The Launch of Commercial Themes for ProsePoint

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And the reasoning behind it

Recently, I added a marketplace to the ProsePoint website for selling commercial ProsePoint themes. This would come as a surprise to some users, as up until now, there had been no hint of any sort of commercial activity for ProsePoint. I would like, now, to explain the reasoning behind such a decision, and try to address questions which may arise.

(Before I continue further, I want to make it clear that the open source nature of ProsePoint, ie. the software itself, is unchanged. ProsePoint remains free and open source software. This post relates only to the commercial themes which are add-ons to ProsePoint.)

The reasons behind launching a themes marketplace are two fold:

  • Indirectly encourage the use and adoption of ProsePoint
  • Indirectly fund ProsePoint development

Let's tackle these in order.

Encourage the use and adoption of ProsePoint

ProsePoint will not succeed if there is a lack of good quality themes available. Whether I like it or not, technical sophistication is not sufficient. Prospective users will choose ProsePoint based on how it looks as much as on functional capabilities.

Up until now, the default ProsePoint theme has done a decent job of making ProsePoint presentable. However, the theme doesn't appeal to everyone, nor did we expect it to. It is inevitable that users will want to change the theme

(Over the past few months, we have been receiving enquiries about changing some aspect or another of the theme, or changing the theme entirely.)

For ProsePoint to move forward, it is important that good quality themes are available. Notice the mention of good quality.

From past personal experience, I find that many of the themes (for content management systems in general) which are freely available on the Net are often quite average looking, or they suffer from a lack of focus. This is not unexpected as the author has limited time or resources to create them. Nor do I attribute blame. It's a straightforward case of economics.

However, we are not interested in average looking themes for ProsePoint. We want people to create great looking themes for ProsePoint. We want them to really put their best effort into it. The best and most efficient way to encourage this is to attach a commercial incentive.

Hence, we have launched a theme marketplace to facilitate this. The idea is that theme authors will receive payment for their work, and this will encourage them to create good quality themes. The better the theme, the more it will sell.

In turn, we hope that this will create a pool of good quality ProsePoint themes which will, then, convince more prospective users to use ProsePoint.

At least, that is the theory. How well this executes in practice, we'll just have to wait and see.

The theme marketplace will be open for submissions from third party theme developers. It is not solely for selling themes created by us. (Personally, I'd rather others create the themes, so we can concentrate on developing ProsePoint itself). We will be selling themes created by other parties for a percentage of revenue from each sale.

So, if you are interested in selling your theme on the ProsePoint website, please watch this space. We will be preparing information on how to submit themes for the marketplace, including a list of required features and eligibility criteria.

Indirectly fund ProsePoint development

So far, ProsePoint has been self funded out of my own time and savings. This is unsustainable in the long run. Eventually, some commercialisation must occur if ProsePoint is to become self sufficient.

Opening a theme marketplace is one way to generate funds to keep ProsePoint afloat. These funds will contribute back to development of ProsePoint itself. It is only one small step, and we don't expect the earnings to be much, but having a source of revenue, no matter how small, is very important than having none.

Legalities and Ethics of Commercial Themes

The concept of commercial themes is not unique to ProsePoint. The selling of themes in exchange for financial payment also occurs for other open source content management systems. (Although sometimes the term Premium theme is used instead of Commercial theme)

We will be using the same legal mechanism to allow commercial themes to be sold on top of open source software (More on this elsewhere).

Elsewhere on the Net, there have been heated discussions in the past about the ethics of commercially selling themes as add-ons to open source software. We do not want to rehash those arguments here (interested readers can find out more using Google), suffice to say that it is legal, and hence, we are well within our rights to do so as we are trying to meet the needs of users of ProsePoint.

Comments

Sounds good.

Sounds like a good plan to me. I appreciate all the work you've put in creating ProsePoint and hope themers (both altruistic free themers and venal commercial themers start to work with this platform. 

interested

Koreaittimes.com is ready and willing to purchase a new quality theme.  It is well worth the $60 - $100 for a quality theme, since that is beyond my capabilities.

I've also got a second

I've also got a second magazine site going live July 1 which needs a quality theme to differentiate it from koreaittimes.com.  I'm a market of 2, and there's only 1 theme on the listing right now.  its a seller's market now people!

A great move for the community

The Vienna Review is also willing to invest in a commercial theme which can meet our needs.   While we love the standard version, there are some new features that we would be happy to pay for:

1) Ability to show different sized images in teasers, as well as controlling amount of text in individual teasers, according to importance of the story;

2) Inclusion of story boxes inside other stories, with links to related stories;

3) Possibility to add vertical lines between selected columns;

4) Galleries of images from top stories or selected stories, perhaps combined with Flash to change them dynamically;

5) Theme should allow dynamic selection of ads from candidates according to set of basic rules.

Feel free to submit your offer!

 

More details needed about individual theme "future"

I would be interested in a commercial theme, but only if I understand (1) which individual or organization is maintaining the theme; (2) whether the theme is guaranteed to be developed or maintained in the near, mid- or long term; and (3) what the development path is for the theme.

In short, if I buy software, I don't buy it "as is", I buy it with the promise of support and future versions. The reason is simple: I already invest a significant amount of time in a given website, and I don't want to have to "buy" another theme in the future because the one I just purchased went stale after a few months.

Please provide a way to expand or flesh out the description of each theme listed on the commercial themes page. In that description, list the maintainer name/organization, contact information, terms and conditions of using the theme (not necessarily legalese...), support details (will there be a forum?), development path (links to wishlist, etc.) and other typical/expected software-background details.

I want to have confidence that what I'm buying isn't going to wither on the vine.