WooThemes forks Jigoshop into WooCommerce, launches WooLabs

71 Comments

Adii Pienaar announced earlier this afternoon that WooThemes has hired Mike Jolley and Jay Koster, and will be forking the Jigoshop e-commerce plugin (which we’ve covered) to become WooCommerce, their long awaited e-commerce offering.

WooThemes worked in collaboration with Jolley and Koster in the past to release FaultPress and SupportPress, two themes designed for tracking bugs and support tickets. Jolley and Koster will now head up a new division within WooThemes called WooLabs, where new services and products will be dreamed up. As Pienaar described:

Jay & Mike will head up this team and they will be contributing some of their agility in rolling out things on a more regular basis, whilst the rest of the WooTeam continues to design, develop & support new themes. They will also continue their development of some new application / niche themes and the next theme (only Pipeline for now) is already in the works.

Miniraffe will be one of the first WooLabs projects, as WooThemes has acquired it and will use it to release plugins in the future. Miniraffe was teased not long ago by Pienaar, and we previewed it before it launched.

Jolley and Koster will be working on WooCommerce, which is sleighed for released in September. The announcement also mentioned a new employee named Scott who will assist with theme support in their forums.

Jolly and Koster developed Jigoshop for their previous employer, Jigowatt. They are now leaving Jigowatt to join WooThemes and continue development of the plugin under its new (forked) title, WooCommerce.

Have you used Jigoshop in the past? What do you think of WooThemes forking it and continuing development on it as WooCommerce?

71 thoughts on “WooThemes forks Jigoshop into WooCommerce, launches WooLabs

  1. Seems that the “right” thing to do would be to partner with jigoshop rather than fork their code and take their employees. Jigowatt had to pay 2 devs full time for a year to come up with the code.

    Doesn’t seem like the right move for Woo and not something that goes with the WordPress community.

    • On the WooThemes blog, Adii says that they both tried to buy the copyright to the codebase and tried to work on collaborating on a single codebase. That didn’t work out, so they hired the developers and are creating a Woo-focused fork.

      I understand that this is the sort of business move that doesn’t sit well with everyone, but frankly, this is how the world works. And if Mike and Jay decided that they would rather work at WooThemes, well, that’s their decision and good on them. JigoShop can stil merge back any of the new Woo features into their offering too. Plus, the overall business model for JigoWatt seems to be about selling services, themes and support around the plugin, whereas WooThemes already has the themes and the support built-in, they just want an in-house offering.

      I don’t necessarily see these as two directly competing ideals, though they certainly will compete. But for people that don’t want to rebuild a design or site with the WooFramework or want some other types of functionality, the original JigoShop still exists. Plus, it has plugins and child themes that can work with other commercial WordPress products.

      • This is how the real world works? Right. Because everyone else commits legal robbery, that makes it ok.

        I’m trying to remember the last time I tried to buy something, couldn’t come to terms and then just took it by force.

        Wait, most of us don’t do that. This isn’t a WP/GPL issue, its just fundamental decency.

    • Adii has had has feelers out there for a very long time. Adii was talking to us in Feb this year and also last year, before his other attempts in the e-Commerce space were thwarted, anyway, based on the promise of collaboration and gentlemans agreements, we were also investing in a WooCommerce collaboration. We poured quite a lot of time and money into this only to be told that they were going to acquire Jigo because it was something that they can brand – this is fair enough.

      That said it still didnt leave a nice taste in my mouth, I get the feeling, and have seen emails that suggest, while we were helping Adii’s developers, providing ideas and code, they were already talking to somebody else and had other ideas.

      And that my friends is what didnt feel very WordPress spirited to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am very fond of Mark and Adii, but Adii isnt a community man, he’s a business man, and more fool me for playing nice…

      • Well that doesn’t sound decent at all Dan. I’ve no major hang ups on the WooCommerce/Jigoshop move but wouldn’t like to think there was others been led up the garden path like that.

        • Adii seems to have completely fucked Jigoshop (and potentially Jigowatt as a whole) over on this one and my faith in WooThemes has rapidly diminished. Am I the only one here who knows how much paying two devs full time for a year costs? A financial blow like that could cripple a (presumably) small team like Jigowatt. I don’t even need an Ecommerce plugin for my site but I can’t just sit back and see this outrageous behaviour from WooThemes go unchallenged by the community.

          I’m shocked, WooThemes.

