February 03, 2005

Comment to Paul Wilson's post "Getting Ready for my UI Mapper Release"

(this comment is in reference to Paul's post. I would have left it there, but it started getting long and I decided I probably wanted it posted here.)

Paul,

Though I haven't tried the WilsonORMapper, I am a long time reader and subscriber, and I keep saying that I will take some time to give it a try - soon!

I did want to let you know  that I am in a similar boat.

In the past I developed two products, Intranet Open Source and Newsletter Open Source, both written in ASP. At the time, based on my experience using Comersus Cart, my choice was to make both basic products open source and then built administrative interfaces that I sold as "add-ons" pretty inexpensively - anywhere from $20 - $100.  Same as you, my goal was not to make a bunch of money, but to get back something to compensate me somewhat for my time.  Over the past almost 3 years (wow! I can't believe it's been that long) the newsletter did okay, but the intranet app really took off - I've had about 25,000 downloads to date.  My licensing agreement was homegrown, but it was similar to GNU, and basically it just said that you can use them at your will, but you have to keep references to Digger Solutions (specifically a powered by Digger Solutions image) with the products and a copyright statement included in each file. I've been real pleased with everything so far, but my biggest gripes are that way too often I've run across sites that definitely are built on my code and all references to Digger Solutions have been removed.  I usually take the good with the bad, but I have run into a couple of larger issues - one dishonest guy developed an intranet for a pseudo-government project purportedly in near 6-figure range that was nothing more than exactly my intranet software with only the copyright information removed - and he really didn't do a good job at that - they stumbled upon a file that still had it in it.  Another company took my products and tweaked the interface a little and actually offers them as their own commercial products - no reference to Digger Solutions, of course.  Anyway, enough of my gripes.

I've thought of taking he “RedHat“ approach before - making the entire thing open source and then building a business around consulting, service, and customization, but I am only a one-man shop (with a full-time job!) and I just don't have the time or resources available to do that.

So, with a port of both products to ASP.NET, I have been in a situation similar to yours.  I'd like to release the products again as open source, because it helps make them a standard - it helps get them out there.  But I want to avoid the blatant misuse that was found in the ASP versions. And of course, I'd still like to get a bit of compensation. I recently released the ASP.NET version of the newsletter and I decided that I would make the basic package (no source, no admin interface) “shareware”, or “trial only”, and then I would sell a package with admin (standard version), and a package with admin and source (professional version).  The verdict isn't in yet - it's only been a few days since its release and I haven't listed the new product with the ASP.NET resource engines yet.  I'm really kind of bummed that this one isn't open source, though, because that “free” version really helps it get out the door and gets developers working with it and posting their modifications, etc. 

So, I doubt my dissertation helped any, but at least you know you aren't the only one.  Please keep us posted on your decisions and the results.

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