Plugins - Proprietary licences and open-source licence categories

(Split from Coding Phase - Week 10 Report - #7)

Hi all! I have a list of ideas (thoughts) to help with this topic:

  1. I would like to filter plugins by license: MIT, GPL, Apache etc. For that, it would be necessary to have a license category for each plugin

  2. I would like to know if the plugin is free (something I don't pay money to have access to in joplin-app), if it is paid (that is, if I pay to have access to use this plugin in joplin-app). if this plugin needs a donation to be maintained, or if this plugin is of the freepremium type (access is for 30 days, after that you would have to pay and without source code), or if it is open core (that is, the source code is released, but services upgrade is paid)

  3. I need to know if the plugin integrates some service for example: Baserow, any-do etc

Idea: Categories in Plugin

Category Description
License License as: 'BSD 3-Clause "New" or "Revised" license', 'Apache License 2.0', 'BSD 2-Clause "Simplified" or "FreeBSD" license', 'GNU General Public License (GPL)', 'GNU Library or "Lesser" General Public License (LGPL)', 'MIT license', 'Mozilla Public License 2.0' etc.
Integration Integration as 'Baserow', 'Any-do', 'Airtable', 'Google Sheets', 'Microsoft Todo' etc.
Price Price as 'Freepremium', 'Open core', 'Free', 'Donate', "Premium"
Source: Source as 'Closed source', 'Open Source', 'FOSS and/or FLOSS and/or Free software'

The plugin repo works by scraping packages that have been pushed to npm so I don't think it would even be possible to have anything closed source. Therefore I think the only plugins that could be paid for would be ones connecting to some kind of proprietary third party service.

1 Like

Hi! @Daeraxa

"Therefore I think the only plugins that could be paid for would be ones connecting to some kind of proprietary third party service."

I agree with this idea, but in my case my plugins are closed source and paid in these two cases that I mentioned here: third-party services and specific features. So... would it be possible to have a category of licenses and/or price and/or integration to make it easier for the user to find this information as I mentioned here?

An... one more doubt... another concept that I built here was this: (this can be verified in the license/integration part or if it has any value to be accessible.)

  • "paid-plugin": can/must have "donation" or is: "open core", "freepremium", "premium".
  • "free-plugin": does not have a "donation" or is not: "open core", "freepremium", "premium".

What do you think of this idea? If this is possible i would be happy ;D

Not sure what you mean by this? If they are closed source "unlisted" plugins (i.e. ones you install with the .jpl but cannot be found by searching in the app (i.e. stored in the actual Joplin plugin repo because they were correctly published to npm)) then it won't be on the new website to look for it.

  • Yeah! Exactly.
  • So... I wanted to release my plugins in joplin with copyright closed source code. So in that sense it will not be listed. But...
  • I wanted to know a way to publish my plugins in joplin without the user having access in source-code.

To be searchable the plugins have to be published on npm. Unless you can somehow obfuscate the code or smuggle in some kind of binary into an npm package then I'm not sure how you would do this. The best you could probably do is licence it as "source-available" with an appropriate licence and deal with any violations of the terms yourself.

As Joplin is FOSS I suspect there isn't much desire to facilitate closed source plugins.


So... Some plugins I develop:

  • Some plugins can be released as open source with licenses like BSD2, MIT.
  • Plugins with specific features that I am developing... I will not disclose the source code.
  • Some plugins can be released as free source with licenses like GPL v.2, GPL v.3.

As you can see.... In my case, I have a mix of licenses for specific plugins: 'Closed source', 'Open Source', 'FOSS and/or FLOSS and/or free software'.

I would be happy to have the possibility to have these types of license on the Joplin site.

My goal at Joplin is to have customers, I would do that by having good products and solutions within the context of the Joplin app like templates, plugins. If there is such a possibility, I would be happy to use a good tool and earn a few money.

I don't really see the licence of the plugin being a problem if it is an open source licence. To the end user it doesn't matter at all as they won't be doing anything with the source code, those who want to modify or fork the plugin code would be well aware of the licence from the npm package or the repo so long as it is made obvious.

I just don't personally see a case or any desire to want to support closed source plugins officially as it just makes life far too complicated - people may see them as "endorsed" by Joplin and there could potentially be legal issues from it.
There is nothing to stop you distributing the .jpl files but I very much doubt there will be any support for it on the plugin repo and therefore website/app.


@Daeraxa Lately I've thought about these 5 ways of money with Joplin:

  1. receive donations of templates and/or plugins.
  2. events (charging free software events to teach installation, customization, talk about the importance of software today or about new technologies, etc).
  3. create plugins or themes on demand when requested by a user, developer, company, people, etc.
  4. train people for some open software like GIMP, Joplin etc.
  5. offer courses on Joplin, GIMP etc to people.

What do you think these ideas? it's good or bad?

I've moved this to a new topic as it is something beyond the scope of the plugin website project. Some of it is backend stuff whilst the other is an entirely different discussion on hosting non open source plugins - not to mention the technical challenge as it would not be hosted on npm.

I don't think any of your suggestions above are a problem but I just don't think you can or should expect the Joplin project to host (and advertise) your services for you (which is essentially what it would be if the org was to allow closed source plugins into the repo).

Also I'm not sure if you could even post such things on the forum without clearing it with admins/moderators first - from the forum TOS:

  1. Promotional posts
    Content that promotes commercial services or products is not allowed on the forum. We may give an authorisation on a case-by-case basis - for this, please contact one of the moderators by PM.

@Daeraxa I didn't say anything, I'm just thinking about the possibility of getting some money with free software, this topic is a question and not a statement. "Lately I've thought about these 5 ways of money with Joplin:"

I didn't say you did, I'm saying you probably cannot advertise the things you were asking about, not that there is a problem with discussing the topic itself.

How can I call the admin to check if this is interesting or not?

  • I wanted to know whether or not I could make money with Joplin. Whether this is possible or not.
  • I have more doubts than certainty.
  • But... I understand what you said now.

There is nothing stopping you making money in the way you said, the only question is whether the organisation itself should have anything to do with hosting or allowing it to be advertised within its websites, forum/chat or applications.

This is why I split the topic here to allow other people to weigh in on the discussion, Laurent would be the one to have the final say on the topic but give him a chance to at least see it before PMing or @ mentioning.

I get it, you thought this was an ad?

  • My intention is different, it was more of a question.

In my case, it wouldn't be an hosted-app, it would be from person to person. It would be a person-to-person service. I have no legal knowledge, that's why I asked.


I'm not punishing your or giving you an official response or anything.
I simply split the topic because it was beyond the scope of the project you originally replied to. I'm merely giving my opinion on the topic and what I understand to be the official position given by the TOS so you can be informed should you decide to proceed with any of your plans.

  1. I was scared, I like free software, but I don't want to do anything wrong.
  2. I'm not speaking on behalf of the organization, just the application. I'm talking about ways to make money with the joplin app.
  1. I think this would be a perhaps viable alternative: this could be resolved if there was a certification to enable people to make money with joplin or unofficial developers certified to make money with joplin app.
  2. A permanent certification or something that is updated by period.

When I say the organisation I mean all the parts of the project as a whole. The main website, forums, Discord server, the various applications, the new plugin website etc. as they are all linked.
i.e. If you publish a Joplin plugin to npm, a bot scrapes it to put it into the Joplin plugin repo on GitHub, the repo is then used to power the search within the Joplin application as well as updating the plugin list on the forum and will be used for the new plugin website too.

Its fine, I put it in this topic specifically so people more knowledgeable (and responsible) than I can weigh in on the topic.