WordPress developer Nick Haskins is hoping to revolutionize the way users publish content with Lasso, his commercial front-end editing plugin. Lasso is sold through his storefront and is also in use on Story.am, the hosted platform for Aesop Story Engine. Haskins recently made accounts on Story.am available for free in hopes of garnering more feedback on the Lasso editing experience.
As of today, Lasso is now available on GitHub for developers and users to test and offer feedback/contribution.
“This decision was several months in the making,” Haskins told the Tavern. “It included conversations with developers who have their commercially sold code publicly available, as well as A/B testing our presence to verify that the move would be both beneficial to the plugin, as well as the user base that it’s attracting.”
Making the code public is a calculated risk, which he hopes will not damage sales of the plugin but rather increase its visibility. Haskins recently published a financial transparency report on his 15 month old company, which indicates that Aesop Interactive is on track to double its revenue in 2015 based on numbers from January – April. Sales of the Lasso product totaled $4,408.36.
As the plugin is open source, you are free to use it anywhere, but Haskins notes that support will only be offered to customers:
If you have a suggestion, a bug report, or a patch for an issue, feel free to submit it here. We do ask, however, that if you are using the plugin on a live site that you please purchase a valid license from the website. We cannot provide support to anyone who does not hold a valid license key.
“I decided to make it public today after I was invited in to collaborate on another publicly available commercially sold plugin,” he said. “I just needed a final excuse, and that was it.”
Haskins is not the first developer to make a commercial WordPress product available on GitHub for contribution. Earlier this year, the folks behind GravityView decided to make their plugin public on GitHub after being inspired by a discussion between Matt Medeiros and Matt Mullenweg on ubiquity vs. scarcity as it relates to WordPress product businesses:
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.
This approach brings up the question of whether or not a commercial plugin developer can run a successful business while giving the code away for free on GitHub. A select few are finding that the benefits of community contribution and feedback outweigh the risk.
Haskin’s frontend editing plugin is a prime candidate to explore this approach, as this type of plugin was created for users of all technical skill levels. Customers interested in this functionality are less likely to be comfortable installing and updating plugins from GitHub. If you’ve been eager to try Lasso but couldn’t get past the $129 price tag, now is your opportunity to download the plugin and put it through the paces.