Foundation erpnext.org (FOSS United) and company erpnext.com (Frappe)?

Hello dear all,

First of all, sorry if the question was already ask, but with the keyword above I didn’t find recent any topic on it.

I just wonder what is the relation between the foundation and the company. There are cross link between the two website( for documentation by exemple).

There is a new erpnext.com website, probably link to new investment of Zerodha, what about erpnext.org website ? The page https://erpnext.org/service-providers is broken for me, no more service providers listed (may restricted by country and there is no provider in mine (France) ?)
On Github there is two organization https://github.com/erpnext (foundation) and https://github.com/frappe (company), there seems to not be related.

If I wonder about it, it’s because in France, on other similar community opensource ERP/CRM Dolibarr, there is a foundation, but no official company behind Dolibarr, only a community of contributor (from company or independent). I found that nice because, like that the core code on Github manage by the foundation should always be full open source. The back draw is that most of integrator/company have they’re own modules pack that extends features that should already be in core code, but they have no interest in that… So there are a collection of modules that cover the same feature but with different way’s instead of put in community core code as it should be.

As I read, the actual goal of erpnext company is to keep frappe/erpnext on the same way. I mean fully open source, but Odoo (before call openERP) done the same thing in is time but they change there way of doing things, and adopt CoreCode strategy with extra features only available on their Saas/OnPremise support. Theses extras features aren’t just toys, some of them (like migration…) are just a needed feature of an sustainable ERP eco system for a customer/user that choose this software.

Should we be afraid of a thing like that with Frappe/ERPNext. If there are investor, even if words of Rushabh Mehta “ERPNext is 100% free to use, study, modify and redistribute and will always be” are reassuring, investors can think differently.
For exemple there is no marketplace for ERPNExt/Frappe module/app provided by the foundation or the company, and I think it’s a good things. Sell service, not code is the FOSS attitude. Service (with development in core) will always push the software product up.

What do you think ?

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I think the ERPNext foundation doesn’t really exist any longer. Now there is FOSS United. It was founded by Frappe and Zerodha and does the things that were previously done by the Foundation.

It would surely be nice if the code belonged to the foundation. A common argument against it is that Frappe does 99% of the work. So the code, while remaining open source, can be considered as theirs. Also it would be a lot of work and break many installations if the code were to be transferred to a different owner.

See https://frappecloud.com/marketplace (all apps are currently free).

I think currently there’s no reason to be afraid that ERPNext might become closed source or commercial open source.

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I’m agree that change github URL repo would be a big problem, and a big change. I’m not saying that .

Why there is no link to https://frappecloud.com/marketplace on https://frappecloud.com or from any where else ? Is it new ?
Even on https://frappe.io/marketplace the link do not link to https://frappecloud.com/marketplace.

I discover https://frappecloud.com/ and https://fossunited.org. That the price (and the bad) to “take the train as it run” (sorry bad translation of french proverb).
In fact, it confuse me more… but anyway, as the “Open Source spirit” is the backbone of this community and software, it’s what’s really matter.

Thank’s to take time to answer.

Hi there,

You can find the apps of https://frappecloud.com/marketplace if you are using the Frappe cloud.

The various relationships can be confusing. Even for long-time users. Here’s my view of the ecosystem. Apologies in advance if I’m incorrect about specifics, or don’t know the latest situation.

  • Rushabh Mehta started writing ERPNext in 2006.
  • In 2008, he started a for-profit company: FRAPPE Technologies Pvt. Ltd., headquartered in Mumbai.
  • Most of the project maintainers on GitHub (ERPNext Maintainers) are employees at Frappe Technologies. This is not a requirement or rule. It’s just the current reality.

Frappe Technologies owns many different commercial websites:

  • frappe.io, which lists many of Frappe’s products, including ERPNext.

  • erpnext.com. One purpose of this site is to market Frappe’s Cloud Hosting of ERPNext.

  • frappecloud.com. Another site advertising cloud hosting, kind of like erpnext.com.

    • One of those pages is the marketplace that Raffael mentioned. I don’t know anything about that.
  • frappeframework.com : This website is purely educational. It documents information about the ERPNext framework. Somewhat confusingly, that framework is officially named “Frappe” (https://github.com/frappe/frappe). When we write, it’s important to explicitly say “Frappe Framework” to distinguish the software, versus the company named Frappe Technologies.