  2. I really don’t get the point in this here! Why can Jigoshop not be used by WooThemes? It would have been a win/win situation for both parties I believe. Still in early -but promising- stages, Jigoshop has already a competitor from its own roots. Okay, that is all open source, and I support that (open source in general!). For the general situation for the WordPress shop plugin scene a “single” Jigoshop version with more power would have been a lot better for the whole ecosystem. Now, to me it seems like driving with the handbrake on…
    Sorry, but these are my feelings with that.
    -Servus, Dave from Germany.

    • Someone else asked the same thing on the Woo blog. Adii’s response was this:

      “We wanted to exert significant control over the future direction of the core plugin to maximize the experience (and value thereof) for the WooCommunity.”

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing it.
    One thing lacking so far in the e-commerce plugins out there is a combination of great functionality, reasonable cost, and great support.
    Woo is known for great support, so booyah, more competition in the space from a serious player.
    I actually think it’s a cool thing that they offered positions to the two developers.
    Switching bosses isn’t a trivial thing, so I’m guessing they both think it’s a good thing for them.

  4. I don’t necessarily agree, of course I’m a little biased given I run the WP e-Commerce Plugin, but I also fundamentally believe WP e-Commerce (and maaaaaybe Shopp) are the only two Plugins even close to being retail ready in terms of their features. We get people all the time leaving their Cart66 shop or their Jigo / Woo shop because some pretty fundamental “commerce” features are lacking in both of those Plugins.

    Sure WP e-Commerce Plugin has had its issues over the years but now, at least feature wise it is waaaay ahead of the pack. We’re employing developers with core WP experience from all around the world, we’re refining and tweaking our software all the time, and we’re innovating in the theme space now too.

    Meanwhile these Plugins are years behind the ball, and not really very innovative, unless of course you call using Custom Post Types innovate, but that is hardly innovating, it is just best practice and something that we all do now.

    That said it does keep the space interesting – and I am now starting to liken it to the Premium Theme space ;)

    • I currently use Shopp. Its extremely easy to use and it just works. Before settling in with them I tried using WP e-Commerce and I just couldnt get the thing to work. There is no “Maybe” with Shopp in my case.

  5. It sounds like WooThemes were in talks with a bunch of WP-commerce plugin shops that they could piggy back on or develop with and in the end they went with Jay & Mike at JigoShop/JigoWatt.

    I hope it works out well for all companies involved and both Jigoshop and WooCommerce can bring a great ecommerce plugin to the WordPress community.

    It will be also great to see what the guys over at gravity will do with this niche.

  6. Hi,
    I’m part of the Jigoshop team, and wanted to respond to a few of the points raised as everyone else is coincidentally working hard on releasing the stable V1.0 version of Jigoshop.

    Jigoshop was released under the GPL V3 licence as it seemed the best way to make it a great eCommerce solution for WordPress, and because everyone at Jigowatt/Jigoshop believes that the market is big enough for everyone to work together – certainly we’ve got a huge amount of respect for Dan and the WP E-commerce project, and think that both solutions can sit alongside each other with mutual respect.

    As Adii has mentioned, and Christina has linked – there were offers of acquisition which weren’t suitable – not only has Jigowatt supported the work of a number of developers (not exclusively Mike and Jay) on Jigoshop, but also an acquisition involved assigning copyright, which would mean that in theory, any acquirer could assign any licence to future versions of the code base. As Jigoshop has over 14,000 downloads at the moment, everyone involved in the project wants to ensure that existing and future Jigoshop users always have access to the latest and best version of the code under the GPL licence, and we continue to be comitted to doing just that.

    With regards to Jigoshop, we’ve increased our internal design and development resource, in addition to the amazing collaborations that have come about from pursuing the open source route and releasing the code via GitHub. There are amazing implementations of the Jigoshop product already listed via the support forum, and the list of additional features and plugins is growing by the day – plus we’re already getting a lot of feedback from people who have the project up and running.

    Under the GPL licence, Woothemes are perfectly entitled to fork the Jigoshop code. The only shame is that it splits the developer and consumer support which makes for a better core product for everyone.

    • It’s really refreshing to see such a measured, mature and professional reaction from you Dan. It’s telling, to me, that the people with pitch forks are those that aren’t even directly impacted by the happenings.

      I think you make an excellent point about splitting the developer community. Indeed, that is the real shame of the whole thing.

      Of course, in an ideal world, there could be some sort of Debian/Ubuntu relationship where even though the two projects have very different ideals and focus points, software or plugins that work with one will almost always worth with the other. It’s not uncommon for the same individuals to be major contributors or core members of both Ubuntu and Debian.

