When I started VBxtras in 1994, it was partly because I felt component software was too expensive and I wanted to do something about it. Why? If I couldn’t afford to use it as an independent developer, it was too expensive. I sense Robert McLaws has similar views to the ones I had in 94 as I generally sense that theme in his recent posts and when reading his company’s website.
Today I still don’t like it when software is too expensive for me to afford (we work on a shoestring budget here as being a component reseller is not the most profitable business one can pursue), but my 10+ years in the business now has me seeing the issues from multiple perspectives.
Robert complained about ComponentOne because their subscription model required him to pay for a renewal in order to fix a bug in a component he was using. As an independent developer I would probably feel the same as he did. However, if I was a Fortune 500 CIO or IT Manager I would want to ensure the vendors of components I used in my mission critical apps were financially viable and hence I’d be more than happy to pay for a subscription. After all, developers costs money and support staff costs money, and someone has to pay for it. That’s one reason why component vendors move to subscription models; to ensure they have the revenue to support their customers.
After reflection on this topic, I believe ComponentOne’s subscription model caters best to companies willing to pay for a higher level of support and that also want to ensure their vendors are financially viable. Robert’s problem wasn’t that ComponentOne wouldn’t fix the bug; the bug was already fixed. Robert’s problem was that he couldn’t get the fix for free.
Which brings me to this hypothesis: Maybe different types of component vendors are better for developers in different circumstances but neither vendors nor developers have really yet made this distinction? By analogy, what multi-national Fortune 500 corporation would in their right mind attempt to run their business using QuickBooks? And what mom-and-pop would even consider implementing SAP? Maybe Robert’s problem was he chose to use components from a vendor who is now catering to the SAP crowd and yet what he really needed was QuickBooks?
I know from experience many component vendors are “starving artists.” To service a Fortune 500 company you have to be much more than that. I seem to remember Robert made several comments in his blogs about software being too expensive and hence his company would offer an alternative. And I know there are a lot of developers as either new vendors and as customers who believe the same, including myself, in some circumstances. So I would hypothesize that vendors with this ideology are the best ones for developers who think fixes should be free. Alternately, vendors that ensure they generate significant revenue are the best ones to services large company’s mission critical apps.
If I am correct, then this puts the onus on the developer to know what type of component vendor they are dealing with before choosing to use their component in an application. What’s your opinion?