Non-Profit Organizations.

FOSS United was created in 2020. This non-profit does not specifically target ERPNext. It does many things. However, ERPNext is certainly something FOSS United cares about. According to their website, FOSS United is:

…a joint collaboration between the teams at Frappe, the publisher of ERPNext, one of the largest FOSS projects out of India, and Zerodha, India’s largest stock broker and a fintech company.

ERPNext.org is an Inactive organization…

Historically, there was an ERPNext Foundation. It’s not active anymore. However as of today (January 2021) the website is still accessible (https://erpnext.org/). The Foundation was replaced (sort of, kind of) by the new FOSS United.

…but the Jobs page is an exception!

Even though erpnext.org is defunct, is has a very active page:
https://erpnext.org/erpnext-jobs.

Many people go there to find/post ERPNext jobs for freelancers.

Official ERPNext Documentation

This is a somewhat confusing topic:

  1. https://docs.erpnext.com : This is the oldest source of documentation. It’s part of erpnext.com, which is Frappe’s commercial website.

Now, because ERPNext is open-source, one might expect the documentation to reside on a non-profit website. And it kind of does on the site below…

  1. https://wiki.erpnext.org: A team of ERPNext enthusiasts in Germany created a special Confluence website just for ERPNext documentation. Some people adopted it, and regularly use it. Others still work on erpnext.com

  2. Both sites above have contributed and leveraged some GitHub repositories:

Most people in the community end up visiting all 3 sites. Not to mention, this forum (discuss.erpnext.com) could be considered a source of “documentation.” Some answers to questions can only be found by searching threads here.

Other Organizations

Last I knew, there was an active ERPNext Chapter in Germany. They even hosted a conference in 2019. @rmeyer would be a person who knows the current situation.

Here in North America, I know several ERPNext enthusiasts, developers, users, and consultants. But we don’t have a large, unifying organization. There were discussions about local chapters a few years ago, but nothing much came of that. I’m sure there are small meetings in local geographies.

I know dozens of ERPNext enthusiasts in Africa, South America, and southwest Asia. But I do not know if they are operating User Groups or local Chapters.

Conclusions

As we begin 2021, ERPNext remains mostly controlled and guided by Rushabh and Frappe Technologies. They are the custodians of the code. They maintain most of the well-known ERPNext websites, including this Discuss forum. As a for-profit company, they host the largest ERPNext cloud platform.

The above has its advantages, and disadvantages, depending on our point of view. Also, with the new FOSS United, I anticipate that sponsors like Zerodha will have a strong influence on the product’s direction. How that manifests itself, remains to be seen.

The code has always been Open Source. I’m confident it will remain so, at least for many years. At this time, I don’t see a compelling reason for Frappe Technologies to convert to an Open Core model.

I could be wrong. It’s possible that Elon Musk’s SpaceX constructs a space ship. And that the entire Frappe team volunteers as colonists, and transfers ERPNext to a new, Martian GitHub!

:rocket:

If that happens, ERPNext will still be okay. We’ll grab the code from our laptops, and put back on GitHub Earth. Fork the project, find maintainers, and move forward. Sure, it won’t be ideal. There would be service interruptions while the new fork starts up.

But thanks to open-source, ERPNext can never truly disappear.

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Thanks @brian_pond for clearing this out.

The structure behind ERPNext have been fluid and changing. Checkout the long and heated discussion on the topic in the 2018 conference.

Some more clarifications:

  1. ERPNext is Free Software licensed under GNU General Public License (V3) and this has never changed. All hosted versions provided by Frappe are essentially vanilla ERPNext with some restrictions.
  2. ERPNext Foundation is now FOSS United Foundation. The plan is to merge erpnext.org and fossunited.org. The Job Board and Memberships in ERPNext will be managed by FOSS United. Future conferences will be run by FOSS United. Any community activity that needs a neutral structure can be managed under FOSS United Foundation.
  3. ERPNext and Frappe continue to be managed by Frappe employees, but we welcome a broader group of contributors @revant_one @rmeyer @snv and other are taking active interest in becoming long term volunteers. frappe/frappe_docker is mostly managed by @revant_one (not a Frappe employee).
  4. Expanding the group of trust is a slow process and we are committed to it. Happy to learn and accept feedback on how we can do better.
  5. As Frappe, we are trying to take more feedback from the community on roadmap and features, as more and more Frappe devs are encouraged (and rewarded) for posting on this forum and asking for comments. But we are not yet where we want to be.
  6. What is the long term of this project? It depends. Frappe has recently received funds from one of the biggest users and community member, Zerodha and both Frappe and Zerodha are committed to Free Software. Will the leadership and management of Frappe or Zerodha change in the future is difficult to guess. The track record is quite positive in this regard though.