      Or, to use a non-Linux example — WebKit. It’s Apple’s product and most of the paid contributors to the project are employed by Apple, but others (namely Google) are heavily involved too. In fact, Google now has far more users using Chrome for Mac and Windows than Apple does with Safari. The ways that WebKit is used by both companies (as well as any other company or developer that uses WebKit) is of couse, different, and Google tends to release updated versions and tweaks on the desktop side (not as much on the mobile side) more frequently than Apple. Still, you can almost guarantee that a page will render in Chrome the same as it does in Safari and vice versa.

      In fact, two of the main WebKit gurus for Apple and Google respectively, used to work together on a project called Camino (which used Mozilla’s Gecko rendering engine to develop a native web browser for Mac years and years before Firefox 3 finally offered native (mostly) support).

  7. I personally have used WP Commerce and must say i find it incredibly complex on the configurable products scene. Jigo has some of the best code base i have seen in WP. Im all for a fork, although i do not agree with making it commercial entity… not so fair to eat another companies code and sell it on. Saying this if they can show me some decent functionality i will use it with my clients.

  8. @Andrew – Curious what you mean by it being too complex? I’ve found it quite easy to use and develop on top of. Definitely not a Jigo-hater here, I think it’s one of the better competitors out there to WP E-Commerce, and I agree with your main premise of it being unfair to fork a free product and use it in a commercial application, but WPEC and Jigo really share much more commonalities than differences.

  9. interesting….

    So… Ecommerce is fubar whether it’s in WordPress or standalone – ecomm has always sucked. That said, I’ve used everything on WP and lately jigoshop was a breathe of fresh air for once – was about to build a plugin for it for a client but now i’m holding off.

    Lets talk about Woo for a min… I don’t want to bash here but I am allowed an opinion. Woo over builds admin areas and makes bloated stuff. Lots of js and shiny stuff but bloated is the perfect word for it. Building an ecomm script/plugin/standalone from scratch is super hard, which is why they all suck and which is why Woo failed to make their own. So when somebody finally built something that we could actually build off of – they just threw their money at them and hired them. Good biz move probably because you know the plugin is going paid only. Ethically…. it’s kind of a dick move.

    Jigowatt is KIA – only thing they can do at this point (and they should!) is take whatever Woo builds and integrate it into jigoshop but keep it free. Just cause.

    Overall… I think it’s a dick move. To outsiders and users in the WP community it causes yet more confusion as to which solution to choose and probably looks bad on WP community that the big guys throw their weight around for commercial gain. I mean that’s business… dog eat dog I mean… but WP community, for the most part… pearso…. is very cool about the GPL and supporting of good products… not hijacking it for their own gain.

    It’s a tough call but I’m not thrilled Woo is controlling it. I’d pay for a good solution (see gravity forms) but if it follows the typical Woo overbloating they do… I’m out.

    • As stated in Adii’s post, WooCommerce will be open source and Jigoshop will be fully entitled to backward engineer our new code if they choose to do so. There’s no reason the two plugins cannot thrive simultaneously. Heck, there are already half a dozen other ecommerce plugins around which successful businesses revolve. More competition can only be a good thing for the community at large.

      • Not if you’re splitting the developer base.
        Especially not when you’re abusing a system that was created to stop dying products’ source code from going to waste.

        • Both products can (and no doubt will) share code and continue to be developed publicly on GitHub. 2 people from thousands of WordPress developers is hardly ‘splitting the developer base’.

          • For products like these, competition is irrelevant as the construction of new features is handled primarily by third party developers. As I understand it, this new WooCommerce thing is going to reduce the amount of available features for each product so you’ll have to make sacrifices depending on which eCommerce solution you pick. You’ll have some features available as extensions on WooCommerce and not JigoShop with other features available on JigoShop that are not available on WooCommerce. As a developer myself, I feel that you’re being a nuisance to WP eCommerce and making a mockery of open source development.

          • As a developer it will be very easy for you to cherry pick the features you need as you see fit.

            As a developer you should also appreciate the amount of thought and consideration which went into making our decision. Of course, it’s much easier to sit on a high seat and cry foul from afar.

          • As I explained in my previous post, you won’t be able to cherry pick as some developer may choose not to sell their extension on a particular eCommerce solution while selling it on others.

            Oh and James, please. I don’t think your ethical footing is strong enough for you to be so self-righteous.

