Introduction to Open-Source

What do people mean when they use the term Open Source when referring to software? This workshop will cover that question as well as what the GPL software license provides, why WordPress is an open-source project, and how this is important for both the users of WordPress and the contributors to WordPress.

The purpose of this workshop is to share knowledge and understanding of the open web and open source.

Learning outcomes

  1. To teach participants the basics of open-source
  2. To teach participants about the possibilities of open-source software.
  3. Explain the possibilities of open-source software with WordPress as an example.

Comprehension questions

  1. Can you describe and compare the concepts of open-source software, free software and proprietary software?
  2. Can you define the purpose of the GPL license?
  3. Explain the benefits of open-source software for WordPress users.
  4. Explain the possibilities of WordPress


Hello, I’m Hari Shanker. I’m a community deputy with the WordPress community team.

Today I’m here to take a workshop on the topic introduction to open source. In this lesson, we will learn about a host of topics related to open source, which include the meaning of the term open source when referring to software. What the GPL software license provides, why WordPress is an open source software, and how it is important for the users of WordPress, as well as the contributors to WordPress. And finally, for those of you who are not very familiar with WordPress, I will also show you different ways in which WordPress can be utilized. So, let’s start. I hope you’re all set for an exciting session on what open source entails and what WordPress entails. Let’s dive in. Let’s start by finding out the definition of open source software. Simply put, open source software is software whose source code is available for anyone to view, modify, and enhance. Source Code refers to computer instructions that are written by software developers in a programming language to manipulate the way software works. So any and all software in the world requires source code. Now, most proprietary software is disputed in the form of executable files, where the source code has been compiled in such a way that it is encrypted for computer use. What does this mean? It means that you as a user who is using this proprietary software will not be able to find out at source code. Now, if the software has a source code that is available without compiling, and without encrypting, and that it would, and that it would be possible for you as a user to study and modify the program. That is what open source software provides the ability to read and modify the code behind the software. So to summarize, proprietary software is encrypted. It’s built with a programming language, but the code is encrypted, it is compiled. So you will not be able to as a user, you will not be able to view its source code. But on the contrary, open source software, you can view all the source code of the open source software, you should be able to study how the software works. And you should even be able to modify the functionality of an open source software. But on the other hand, when it comes to proprietary software, you will not be able to modify how the provider is after works. I hope you understood the difference between free software and open source software. So open source software essentially gives you the freedom to modify the software to view the source code. It’s amazing, right? Alright, so let’s move on to the next section, which is the definition of free software.

What is free software. As the name says, free software is not simply software for which there is no charge. I hope I didn’t confuse you when I said that. But I repeat. Free Software is not simply software for which there is no charge. It’s a little different. We’ll get to that. Now before we go to that I would like to talk to you about freeware, which is a term that is generally used to describe a software without a cost. Free Software is much more than that. It essentially gives you the user the freedom to share the study to modify it. Now, there’s a there’s a quote from Free Software Foundation which says which basically defines what free software is and I quote, free software is software that gives you the user the freedom to share, to study and to modify, we call this free use software before because the user is free. So what is the difference between a free software project or a free our free software application and a freeware application. So a proprietary software application could be free, because you can download from the internet for free you will need you will not need to pay any money for it. But you will not be able to understand that source code you will not be able to read it so of course all source code you will not be able to modify it However, when it comes to free software, you can not only download it for free, you can read its source code, you can understand how it works, you can modify it, and you can distribute it. So that is the difference between free software and free software. Just because the software can be downloaded from the internet for free, doesn’t mean it’s free software, it could be free. But if it truly needs to be free software, you should be able to understand source code, read it source code, you should be able to modify it. I’d like to, I’d like to borrow code from Richard Stallman, who is one of the pioneers of the free software world. And I quote, free software as a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer. What a powerful code. What Stallman essentially means is that, when you use free software, you get the freedom to use it, to modify it, to change it in any way that you can. It basically sets you free, as in freedom of thought. But then you use a freeware a proprietary software that’s free. It’s not very different from free beer. Alright, so I’ve mentioned what free software is, let’s move on to understand what exactly makes a software free. Free Software complies to four essential freedoms, the freedom to use, to study to modify and distribute software for any purpose without any legal restraint. So a program is free software if the program uses have these four essential freedoms. Coming back to Richard Stallman, who’s a founder of the Free Software Foundation. The Free Software Foundation has essentially described or defined these four rules, and I’d like to code them so that you have a better understanding of what free software actually means. The first freedom is the freedom to run the software as you wish for any purpose. This is called a freedom zero. The second freedom is the freedom to study how the program works and change it so that it does computing as you wish this is called the second freedom or freedom one. Now, in order to for any software to accomplish this freedom, its access to source code is mandatory. So if you find a software, and if you want to make sure that it meets the freedom one, you should be able to read it source code freely, you should be able to modify source code. That is freedom one or the second freedom. Moving on to the third theme, it is the freedom to distribute or redistribute copies so that you can help your neighbor This is called the freedom to so the software that you download it, you should be able to distribute it to others as you choose. This is also one of the major prerequisites of free software.

