Saturday, 11 July 2015

Commercial download links versus non-commercial download links.

When a company is selling a software product via a website, they quickly learn to make the "Download" button the most prominent thing on the website.

When a company is distributing open source software via a website, sometimes working out how to actually download the software is a challenging exercise.

Jackson, a popular Java API for handling the JSON file format, makes downloading so difficult to figure out, it needs a stackoverflow question. A stackoverflow question with many upvotes.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ask Customers for Money Already...

I recently stumbled upon a new product that vaguely competes with our flagship product, Poker Copilot. Because it competes with us, I won't tell you what it is.

This product seems basic and raw, but has a unique angle to the problem space. It is created by someone with good experience in the field. It seems to be have been started well, but hasn't been updated for a while. I suspect it is becoming abandonware.

For some odd reason, the developer never charged money. If you click on "Buy Now" you see "Coming Soon". I want to contact them and tell them, charge money already! If some people pay, it is validation that your software has a viable market. Nothing motivates the owner of a small company like the arrival of money in the bank account.

Pseudo-Taxes on Software Companies

Our SSL certificate was about to expire. I renewed it for another year for US$99. If I didn't do this, we wouldn't be able to use HTTPS on our server. I consider this a kind of tax. It is not a real tax, in that it goes to the government. But it is a necessary fee I need to pay, that doesn't actually improve my software or my company.

There's a few of this pseudo-taxes on software companies. They are annoying not just for the monetary cost, but for the time and hassle of needing to stay on top of these.

I got the payment of the SSL certificate renewal correct. I got the process of reissuing the certificate correct. But I got the process of applying the renewed certificate incorrect. But only sort of incorrect. Our website still served pages using HTTPS. But a critical internal system that issues license keys to new customers failed. Understanding and fixing the problem involved esoteric knowledge, and - frankly - some guesswork. All up, it took me a few hours. Which is time I couldn't use to support customers or improve my software.

Another pseudo-tax is the yearly membership fee for Apple's "Developer Program". We need to be in this to be able to sell on the OS X or iOS App Store. We need this to be able to "sign" our software, a process that means if someone downloads our software from our website, they can open the downloaded application correctly. Stop paying the pseudo-tax, and our software stops getting signed correctly; new customers can no longer download and install our software.