After 2 years and over 200,000 downloads, we’re turning WPML into a commercial plugin. I know this may not be the most popular move, but I can promise that the long-term results would be great for everyone.

The Numbers

We’ll be offering two versions:

  • Multilingual Blog – $29 USD
  • Multilingual CMS – $79 USD

The blog version will be fine for most blogs. It includes the standard translation controls you’re used to in WPML.

The CMS version includes the Translation Management and Strings Translation packages, which are typically used for larger sites.

Each purchase will come with one year of support and updates. After that one year, you can get additional support and update years for 50%.

The Big Difference

We thought that it would be appropriate to improve WPML, in return to asking for payment.

Instead of one developer, there are now three working on the project – full time.

The results, so far, are:

  • 17 critical bugs fixed.
  • 3 security holes closed.
  • 231 PHP warnings and notices fixed (try running WPML with WP_DEBUG to see for yourself).
  • 43 code optimizations, reducing memory consumption by nearly 50%.
  • 19 SQL query optimizations, reducing DB access by up to 90%.
  • 5 usability improvements, to help site admins find what they’re looking for faster.
  • 3 new features that we still managed to slide in.

This is the beginning. Next, we’re planning new features which have been on hold for too long already:

  • New (working) version of BuddyPress Multilingual.
  • Support for e-commerce plugins like Shopp and WPEC, without waiting for anything from anyone else.
  • Better interoperability with major caching and SEO plugins.
  • Interface for industry-standard translation software (Trados and the likes).

Premium Support

Just like most of you, we’re developers ourselves and we use tools that others have built. The thing that we suffer from most is slow support for stuff we rely on.

As we turn WPML into a commercial product, we’re bumping up the support. WPML forum is getting a major face-lift. We’ll be answering every thread and making sure that nothing is left to chance.

Some technical improvements to the forum will include the ability to subscribe to threads for email notifications, and an indication for the length of the support queue.

You can Still Use the Free Version

The current free version of WPML, on wp.org, is going to remain there.

If you’re happy with it, you can keep using it for as long as you like. Heck, we’re still running with it on our own sites.

Free For…

All current ICanLocalize translation and support clients don’t need to pay to get WPML. It’s included.

We will also give free access to non profits and theme and plugin developers.

Launch Date

Our new site, with the purchase mechanism will be live shortly. As I’m writing these lines, our folks are checking and double checking everything. We’re down to the very last issues and hope to release in a few days.

All these upgrades and payments and nasty stuff are up to you to choose. If you want to get the newer versions and enjoy premium support, you’re welcome to purchase. Otherwise, what you have is just fine.

76 Responses to “WPML is Becoming a Commercial Product”

  1. Hi,

    I’m using your plugin for the first time and i’m really not surprise that you want to turn it into something commercial as you did a fantastic job on this plugin.

    My only concern is that the customization of the language selector is very limited for non programmer. Do you plan to do something more easily customizable in the paid version ?

    Thanks again for this great plugin !

  2. What kind of customizations do you have in mind?

    Currently, you can insert a drop-down language switcher and footer language list. In each, you can determine how to display language names and if country flags are used. You can choose the colors for each element and there’s a language picker to make it easier.

    Additionally, you can specify the full CSS of the language switcher. What other customizations would you like to see?

  3. Hi, Thanks for your answer !

    In my specific case, I want to have only the flags aligned in the header. Not a drop down menu.

    I’ve found information on how to do it in the forum, but as I’m not a programmer, I couldn’t do it.

    Is it a big deal for you to add this customisation in the plugin as it’s quiet similar to the one for the footer but without languages name ?

    Maybe you can add a “shortcode” like you did for the dropdown list in the plugin ?

    Thanks !

  4. There’s a page that explains how to build your own custom language switchers:

    It’s full of sample code and explanations and takes very little PHP skills to follow.

    There’s even an example of Language selector with flags only which is exactly what you’re looking to do. You can just copy the code from that example and use in your theme.

    The reason we’re not adding it to WPML’s code is because you still need to insert it somewhere in your theme’s code. The built-in language switchers go nicely in the widget areas and footer. Any other language switcher needs to be manually added to the theme’s code (as I’m sure there’s no widget space in your theme’s header).