What is the fourth freedom, we’ve discussed the first three freedoms. The fourth freedom is the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. So the third freedoms speaks of being able to distribute copies so that you can help your neighbor, it’s not just restricted to that, you should be able to modify the software in any way that you want. And then you should be able to distribute it to anybody. So by doing this, you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from the changes. Now, for the fourth freedom, also, access to the source code is a precondition. So I hope I’ve explained to you what free software is. Now, you would have heard of the term open source and you’d have definitely heard the term the term free software, are both of them the same? Are there any differences between open source and free software? Let’s find out. So open source software is categorized by the public accessibility of its code. Where free software focuses on the capabilities for using and sharing the software. Now to explain open source software. The main feature of open source software is that its code should be publicly accessible. That’s what that’s what the focus is. But for free software, the focus is on using and sharing the software. Now, these terms have a lot of overlap as you can see, but they are not interchangeable. The capabilities and conditions go into software depends upon the particular software licensing and there are variations on the licenses use for open source and free software. So essentially, there are overlaps but both the movements are entirely different. So there are some additional terms that can be used for these overlapping ideologies for software products. So the two most popular terms are FOSS, which is free and open source software, or floss, which is free slash liberal slash open source software. Let’s move on to the history of open source. We’re talking about open source, so we should definitely know about its history. We should go back to the 1950s to discuss this. So way back in the 50s, frilly shirts afterwards distributed among computer scientists working in Academy. This is when computers were very rudimentary, they didn’t have a lot of features. So software was not really envisioned as a paid product. However, with time, computer systems became more complex and software development became more costly. And the world saw a market for computing products expanding more and more people started using computers in their day to day lives. And by the 1960s. companies, companies were making computers and shipping them to users. So these computer companies, what they did was often to bundle software products, with software required to operate them and soul and to sell them together. So if you buy a computer, you will need to buy separate software, or to run them or sometimes both the both the software will be bundled together. So that’s when software’s actually got a price rational. Moving on to the 80s, this expanded. And the major change was that personal computers had started to come in. So back in the 60s, computers were mainly used by enterprises. But by the 1980s, the personal computer movement had really, really expanded. So this resulted in the formation of corporate networks. And it also resulted in the increase of prices associated with proprietary software. Going back by the 1980s, software became proprietary. So if you look at the 1950s, software was free. But by the 1980s software had become a commodity and people realized that they couldn’t make money out of it. So proprietary software was born by default. And prices were associated with it and the prices were rising in the 1980s. It God was proprietary software were often locked in vendors. So the term vendor lock in came in, which meant that you could only use a particular software with your hardware. So if you purchased your your computer from Company A, you will only be able to use software’s B, C and D not x, y and z. Now, this obviously costs a lot of your, in the computing community,

a lot of movements and much in reaction to the constraints of proprietary software. And as a result, in 1984, the G a new or the new project was launched to create a computer operating system that will be free from the constraints of its source good, compliant to the four freedoms. Now, when new was born, that was when the General Public License was created as an alternative software license for the gn GNU project. Now I’ve been I’ve been saying this quantum gn UT and knew for a long time what does it really mean? 10 years and a quantum that says news not Unix. Did you get it? It’s It’s It’s a recursive joke. It’s a recurrent because of the chronic was so genius. Genuine just means news, not Unix. The governing principles for the open source development were outlined by a person called Eric Raymond, who is a pioneer in the open source world. And one of the founding members of the Open Source Initiative in his 1999 book called The Cathedral and the Bazaar. So this book was an extension of his essay of the same title as the name of both the book and the essay suggests, Raymond compares two models software government so that he talks about the cathedral model and the bazaar model. Talking about the cathedral model, how does the cathedral look like? It’s a closed space where a select group of people congregate. So the cathedral model of software development is very similar. So in the cathedral model, code is developed between releases restricted to an exclusive group of software developers. Now, if you look at the cathedral model, this is the same model followed by most proprietary software. drip platforms. So software is built and released by a select group of individuals. They make all the decisions about the software they developed software from from scratch, they test it, they release it, they add features. So the entire development software development lifecycle is restricted to that select group of people. Most proprietary software still relies on this cathedral model. Now, the bazaar model is an exact opposite to the cathedral model. To talk about the bizarre morn, let’s imagine a mental model of a bizarre. so bizarre is a market. It’s a huge market with lots of shops, lots of people. So the bazaar is essentially governed by people. Right. So it’s a it’s a congregation of a large amount of people. So people are there to buy stuff from merchants that are seven mutton selling stuff. So in the bizarre model, code is developed over the internet with public access. As an example, the Linux kernel project, which is led by Linus Torvalds. It’s one of the most popular projects in the bazaar model. So in this case, the code belongs to the people. So that’s what that’s what the power of the bazaar model is. Now, I’m going to ask you a question. Which model is open source software for the arts, it goes without saying it’s a bizarre model. Because the code is developed over the internet, the bazaar is the internet, in this case with public access, and contributors are live all across the world to contribute to this to an open source project. Now, the key key takeaway from this book, which is an important one, and if you are interested in the open source movement, I would totally recommend that you go to read. The key takeaway from that book is this quote, which is also called the Lena says love. The code says, given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. So the public availability of source code makes it possible for a wider group of contributors to detect and correct software problems. So let’s look at the cathedral model. In the cathedral model, there’s a bug. But the software is only built and tested by a select group of people. It’s not tested by a large group of people. But in the bizarre model, there are 1000s there are hundreds or perhaps 1000s of people

