I've finished a first working, releasable version of a testing framework. Prior to release, I want to apply a proper license to it. Normally I'd choose something like GPLv3 but here I am pretty unsure. If I put the testing framework under GPLv3, does that mean users won't be able to test their commercial applications without also putting them under the GPL? Would a license like the MIT be a better fit?

I've just had a look at several popular testing frameworks (JUnit, Jasmine) and none of them uses the GPL.


Forgot to mention the project is open sourced.

  • At the end of the first paragraph ("Would a license like the GPL be a better fit?") surely you meant a different license?
    – user7043
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 13:36
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    Remember that licenses are about distribution. If they are just using your framework then they aren't distributing it. Compare the differences between the GPL, LGPL & AGPL and how they are used.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 14:23
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    @MarkBooth While that may be correct the fact is most will not like to take the risk with GPL as it all comes down to interpretation of law with the risks of a legal fight involved. Specially if there are competitive products that are non-GPL open source.
    – softveda
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 8:36
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    @Pratik - No, it's pretty clear. If you want it to be clear to everyone with access to the code though, add a "This code is based on GPL licensed code and MUST NOT be distributed outside of the organisation" line prominently at the top of every source file.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 9:24

2 Answers 2


Firstly it probably doesn't matter. There are a lot of testing frameworks. Almost every company/project/developer seems to roll their own version of cppunit, so the chance of the license you choose actually having any major effect is small.

Secondly GPL limits how you can distribute a derived work. Unless your testing framework requires some changes to my main codebase (in which case it's a very bad testing framework!) then I should only need to use your code for my unit tests which I'm not going to distribute anyway.

  • You don't distribute your unit tests with your open source project? Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 16:59
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    @Scott Who said his project was an open source one?
    – Cromulent
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 17:08

If you don't feel strongly about the politics of the GPL, I recommend avoiding it. Choose something more liberal that (arguably) helps more people. A lot of people and organizations simply won't use GPL and LGPL-based software out of principle (or perhaps out of ignorance).

A liberal license like BSD or MIT will probably let your software be used by more people.

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