In the first two articles of this three-part series, we focused on the ethics of GPL Clubs, and the ways we believe these clubs can be a good thing. In this article, we are going to look at three of the best GPL Clubs currently operating. Each of these clubs has been tested thoroughly for 90 days, along with several others. These three are the ones that made the final cut. If you missed the first two parts of this series, make sure to check out Part 1: An Ethical Viewpoint and Part 2: Why They Are Good For Developers and the Community
How We Picked The Top 3 Clubs
Each of the clubs we tested was graded on the following 5 areas:
- GPL Adherence
We will not be individually reviewing on GPL Compliance of these three clubs because we found them all to be in compliance with the GPL. We were unable to find any evidence of founded or suspected GPL violations for any of these three companies. Unfortunately, many of the clubs we tested were disqualified based on GPL violations alone.
We were not paid by any of the 15 GPL clubs we tested, with one exception: All of the clubs we tested gave us 3 free months to test their platform so that we could give a fair and honest review. Beyond this, we have no financial gain from any third party for the reviews we are about to provide.
So without further delay, here are the three GPL Clubs we find to be the very best.
Nobuna is easily the best of the best when it comes to GPL Clubs. They have some really great features and their pricing is very fair.
Nobuna plans start at just $15.00 per month. You can also get a semi-annual plan for $49, or an annual plan for $89. To be honest, this pricing is pretty much average for GPL Clubs.
Nobuna has the biggest selection at more than 2700 files available. Plus, their selection includes a few plugins that you will not typically find in other GPL Clubs. Nobuna also features a plugin of its own that really sets this club apart. (See features section) Like most clubs, Nobuna imposes a daily download limit in its fair use policy and you are limited to 20 downloads per day.
Once you create an account with Nobuna, you can start downloading the themes and plugins you want very easily. Search r browse to find what you are looking for and click on the product name. You will see a download button. My only complaint here is that the “Join The Club” and “Add To Cart” buttons are still visible to signed in members. I would like to see those hidden as they can create some confusion. The only button needed here is the “Download” button.
Once you have downloaded your chosen plugins, you install it into your WordPress site just as you would any other plugin.
One of the downsides to GPL Clubs is the lack of automatic updating. With most clubs, updating means removing the old version, going to the club to get the latest version, and then manually reinstalling it. While Nobuna does not have truly automated updates, they have made updating much easier. They have created a plugin that will check for updates automatically, and when one is available in the Nobuna repo, you can download and install the latest version from within your WP-Admin. This is actually the feature that earned Nobuna the number one spot.
Another unique feature is Nobuna’s own monitoring tool they called Nobuna Monitor. This is an online tool that provides monitoring for various aspects of your site, including uptime, performance, security, and sales. This feature does not require the installation of any plugin.
We also commend Nobuna for prominent display of the following disclaimer:
All items listed in the Nobuna directory are developed by third-party developers and redistributed by Nobuna under the terms of the General Public License (GPL). Nobuna is not associated with nor is endorsed by the developers of any products featured on this website.
GPL Life has existed since 2015, making it one of the oldest GPL Clubs in continuous operation.
GPL.Life is the highest priced option in this list, but still very affordable. You can purchase plugins and themes individually starting at $5. Memberships start at $19 a month. This club is one of the few that also offer a lifetime membership level, which currently costs $199.
With a little under 1500 files, this is not the largest club on this list. However, the selection they do have is slightly more diverse than the other two contenders. Also, while all of these clubs are pretty solid at keeping files up to date, GPL.Life is in our experience the fastest with the majority of files updated in 24 hours or less.
The site is relatively easy to navigate and there is a search function to find what you are looking for. If we had to nitpick on this area, our only complaint would be that the search function could be improved. I would like to see a search box that only returns product results and not other results like blog articles. Of course, that is more a personal preference than anything.
This particular club is not filled with a ton of extra features, but what it lacks in features, it makes up for in other ways. For example, GPL.Life is the only GPL Club (as far as we know) that does not impose a daily download limit. You can download as many products from their collection as you wish in a day.
One great thing about this site that speaks to their values is that they respect trademarks by listing products under a simplified name when requested by the developer, either directly or in the products terms of service. For example, Yoast SEO is listed simply as WordPress SEO. This does not mean they change the file names. The files you download from this site are unaltered. It is just the listed name on the site that is altered to honor trademark request from developers.
GPLDL is one of the only free GPL CLubs on the market, and in our opinion, the only free club that can be trusted.
GPLDL earned the third place spot based in large part on their price: FREE. For a free signup, you can gain access to their massive library of WordPress plugins and themes. They also offer 3 donor levels which give you access to a few bonus files. (see features)
At the time of writing this article, GPLDL offers 1891 premium themes and plugins. While this is quite a bit less than the other two clubs, it is still a pretty decent selection of some of the best plugins and themes on the market today. Plus, GPLDL adds new plugins almost every week.
In this area, GPLDl does admittedly fall a little behind. The site does not have any type of search feature, so finding what you are looking for may take a bit longer. However, once you have found what you are looking for, downloading is a simple matter of clicking a download link.
Here again, GPLDL does not really outshine the competition. However, we do not necessarily see this as a bad thing overall. It does have the advantage of keeping things pretty simple.
One feature we really liked is the Premium (Donor) levels. The funds raised from these levels is funneled right back into the site. They use the proceeds to expand their library, maintain the site, and provide continuous updates. The donor levels currently give access to an additional 591 files as of this writing.
There ya have it, WP Top Hats brief and unbiased reviews of the 3 best GPL Clubs operating today. It was not easy to narrow down to just three, and we considered expanding our list to 5. There are many great GPL Clubs on the web. Unfortunately, there are also many not-so-good GPL Clubs operating as well. It is very important to research any club you are considering using before you fork over any money or download any file. While the majority of these companies are trustworthy, some are either gross violators of the GPL, or have unscrupulous practices like altering files to include adware, claiming ownership of the product, and more.
Join and download any GPL Club with caution and common sense.