that not only use the code, but also test it at the same time. So there’s a lot of eyeballs on the on the on the code at any given point in time. So bugs are easy to find decisions can be made about fixing the bugs and the overall quality of the software improves. Now moving on to the open source software, the term open source software was essentially coined in 1998, when Netscape read the source code from his first web browser, the Netscape Navigator, in hopes of enhancing it by providing access to the code to more people, so that they can locate and fix bugs. So that is when open source, the term open source was, was formally born. The term free software has been going on for a while because there was an x which came out in the 90s, I believe, or in the 80s. My history is wrong. So the Netscape Navigator release became extremely popular. The release garnered a lot of attention for the open source development process. Today, some of the world’s most popular applications are open source software. That includes Android, Mozilla Firefox, Libre Office, git, and WordPress, of course. So it’s not just that open source has grown far and far beyond this. And perhaps the biggest success to the open source project is Microsoft themselves said opening it. So Microsoft was famously against open source in in the 90s. There was a, there was a former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, who made a very, very famous quote, which said, open source is the cancer of the world, something along those lines. So from that Microsoft these days is one of the biggest open source contributors in the world. And other companies are following suit. Open source is really succeeding in the 2020. So with all that said, Why do we need to choose Open Source? I’ve explained a lot about the benefits of open source I’ve explained about how different companies that are adopting it. I’ve spoken about many ice boxes shallow But as an end user, as a developer or as a business manager, why should you consider whether or not to use open source software? Now, I’m not stating that open source software is superior from proprietary software. I mean, there are key differences between both. That could be situations where proprietary software is better, or there could be situations where open source is better. Now, let’s explain let’s let’s see, let’s evaluate why open source is superior option could be a better option for you, when you work on a particular project. The first thing, the most obvious reason is that there is typically very little cost. So in most cases, open source software is free. So I spoke earlier about the intersections between open source and free software. And there’s a lot of intersection between both as I mentioned, so most of the cases, the most of the open source projects are free, most of the open source software projects are free. In some cases, there could be a small distribution fee. But apart from that, but when you compare that to providing software, which in some cases could cost as much as millions of dollars, the open source alternative is almost always free or cheap. So, as a as a person that makes decisions for a company, you should definitely go for open source software, if cost is concerned. That is the first thing. The second thing is that the second point which makes open source software special is that there is no contractual license. Instead, the license outlines rules for sharing. So essentially, when you want when you buy a proprietary software, you would normally have to sign a license that there would be a license associated with it, which restricts you from using the software in any way that you want. However, in case of the open source software, there is typically a license like the GPL, or an MIT license, which offers you the four freedoms. So actually, the license that you get with open source software, outlines rules for sharing. You see how it’s beneficial. So definitely, that is one of the major advantages of open source software. And the third one is open source software is customizable. And there is almost always public forums and documentation that support it. So with many eyes, bugs are shallow.

