FAQ: Is Stagraph Open Source?

Published on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by Milos Gregor

Quite often I get the question of whether Stagraph is open source. The quick answer is - no. In the following text I would like to make a more detailed statement on this subject.

According to my opinion, the most important factor in the R project success is that it is released under the Open Source License. Whatever may contribute to its improvement and thus to its success. The GPL license will ensure that if you build your projects on this platform, they will not be threatened in the future by changing their licensing terms or ending its development / support. Thus, the success and durability of the R project will depend essentially on its users and maintainers.

Due to these roots, R quickly expanded into the university environment, from where quickly moved into the commercial practice where currently forms an important part of working framework for data science and data analytics. Suppliers of other tools in this segment have responded to this success by preparing their own R extensions or by integrating the R language into their solutions.

One of such extension is also Stagraph. The GPL license allows communication between GPL and non-GPL applications (shell - editor connection). Thanks to this option, I could create my own application with a different licensing policy. Overall, I’m supporter of the Open Source licenses. For my case, however, I could not use this type of license for Stagraph. I have to do for several reasons.

If we look at most of the long-term successful open source tools, we find them directly or indirectly financially supported. One example are open source tools created at universities. In this case, its development is paid by the university, where you develop it in a working time. Then the result "earn" by publications and citations. The second way is a commercial sponsor, where company paid its development and subsequently get the money for example by providing support.

In my case, I build Stagraph in my free time (evenings and weekends) out of work. However, this can not be done for a long time if you have a family. My goal is to make from this project a full-time job. As long as I know that I’m not a "businessman" that is able to commercialize the support, I decided to release Stagraph under a paid license. this license has been split into a base Free version and a paid Professional version.

If Stagraph succeeds, I will be able to do it for full-time. At the same time, if someone pays a Professional license, I will have the clear sign that I creating something that has a certain value. In the case of a free / open source licenses, it is sometimes difficult to know whether your work success only because it is provided free of chage. This has taught me some previous projects.

In the future, however, I do not prevent to the change if I find another long-term sustainable model. Overall, I have already given a promise that if I stop the Stagraph development, I release it under an open source license. Anyone will be able to continue.

Today, this model allows me to work on Stagraph in a small and response fast to news, new ideas and users requirements. In my head, I have a vision of a tool that will make it possible to effectively use the R project features and benefits in the case that the command line is for you a complication rather than an advantage. I want to create an application as a "platform" that you automatically start if you want to work with data - edit, combine, statistically process and visually explore. I want to work on an application that will use people whose natural interface is not a command line but rather spreadsheet and people wanting to be more efficient, faster and with reproducible analysis / results.