Jitterbit: user-driven integration, in-house Web 2.0, and another way to build a business on free software

by Andy Oram


Both I and the heads of Jitterbit battled torrential rains and the maze of Cambridge streets to make it to an early morning
meeting. It was well worth it. From this young company I learned a new way consultants and businesses might be able to make a living from open source. Furthermore, I saw an interesting play on the Web 2.0 concept--not for the customary mash-ups between different organizations' offerings, but to integrate different backends within a single enterprise.


3 Comments

Scott Carpenter
2006-09-09 22:18:21
Jitterbit looks interesting, but doesn't appear to be free. Maybe this is a change since this article first appeared, but their license is the Jitterbit Public License. It's based on the MPL 1.1, but if you look here:


http://www.jitterbit.com/Product/licensefaq.php


It sounds less than free. First part ok, but then it starts going awry:



What am I not allowed to do with the code?


1. Restrict access to derived works - if you write code modifications they must be freely available to the community.
2. Remove copyright notices from the source code
3. Remove mentions of Jitterbit from the product/code


Can I sell new Integration modules that I create?
Only if your module contains no modified source code. In other words, your module must add new source files to the Jitterbit product without modifying any original file in the licensed-source code. This includes:


* Any code modifications
* Including bug fixes.
* Adding or removing fields.
* Modifying API's.
* Modifying existing code to add a new API.


Do I own the copyright to code I write?
Yes. You own the copyright to any code that you write, whether derived or original However, if you modify code covered by the JPL (i.e. create a derived work), your code is subject to the same grants and restrictions of the JPL license. Despite your copyright, you can not sell derived code and must make it publicly available.

Ilan Sehayek
2006-09-17 19:04:21
Scott, your initial statement is wrong and we would very much appreciate to know how you came to the conclusion that Jitterbit is not free? If you look at the site http://jitterbit.com/Product/editions.php the Community edition is explicitly priced as free. Furthermore, the Jitterbit Community edition is the same software as the Jitterbit Professional Edition. As you can see, the only differences pertain to a commercial license that provides commercial support.


Users can get to the free product through http://jitterbit.com/Product/download.php or they can go directly to Source Forge http://sourceforge.net/projects/jitterbit. The Jitterbit development team continues to have one code base with a Community (free) license and a Professional (commercially supported) license. There are no plans to change this strategy. Jitterbit Professional Edition users also download their code from Source Forge.


With regards to the license and its interpretation you are spot on. We publish the license at http://jitterbit.com/Product/license.php and provide common Q&A about it at http://jitterbit.com/Product/licensefaq.php.


Developers that make significant contributions e.g. adding a new protocols or new services, should conform to the architecture of the product and provide those in separate program files (classes) as does the Jitterbit development team. Significant contributions can be sold and copyright applied. Furthermore, system integrators have already created Jitterpaks (pre-defined integrations in Jitterbit XML meta data) and use this to augment their service offerings. Nothing prevents them from copyright and reselling their Jitterpaks. Other developers have created their own installation of Jitterbit on platforms like SuSE - once again, nothing prevents them from copyright and reselling their work.


When developers go to the effort of fixing bugs or making minor modifications to the Jitterbit code, then they are already realizing value from Jitterbit. In such a case we feel it appropriate that these works be contributed back to the community.


Thanks for your feedback.
Ilan Sehayek, CTO Jitterbit Inc. (ilan.sehayek@jitterbit.com)

Scott Carpenter
2006-09-19 15:10:19
Hi, Ilan. Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the chance to discuss and understand better.


When I said Jitterbit doesn't appear to be free, I meant free as in meeting the free software definition. To me this is the most important point and the price is not an issue. From my reading on the subject, it seems the question of whether a license is free or not is if it satisfies the definition of free software. I don't think software can be considered free if you place restrictions on the reselling of it.


You mention above that significant contributions can be sold, but the FAQ that I quoted says that a module you sell must contain no modified source code -- that is, you must add new files and not modify any original files. And then even more explicitly, "if you modify code covered by the JPL [...] Despite your copyright, you can not sell derived code". This sounds like a restriction that puts the license at variance with free software.


I agree that bug fixes and changes should be shared and contributed back to the community, but this would still be accomplished if people sold their modified code, since this code would be covered by the same license and could be used by all.


I believe in the model of free software with paid support where people or companies are willing to pay for it. Large companies especially want to have someone on the hook for support and are willing to pay. I haven't looked at what Jitterbit can do yet, but if it is software that I might use, the freedom of the license is a key point. Jitterbit Inc. is here today to provide support and I think would have to be the preferred vendor, but a company that is looking to use free/open source software to avoid vendor lock-in wouldn't be gaining that advantage if the core source code is encumbered.


I haven't read the actual license -- I'm only going by the FAQ -- so maybe it's not my place to be speculating and commenting. But the FAQ seems very clear.


Again, thanks for your response. I'm glad we're starting to see free/open source software in the integration area. I don't mean at all to run Jitterbit down -- I'm just trying to understand if it qualifies as free software or just open source.