ERPNext Community is very much a work-in-progress. Any participation, leadership, commitment, guidance is welcome!

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Thank’s all for your complete answers.
Hoping it will help new ERPNext enthusiasts to understand the cross link in this growing and currently building and morphing community.

“This has never changed” --> Does this mean it might change in the future?
@rmehta, please clarify :pray:

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This is worth a separate thread. I’ll try to answer quickly.

Full disclosure: I am not a lawyer. I hold no licenses or degrees related to software licensing, copyright, etc. All statements below are purely my own opinion.

That said, I’ve done a lot of research into licensing. Here are the relevant points for this topic:

  1. If you distribute GPLv3 software, you must include the source code. Anyone else can distribute the code too.

  2. Additional software that is derived/based on GPLv3 software must, itself, be licensed GPLv3 (or a compatible license).

    For example, assume I write a Payroll add-on module for ERPNext. My module should be licensed GPLv3. For this reason, some people have described GPLv3 as being “viral.”

Regarding ERPNext. One thing is certain: no one can modify the existing ERPNext software’s license.

However, it might be possible for Frappe to start a new project (ex. ERPNext++). And license this new code under different terms. Kind of like an Open Core model.

But it’s very complicated:

  • Software derived from GPLv3 is supposed to have a compatible license.

  • …however, there’s room for debate in GPLv3 about “statically linked” and “dynamically linked” code and libraries. And what makes 1 piece of software derivative from another.

  • …however, Frappe is the sole copyright holder of ERPNext, which makes it easier.

  • …however, while Frappe has mostly contributed to the source code, definitely non-Frappe employees contributed too. So they cannot claim 100% authorship.

The GPLv3 license has been around 13-14 years. During this time, legal battles have been infrequent and small. Most of these are settled out-of-court. There has never been a huge, international court case where GPLv3 was debated. Only very-recently, in 2017, did California courts issue a ruling, stating that GPLv3 is an enforceable-contract. Which is great. But California is just one piece, of one country, on a planet with 250 countries.

Conclusions:

  • Can Frappe change the current ERPNext license? No.

  • Could Frappe cease work on ERPNext, launch a spinoff, open-core project, and apply a different license to that work? Definitely maybe, perhaps.

  • Do I personally believe they’ll attempt that anytime soon? No.

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You had a reply from the master himself @rmehta.
I understand your observations, concerns and confusion.
The current situation is the result of a 10 years quest of the 4 Erpnext core members to be religiously open source but also built a a financial viable company. A process of trial and error, a winding road, where remnants are seen by newcomers but difficult to understand

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  • Yea, I really appreciate the determination of the core team in the past about open source. That must be an inner sense of determination.

  • However we’re not living in a bubble, but live in reality. Whenever an investor brings in money, he wants to gain profit, that’s the very nature of investment and there’s nothing bad about it. An investor gains some level of control, more or less depending on contract and the kind of investor. That means things are not necessarily the same in the future, despite of the best intentions of the core team.

All of this is understandable and nothing bad about it. We’ve seen many foss projects switched to other models. Again, nothing bad about it. But on the other hand, it’s good to have clarity. The question is, where does the journey go. Of course open source code stays open source, however, without a leading party, like Frappe in this case, the practical value of the code itself shrinks, because a small consulting firm will likely not be able to maintain such a project.
Therefor, from my perspective it’s good to play with open cards when it comes to future licensing models.

Again, honering the determination of the core team in the past, but the future can look different due to reasons mentioned above.
However after re-reading @rmehta response, I am convinced that ERPNext will stay as a FOSS project.

Thank you for all contributions made by the team of Frappe.

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frappe.io/marketplace - Free platform to publish items and get discovered by users on the marketplace
frappecloud.com/marketplace - One-Click Apps for your Frappe Sites
are two different projects.