Any open source software project is written and developed by a community, a large community which is spread out across the world, it’s not sprout. It’s not based out of the United States of Europe, it is spread out across the world. So there are public forums and there are documentation to support it. If you have any questions or if you run into any roadblocks, there is probably a documentation page which addresses it, or there is probably a public forum post, which addresses it. Or worse, you could ask a question in a forum and you will get an answer from somebody who’s an expert in that. So that is, again, one of the biggest advantages of open source software. The fourth advantage is that there is no vendor lock in for customization, or bug fixes. So it’s, it’s evident that even open source software would have bugs. And obviously, you need to customize open source software to add on to your features. Depending on how complex your requirements are, there is no lock in at all You can you can choose to modify the software in any way that you want, you can fix if you find bugs, you can actually fix it and you can actually deploy to the software, can you do this with the proprietary software. So the practice of there might lock you in from different customization requirements. So if you want to add some features, you will not be able to do it. Even if you reach out to your software provider, they might prevent you from doing it, there might be a clause in the contract, which prevents you from doing it. And, and if there’s a bug, you might need to wait on the developers of the software to fix it. So there are a lot of restrictions. But in case of open source software, you already have the code. So even in case the the original developer or development team, they they have a delay in fixing the bugs you can you yourself can dive in and fix those bugs. And the other and the fifth advantage of open source software is that abandoned software projects can be adopted by new development teams. So if a software project is abandoned, you In theory, can adopt a project and you can work on it. Right. So if it’s a proprietary software and if it’s abandoned, and if you’re using it if your company’s entirely line on the primary software, you will have to dispose it off but when but in case of an open source software, you can basically take over the software and you can develop on it. This has been this has happened so many times in the open source community, especially in the WordPress world. We’ll get to that later during the session. And moving on. The other advantage is that open standards are typically in Rather than proprietary standards. So the different standards first off the product. So most open source software adopt open standards rather than proprietary standards, which add a lot of restrictions. So that makes open to software easier to use. And finally, and most importantly, bugs and security issues can quickly be fixed with software patches. So, open source software has open source code, which you can read understand, and you can use it to identify security issues, and you can quickly create a patch to fix it. But in case of a proprietary software, this may not be very easy, you may have a lot of restrictions, including contractual restrictions. So even if you identify a security issue and the port is the company, the company will take its own sweet time to fix it, which may not really work well with your business needs. So but that’s when open source software has really advantages because you should be able to identify any problems and you if you have the bandwidth can fix it, or maybe you can get support from the community to fix it. The options are a lot more. So I hope all of these have explained to you what open source software is and what its benefits are. Let’s move on to the next section to learn more about the GPL license. The GPL stands for GNU General Public License. Some people call it the copyleft license in contrast to copyright. This is because it flips the terms of the copyright on the software. So rather than restricting distribution, the GPL copyright is used to specify the ownership of the source code and the terms upon which it may be shared. The GPL was created by Richard Stallman in 1989 and is the founding license for open source software. Its goal is to protect the four fundamental freedoms that are considered the underpinnings of free software. So if a derivative of a free of a GPL license software is redistributed in its original or modified form, it needs to be licensed under the GPL. Otherwise the license to use the program will terminate it and it would breach the terms of usage. This makes it possible to fork an open source project into a new project. As long as the GNU project is under the same license. They’ve been free versions of GPL over time. GPL v2 or later from the Free Software Foundation is the license that WordPress software is on.

How does open source apply to WordPress? So WordPress is an open source free software distributed under the GPL license. WordPress began as a successor of Fork of the abandoned B to cafe lock software project as Matt Mullenweg first pondered in 2003 post called the blogging software dilemma. So Matt, as you all know, is the co founder of WordPress along with Mike little later that year, both of them collaborated to launch the software called WordPress. later posted a blog post called WordPress, and then launched the original release of with the post WordPress now available. Since then, it has grown to be the largest self hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by 10s of millions of people every day. As of now, as of time of recording this video, which is in August 2020, WordPress was more than 37% of the Internet. The official WordPress about page says everything you see here from the documentation to the code itself was created by and for the community. WordPress is an open source project, which means that there are hundreds of people all over the world working on it more than most commercial platforms. It also means that you’re free to use it for anything from a recipe site to a fortune 500 website without paying anyone a license fee and a number of other important freedoms. In addition to the GPL applying to the open source code of WordPress, all related software on in the plugins directory and the themes to re and the Block Directory must be licensed under the GPL or a compatible license as they are considered to be derivatives of the software. Now according to the software freedom Law Center, they are the readers of WordPress, because every part of them is determined by the content of the WordPress function see call. As workshop works of authorship they are designed only to be combined with what Press into a larger work. This is from post called themes that GPL to. While WordPress plugins and themes must comply with the GPL license, they may still offer premium versions for a fee. Although those cannot be sold through directories, this might seem a little confusing at first, but it opens a broader freedom for users on how to customize what software. And it allows for a third party commercial marketplace to collaborate and combined free software with paid services. Essentially, GPL licensing for WordPress is very analogous to the four freedoms that I mentioned at the beginning of the session. But apart from the four freedoms, there are a few more things that you should keep in mind. Agreed those four freedoms are at the root of what GPL is. But the GPL is a little more than that. So in the next section, I will try to analyze all the features of GPL and how its implications are in the WordPress world. I also tried to answer some of the major questions that we’ve heard people ask again and again over the years, and I’ll try to address those questions. So the most important freedom of GPL is the freedom to copy and distribute the Program. The only catch is that all the licenses, all the copyrights that come with the program should be intact. So, if you make if you make changes to the WordPress software, if you make changes to a GPL plugin or GPL theme or GPL block, and if you wanted these redistributed, you should provide all the licenses that came with the existing program as such. The second point is that you can charge a fee for providing the copy, if you wish, yes, that is definitely permissible. However, it should still be completely TPO compliant. Third point is that you can modify and distribute the Program, but your modifications will inherit GPL. So you can make changes to the program and you can redistribute it, but as long as you have the licenses intact, your modifications will automatically inherit the GPL. The fourth point is that downstream recipients of the program or modifications will inherit the license but further restrictions can not be imposed, which means that the more and more changes that you make to the to the to the software and the more and more you distributed, the license will still be intact. However, you cannot add further restrictions to the license. Now, you will you will lose your GPL license if you copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program other than permitted. So