  5. Hi, great move I totally agree with the 79 $ price which as you say is completely affordable for professional websites

    My question is the following : I started development with wpml 2.0.4 , will the commercial version allow smooth upgrading ?

  6. Yes. The new versions would be 100% compatible with previous version.

    In this first round of changes, which we’re completing now, you will see few noticeable changes.

    Almost everything looks and works the same. The difference is in stability and performance. We’ve fixed hundreds of issues and streamlined the code.

    Next, we’ll be concentrating on better interoperability. This too will be completely backward compatible. The major “new” feaure would be that things will just work better other large plugins, such as SEO, caching and e-commerce plugins.

  7. Today I am using your plug in for the very first time — I have activated it in WordPress 3.0.4 on a localhost WAMPP … I run the wizard and when I choose the language that I want to be enabled I find that the “next” button is disabled —– great start — so I head over to the forum which on first viewing looks a navigational tag soup –i use the search to find an answer which turns out to be many months old and talks about debugging mode but no one knows how to do it— i carry on and finally find someone who directs me to another page ..and so it goes on …. after an hour of messing about i wonder to myself “what is this? ” .. and then i read your blog here about paid support

    …. my suggestion is this –> charge for the plugin but invest in a better organised documentation/troubleshooting system (that does not depend on search)… at present it is far from ideal .. delete comments from years ago that are irrelevant, put some order into the forum / documentation so people do not have to waste time finding answers quickly … and you will find people will not need as much support because they can sort themselves out (“Supporting 25,000 users for free also causes a serious problem” – it does not need to ) and you will have more time for moving forward ..now i have to go and sign up to the forum and hopefully get past the first stage before the end of the day …

  8. “Yes. Same GPL license and same freedoms.”

    If it is GPL, it can be redistributed for free by anyone who gets a copy. Therefore, I look forward to continuing to download new versions from some other channel without payment to you.

  9. That’s right. And supported and maintained and everything else that comes with the territory.

    You can search and find pirated software for everything. When you do that, try to remember why someone would go into the trouble of providing you this “free” service. Think if you really want to install a hacked plugin on your server and the consequences it may have.

  10. “You can search and find pirated software for everything.”

    If the code is GPL, taking it from you and providing it at no cost to others is not “pirated software”. It’s the very point of the GPL. Why did you choose this license if you do not agree with its values?

    “When you do that, try to remember why someone would go into the trouble of providing you this ‘free’ service.”

    Typically when developers try to restrict GPL code and ask for money, other developers take up the code and provide it free, even fork it so that it continues to get improvements. As I said, that’s the very point of the license.

  11. Sounds like a good proposition. In practice, how will will upgrades be pushed to users? Will there be automatic updates via the plugins dashboard or will we have to download/upload/unzip the new files?

  12. The automatic plugin update will work the same as it does for free plugins from wp.org. The upgrade mechanism in WP has hooks which allow plugins to tell where updates should be fetched from.

    In order to receive those updates, you’ll need to enter your upgrade key. It’s a one-time step. Then, all updates come automatically.

    Of course, you can still download, upload and unzip.

  13. I totally support you. I am a freelance web maker (I use templates to make websites so I don’t call myself as a web designer) No matter which position ~ designer, web developer or programmer, they have their own “value of time”. When someone values US$1000 per min in their financial field (on one can blame them who charge their boss/clients high)…..when someone is willing to spent US$XXX for an iPhone to enjoy & play with but not willing to pay you guys’ effort/ time……how can they said, you guy value $0 per min ? The plugin is belongings to you guys. You have the rights to offer or quit offer, offer with $$$ or free to offer. The users also have their rights to use it or not, choose pay or not pay. This is a fair world with fair deal. No one can be forced to use your plugin. From now on, if I were you, I am going to quit this topic of argument, and take the valuable time to take care your clients who understand and are appreciated you guys effort.

  14. I have a simple question: If all these people commenting here are so willing to pay for something they got for free why they didn’t donate money to help you with the development?

  15. What you got for free you can still get for free.

    The commercial version, besides costing money is also going to include major improvements, which some people value as worth paying for.

