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Email to the developer of Stacey

Yesterday a wave of tweets went off, accusing me of ripping off the Stacey code and trying to sell it. It is the last thing I wanted and I'm quite disappointed and shocked about so much negative feedback, so I wrote an email to Anthony – the developer of Stacey.

Please let me know how you feel about this and if I should move on with Kirby!

Just reply on Twitter (@getkirby)

Hey Anthony,

when I saw the tweets yesterday I was quite shocked, but maybe I should have expected that.

Just let me tell you the story of Kirby to make things a bit clearer. I've been writing custom cms for more than 6 years for all kinds of clients. All based on PHP and MySQL. I've built a toolkit to make my daily life as a dev easier, which I called Kirby and made open-source some years ago:

About three years ago I started building a newsletter system for a client, which used text files, a simple folder structure and some custom tags to generate nice HTML newsletters for them and I thought it would be great to build a bigger system out of that. I used that for my own site and it worked great. At some point I found Stacey and thought that this is the better implementation of what I already had, but I didn't like the idea of having a custom template engine instead of using plain php, so I decided to rather extend my own system than use Stacey. It gave me the possibility to build in stuff I always wanted and to know every line of code, which made it easier for me to build custom solutions for new clients. It also allowed me to keep kirby at the base and reuse loads of code I already had.

I had the chance to use that system for quite some client projects in the last two years and so at some point I decided that I want to publish it somehow.

I'm running a bookmark app called Zootool for more than four years now, which has started as a fun student project but became almost a fulltime job with more than 80.000 users and loads of things to keep under control. I'm doing all that for free and all money which is generated by Zootool goes back into the system. So at some point I knew I had to find a different side project which could eventually make some money, so it would help me keep spending time on Zootool rather than on more client projects.

I decided to give the cms a try and see if people like it and are maybe happy to pay for it. I love how the guys over at sell their system for just a few bucks. It's a great system and paying for it is a no-brainer. I think paying for software is becoming more and more common and I think that people who build something, which helps others to build something, should get paid for that.

I never thought that my system might be too close to yours to get into trouble. It is inspired by Stacey, but it is also inspired by my own code I've written for Zootool, by the simplicity of Perch, the great API of jQuery, the ingenious Fever and Mint by Shaun Inman and even some of the good parts of Wordpress or ExpressionEngine. I've built my own extended version of Markdown by John Gruber and got inspired for the website by some swiss design from Uni or the style of Dieter Rams. The logo is inspired by a project a friend of mine did for a client and somehow by Dan Cederholm's logo of Simplebits. The typo is inspired by the old blog design of Tim van Damme and the layout is inspired by the iAWrite site.

I don't feel like I copied any of it. At the end I feel like I created something new, which is somehow my own "perfect" version of a file-based cms and might or might not be a good solution for others too.

There are hundreds of file-based cms out there right now and probably thousands of db-based systems. They are all more or less inspired by each other. Each new development or design project is more or less inspired by previous work. But don't get me wrong. It's a fine line between getting inspired and stealing. If I crossed that line for you, I'm deeply sorry. I know how it feels to get ripped off and I know that Germany has somehow gained a bad reputation for ripping off ideas in the last years and I don't want to be a part of that.

All I know is that I don't want to get into any trouble with you or anybody else just by selling a stupid cms. I wanted to create something cool for me and for others and maybe make my life a bit easier, but if you and others think that it is too close I will just make it open-source and everybody can decide themselves, which one they like better.

I've attached the beta code for Kirby, so you can take a look at it.

If you find out that I didn't rip off your code at all, I'd appreciate if you would tell your followers about it. Being called a "dick" and stuff like that before people even know about the details isn't that nice.

I will also post this email on the Kirby site and let people decide if they think it is too close or not and if they would pay for it or if I should make it open-source instead. I really want this to end well.


P.S. by attaching all the files you get the chance to kill my plans to sell this thing in the first place. So I just hope you are also fair enough not to do so if it turns out it is not a ripoff and I decide to keep the plan of selling it.

I'm really looking for some serious comments about this. Where do you draw the line between getting inspired and stealing? Is there enough room for a new file-based cms? Would you pay for this?

Please reply on Twitter (@getkirby)

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