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The everlasting "Encoded" problem with modules


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I am starting this discussion with a hope that as many community members will participate and that we can find a good and feasible solution to the a problem that constantly resurfaces here; Module developers who have sold encoded modules and now they are gone.


Personally, I would of course prefer that all modules were sold unencoded and we could modify the hell out of them, to suit our needs, but I do understand that there is money invoved here and people don't want to loose money to people spreading their ideas for free. This is of course never interesting for a serious company of some size, like ourselves, as we need the functionality of the module we purchase and we would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we started to spread something like this for free. It has been discussed before and I am glad to see more and more developers offers developer versions, at a higher cost (which is fine) for people who also want the source code.


The problem is of course when you invest an amount of money in a module, start using it, your customers gets used to using it and then all of a sudden the module developer is gone. The module stops working since the license server goes down and eventually the module stops working and you just have to uninstall it.


We have been a client of WHMCS for almost 6 years now and during these 6 years, we have spent quite an amount of money on modules to further enhance WHMCS to suit our needs and to add extra features that we though our customers would appreciate. Unfortunately, a lot of money has been thrown out of the window because of module developers that comes aboard with a great module and they all promise the same thing; You've got nothing to worry about. We'll (or I'll) be around forever to support the module and the license server will always be online, so you have nothing to worry about. We'll, it has, after some time, become a well proven fact that people who actually buy encoded modules do have something to worry about. Don't get me wrong; there are people who have been around since I came aboard and who I still do business with, so there are plenty of good guys out there, but I am hoping we can come up with something, together with WHMCS, that will make it safe for anybody to purchase a module and they will never have to worry about it stop working (not taking changed code in WHMCS in consideration here.)


So what is possible to do in a situation like this. I know this has been discussed several times before and I don't remember all the suggestions right now, but the one that has come up most often is that WHMCS should have some sort of code repository, where they approve the modules or something and this does of course sound like an impossible job, but feel free to add to such a suggestion below, if you think it has merit.


So let's get some good suggestion from the community on how this can be solved. Or is this just a dead discussion to start with? Is this just something we have to live with? Is it acceptable just to get the license validated so that the script keeps working, up until a WHMCS code change might make it useless or should there also be a way to get the unencoded script?


My little "brainstorming" has come up with the idea that WHMCS should offer a public license server that all encoded scripts, using their license module, should be required to use. This way, the licenses would always have a license server to validate against, even when a developer goes away and their server goes down with them. Ideally, it would be possible for WHMCS and unlock the code after the module has been validating only against the WHMCS license server with some amount of time or they can authorize a manual code reset if it is confirmed that the author is gone or if the author authorizes this.


Now, I have not taken any height for how realistic my ideas can be (That's what brainstorming is all about ;)), so I do hope that we get a good discussion going here and I do hope that Matt and the WHMCS team also will chip in here.

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Not so much disinterest, I think it's just that there is no ready solution as the wants of the developers (encoded) and users (unencoded) are diametrically opposite, and the solutions presented mostly seem to involve management by WHMCS staff.


Now although WHMCS could be seen as partly responsible as they market their pesky licensing module that causes all this trouble, there isn't really any reason I can see that would make them want to devote time and resources to managing other people's code. Just a lot of trouble for no real reward and none of us need any more of that in our lives. Other solutions proposed have probably been overly complex and would shut out smaller developers.


Our own experience has been 100% failure rate on encoded mods and we have now removed them all from our site. Every single one we purchased either didn't work, the developer disappeared / became otherwise unresponsive or still hasn't been updated to v5 two months after its release. We won't be buying any more.


So the only request I have to add here is that developers state clearly in their marketing material whether their product is encoded or not, that will save us all time evaluating things and asking questions. Then if it is encoded we can just go somewhere else.


And thumbs up to othellotech, htb and the few others who do have source code versions of their work available, we'll keep shopping with you.

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