Project history

FreeMarker wasn't started at the Apache Software Foundation; here's the legal history of the project:

  • FreeMarker 1 was licensed under LGPL, and was copyright by Benjamin Geer.

  • By community consensus, FreeMarker 2 was released under a more liberal BSD-style license. Benjamin Geer remained the copyright holder of FreeMarker versions 2.0.x and 2.1.x. It was decided that, since we did not at that point have a juridical entity (such as the Apache Foundation) to play this role, that Benjamin Geer would continue to be the sole copyright holder, make any future license changes or clarifications simpler.

  • As of FreeMarker 2.2, the copyright holder of the FreeMarker codebase was the Visigoth Software Society (VSS), a non-profit association based in Spain, and co-founded by Jonathan Revusky in December of 2002. Benjamin Geer graciously agreed to cede the copyright to VSS on the understanding that it would remain available under a liberal open-source license. The terms of the license remain the same.

  • As of FreeMarker 2.3.21 (released at 2014-10-12), the license has changed to the Apache License, Version 2.0, and the owner has changed from Visigoth Software Society to the three main FreeMarker 2 developers, Attila Szegedi, Daniel Dekany, and Jonathan Revusky. The change was needed because the old BSD-style license wasn't OSI approved, and because of the inactivity of the Visigoth Software Society association.

  • Around 2015-07-01, FreeMarker was voted in into the Apache Incubator, and the project (all code from which the releases and the Web site are created, along with the right for using the "FreeMarker" product name) was granted to the Apache Software Foundation by the earlier owners. The license remains Apache License, Version 2.0. In 2015-09-02, the main code base was imported from GitHub into the Apache Software Foundation infrastructure, where development continues.

  • On 2018-03-21 FreeMarker has graduated from the Apache Incubator to a top level project.

Development history, key contributors:

  • Later 1999, FreeMarker 1 has appeared on It was originally written by Benjamin Geer and Mike Bayer. They defined the basic syntax, and more importantly, the philosophy of the tool that is carried on in FreeMarker 2. Significant contributions to FreeMarker 1 were made by Nicholas Cull, Holger Arendt and others.

  • In early 2002, Jonathan Revusky rewrote the core (parser/compiler) code using a popular parser generator tool, JavaCC. This was really the basis of FreeMarker 2, which, though was initially largely backward compatible with FreeMarker 1, is virtually a complete rewrite. Attila Szegedi has made significant contributions to the FreeMarker 2. Besides refactoring and optimizing some of the core API's, Attila is the main author of the date/time support, freemarker.ext.* packages responsible for JavaBeans, Jython, and XML mappings, as well as for HTTP servlet, JSP and Ant integration. Dániel Dékány is the main author of the documentation, and has influenced many new features of FreeMarker 2, and has helped in maintenance work. Many ideas and feedback were provided by the various participants on the freemarker-devel and freemarker-user mailing lists, like Chris Nokleberg, Stephan Mueller, and many others.

  • Since 2011, Dániel Dékány does most of the maintenance work and new features.