MDN Plus - A Premium Service
Written by Ian Elliot   
Thursday, 27 May 2021

Mozilla has announced MDN Plus  a new premium service offering monthly technical deep dives written by industry experts plus additional features.  At the moment there's a wait list to be notified once its available and a sample from one of the articles in the pipeline.


MDN, Mozilla Developer Network, is a key source of information. Even if you rely on Stack Overflow for code snippets, if you want  the technical low down and learn about best practices in web development MDN Web Docs is the source that tried and trusted. 

Now Mozilla is inviting developers to join a waitlist for a MDN Plus which is an extra, on top of the free-to-access MDN Web Docs, which according to Mozilla won't be impacted by this innovation. 

As the announcement puts it:

Nothing is changing with the existing MDN Web Docs content — this content will continue to be free and available to everyone. We want to provide extra value through premium content and features to help make MDN self-sustaining, on a completely opt-in basis. Again, nothing is changing with the existing MDN Web Docs! 

The repeat of "Nothing is changing" is possibly enough to ring alarm bells, especially after the cavalier attitude demonstrated by Mozilla last year when it laid off the majority of MDN's technical writers. Since then MDN Web Docs has attracted substantial financial support from an Open Collective initiative. When we reported on it in January, Open Web Docs had already attracted 91 contributors and has an estimated annual budget of nearly $590K with the bulk of the funds come from two main sponsors, Microsoft Edge and Google, each contributing $250K. 

So why has Mozilla, which is a member of Open Web Docs, now want to launch a premium service? The answer is presumably that, in keeping with Mozilla's acknowledged new focus on monetization, it want to derive revenue from every potential quarter. 

MDN Plus will be a subscription service, costing $10 per month or $100 per year - although this price is subject to change. Those who sign up are being asked if the proposed charge is Too high; Seems Fair or Too Low.

On the face of it $10 a month seems a low enough sum to attract subscribers but on the other hand $10 could buy you the Kindle version of a complete book of mine such as JavaScript Async or Just jQuery of over 200 pages.

But will it keep subscribers coming back? That depends on the amount and quality of the content. All that we have to go on at the moment is an extract from a Deep Dive entitled "Modern CSS in the real world. It  is a polished article nicely illustrated with screenshots while is billed as from Part 2 of three-part seies. We don't even know if it's all or part of one month's content.

There are other Deep Dives on the list of upcoming titles written by "Mozilla and industry insiders."


But there's no information how many deep dives will be included each month.

MDN Plus also offers four premium features.  

  • Annotations
  • Bookmarking
  • Save as PDF
  • Custom compatibility tables

The first two facilities can be used with both free and paid-for content and work across devices. Being able to download MDN documentation is also an advantage is you want to access content offline or even on paper. The final feature gives the ability to display customized data sets based on the browsers your projects need to support and this could be a valuable tool for some users. On the other hand its compatibility tables are something that has contributed to MDN's popularity and it seems cynical that Mozilla is now trying to make money from it at a time when it has already raised funds to make Open Web Docs free of charge and sustainable into the future. mdnsq

More Information

MDN Plus

Related Articles  

MDN Web Docs Has New Platform and New Funding

MDN Web Docs Call For Participation

Mozilla's Plan For Easier Web Development

Mozilla Layoffs Include MDN Team

MDN Is 15 - How Did It Reach Top Of The Docs?


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Last Updated ( Friday, 28 May 2021 )