if you infringe the GPL, like an example for this would be you copy GPL code and you you remove all of the all GPL kind of men, then you add a restricted license and then you basically try to distribute the GPL that is a violation of the GPL. And it means that your GPL rights get terminated. Now, based on what we’ve discussed so far, what are the highlights of GPL for WordPress. So the biggest way GPL protects everybody that uses WordPress is by controlling the distribution of derivative or collective works, along with the core work itself, which is in this case, WordPress, and not to contest the rights of others. So anybody that writes software for WordPress or contributes to WordPress, they retain the intellectual property of the code that they’ve written. And if the product is distributed as with GPL, the fact that these are the authors that will remain with the software. However, the software continues to be freely distributed. So it means that anybody who is writing software for WordPress or writing software for the GPL licensed product, they they have the intellectual property control, they own the copyrights but the product can still be distributed, they can still be modified modified. That is the beauty of GPL. Now, the other point is that if identifiable sections of the modified work are not derived from program, they can be considered independent and separate works in itself. So this applies in cases where a part of any WordPress software or a GPL license software is used to create independent software. So if it’s a small line of code, which is reused for another purpose, and if it’s not specifically identifiable, and if it’s not, if it’s not derived from program and it is used to create a separate program, so this this, the modified work can be set considered separate in itself. That is one thing to keep in mind. Now, the other point is that when you distribute the same sections as a whole work based on the Program, then the distribution of the whole must be on GPL terms. In short, if you use a significant section of GPL license program, which could be a theme if you’re using a specific code from a WordPress theme or whatever, it’s what is plugin our WordPress blog. If you’re using that to create your own software, which is very significant, then the software that you use should be under a GPL license. The last and the final point is that aggregation of another work, not based on the program with the program does not bring the other work under the scope of the GPL. So this means that if you use g if you if you supply a pack of software, like one GPL licensed product along with a few other GPL licensed products in a single bundle, then the whole bundle does not become GPL. But your product will will remain GPL. But when you clump a non GPL product with your GPL products, the bundle does not become GPL. This is something to keep in mind. Would that be move on to the next section? As I mentioned earlier, people have a lot of questions on the GPL. So let’s try to get let’s try to answer some of these questions that people have on GPL. So the first question is self explanatory. Is everything a theme, a blog or even the WordPress core? I don’t even know what was plugin? If I do see somebody does that, should the source code of those edits be released in public? Nope, it’s not required on the GPL. That’s the answer. The reason behind this is that the GPL allows the freedom to modify the software. It does not make it mandatory to share the changes that you make. You can create software in your own requirements you can create, you can modify software, you can edit software, as much as you want. However, it is not required by GPL to share it if you want you can. The GPL allows you to freedom to do that, but it’s not mandatory. The other question is, is selling WordPress software for a fee GPL compliant? The answer is yes. WordPress is a software that is available for free and as I mentioned earlier GPL allows you to distribute software for a fee. However, it is a pointless exercise because what is already available for So when a software is available for free, what is the point in distributing it for a fee? Next question, can I sell my GPL licensed WordPress plugins themes blocks or other derivatives from from my site for a fee? Yes, as mentioned earlier, the GPL license allows for distribution of WordPress products for a fee. However, anybody that abstains a copy from you by paying a fee is entitled to release it to anyone else, for free, or for a fee.

