WordPress, React, and The Future

On September 14, Matt Mullenweg announced that WordPress was rethinking its use of the React.js library due to Facebook’s clarification on its patents.

The short story: Facebook released React under a modified “open-source-ish” license (called BSD+Patents) that allow them to judiciously revoke the patent if a service violates the terms of service (specifically, if they use React to build a system that would compete with Facebook).  In doing so, the Apache Foundation has condemned the license and placed it in their “category X” group – disallowed for use on Apache projects.

With over 25% of the web powered by WordPress, Matt Mullenweg states, ‘having them all inherit the patents clause isn’t something I’m comfortable with’.

At the end of the day, a large company like WordPress shunning a software package would normally be a death knell, but it’s basically putting two Internet superpowers against each other. I know personally I’ve been trying to decide on a JavaScript framework to branch into, and this has caused me to have pause with regards to React.js.

I think that this is a great time for WordPress/Automattic to do what they’ve done with projects in the past: create a brand new (or purchase the rights to an existing) framework library, rebrand/revitalize it, and license it the same way they’ve licensed WordPress products in the past.  With WordPress’ front-end quickly being excised from its back-end system, this could be just the push needed to create something that would do for JavaScript frameworks what WordPress did for blogging: revolutionize it.


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