Wednesday 9 January 2019

Commercial support for Joda and ThreeTen projects

The Java ecosystem is made up of many individuals, organisations and companies producing many different libraries. Some of the largest projects have long had support options where users of the project, typically corporates, can pay for an enhanced warranty, guaranteed approach to bug fixes and more.

Small projects, run by a single individual or a team, have been unable to offer this service, even if they wanted to. In addition, there is a more subtle problem. The amount a small project could charge is too low for a corporate to pay.

This sounds odd, but was brought home to me by this thread on twitter:

As the thread indicates, it is basically impossible for a corporate to gift money to a small project, and it is not viable for small projects to meaningfully offer a support contract.

The problem is that not paying the maintainers has negative consequences. Take the recent case where a developer handed his open source project on to another person, who then used it to steal bitcoins.

Pay the maintainers

I believe there is now a solution to the problem. Tidelift.

Tidelift offers companies a monthly subscription to support their open source usage. And they pay some of that income directly to the maintainers of the projects that the company uses.

Maintainers are expected to continue maintaining the project, follow a responsible disclosure process for security issues and check their licensing. Tidelift does not get to control the project roadmap, and maintainers do not have to provide an active helpdesk or consulting. See here for more details.

As such, I'm now offering commercial support for Joda-Time, Joda-Money, Joda-Beans, Joda-Convert, Joda-Collect, ThreeTen-Extra, ThreeTen-backport via the Tidelift subscription.

This is an extra option for those that want to support the maintainers of open source but haven't been able to find a way to do so until now. The Joda and ThreeTen projects will always be free and available under a permissive licence, so there is no need to worry as a result of this.

Comments welcome.


  1. Typo in the second last paragraph:
    "ThreeTen-backstop" should probably be "ThreeTen Backport" or "ThreeTen-backport". ;-)

  2. 2 years later, I wonder how this worked out for you. Do you still think this kind of approach can support open-source maintainers? Also, if you don't mind, I'd be glad to hear your opinion about GitHub Sponsors program.

    1. Tidelift has been a consistent useful additional income - $224 per month (that is pubilc info on their website). It has also been an incentive to continue to maintain these projects (eg. adding PRs to handle time-zone updates). I'm listed with GitHub sponsors but it hasn't brought any significant income. I would still recommend Tidelift to maintainers, especially those looking to maintain stable but essential libraries, just like Joda-Time.


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