That’s the beauty of GPL. So if you want, you can buy you can purchase software, a GPL license software for a fee, and but use you have the freedom to distribute it to anybody for a fee or for free, as much as you want. This is one of the most common questions that we receive that we keep hearing again, and again, I’m out the WordPress license and the GPL. Can I resell GPL licensed WordPress plugins or themes that I’ve purchased from elsewhere on my site for a fee? Going by the GPL license, yes, it is definitely permitted. And that is definitely something that you can do. However, as users, you should think twice about the ethics of such decisions. There are also several other challenges, such as if you purchase a plugin from a third party site, it may not always be saved as in you may you may lose access to updates, because in many cases when plugins or themes are sold, the cost involves the cost essentially allows for distribution, which means updates along with support. So the the amount that you pay for updates and support. So when you when you get a third party, when you get a paid plugin or a paid theme or a paid block for free, you may not get access to support you may not get access to updates. But that those are entirely separate from the GPL license. We are talking about the GPL license right now, as per the license. Yes, you are allowed to do so you are definitely free to distribute it as much as you want. As a commercial plugin developer developing, disputing a GPL license program, am I obliged to make my wordpresser rate of Timo plugin available to a member of the public for free? No, you are not required to do that. So this is one of the biggest confusions amongst developers working on WordPress software. You need not there is no GPL does not necessarily say that you should you should make your work available for free. You can make your work available on a payment basis if you want to the GPL In fact, allow for the DGP and allows you to charge a distribution fee. You can also charge for support and updates. So that is that’s definitely a freedom of the GPL that you can make use of. So it’s not really required. But if you want that’s a good thing. It allows more People do use it people who may not have the capability to pay for it, they definitely have an option to do. So it’s entirely entirely up to you. You can release a paid product with a GPL license, which is completely within the license. Can I modify a GPL license to what Chris said we’d have like a plugin or theme or block and release it as a commercial product with a non GPL license. Short answer, this is a violation of the GPL license. That’s because if you take a part of a software, or a product that is licensed with the GPL, and if you try to release it long with a non GPL product, that is a blatant violation of the GPL. So if you want to do it when you take a part of the GPL code, and if you add it to any product, basically, so it should inherit the GPL. That’s the downward licensing part of the GPL clause. So essentially, if you want to take a piece of GPL code, and if you want to release it, along with another software, that should be a GPL software, you cannot release it as a non GPL software as that would be a termination violation of the GPL license. What can I do, if I know that a plugin or theme or block developer is violating the GPL. As we discussed earlier, all WordPress derivatives inherit the GPL license. This is one of the core tenets of the GPL philosophy. So if you realize that a leading plugin or theme or a developer is violating the GPL, the first thing that you can do is to raise it with the developer. That is, that is definitely the first thing I can do. Because many people in fact, do this without knowing that what they’re doing is a violation of the GPL. So you can definitely try to make them aware of it. In case they do not really want to make the change. You can discuss this with the wider, wider wider WordPress community you can share this would wider, wider, wider WordPress community you can if you have the bandwidth, you can try to get their support you can you can talk to their boss to see if they are willing to change the license to that of the GPL. What if they decide to deliberately use or deliberately not use the GPL. Now that is definitely a concern. The other options that you have is to probably reach out to the other co developers of the WordPress software, people who are influencers. This definitely works if this is a very popular plugin or a very popular theme. So in some cases people may not understand. But there are there are examples of other very popular themes, plugins, and WordPress based software, which are open source and which are succeeding. So if that’s one of the concerns that they have, it can definitely be alleviated by showing those examples.

You can also try to get help from other members of the WordPress community to try and reach out to these developers if you have the bandwidth, of course, to try and get them to move their software to GPL. Also, the other thing is, as per the guidelines of the WordPress community plugin developers or theme builder was basically any WordPress helpers that violate the GPL license for the WordPress products. They may not be able to move out of the WordPress community when such as word camps or mean if they may not be able to, they will not be able to speak sponsor, or volunteer at word camps or WordPress meetups. They can definitely add in them, but they will not be able to speak sponsors volunteer them, so they’re missing out on a lot just on the name for license. And essentially, by switching the license they are not losing anything because they are actually supporting the core license which supports Definitely, I believe that should be an incentive for them to move their plugin or their team or their WordPress derivative products to work to GPL.

