During a Q&A session at WordCamp Europe 2020 online, Matt Mullenweg mentioned that Gutenberg contributors were considering dual licensing for embedding Gutenberg in mobile apps, along with the requirement that they would need to get an agreement from all contributors. WordPress mobile engineer Maxime Biais has just published a proposal for discussion, recommending dual licensing the editor under GPL v2.0 and MPL v2.0.
“The GPL v2.0 license is a blocker for distributing the Gutenberg library in proprietary mobile apps,” Biais said in the corresponding GitHub issue. “Currently the only known users of Gutenberg on mobile are the WordPress mobile apps which are under GPL v2.0 (WordPress for Android, WordPress for iOS). Mobile apps under the GPL v2.0 are not common and this limits Gutenberg usage in many apps.
“Rich text editor libraries in the mobile space are lacking. There is no well known open source rich text editor for Android or iOS. We believe that Gutenberg could be a key library for many mobile apps, but that will never happen with the GPL v2.”
Mobile app developers are limited by the GPL, because it requires the entire app to be distributed under the same license. The team is proposing dual licensing under MPL v2.0, a weaker copyleft license that is often considered to be more “business-friendly.” It allows users to combine the software with proprietary code. MPL v2.0 requires the source code for any changes to be available under the MPL, ensuring improvements are shared back to the community. The rest of the app can be distributed under any terms with the MPL v2.0 code included as part of a “larger work.”
“The idea here is to keep some of the WordPress-specific modules under the GPL v2.0 only; some of them are not needed and not relevant for using Gutenberg in another software. Ideally, there would be a different way of bundling the project for being used in WordPress or in a non-GPL software,” Biais said.
The GitHub ticket has several comments from developers who hope to be able to use the editor in their own projects. Radek Pietruszewski, tech lead for a collaborative todo app called Nozbe Teams, has been requesting a relicensing of Gutenberg since October 2019.
“Our tech stack is essentially React on web and React Native on iOS and Android,” Pietruszewski said. “We’re a tiny company, and so we share >80% of app’s codebase between these 3 platforms.
“Our app sorely lacks a WYSIWYG editor. We had a working implementation on web, but we decided to scrap it, because there was no way to port it on iOS and Android. There are pretty much no viable rich text editors for iOS or Android, yet alone both. But even then, shipping three completely separate, but somehow compatible editors would be a vast amount of work.”
When Peitruszewski originally made his case to the mobile team, he identified Gutenberg/Aztec as a basic infrastructure that has the potential to enable many different apps:
This article was written by Sarah Gooding and originally published on WordPress Tavern.