GravityView is Now Public on GitHub

gravity-view

Six months ago, Zack Katz and Luis Godinho launched GravityView, an app based on the popular Gravity Forms plugin. It uses the Gravity Forms API to display unique views of form data and entries on the frontend of WordPress.

The main GravityView plugin is now public on GitHub for anyone to access for free. The plugin’s repository was previously private and the code accessible only to GravityView’s paid customers, but co-founder Zack Katz recently decided to go another direction with the project.

Katz told the Tavern that he was inspired by a discussion between Matt Medeiros and Matt Mullenweg on ubiquity vs. scarcity in WordPress product businesses. Medeiros asked Mullenweg if he could offer any advice to WordPress startups that are looking to create a new product in this crowded space. Mullenweg replied:

The one pattern I see most right now that I think is not sustainable is, and it’s because it’s the easiest thing to do, is businesses that are built on a scarcity – the thing not being widely available. If you think about some of the coolest successes so far in WordPress, the Gravity Forms, some of the theme businesses, they are inherently predicated on the fact that you have to pay to access them.

I’ve always been a fan of businesses that grow with ubiquity, that become more powerful the more ubiquitous they are, more valuable. WordPress itself is one of these. Akismet is one of these. Jetpack is certainly one of those.

So if you think about turning that on its head, I think that’s what will create the sort of multi-generational businesses in the WordPress ecosystem. Even with themes, we’ve seen that themes are very cyclical. People who used to make the majority of their money from themes, like WooThemes, are now finding it’s an ever-decreasing percentage. You hear this across almost all the theme shops.

This advice runs counter to the way many WordPress product businesses have structured their revenue models. Rare exceptions like Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce, and other plugins where the base software is free, are shining examples where pushing for ubiquity instead of scarcity has truly paid off.

The founders behind GravityView are looking to find the same success within the Gravity Forms micro-ecosystem. With the base GravityView plugin now available for free on GitHub, the company’s pricing is now only applicable to support and extensions.

16 Comments


  1. You didn’t mention the music video on the plugin website! The start of a new trend? ;)

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  2. First AffiliateWP, then Tom McFarlin’s Mayer theme and now Gravity View. This is a fascinating trend emerging in the WordPress sphere, to say the least. It seems like with Gravity View there is less risk, since people who need their plugin have already purchased Gravity Forms (no free loaders) and they also have a number of extensions that require a license.

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  3. On release day, last year, I bought the highest license option of GravityView, now only 6 months later, all free.

    Do I feel screwed now? Yes, to some extent…!

    Ok, I still have access to all extensions. But I really wonder whether such spontaneous changes in the business model are really good in the end? I have my doubts here.

    You read an interview with Matt preaching his ideology and then you turn your business model the next day.

    Does that really reveal sustainable business models before or after the turn.

    I still have my doubts. Not all trends seem to be good.

    I totally get where Matt is coming from, but that doesn’t mean that he is always right. He follows his ideology and he’s a really smart and clever guy. However, his “attack” on Gravity Forms is unnecessary IMHO. The Gravity Forms guys know their business and if they ever will change their business model they won’t do it because of a Matt interview.

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    1. To reply to my own comment, regarding the part “of being screwed”:

      Today I received an email from the GravityView devs with background info how early adopters and paying customers are protected. In light of that information my above comment makes not much sense anymore.

      I won’t share the info here as I assume that the GravityView devs will do that themselves in the public.

      I still feel that spontaneous changes in the business model might be a high risk – still I’d like to be convinced from the opposite, of course! :-)

      Thanks, dave :)

      P.S. Of course I keep a customer of GravityView and will support the project.

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  4. I think there is a difference between placing your code on GitHub publicly and releasing it for free. Some of the examples in this very article are on GitHub but they still charge for the products and/or support. Just because you can access the product for free doesn’t make it a free product. If that makes any sense at all.

    Releasing on GitHub is more about allowing others to improve the product and submit issues. It allows the community who uses the product to also be engaged in the development of it.

    A perfect example is myself I think. I’ve been added to all kinds of repos for products that I use. I submit issues for bugs or improvements that I think can be made. I might even submit a pull request here or there for some of these improvements. At the end of the day though I still pay for each of these and renew annually. Technically they are free to me as I have full access. Philosophically they are of great value to me and so I continue to support the projects with my money through updated licenses.

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    1. Unfortunately, as the comment above has clearly pointed out, users don’t think like that. If it’s available on a public repository with a download button, how can one think that it’s not “free to download.”

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      1. (Thankfully) the upgrade path from GitHub is a PITA for most end users.

        But Nick has a good point. I’d love to hear tell of what happens to the ‘normal’ user (people for whom a pull request is as easy as replacing the motor in their garage door) when the free plugin from GitHub needs an update…

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      2. I’m not sure that’s completely fair. I’m a customer/user of AffiliateWP. They released that code publicly on GitHub. I purchased this product and continue to renew my licenses even though it’s publicly available for free. I am a user who absolutely sees no problem with that.

        I love it because I can easily submit issues and even fix things that I find may be broken. And if you aren’t a technical user the fact that it’s on GitHub won’t impact you in the least. Perhaps not all users will see it this way but that’s a calculated decision every business owner has made.

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      3. Presentation plays a big part. With Affiliate WP, it’s clearly stated on why it’s on Github. I just checked the GravityView plugin repo, and it doesn’t have a note stating that it’s premium.

        Is a note all it takes? Perhaps.

        Consider a piece of cake in a fridge with no note.

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      4. It is true that having a product open on Github is not exactly the same as giving the product away for free. In many cases, the code on the repository will not be identical to what is downloaded upon purchase as is the case with our premium plugin. Many repos contain unit tests, un-minified assets and other things that are processed and changed or removed when a deployment script is run for each release. That way the files downloaded at purchase are just the stripped down, production ready files and not the development tools.

        In addition, when leaving a repository open, it is simple to communicate to end users that there is no guarantee that this code base is safe to use on a live site. A tested, production ready code base can be obtained via purchase elsewhere. This can deter most people from attempting to skip the purchase and just use the code from Github. In addition, it is easy to make clear that use of the code on Github comes with no promise of support or updates or any other incentives provided where the product is for sale.

        In the end, I believe that most WordPress products are ridiculously cheap and most people are willing to pay the nominal fees in order to get a product that is stable, supported and updated.

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  5. It is different if something is free and somebody decide to support – pay for this than if somebody pay for product and then it becomes free. Sure for some customers can feel screwed (including me). I paid for product and now it changed to support (maybe I don’t want support?)
    Anyway I understand developer, this move its probably for this product much better for long term. Even if he screwed some current clients, he will catch more new clients …
    I am unsatisfied client at all with this plugin and way how developer play around it.

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  6. Also – it depends on the third party redux framework, a php encoder and one other library which isn’t included in the source code. They can all can be downloaded from the same github account though.

    I installed it to see if I need it, which is a nice option to have. Too often I’ve bought plugins that didn’t work as expected. I’ll be buying a license if I use this commercially.

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  7. If GravityView is open to public then it should be in WordPress.org NOT Github. It cannot be used in live site. If we need to test this plugin, we need to download and install Git submodules. I just omit this kind of stuff.

    I agree Kyle comment on this.

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