That brings us to the next section of our discussion. How can one contribute to WordPress now, WordPress is maintained by an advanced global community of volunteer contributors. People contributors to the WordPress project are employed by several companies across the world. Some of them are individual contributors. So essentially, many of these contributors work for companies who specialize in WordPress and there are several others who are independent users who basically love the word press often I would love to contribute to it. Now, it is not necessary to be a software developer who contributes code to the WordPress software. Now, please don’t get me wrong, that is definitely an important role. But the idea is that you need no development you will not be a developer not if you would like to contribute to the WordPress core. There are several other ways in which a person can contribute to the WordPress project by assisting in support forums by writing documentation, making language translations having meetups and WordCamps the ways are endless. Let’s take a look at the different ways in which you can contribute to the WordPress project. All WordPress contributions take place at Make WordPress dot org. The collaborative community is organized to two corporate teams. These teams can be sorted under the categories of building, operations extending and supporting. Let’s start by looking at the teams that do all the building. The first is the Make WordPress core team. They write the code that is the core of the WordPress software. Next is the design team which decides at Make WordPress design. They have designed and developed the user interface for WordPress. Next is the Make WordPress accessibility team. The X ray team helps making WordPress and everything on accessible to people with disabilities. The next is meta. The meta team helps with the infrastructure that powers ER visit org and The mobile team of WordPress habits build mobile apps for WordPress and the test team they help patrol, test, curate and modify the WordPress experience with QA, testing and user research. Next is operations. The marketing team which resides in Make slash marketing helps develop the materials and resources to market the WordPress Software and the community. The hosting team they Make WordPress hosting better for everyone through collaboration, tooling, and documentation best practices the extending team the extending team helps add features to WordPress. The first half that is Make WordPress themes. The themes team reviews incoming theme code to keep our theme directory in great shape. The polyglots team they translate all things in maintain localized sites on The plugins team keeps the plugin directory safe by reviewing code and ensuring standards the tight team they help you learn how to make your plugin or theme more standardized faster, and more secure. The seal it contribute to WBC Li the official command line tool for managing your WordPress site. Next up is the set of groups are a set of teams that support WordPress. The first of these is the community team brings people together with events like meetups in Word camps, along with outreach initiatives for diversity and inclusion. The docs team or the documentation team helps write and edit documentation including the Codex, and our handbooks. The training team creates curricula for free WordPress training resources that people can really trust. The support team, they answer questions to help other WordPress users in support forums and IRC. The TV team – they moderate all incoming WordPress videos had the MacPro post-processing and transcribe and subscribe, subtitle videos.

We’ve covered a lot so far, we’ve learned what open sources we’ve covered what GPL is, and how it impacts WordPress. We’ve learned about contributing to WordPress even. And finally, let’s take a look at the different features of WordPress and what the different possibilities of what results. Before we get to that, I’m going to quickly explain to you how to set up a WordPress site in case you don’t know that already. So what is is an open source software that is available for download from You can after downloading the software, you can set it up in a web server. For that you need to purchase a web hosting plan plan from a web hosting company, there’s several of them available, you can choose whichever one you want. In case you do not want to go through the nitty gritties of installing the software in a web server, you can always go to to create a site so that you can avoid the all the challenges of buying a hosting plan, you can you can directly create a free free WordPress based website or a blog. So once you create a website, you get a dashboard from the dashboard, you get to control the entire contents of the site. So the idea is that you can create content, you can create a very beautiful site without even having to write a line of code. So we’ve spoken all about GPL. We’ve spoken a lot about coding. It’s interesting that contributing to WordPress is one part using WordPress completely nother part. So as a user, you WordPress is a very user friendly software. It allows you to create very beautiful websites and very powerful websites. So I’m going to quickly walk you through some of the some of the features that what was already offers in some of the sites some of the possibilities that WordPress allows you to take part in. Let’s go for a ride. WordPress can be used to build Beautiful websites. Take a look at this website of the Walt Disney Company. It is built entirely using WordPress. If you can see it as a lot of features, it has a new section. It has its own section with individual information. It is a blog of sorts. So WordPress is very powerful. You can use it to build any number of beautiful website. But is that it? Let’s take a look at the different possibilities of WordPress. This is the website of the airstream supply company. Airstream, as you know is one of the biggest trailer companies in the US. This is an e commerce site, which means you can basically buy things from the website. This is built using WordPress. This site has a fully functional payment gateway I can I can buy I can buy items I can add to cart, I can make payments from the payment gateway. All these features are integrated directly into this website. As you can see right here. Yes, so yes, all of this, this very beautiful website is built using WordPress. Let’s take a look at the website of TechCrunch TechCrunch is one of the most popular technology blogs in the world. TechCrunch is built using WordPress directly. As you can see it’s powered by VIP. So as I mentioned earlier, WordPress doesn’t the possibilities of WordPress does not end here. It is immense. Here’s the website of the New York Post, which is also built using WordPress, one of the one of the United States most popular newspapers are the origins of companies they are using WordPress. As we can see from the footer. Let’s take a look at the singer company, the singer Australia website. Singer, as you all know, is a company that makes sewing machines. This very beautiful website is also built using WordPress using the WooCommerce plugin for the e commerce features.