          • I never claimed it to be. I am well aware that my decision will ruffle feathers. But (while I appreciate it’ll never be the case,) I wish people would reserve judgement when they don’t have a full knowledge of the situation.

          • So you’re acknowledging that what you did (and are continuing to do intentionally) is upsetting a significant amount of people, including members of the WordPress community?

            The public has both sides of the story now, if there was anything you left out, that’s your fault.

          • I’m acknowledging you’re trying to put words in my mouth unfairly. I shan’t be commenting on this post going forwards. Have a nice day! :-)

  10. I’m going to post this here because this is an outrage.

    I’ve just had all of my comments (which were unbiased and non-offensive) removed by WooThemes. They have also revoked my right to post on their site.

    Not only are these guys simply flipping off good, honest open source development, they are also controlling what news people hear and twisting facts to make them seem pure.

    Here’s a link to the article, l’d advise you all to check if your own comments have been deleted.

    • Not precisely. Not in spirit, at least. While WordPress did fork b2, it was because that project had stagnated, nothing was happening with it. MIke Little and Matt Mullenweg were incredibly gracious in their approach to Michel. They never strong-armed him, and they certainly never forked it calling it open-source, but making it dependent on things you have to pay for. They forked it and Michel responded graciously by naming WordPress the official successor to b2.

      In contrast, after reading everyone’s perspective, Adii and the WooTeam have been less than integrous in their approach to Jigowatt, strong-arming the situation, ‘wooing’ their developers away (pardon the pun) and fracturing the Jigo userbase.

      So, no, not the same thing at all. WordPress did it right, which is why we have this great community today. WooThemes is doing it completely wrong.

  11. Wait… weren’t people pissed at WPMUDev when they took some code from Yoast’s GPL’d SEO plugin and cried out how horrible it was. But then when WooThemes takes/forks someone else’s code, its all okay in the same people’s eyes.

  12. I have to say that Adii Pienaar (of Woo Themes) was completely supportive when I forked a bit of their Woo Framework in order to build out the Options Framework plugin. Since then I’ve put hundreds of hours into the project- developing it into something original with a different user base, UI and feature set. I have a feeling WooThemes will do the same with Jigoshop.

    Forking a project just to rename it and release it as your own wouldn’t be right. But forking a project in order to innovate on it and make something unique will ultimately benefit the entire community.

    • I agree on that!
      But what I read so far in the whole discussion (not only here also at a few other blogs), the Woo team just dublicates the same strategy that Jigoshop began with: releasing a free core, and the put out some premium extensions – and of course some themes etc. That’s ok, they could have done that also with Jigoshop itself.
      The problem for me is, just to re-brand it, make a few optical changes (by now, judged by their screenshots) – it’s only for the Woo-Community. The WP community or so doesn’t seem to matter for Woo. I don’t believe they will put out some proper stuff that e.g. will fit online shop laws in the E.U. or countries like Germany for example. — Jigoshop staff is already working on that issues which are really not trivial but matter to millions of potentially users/customers! — Woo now has to duplicate all that stuff if they really want to have a chance in globally perspective…
      At the end, why all this hard work only to have the chance to stamp their Woo logo on it? OMG that is a bit heavy for me…

      I am a supporter of Jigoshop since end of May and already contributed via GitHub and other channels! I will do so even more as of these things going on! As far as I see the Jigo staff team really wants the input from the community – as with Woo I have my serious concerns about that they seem only need some stuff for making it a bit of “Wooish” on the outside and don’t care of the rest…

      • But isn’t the fact that Woo has their own goals and ideas for the project EXACTLY why the project should be forked?

        Look — the reality is, even with the best of intentions, if Woo is going to be making their own customizations and changes to Jigoshop, they are going to have to create their own branch in Git. It’s just how it works. There is nothing that will stop Jigowatt or anyone else from merging those changes back into Jigoshop or into another e-commerce plugin.

        It makes total sense that Woo wants to have their own direction and their own spin on this — they were working on an in-house e-commerce solution for their customers and failed at past attempts. This time, they have people with expertise in-house and aren’t out-sourcing the code. That’s no different from what happens with major open source projects every day. Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian (it’s not a true “fork” but there are enough differences that make it a separate product). Chrome is based on WebKit but isn’t the same as Safari.

