i've read the article... interesting, but I disagree. Over the years I've started using quite a few plugin (developers-licenses ;-) ) and so far they help me very well and the costs are (compared to the time and money saved) low. For some plugins you need an upgrade every two/three years or so and these costs vary from 50 to 500 dollars or so.
The only execption is a plugin i use to integrate with outlook, that one is outragiously expensive and that one i will not upgrade again :-( If i had more users i certainly would consider upgrading though. So it is a matter of choice between building something yourself or using a tool created by someone else (which saves you time in some way) and pay that someone a little (or larger) fee or keeping your money in your pocket.
Plugin builders invest a lot of time and money to create (some very usefull and some less usefull) plugins and i can only agree with them to want to make some money out of their effort ..... as a solutiondeveloper I also want to be payed for my time end since the plugin-builders help me save time with their product: it's only fair that i pay for their efforts. Or are you the only one allowed to make money?
@menno (and thank you for taking time to read and post, very appreciated)
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Or are you the only one allowed to make money?
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Of course not, that would be insulting to anyones inteligence to even think that, lets be reasonable. I pretty much agree with everything you are saying, but perhaps this doesn't actually affect you directly. I know what you are probably thinking after that statement but let me explain...
I'm not a lone developer making solutions on my own. I work for a international company (and don't think because of this that we have an unlimited budget, we do not, especially my department) Now let me give you a brief senario...
- I have to create this product
- I have been given "this" time frame to complete the project to stage one
- I have salesmen who have already sold copies of this software that is still just an idea on paper at this point
- Pressure gets put on the Software Engineers that are developing this stuff...no problem that's our job.
- We seek anything that can professionally, and efficiently help us to achieve our deadline without sacrifcing quality or design
So here is where plugins come in...I can write this plugin that brews my coffee while preparing my taxes but due to time restraints I am forced to search out other options. So I do, I find them, I buy them, I use them...no problem. Should they make money? Of course! Should they be legally allowed to charge me for that same product for the rest of my life? Um...Are you mental?
SIDE NOTE: Perhaps you are thinking "Then quit yelling and just write your own plugins" well, all I have to say to that is do you want to reinvent to wheel just so you can change a flat tire on your car? That would be kind of stupid wouldn't it?
So this is my point here folks...nothing difficult or confusing here... All I am saying is ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Charge fair pricing for your product!
Then you know what happens? More people buy it, you make more profit, and the more people who use it the more creative minds build upon it, FMP popularity grows even more, FMP INC continues to improve their product.
Keep charging unreasonably for your products, others will do the same thinking if he can do it so can I, guys like me will start building our own plugins and sacrifice the time just to keep from being someones financial B***H for years to come. People who easily can use FMP now and love it will face plugins they can't afford and they have no skills to write their own, sales in FMP drop GREATLY, and plugin developers go out of business.
Now I am stating examples in a very drastic and emphatic manner to make my point, but any inteligent person can see where I am coming from. Not asking you to agree with me either, just read, think, and add your input...my COMPLETE intention here is NOT to start any arguments, or call names, or anything like that. ALL I want to do is bring this very important topic to my fellow community members attention for review. After all, as developers in this product, people who make a living doing this like I do, it is up to us to keep a close watch on our work venues.
COLD TRUTH - The largest majority of FMP users today are not engineers, or even developers. Nothing wrong with that! The fact that FMP is so easy to use right out of the box is awesome, but the more complicated, commercial software written with FMP will require more. We make it difficult for anyone but developers and engineers to build with FMP and FMP sales will start falling...
AGAIN - This is not here to argue or call names, this article concerns all the FMP community, please read, get involved, let us hear your input.
There's a white paper for newbies that DavidAnders often posts a link to here in the forum. (I don't post a link to it, as I don't fully agree with everything in the white paper, but it does give out some very good advice in many areas.) It makes the very good point that plug ins should be avoided if at all possible. The reason is not only the added cost, but the fact that any future upgrade of FileMaker may disable the plug in and there is no guarantee that the plug in's creator will release an upgrade to fix it.
That's not to say you shouldn't use plug ins--sometimes there's no alternative, but to recognize the downsides and to make every effort to design your solution so that you can do without those plug ins, if you can. The author also makes what might be seen as a contrarion point on the issue of cost. He recommends acquiring the expensive plug-ins over a free one that does the same task! His logic is that if the plug in developer is making money from his plug in, he will be more likely to maintain it. I don't agree with that idea since pricing any object for sale is a matter of setting the optimum price that the market will bear. You can make more money off of a lower sale price/license fee than a higher price if doing so puts it at a level where enough additional customers buy your product to make up the difference. Price it way too high and no one buys it all and you fail to make any money... Thus, a high priced plug in isn't necessarily more likely to stick around.
