Pressgram Blog

An App Startup Story

Open Source

I have been asked more than few times whether or not Pressgram will be open source, under something like the GPL or MIT or another structure.

The very, very quick answer is no, not at this time. Why?

Because I said so.

And philosophically this is all the justification that I need to provide. But, for those who want a little more meat with their gristle it’s about this one thing:

Ship… or Die.

I took a very long and hard look the existing open source apps currently available (namely the existing WordPress iOS app) and diligently compared the cost (time) associated with refactoring a fork and the timeline of development with the features that I wanted to put into the application as well as the design layer. The net result that it would take longer to in the former scenario and be shorter in the latter.

This has everything to do with speed and execution at this point. I must ship this product or die. I have a clear picture of the product in mind. I have no interest or time to delay on anything (and I really mean anything). I had a short discussion with one guy about it and I left the table feeling good about where I stood at this point in time.

I am not saying that open source necessarily leads to slower product timelines and shipping cycles (although it can, just like any other philosophy and methodology). What I am saying is that given a refactor / scratch scenarios in this specific context, it is faster to do the latter than the former.

It can always be opened up later, if I want. That is the great thing about open source. I’ve been married to it for a long, long time. The choice will, always and forever, be mine.

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It’s also worth thinking about three things in particular as well, the first being whether Pressgram could even survive in the App Store given a GPL perspective and existing historical precedents. The second is the fact that it’s an iOS app first and posting delivery mechanism second (WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, ad. nauseum.). If I built a WordPress plugin to accompany the iOS app it would be 100% GPL, no questions asked. Thirdly, and very closely aligned with the second, this is 100% iOS development as I’m not using the WordPress software, itself, as an “application framework.” There is no code being used from WordPress in Pressgram, thus the dependency of GPL does not apply. This is probably the #1 misunderstanding. The XML-RPC is also not part of WordPress; it is rather a protocol which uses XML to encode its calls and HTTP as a transport mechanism to communicate to WordPress.

I’m building this to create as much value as I possibly can for the most people possible – if that means keeping it closed source (until some precedents show Apple’s changed position in the store) then I think that’s what I’ll do for now.

Finally, the beauty of open source, both functionally and philosophically, is that we all have the freedom to choose our own path. For good or for ill, who knows. But you can’t deny this freedom!


  1. You can release under GPL without designing by committee.

    • john

      April 8, 2013 at 7:53 am

      Sure… anyone can release anything under any open source licensing and completely ignore the pull/push requests and feedback from the community… but then what would be the point of that? I’d want to include that feedback, and perhaps long-term I will!

      But at this point it would be a distraction to simply shipping the product. This is the #1 goal at this point!

  2. You can develop it and then license it under an free software license. Open source licenses don’t determine the conditions of development – they determine the terms of the distribution.

    • john

      April 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Thanks Siobhan for the comment. I’m well-aware of licensing, distribution, and use and at this point I’m going to move forward as planned so I can ship the darn thing.

      Appreciate it!

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