A little background
JigoShop is an E-commerce plugin for WordPress that you can find in WP Extend. Even though the plugin is new, JigoWatt, the company developing the plugin was not new to E-commerce, having experience with systems specifically dedicated to E-commerce like Magento (as you can see in some of their works).
When they decided to enter E-commerce game in WordPress they put all this knowledge in JigoShop and went ahead to start building an ecosystem around it selling extensions like adding SEO features or accepting credit card payments with PayPal. It is a nice solution and it offers more prettifying features out of the box than other systems (for the record: I’ve only used WP E-Commerce before).
Enter WooThemes. They have built a good reputation with some excellent premium (and free) themes and huge contributions to WordPress like the Menu management system added in version 3.0.0. WooThemes was trying to develop its own E-commerce solution with a freelance developer who suddenly dissapeared leaving WooThemes with nothing.
WooThemes approached JigoShop with an offer for the copyright of the codebase (not a “donation” as Yoast makes it sound, Adii’s bet was big). They surely didn’t had to do it, since JigoShop makes use of WordPress, licensed under the GPL, which in turn extends this license over any code that makes use of it. WordPress themes and plugins are GPL remember? But of course, WooThemes needed the copyright which is fairly understandable. JigoShop turned down this offer.
A second proposal by WooThemes that involved working in a single plugin as collaborators was also rejected, since according to JigoShop, the proposal
included conditions which would have given WooThemes full strategic control over the direction and development of the Jigoshop project in the future
so it was not in JigoShop’s interests.
Maybe the most important question is not if WooThemes should or should have not forked it. JigoShop is a plugin for WordPress (and it’s even hosted in WordPress’ Plugin Directory) and as such, licensed under GPL license. JigoWatt knew this perfectly and WooThemes was in their right to fork it.
The question is: why forking JigoShop instead of WP E-Commerce, an old and strong contender in E-commerce for WordPress arena? Is the feature set or code flexibility in JigoShop better than the one found in WP E-Commerce?
Maybe WordPress community should start paying more attention to JigoShop now that it’s in GitHub and start contributing and using it. On the other hand, WooCommerce will be incorporating additional payment gateways, maybe two a month, and given that it will be released for free and not even behind a paywall, that is definitively something to look forward too.
In the end, the community has won (in the future) two E-commerce systems. We’ll have to wait and see if WooCommerce is not too tightly integrated with other Woo-features that might render the plugin unusable in agnostic systems but this could be some very good news for WordPressverse.
Other posts around the internet about the forking: