[owncloud-devel] Using ownCloud APIs in iOS app

Jos Poortvliet jospoortvliet at gmail.com
Mon Nov 2 15:01:03 GMT 2015

On Monday 02 November 2015 12:10:40 Charles Parnot wrote:
> Hi all,
> Sorry for the newbie question. I posted it on the forum, but someone
> recommended I posted it on this mailing list instead:
> https://forum.owncloud.org/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=31273&p=100360#p100360
> My apologies if this is not the right place.
> I'd like to add support for various sync services in our iOS app, including
> Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. and maybe ownCloud (one user was interested).
> ownCloud looks like a very nice implementation of file syncing that should
> be useful in many situations where the user want to know where their data
> is. However, I am trying to understand the licensing issues, and the FAQs
> are a bit confusing in that regard, so my apologies for the dumb
> questions.
> The FAQs say:
> > Can I write closed source or proprietary apps for ownCloud?
> > Yes, but following the requirements of the under the AGPLv3, these can be
> > distributed or made available to users outside of your household or
> > organization only under the ownCloud Enterprise Edition, which supports
> > integration with proprietary technologies. Contact ownCloud, Inc. for
> > details.
> Since the iOS app would only be using the APIs, and not any code from
> ownCloud, I don't understand how the AGPL would apply (and the grammar is
> a bit weird in the above sentence, adding to my confusion). I assume AGPL
> does not apply for an iOS app using the APIs and you are talking about
> other types of apps, but I am a bit confused (yes, I use this word a lot!)
> and I want to make sure I don't get myself in trouble if I start doing
> anything ownCloud-related.

You are correct, the FAQ item was about ownCloud Apps - as in SERVER apps, 
those written in PHP and part of ownCloud. You write a third party app and 
want to use our public, external API's - those are fair game and certainly 
not subject to the (a)GPL.

> Also, I noticed the iOS library is MIT, but the iOS app is GPL. It's too
> bad about the latter, because it probably contains a lot of code that
> would be useful for people like me that want to add support for ownCloud
> in an iOS app. Maybe there is code with another example app that could be
> useful to have support added quickly for maintaining one folder in sync
> with the local filesystem on iOS? To be fair, even Dropbox does not have
> any code like this, but I was hoping for that one user that ownCloud
> support could be added quickly... Sorry I am all whining and very
> demanding

Don't be sorry ;-)

Yeah, the app is GPL, the library MIT. If there is specific iOS app code you 
think is generally useful, we could perhaps see if it is worth moving it to 
the library. And the thought of an example app is not bad either. I'll get 
back to you on these in a private mail.

> All in all, ownCloud seems like a very appealing solution, but it has some
> scary wording/licensing for client developers. I also fully understand if
> maybe 3rd-party apps are not part of the overall strategy, in which case
> I'd like to know before (not) getting started.

I will try to clarify the FAQ item and make clear it isn't about third party 
apps but about ownCloud Server apps. You, as 3rd party app developer, are 
very much important for us so if you have any suggestions, besides updating 
the FAQ item, on how to make things both easier and less scary, please let me 

Jos Poortvliet

> Thanks!
> Charles
> --
> Charles Parnot
> Your Lab Notebook, Reinvented.
> http://findingsapp.com

Everything I do and say is based on my view of the world today. I am not 
responsible for changes in the world, nor my view on it. Everything I say is 
meant in a positive and friendly way, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
find me on blog.jospoortvliet.com

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