Download

GPL and tool integration grievance

Does anyone else find the GPL irritating in that it limits integration with commercial applications?

For example – Blender integration with commercial applications such as Substance Painter/Designer or Autodesk FBX.

I just don’t get it. I understand the goal of GPL and free software in general, but it’s such a shame that a great tool like Blender has to isolate itself from the rest of the world due to ideology. I just don’t understand. All that time and effort is essentially wasted. I mean, content creation tools, in my opinion, should have the ability to integrate themselves into any pipeline. To limit that ability due to ideology just seems insane to me.

I know blender has a great Python API, but that isn’t the same thing. While that’s great and all, it still doesn’t solve the problem of binary-only commercial plugins.

Dunno, just had to get that off my chest.

Let’s be honest, almost no company actually respects GPL and they’ll violate it if they think it’s worth making money(and consistently do), so I don’t think the problem is the license, just that companies don’t see it as an appealing market.

That said, there’s nothing about “GPL” that limits a third parties ability to make compatible plugins that comply with GPL without having to release the source of the plugin, so there is no technical or legal reason that a company couldn’t make a plugin to integrate with blender in a GPL compliant way except that they don’t feel like it’s worth doing.

If you are integrating GPL code directly into your application (ie. compile to single binary), then GPL license is invasive and under it you are obliged to release all code (technically, if anyone can prove it to you in first place).

On the other hand, you can dynamically link GPL code to your application, and then you are noy obliged to release code, because technically you don’t use any code, you just use public interfaces exposed by library which is dynamically loaded at runtime.

Aye, that’s what I was getting at, there’s two very valid and common ways to be GPL compatible (Dynamic linking, and fork/exec), both of which should hypothetically allow any type of plugin imaginable. So it’s not a limitation of GPL causing this glut in my mind.

GPL is designed to infect specific software distribution ideology on other software, thats why companies fear to interact with it.

Take a look at this link: https://forum.allegorithmic.com/index.php?topic=405.0

Specifically, this comment:

Keep in mind, companies have a (somewhat legitimate) fear of GPL, and it’s his opinion that that is not allowed via the license. As far as I’m aware(I seek to be corrected if wrong), dynamic linking has never been legally tested and thus any opinion on it being illegal has no basis(opinions differ on this fact, but again it’s never been tested). They’re taking a very conservative stance of saying “We’re not WILLING to do this” not one of “We’re not able to do this”. Which is a fair stance to take, but that’s a limit of their willingness, not a legal or technical barrier.

There’s also other possible solutions that don’t harm them pointed out in that very thread, of which they’re unwilling to pursue(open sourcing the importer).

It’s not a simple importer, though. It is a run-time engine that allows real-time bi-directional communication between Substance Designer and the host application, so I completely understand them not wanting to open-source it.