        The fact that they hired two employees that they’ve collaborated with before who used to work on Jigoshop might piss some people off, but frankly, those people need to grow up. That’s life/business. Those developers will now be contributing to Woo’s vision for the Woo community, but that doesn’t mean that work can’t be used by others. Likewise, Jigowatt still has its own team and volunteers who can contribute to its own project.

        As I see it, Woo has valid reasons for wanting to make their own customized, customer-focused version of Jigoshop. That’s why they are forking the project — and I fail to see how this does anything to hurt the so-called WordPress community. Woo wants to develop a solution for its customer base, not for Jigoshop’s customer base. I don’t see a problem with that.

        • To make it clear: I have NOTHING against forking! I am a true believer in open source – that’s why all my computers run on Ubuntu Linux! Forking belongs to the Linux community!
          I just don’t like how Woo has handled all that situation. And all that for the fact of just a “little” re-branding…
          When Mike and James were still at Jigowatt I had the chance to get in contact with them – and these guys are two of the most friendly and cool people around in WordPress ecosystem… I wish them all the best!
          From a company’s view I can understand Woo’s handling of that but for me it’s a bit bad taste and it was in early stages of heavy development and Jigoshop… So, that’s my point here.

          On a globally perspective, there are now WP e-commerce plugins out there yet that support the laws in various countries or even bigger areas like European Union – but this is required for successfully launching an online shop. We have a global economy. So, for me Jigoshop is the first promising attempt on that direction! This is something I WANT and CAN support and I know more and more people just understanding that fact! As you might have already guessed I don’t want support that Woo-Way – they can do what they want – IMHO it was just a bad move.

  13. Pingback: Lessons learned from the Jigoshop – WooCommerce fiasco « bradt.ca

  14. Hey Devin – great point – I had wondered how the Woo guys had felt about that – oh and excellent work with the Options framework :)

  15. How are they doing it wrong? They liked some code and saw that it could be used as the building blocks for something they wanted to offer for their customers — it’s open source, that means they can do that. They create their own branch of that product and because of open source, will contribute their changes back to the main project as a whole. Yes, they hired away two developers — but frankly, that decision was for Mike and Jay and Mike and Jay only. Your opinion or my opinion doesn’t matter in the slightest and if you think that it does, you need to get your head out of your ass.

    Here we have an actual example of open source being used in a way that it is supposed to be used and the WordPress community proves that once again, they don’t understand the so-called principles they believe in, because they shoot the messenger who does it.

    Does Jigowatt have the right to be upset? Absolutely! But it is what it is. The directions of the two plugins is different — that’s why there was a fork. They can be upset that someone else hired away two of their employees, but you know, that’s life. Shit happens.

    • Open source and forking – is really ok – as stated above – I am cool with that, really ok! And worked with a lot of other projects.

      For me that’s just not the whole piece – I read the discussion today here and there on a lot of blogs and sources – Woo wanted to sell out the whole Plugin/Company. And that went wrong for that… Now, they’re are trying what Jigoshop did all before: release a free core and sell premium extensions and themes around it. I can’t see any new direction in that beside some “logo change”… Don’t get me wrong here, I am curious how their direction will actually go, since I believe they will change things strongly here and there in the near future to be different than Jigo. That would be ok to make this story here seem old. And I hope this happens sooner than later, because then also Jigowatt/Jigoshop can concentrate 200% on their work and community and not being compared with Woo and vice versa.
      So, as said above I will keep supporting Jigoshop and hope that by the end of the year we have a usable solution fitting all requirements and laws. I am confident that this will happen.

  16. So let me get this right; there are people in this thread of comments who are upset that Woothemes made some calculated business moves, offered to buy a company, who turned them down, then used that company’s developers to build on top of an opensource platform that is freely available and ended up not paying the company they originally offered to buy because said company couldn’t retain their own developers who went to Woo to build an e-commerce module.

    Did I get that right?

    I think I did.

    It seems to me that the community here who have firm opinions have zero clue how to run a business. Opensource is great and it is just that, open to be sourced. Woo offered to make a deal and it was refused, the next best thing is to move in and get the job done.

    Well done to the guys at WooThemes for having the business acumen to pull off such a strategic play. Business is business, don’t mistake it for anything else, not even in an opensource environment.

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  18. Oh shush, Nick.

    I think the crux of the matter is that people really don’t like Adii, purely because of his arrogance.

    That coupled with the move that they made ignited a prepped fuse.

    Just my 2c

  19. Pingback: Sticking a Fork in Jigoshop | Chris Wallace | User experience designer and infamous WordPress developer.

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