for a commercial license is worthwhile because it's easy to integrate and has a YUI adapter. There are other free lightboxes I could use commercially, but this one is more convenient so I'm willing to pay.
    mikehealy.com.au
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  19. #19
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    Any chance we can take a sneak peak at the usage of this masterpiece?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vali View Post
    Any chance we can take a sneak peak at the usage of this masterpiece?
    Sure, I'll try to post something here ASAP.

  21. #21
    hi galen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sysk View Post
    Sure, I'll try to post something here ASAP.
    im so excited

  22. #22
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    Wait what? Pay for an ORM? Wait what? Pay for code? OMG! I'll never pay for code or software -- which is why I stay the hell away from windhoes. Software should be free and if it isn't, it isn't worth using -- the exception being photoshop... and 3d studio max... and maya... and ... final cut... and... alright damn it!

    Ok, but on a less rant-full note, Pay for code? ARE YOU MAD MAN! Don't you know that sharing is caring?
    Creativity knows no other restraint than the
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    Oh baby! Check out the design patterns on that framework!

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy kyberfabrikken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sysk View Post
    Maybe I could sell advertising on the website ?
    I don't think that's a good source of income. You would need a lot of visitors for that to work out.

    Quote Originally Posted by sysk View Post
    The problem with the open source option is that I really doubt anyone would need consulting. The library is very SIMPLE and requires almost no learning...
    Not, that's perhaps a model that lends it self better to larger frameworks, than to libraries. If it became popular, you could probably write a book or two on it, but from what I hear that isn't the best way to get rich.

    Quote Originally Posted by sysk View Post
    I thought about adopting a dual-licensing model (such as extj.com) but then, where would I draw the line between hobbyists and for profit companies ?
    I guess the simplest would be; "Do you make money from it". Take a look at some existing solutions - I'm sure there are people who'd figured this out.

    Another option that I didn't mention, is that you have a "premium" product, which adds some features to the free product. I'm not sure what this would be in your case though.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard lorenw's Avatar
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    I say try to make some cash. php coding is not free unless you want to make it that way but I think vBulletin does well for themselves iregardless of all of the free alternatives out there.

    People say sharing is caring but do they build a custom CMS for free just because it is written in php?

    We released a PHP product and yes we charge for it. Why? because it blows any other competition away.

    If you do have something better, sell it. Put a donate link on your site as well, you will find people will donate twice (or much more) as much as your product sells for.

    When we released our product 3 things could have happened.
    1) stoned to death
    2) sarcastic laughter
    3) wow this is way awesome

    Fortunatly it was number three and we can now devote all of our time to future development but you will never know unless you try. I even (partially) gave up promoting my design/development website except for existing customers.

    My -2 cents (it's the economy lol)

    Cheers and good luck.
    What I lack in acuracy I make up for in misteaks

  25. #25
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    Very interesting insight. Greatly appreciated


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