  16. So I guess you’ll be changing the license away from the GPL then. What new license have you chosen?

  17. I never donated, because I was to lazy to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I am willing to donate to plugindevelopers, but I just never get to it.
    If I have to pay to get updates and support I’m being pushed (and I mean that in a positive way) to actually pay up.

  18. I don’t see the point of getting a dangerous hacked plugin when the authors are made clear that they are giving it for free if the website is not a commercial one. In turn, as commercial websites are making money, their owners do have money to pay for this important plugin. What’s the use to run the risk of downloading crap from other channels then? Some people behave strangely.

  19. Why do you think any further distribution would be “dangerous” and “hacked”? Have you not followed earlier chronicles of GPL forking?

    The simple fact of the matter is that the GPL allows and even encourages free redistribution to all users, regardless of whether they are going to use it for commercial reasons or not. As long as it remains under the GPL, the WPML developers cannot restrict further distribution and use of this plugin.

  20. I understand your point, but this is my reasoning: “Someone taking a commercial product, which is already free for non-commercial websites, and making it free for everybody… even if it is possible under the GPL license… why would he do that?”

    There would be “someone” like that, surely, if the authors charged everybody (both free and commercial websites), but this is NOT the case. Commercial websites “can” pay for the plugin because they are making money with their websites. If they cannot even get 21 bucks per year through their commercial websites, I wonder what they are doing with their business. Well, human beings are strange creatures, you know.

  21. Gabriel, thanks for trying to explain all this. I hope that I can help make it clearer.

    Much of our business revolves around support. Web developers use WordPress, plugins and theme frameworks to deliver working websites to their clients.

    All of these are components and the final product is the working website. These components must play together in order to be usable.

    When professional web developers build multilingual sites, they need our help. Sometimes, it’s just a question, sometimes, it’s to get WPML to work with other plugins and sometimes, it’s a missing feature that would make their lives easier.

    It’s just fine for anyone to take WPML’s code and redistribute it. It’s within the license in which we distribute WPML.

    The question is, not if it’s legitimate to redistribute the code, but where you actually want to get it from.

    If you’re getting a forked version, you should consider the support, bug-fixes and security issues that we’ve handled since it was forked and practically frozen.

    There isn’t a question of doing right or wrong. Everyone is free to do what he likes. When you find a forked version, ask yourself what motivates that person to maintain the fork and support you for free.

    Everyone’s time is worth something. If you’re not willing to pay the original authors for their time (which is just fine), try to think what the fork maintainer is doing in order to compensate himself for the time spent. Then, see if you want that code on your server.

    For informational purposes – it takes us 3 people working full time to maintain WPML right now. If we stop maintaining it, it’s going to be useless in a few months.

  22. Yes, I understand that, friend. I don’t think that there would be “someone” giving “for free” all you give. If there is someone like that, he is sure to be ill-intentioned or else a saint . That’s why I mentioned the word “dangerous” on my previous post.

  23. “If you’re getting a forked version, you should consider the support, bug-fixes and security issues that we’ve handled since it was forked and practically frozen.”

    As long as the product continues to be under the GPL, whatever bug-fixes and security issues you release can still be merged into any fork.

    Gabriel, people champion the GPL because they believe strongly in the software freedom it provides. Trying to ensure a project like WPML remains free to everyone, even commercial interests, is no more suspicious than big Free Software projects like Emacs or the Linux kernel.

      • While the GPL allows developers to charge for the software, it also allows anyone who gets a copy of the code to redistribute it to whomever he wishes.

      • Yes you are wrong. You cannot charge for GPL software, that would be against the law as you would break the license terms. You also cannot change the license without completely rewriting the code. Not just changing something and not just adding features you have to write everything form scratch. You cannot use any part of the original code.

        What you can do is charge for translations and you can charge for support. Heck you could even charge for the download. But be aware that anyone that will get the code can distribute the code and don’t even have to consult you.

        That is GPL. See also Selling Free Software.

        • Gabriel, you are right.
          Christopher Culver, you are also right.
          Nux, you just confused things.

          1) You can charge for GPL software.
          The link you provided says it is fine to charge for GPL software.

          2) You cannot change the license of already GPL’d code.
          But you CAN re-license the code IF you are the copyright holder.

