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Lawrence Eagles
Lawrence Eagles

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How a broken love relationship between PHP giants Wordpress & Facebook helped save react.js

Facebook's industry leading javascript library, react js, is no doubt a game changer in the world of front-end development. A ground breaking awesome product, track blazer that shipped with myriads of innovation; think JSX, component based approach, virtual DOM, mobile app development with react native, to name a few.

The simplicity, performance improvements and developer goodies brought by react were so ground breaking that it made its predecessors a story of the past, that developers are happy to forget.
The likes of Backbone.js, Knockout.js, Ember.js are now old stories, developer are willing to tell.

And Angular Js, react's single, biggest competitor, backed by IT giants google, was forced to do a complete rewrite, adopting reacts components based approach and mirroring several other best innovations from react, in other to stay relevant.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8507833

But despite all these react.js is still taking other the world:

However, with all of this react goodness; as it is with everything created by man, react has a glitch. No! Not in the library itself, but yes! In its licensing. This seems to be a major object of concern that may sometimes force developers, startup and companies to think twice before adopting the library into their technology stack.
This is so because Facebook chose to use a BSD-derived license that contained some troubling litigation issue.

I'm not a legal practitioner but if you where to consider the number of github issues raised on facebook's react.js licensing and do some reading on the react licensing, added with the the number of developer backlash on this issue already, I don't know about you bro, but my eyebrows are raised!

A good read on this issue: https://hackernoon.com/facebooks-bsd-patents-license-and-how-it-affects-you-66088e052845

Following the licensing one would have to double check to know if he is about to shoot himself in the foot or not, because react.js was looking, something like a diamond with a rotten core. Well that would be, if you manage to run into the licensing issue. But why the unnecessary risk?

Regardless of all the pressures, Facebook however has refused to change the BSD+Patents open source license used on react.js. Not even when a company in the caliber of apache, announced that Facebook's BSD+Patents open source license has been disallowed for inclusion with Apache products.
Facebook appeared nothing dauntless.

It is therefore a shockingly, happy moment when you read that Facebook has now agreed to re-license not only react.js but several other of its open source products. viz: Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js
https://code.facebook.com/posts/300798627056246/relicensing-react-jest-flow-and-immutable-js/

Wow! What could have moved this mountain?

I think of no other reason but the announcement of wordpress dropping react; not only on Gutenberg (their new project) but also on calypso (wordpress.com).
Curling from mat mullenweg's blog: https://ma.tt/

"I am surprised and excited to see the news that Facebook is going to drop the patent clause that I wrote about last week. They’ve announced that with React 16 the license will just be regular MIT with no patent addition."

And more after considering react's licensing:

"I'm here to say that the Gutenberg team is going to take a step back and rewrite Gutenberg using a different library. It will likely delay Gutenberg at least a few weeks, and may push the release into next year.
Automattic will also use whatever we choose for Gutenberg to rewrite Calypso – that will take a lot longer, and Automattic still has no issue with the patents clause, but the long-term consistency with core is worth more than a short-term hit to Automattic’s business from a rewrite. Core WordPress updates go out to over a quarter of all websites, having them all inherit the patents clause isn’t something I’m comfortable with."

For Facebook, wordpress adopting react.js for the wordpress.com dashboard named calypso is a big coup for react.js. Considering wordpress owns about 28% of the web right now, and the viral talk of wordpress adopting React js & Node.js fully; after successfully using in developing calypso, was beginning to become popular among JS developers, who would rather use twig to avoid writing that ugly PHP syntax, when developing with wordpress.

A collapse of the romance between these two PHP giants would have been too much for Facebook to handle. The loss of 27% of the web and the possibility of many other companies following suite, with Vue.js now playing catch-up, I don't care about Facebook's reason of changing the licensing, we found it here :-).

Although Facebook's reason for changing the license was given by their engineering director Adam Wolff, quoting him:

β€œReact is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don’t want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons.”

I don't know about you, but as a developer who believes wordpress and not Facebook saved PHP, I certainly believe, wordpress, dropping react in all their projects was instrumental in Facebook changing their licensing.
Not suggesting wordpress alone, but every single backlash and pressure, down to the wordpress moment of course was instrumental. However, I believe the wordpress blow just pushes the pressure past the threshold level. And of course the irrevocable has been revoked.

Congratulations Facebook, Thank you wordpress, apache and all other developers who spoke out.

Wow! Now we can use our favourite front-end development tool without an iota of worry in our hearts...

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