Let’s take a look at the solo practice University. So this is a social networking site of sorts. They have their own login, where students or people can actually log in and have a social networking feed of sorts. This very beautiful site is built using WordPress. Yes, you can even build social networking sites. Oh, that’s very cool forum for the angry birds nest. For all the Angry Birds fans out there. No points for guessing basically, this very beautiful site is also built using WordPress using a plug in called BB press. So there we are. The possibilities of WordPress are endless. Let’s take a look at an actual WordPress website. So this is a test website that I’ve built in my local development server. As you can see, it is completely built using WordPress. So how does the back end of WordPress look like? I’m going to quickly take you through a walkthrough. So here let’s take a look at the dashboard. This is the dashboard which powers all the content of WordPress. So let’s play around with a bit. Let’s try adding some content. So this is a test post. WordPress allows you to add you add blocks. So I’m going to add a cover block here. I am going to find some images. I’m going to add an image directly from the that from my dashboard. Yes, it’s here and I’m going to modify it a bit. I’m going to make it full width. I’m going to play around with that. I am going to add Yeah, it as you can see, it’s very easy to add posts to directly to WordPress. There are different layout elements. As you can see, I’ve added a three block widget so I’m going to play around with a bed. Yeah. So I’m going to add a paragraph. I added some tax. I like block. So I’m gonna add some text. I’m gonna add some tags Test. Test, test. Test. random test. list one. list one, list two. Yep. I can basically just something to test on. I can add coats if I want. Okay, I’m gonna add this fancy code, just a fancy code by me. I’ve done all this and I’m going to publish this. Yep, the post is live. Let’s take a look at it. Ooh, it’s in the front end. Yes, as you can see the post that I’ve just published. It has been published including the code. So yeah, this is essentially how WordPress works. Now, let’s clear on this with a bit. As you can see, this is in the format of a blog. WordPress offers different features, it allows you to add pages, posts, etc. So if you look at this site, this is a page. And this is a blog post. So now this is in the format of blog, right? Let’s try to do let’s try to convert it into a actual site. How do we do it? I go to I go to the dashboard, I click on settings, icon reading. Then what I do is I change this to static page, I add a sample page. And I save changes. Let’s see what happens in the front end. Whoo. groovy. Right? So yep, my site is now a sample page. Now, this is some default stuff, which I want to remove. How do I go about it? So I go to the dashboard again, and go to Customize. I go to widgets. I go to footer one. I delete all of this. Yep. I don’t want any of this. I’m going to remove all of it. Let’s see what happens, shall we? Okay, I’ve published it. Let’s see the changes. Okay. Oh, that’s all gone. There’s a footer. Nice. So basically, this is what WordPress is. You can add content using posts, you can add pages. Media is for images. So since it’s a blog site, it gets comments. So the comments are recorded here. You can change the appearance of your site. As you can see, there are themes too. So these are two default themes. If you want, you can add more themes. So yeah, let’s simply let’s let’s pray out play around with a bit. I’m going to I’m going to try installing a new theme. I don’t know if it will work, but I can definitely try getting up. So I’m going to try and solve a new theme.

It seems to be taking some time. In the meantime, I’m going to Yep, the theme has been installed. So let me activate the theme real quick. Yes, the theme has been activated. Let’s see if there’s any change in the site. Yep, the whole appearance has changed. I can actually switch between themes if I want. So I’m going to go back to the old theme, because I think that was good. So I have switched to let’s see if it has changed. Yep, it is. The other thing is you can add more features to your site using plugins. So remember what I told you earlier about adding features to your site like e-commerce. So there’s a plugin called WooCommerce, which allows you to add ecommerce functionality to your site. Yep. Here’s a one. installing this plugin basically converts your site to a store. What if you want to make your site into a forum? There is a plugin for that. Yep, it’s loading. It’s a plugin called BB press Yes, if I install a plug in, I can convert my site to a forum. I can add users to my site here. So that’s me. That’s the default user, which is me. And I can change the name of my site, even switch test site. I’m going to change it to test site two. And I’ve saved my changes. I’ve gone to the dashboard. Yep, the name of the site has changed. So that’s all about the features of WordPress. I’ve done a very quick, very fast speed overview. And with that, we come to an end of this workshop. I hope you’ve found this workshop useful today. We’ve covered a lot of topics in wireless time. We’ve talked about the GPL. We’ve talked about open source. We’ve talked about contributing to WordPress and we’ve literally walked through the features of WordPress as well. I really hope you find this session useful. And I hope to see you online soon. Bye bye and have an amazing day.

Workshop Details


Hari Shanker R

I am an Open Source Program Manager at Automattic. I work full-time on WordPress, and I am a Community Program Manager (formerly known as “Super Deputy”) on the Make/WordPress Community Team. My current focus is on making the contributor experience for the WordPress open source software the best it can be. I’m currently leading the Contributor Working Group of WordPress where we are working on building contributor mentorship programs for WordPress! I also help manage, support, and run the Five for the Future program.

WordPress is one of the biggest passions in my life, and I strongly believe that open source tech and the open web have the potential to make the world a better place.

I have had a rather diverse career with significant experience in the domains of Retail Banking, Print & Web Journalism, Web Development, Entrepreneurship, Event Management, Professional Blogging, and Education.

Outside of work, I enjoy writing (blogging) as a hobby, and I’m a compulsive bibliophile. I’m also a happily married pet parent to three cats.