Open Code

Fabian Wesner
Fabian Wesner CTO Spryker
11. April 2016 in

Technology English

Spryker is a technology framework for ambitious (e)commerce projects. With its clean and solid software design, Spryker is a perfect starting point for businesses that need a lot of customized implementation and do not fit into the restrictions of standardized shop software.

For some of our clients, Spryker is the only alternative to a start from scratch. Because of the proven architecture, a set of best practices and dozens of common features, it reduces costs, efforts and risks. Spryker is programmed with the widespread programming language PHP and it leverages many famous open source components.

What is Open Code?

Although the core of Spryker is a commercial product, we decided to open the source code to the public. This is a new approach of software distribution which we call “Open Code“. There are many similarities to “Open Source“: you can retrieve the source code on Github and evaluate the framework if it fits to your needs. We even have a contribution agreement. But the big difference to open source is the license that only allows evaluation. So if you want to use Spryker for your project, we would be more than happy to talk with you.

To avoid confusion: The Open Code license only applies to the core code of Spryker. Besides this we offer some open source components. For instance, there is our Demoshop which serves as a boilerplate for new projects. We decided to use the MIT license, so feel free to fork and modify the code. Maybe in the future, our solution partners are going to offer a specialized adoption of it.

Why Open Code?

Publishing the full source code is an unusual step for a company like Spryker. We are doing it because it maximizes our reach in the global market and it simplifies the sales process a lot. Now developers can try Spryker and propose it to their managers. This way we enable a bottom-up evaluation process because it is very unlikely that a developer will call us and sign an NDA.

Of course we would be happy to get some blog posts with reviews and feedback about Spryker. You can be sure that I will read and retweet your article. I may also comment it in case of questions or proposals.

We are aware that Open Code comes with a risk of piracy and bad feedback but we are very optimistic about our future development progress and the current quality of the code.

Why not Open Source?

Some people asked us why we did not decide for Open Source. We could offer an Open Source variant of Spryker and a commercial one. We decided against it for two reasons:

First, we don’t think that Open Source is a good business model for Spryker at the moment. We know that there are several ways to earn money with it. A common way is to poison the open source variant with a copyleft license like the OSL-3.0 or GPL. This way, the open source variant becomes unusable for most enterprise companies and they are forced to pay for the commercial license which often also offers some more features and a better service. But as far as we know from other software vendors, even in this case only a small percentage of the clients will decide for the commercial license and so this works better for products that aim at mass market.

The second reason is the expectation of our clients. It is a tough decision to select a base technology for your business model. The costs of Spryker are quite low compared to the project efforts and a free version would not make a difference in the decision process. It could be even problematic because our clients are looking for a long-term relationship and continuity. They wouldn’t choose a community edition if there is just a team of volunteers behind it.

Why not Software as a Service (SaaS)?

We also got some questions why Spryker is not offering SaaS. The answer is simple: it does not make any sense. Spryker is the opposite of a SaaS shop. Technologies like Demandware are great if you don’t need IT to build your main competition advantages and therefore want to outsource the whole thing. But if you want your company to be IT-driven then there is no other way than to master the technology.

Interestingly, the SaaS question usually comes from VCs. I personally think they are confusing a technology approach with a business model. From their perspective SaaS is great because it offers a flexible subscription which scales according to the demand of the clients. But this is not an exclusive advantage of SaaS. The pricing of Spryker has exactly the same characteristics which is a win-win for our clients and us.

Your next steps

If you are a developer you can start with our installation guide. The setup of the virtual machine takes around 30 minutes and it work on most operating systems. Spryker has a comprehensive documentation which will give you a kickstart. Feel free to ask any question in our forum.

If you are a manager and want to talk to us, please contact us.

Still got questions?
Ask the author for further information.