All in all, market forces should win out and the DreamWeaver Creations article makes a fully valid counter strategy: Price your stuff too high and someone else will produce a cheaper (free in his threat) competing product and take away your market share.
That's true for almost any item sold in the market place today.
Excellent input Phil!
I have to address one thing you said, and I have to say I agree. "try NOT to use plugins when possible"
I agree, problem is most places I have worked look at FMP plugins as a way to offer "add-on" modules to create more features instantly. Gives the companies something to easily control as far as offering add-ons for their software. I don't neccessarily agree with that marketing method, but it does sell product. Otherwise I have to agree, put the custom functions where they belong, as a function written in. As my grandfather used to say, "The more pieces parts there are, the more that will go wrong".
Something else I had to add:
Why am I being so drastic as to threaten free versions of plugins to the community, written by the community?
Because I have tried to reason with many of these companies and they do not care. Many are even very rude, because they feel they have the upper hand. In many ways a lot of them do, they offer features in a plugin that the majority of FMP users (majority being lightly skilled to moderately skilled DB users) need, but nobody else offers at this time. They know that, and rather than make an honest living they prefer to take advantage of these people. Now, why piss off the people you need to support? Afterall, it is the DEVELOPERS that will keep FMP alive...not the 5 minute users. AND it is also the developers that if you keep ticking them off will just simply bypass you and make their own goodies.
I would prefer life being much simpler in this area, we have enough crap to deal with in life. So it's simple in my mind - be honest, make a living, not a killing.
This is a fun discussion!
"Afterall, it is the DEVELOPERS that will keep FMP alive...not the 5 minute users."
I would say it's both. Anyone that buys the product, even if, sadly, they then don't use it help keep FileMaker alive. I think it's the "lightly skilled to moderately skilled DB users" that make up the bulk of FileMaker's market share and FileMaker Inc. Will quickly be in big trouble if they fail to keep that fact in mind when deciding where to take future releases of their product line.
We heavy duty/experienced developers sometimes forget that fact when we rant at FileMaker Inc. for not allocating more development resources towards meeting our needs/wants. That's not to say I agree with every choice they've made here by a long shot, but I do try to keep in mind the fact that any choices they make on what features they add/fix next will always be a balancing act between the needs of the different segments of the FileMaker community.
Ok, you got me there, because I do admit I feel the majority of users ARE what I call the 5 minute users. If they think they can get a general grasp of FMP in about 5 minutes they think they can build anything, without any knowledge of relational database design. Over priced plugins are most certainly out of their range.
I think FMI has done a pretty good job so far, no complaints here. I feel they have always made decisions with solid reasoning behind it, whether I agreed with them or not. So much so that this is why the plugin blackmailers, er sorry I mean "plugin creators that over-charge" are going to kill our product if we allow them to continue. Not completely, but it doesn't take a marketing expert or accountant to figure less money coming in means less R&D for future releases.
@Phil - QUOTE: "This is a fun discussion!"
Yes, I agree, we need to discuss things like this too, not just be an automated support system. All of these concerns affect our community.
FOR THE RECORD: Hopefully everyone has picked up by now I use caps here for emphasis, not to be yelling or rude. And please jump into the discussion, don't think your input doesn't matter. Regardless of whether you are a hardcore user of FMP or a newbie YOU ARE PART of this community, so please feel free to chime in here. I am sure that FMI loves to get information and input from their users like this. Helps them keep track of their users wants and needs within their market share.
I know speaking for myself, I don't care if you just bought your first copy of FMI this afternoon, welcome to the FMI family, now lets get down to business! =)
@RJ - QUOTE: "So this is my point here folks...nothing difficult or confusing here... All I am saying is ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Charge fair pricing for your product!"
I would like to get a bit more specific by sharing a part of my experience:
I work with plugins from several plugin-developers where:
1) 360Works has their almost free ScriptMaster, which is excellent, also if you buy the developers-licence to create your own plugin to go with your solutions. Their other plugins are a bit more expensive, but i find their prices fair.
2) Troi.com : I've used their plugins for over a decade now and every now and then I need to upgrade the developers-license for each of their plugins. Their prices also really fair.
