Best Way To Release Software?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by IscariotJ, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. IscariotJ macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
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    UK
    #1
    I thought I'd post this here, as I'm sure I'm seen that a few members have experience releasing/selling software. I've coded a server application for SQLite ( part of CoreData ), but it will build/run on all *nix platforms. Someone has sent me a mail, asking if I would share the code with him. Not a problem, except, at some point in the future, I wouldn't mind releasing it as shareware. So, my question is, what are my best options?
     
  2. mduser63 macrumors 68040

    mduser63

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    Nov 9, 2004
    Location:
    Salt Lake City, UT
    #2
    Donationware might be a though. Generally open-source software is simply released as freeware. The form of shareware that I'm most likely to pay for personally, is full featured shareware that simply reminds me to pay for it occasionally (like Proteus). That way I can have as much time as I want to use it, and when I come to really appreciate it, I can pay for it and remove the registration message. Crippleware is not a good choice because generally I can't figure out if I really like the software or not because the free version is too limited.
     
  3. greatdevourer macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    #3
    You could always release the source and make it donationware, but keep the compiled binaries as shareware?
     
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #4
    You can also try drafting a simple use license for this person, that grants them specific rights and withholds others, and thereby get them to acknowledge your rights in the meantime. Presumably this would include not allowing them to further re-share the code in uncompiled form, and perhaps not to market a directly competing product to the one you are making.

    And then, too, assuming you're going to offer some features you're not giving away to this person, you can make later more featurefull releases closed-source, or offer open source of a previous version on a continuous basis... sort of like the relationship between CrossOver Office and WINE, or between OOo and StarOffice / Sun?

    Anyway, good luck!
     
  5. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    Apr 30, 2005
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    USA
    #5
    I'm not sure if there's any easy way that doesn't cost much. If you do draft a specific license for this person, how in the world would you enforce it or treat any violations? Wouldn't that entail legal fees that may just be beyond your financial limits?

    In my opinion, for individuals who do not have the financial means or the time to file and track lawsuits, the source for any program should either be released using GPL or some other free license like the BSD style license (that allows proprietary modifications to be made without having to release the modified source) so that anybody can freely use and modify it. Although plain trust may work in many cases, there's no guarantee that it will always work. One bit torrent file and tracker or an ftp server for a few hours is all it takes to let any piece of information run uncontrollably in the big, wild cyberworld. :)

    The other option is to sell the source for an agreed sum and forget about what the other person might possibly do with it.

    As for shareware vs donationware vs crippleware, I don't think any of them are good options to sell software, although shareware seems to be the best of the lot.

    Shareware is good to get a little money from your effort and also possibly build confidence and reputation in your users about how good your other commercial products might be.

    Donationware is pretty much useless for making any amount of money - if 10000 users download the app, hardly 3 or 4 would pay anything for it (not even the price of a cup of coffee). The writer of donationware is rarely rewarded adequately for the effort. It does help in building a reputation though, if that matters. People do like the idea of supporting donationware, but statistics often indicate that they rarely put it to practice.

    Crippleware is a strict no-no - almost all users hate crippleware for various reasons (including the one stated in another response here). Crippleware will force some people to not even try it (in cases where some might probably have tried a full featured shareware and paid for it later). While people will blindly buy a Photoshop or a Final Cut for several hundred dollars just because others say these are good apps, they will refuse to pay for something that was, in their opinion, supposed to be full featured software but in actuality makes them feel that the author does not trust them - dunno if this made much sense. :)

    For individuals, killer app and/or great reputation are the main keys to selling software (ok, there are other factors too - if only life were this simple!).

    Coming back to your question - as you've seen, I really don't have any good answers. :D If you have the financial and legal prowess, draft a proper license and agreement and then release the code to that person. Otherwise be happy to release it to the entire world using one of the free licenses.
     
  6. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2002
    Location:
    iowa
    #6
    There are companies that sell a registration-key product you can implement directly into your app, so users can unlock parts of the program once the user buys a code, making Shareware very easy for a coder to implement. I know Kagi Software did this, but may have gone out of business. You don't have to write your own Shareware encryption/sales scheme, if that's what you're asking. In general, donationware is better for most users, most people with your software will have unlicensed or hacked copies rather than pay anyway, so why cripple your product for the masses.
     
  7. IscariotJ thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Thank You!

    People, thank you. What I thought was going to simple, seems to have lots of "danger" attached to it. Though, it looks like the way forward, is to use a simple licence, and try and implement a shareware system later.

    Thanks again!
     
  8. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #8
    I think, realistically, the comments above about a license are true. What a license can do for you, in this situation, more than anything else, is lay the expectations out on the table and get the other person's buy-in. So that they're a little more likely to act in good faith. It's still better than nothing, though.
     

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