          3) Yes the GPL does allow you to redistribute GPL’d code (either gratis or for a fee) that you have paid someone else for.


          • 1) You can charge for GPL software.
            The link you provided says it is fine to charge for GPL software.

            But not for the software itself – you can only charge for distribution. The page says it explicitly. But maybe it’s just a matter of wording.

            2) You cannot change the license of already GPL’d code.
            But you CAN re-license the code IF you are the copyright holder.

            That is correct. You have to be the only coder though. If someone submitted patches under the GPL, then this would be a problem.

  24. Not like this.

    Making many thousands of people ‘dependent’ on your free product and then suddenly asking for money if you want to keep it secure is not right. I must say i feel betrayed.

    It is not that I do not appreciate your product and that I don’t think you deserve to get paid for a good product, but this ‘forced upgrade’ from free to paid is a bad model.

    A trial period would have been more apporpriate, nowadays users expect free products to stay free. I feel forced to pay for the upgrade because I want my blog to be secure, but I will do it very unwillingly. My goodwill towards your company is at zero after this. I will keep my eyes open for a competing product.

    • We issued a security update for the free download from WP.org. It’s WPML This closes the security issues that we found when working on the commercial version.

      You are not forced to upgrade and pay us. The current free version does not contain security issues that we are aware of. It works fine on WordPress 3.0.5, which is the version that existed at the time we wrote that version.

      If you with to use WPML on WordPress 3.1, you can buy the commercial versions or manage with the free source code you get on WP.org and make the required changes yourself. It took us over a month to do these changes and you’re welcome to do them. The code is open.

      You shouldn’t purchase anything that you’re not happy with. This includes WPML. There are always options, ranging from other multilingual plugins to doing several independent WordPress installs. We believe that the value that WPML provides is worth its cost. If you think otherwise, it’s better to use something else.

      • Thanks for the clarification. It is not the product I’m not happy with, just the feeling you get when something you tought was free ceases to be free (yes I know that I can continute to use the current version for free, but what about when WP comes out with new versions in the future and I need to upgrade?). Maybe I overreacted, but people don’t like when you give and then take away, figuratively speaking. On the other hand, people usually don’t appreciate all the hard work and countless hours that went in to a product, if it’s free. I must say that I was very annoyed when I suddenly found that I could not read the support forums user postings anymore. This was the point that I tried to make: If you take away something that you’ve given, it will dissapoint people.

        I don’t know, maybe I’m the only user who feels like this?

        • About a week before we turned WPML into a commercial plugin we created accounts for all existing forum users, so that they continue to have forum access without having to pay anything. If you had a forum account before, you should have gotten that email too. It might be in your SPAM folder. If you’ve lost it, you can use the password recovery link in the login page.

          We’re doing our best to justify the trust that people are giving us when they now pay for WPML. Instead of one developer, there are three. Development is going at a much higher pace and there’s an organized QA process before any release. We keep the number of known bugs to zero and work closely with other major plugin authors (example) and theme developers to ensure the best compatibility possible. All this was made possible because of WPML sales.

          • Well, but the main concern is… why did you deleted the old plugin from wordpress? whay did it upgrades when wp is 3.1 and broke the thing? i think that you are forcing me to buy it, cause an already upgraded wp to 3.1 is not easily downgraded… and, what about the concerns on the GPL code? didn’t you got patches from other coders around the world? they’re by definition the copyright holders of each contribution and they give that to you under GPL terms and if you used just a single line of the contributions in the new commercial version you are enforced to release it still in GPL… i guess you know the GPL license well enough…

            • We didn’t delete the old plugin from the WP plugins repository. We received an email a couple of days ago, saying that they decided to remove it. I have no ideas why. We did push out security updates to that older version, but we didn’t add new functionality to it.

              The WP plugins repository runs by its own rules. We don’t determine them, we don’t know them and we have nobody to contact. It doesn’t really help replying to those notification emails. Have you ever seen a ‘contact us’ page in the WP plugins repository?

              Since WPML was removed from WP.org, our sales didn’t change at all. People who look for free and old code don’t consider paying for it and people who need stable and reliable code are not looking for free and outdated alternatives.

              GPL doesn’t mean that we need to provide free downloads from our site.