3) Dracoventions the creators of the excellent "2empowerFM - Developer - Assistent" which is not expensive and really fill a gap that FMI has left open, also created a range of nice plugins, of which most are free ... however there are a few (minor) technical flaws
4) MyFMButler the creators of the unbelievably handy "Clip Manager 3" and also creators of a nice range of (non-free, but affordable) plugins.
(there are certainly more plugin-vendors that are worth mentioning here, I simply have not used their stuff yet ;-) )
I also have less positive experiences with other vendors, whom I will not mention by name here, that charge $500 for a developers licence for 10 users and charge and if just one of your customers has 11 users, either the ask me to pay the fee of $1500 for a 20 user-developer-license or my customer has to buy a site-license directly. A sliding-scale for pricing standard-licenses is fine, but a developers-license should have just one price and renewal really should cost no more than 1/3 - 1/2 of the original price (the vendors I mentioned by name all charge somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the original price)
So to cut it short: A fair price remains subject to our personal perspectives, making it hard to really (dis)agree, hence my reluctance to mention so called too expensive plugin-vendors
First off thank you for contributing to the discussion, kind of wish you hadn't used "ANY" actual company names here but no worries. Personal perspective does weigh heavily on this but I think we can all agree on a general area here, sort of speak.
What I suggest:
- 1 FAIR and REASONABLE price for a developers license
- License covers that solution PERIOD, no matter how many users, no matter how many copies, no matter how many versions.
- Charge me for any version updates to the plugin, perfectly understandable
I use ScriptMaster myself, excellent plugin system for a RAD environment...and since you DID bring them up...
Let's use them as an example:
$1,995.00: Solution Bundle License
This license allows a SINGLE developer to distribute the product with a SINGLE solution to an unlimited number of companies / schools / organizations, regardless of the number of users of those organizations. This license also covers use with FileMaker Server scheduled scripts and the Web Publishing Engine. This product may only legally be used when bundled with the solution distributed by the developer who owns this license. Products cannot be registered using the plugin configuration dialog by end users; they must be registered by the developer using the plugin registration functions. No product support for the developer or sublicensees is included with this license; support must be provided by the developer or by 360Works at our standard hourly rate.
So I basically bought a snippet of code, made portable as a plugin, for my software solution that I (hopefully) intend to sell commercially. Great, no problems so far...now they want HOW MUCH for this freaking plugin that does one simple function? Great function? Heck yes! Of course it is, love this product! Do I expect the developer to get paid well for this wonderful and helpful plugin? Of course I do! BUT NOT OFF OF ONE SALE!!!!
$1995.00 ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I sure hope the title I am buying it for costs about $4000, and let's hope people actually buy it! Anyone getting my point here?
i get your point, but to build/develop your solution you do not need to register the developer license, you can simply use the portfolio-license which is very affordable for FSA and FBA-members ... i payed a few weeks ago $99,= (but that's a yearly fee).
After that it is just calculating for the best fittting solution, either you sell an enterprise-license for each suite you sell or you buy the developer-distibution-license if you sell mare than a just a few. if that happens, i am sure it will be a bit of negotiating to get a (partial) refund. I am glad you now mentioned 360Works, I agree that they could be a bit cheaper, but I do not think they are very overpriced. I charge my customers 100,= Euro's per hour that's about us$140,= (before taxes). At the moment i am building a solution for a company with 25 users.
So far I've invested about 360 hours and i have still between 100 and 200 hours to go, depending on their wishes. In such conditions, I would have no problem with a license for plugin ... if it would save me a day of work, my customer would gladly buy the enterprise-license of us$695,=.
I agree that some plugins do not come very cheap, however seen in a proper business-perspective, I can't find the specific pricing of this particular plugin outragious. You do not have to buy the developer-license if it does not pay of for you, you can also make your customer buy an enterprise-license (depending on the needs)
sorry bout the large font wierdness in last post btw
Wow, make my customer buy the enterprise license?, getting paid $100 by the hour?...things must be much different over there...not so here in the states. You are MUCH more likely to work getting paid PER SOLUTION than by the hour over here. Try that way of thinking and their prices are outragious...
BAH! I have more to add Menno, I would love your input but I just got called away from my desk...more in a bit to finish this thought...
Just so you know, you can edit a post after you submit it by clicking the edit link if you don't like the way it appears or spot an error...
There are not many customers ready to spend that kind of money, but the ones that really feel that they handle business different from other comapnies demand a lot of taylored functions and additions. Sometimes they start with in-houde developers who leave their company or after a wihile get to busy. And that's where they need people like me ;-) and i am living of it now for some 14 years.
Going to leave the office now, will pick this up again later ;-)