Software Development. Other costs.

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  1. #1
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Software Development. Other costs.

    When I spend money on some book on software development, I almost always think I made the investment of my life. The knowledge within some of these books couldn't be priced. And yet it comes at a low $50. Then I think about direct development tools (some full-featured IDE or some awesome tool I'm drolling at). Very few things -- in the computer field -- give me more pleasure than acquiring a licensed copy of some well-deserving software.

    And then I get into the disarrayed world of component development companies, and I immediately lose my boner. Confusing versioning choices, restrictive updates, overly expensive products, incomplete or downright wrong documentation, and shoddy business strategies pretty much, at least to me, define this bunch.

    Take a look at Stimulsoft for instance. No complete solution. If you need to generate reports for both Windows.Forms and WPF you have to buy 2 full products. If you need to add ASP.Net, make it 3. Or check out the many companies forcing you into annual subscriptions of their software. If after one year you want to keep upgrading it, cough up some money ans shut up.

    ...

    But nothing I've seen in all these years (since VB days and the horrid component companies that accompanied it) was like today. I'm going to withhold any names despite my urge to not do so. But there's enough hints for the curious...
    This is the email I received from them today after I was forced to ask them for a quote to their component (which doesn't have a price tag on their website):

    Dear Mario,

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    Let me introduce myself. My name is O. S. and I am the Marketing Director of E. Corp.

    To support small businesses in their growth, E. Corp has developed special licensing schema. Private Business License allows companies and sole entrepreneurs to get significant advantages from an initial stage of product development.

    Mario, would you tell me more about application you are working on?
    Excuse me!?
    This was my reply.

    Hello O.,

    I don't see how is this any relevant for a quote on your product. Care to elaborate on the reasons of such inquiry?

    I develop applications on any matter I have a need or see a desire for. I was referenced to your website after expressing a desire for a unified data repository with fast file retrieval and encrypting capabilities. [...] This is particularly important for my current project which needs to manage a large data tree structure, which could otherwise be reduced to one single file "emulating" a file system.

    I apologize but I don't have a desire to speak with you about my current project or any other project for that matter. If by any chance, the nature of my work influences the quote (in other words if you don't have a fixed price for all cases), I immediately cease to be interested in your product and will look elsewhere for similar solutions.

    Best regards,
    Mario Figueiredo
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  2. #2
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    This is very common. What they are trying to do is figure out how much you are willing to pay for their product. I hate this practice, and refuse to use any software that doesn't have a price model on the company's website.

    I went through this with a company that sold debugging software (similar to valgrind). I went through the hoops of telling them about my company, and what projects we wanted to use their software on. Their final quote? $7000 per developer license. No thanks.
    bit∙hub [bit-huhb] n. A source and destination for information.

  3. #3
    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Mario,

    I'd be interesting in hearing their reply to your reply if you don't mind posting it (assuming they do reply of course)
    My Website

    "Circular logic is good because it is."

  4. #4
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Doubt I will get any reply. I don't think I fit their customer profile anymore. But will keep ya posted.

    Meanwhile I'm taking a deep look at sqlite as a possible alternative. Essentially I need to store all the application external files in a single file repository and then, through a file system emulation, manage the files inside from within my application as if they were normal files.

    Some months ago I was rereading Tree and Hierarchies in SQL for Smarties about generating and maintaining databases that map tree structures. Something that is not easy at all. And now I kind feel I can put that information into practice. (Meanwhile this is one of the best books on SQL ever written. I highly advise it).

    With sqlite core already supporting storage and fast data access, I have the most difficult thing already done for me at no price. So with the knowledge in this book, all I then need is to create a wrapper to emulate the FS operations to be used by my code. So E. Corp can kiss my rosy cheeks.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  5. #5
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Here's the reply:

    Dear Mario,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Since Private Business License stipulates significant discounts, we need to be sure that your company is really small and corresponds to our definition of private business. Therefore, we need to clarify what product are you talking about and how many developers will work on that.

    I am in no they interested in disclosure of you business idea, know-how or any other aspects subject to intellectual property.

    I hope that all above will convince you to tell us about your company and functions that will be implemented with Solid File System Standard Edition.

    If you still feel that giving us some information in exchange for larger discount is unfair, we will be glad to offer your a 10% discount off our regularly priced Vendor License.
    I pretty much lost any interest on this company or their products. Clearly their sales practices leave much to be desired and their product is nowhere near the likes of much more complex software development solutions which are clearly priced and tagged on the websites marketing them.

    After 3 emails I still don't know the price of their product. Neither they will give it to me until I talk about what I plan to do with it. They don't even mention exactly what "significant discounts" these are. Just a load of BS meant to, as bithub pointed out, price their product on a case-by-case basis... which incidentally (although irrelevant, I agree) is illegal around here.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  6. #6
    Registered User jdragyn's Avatar
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    I completely agree with you. If you don't speak with someone else who has purchased their product, you'll never know if the price they offer you is fair or if they are taking advantage of you. Even car salesmen show the price up-front.

    After that e-mail exchange I would be highly suspect of their product, no matter how good it is. If it takes this much effort to just find out the price, imagine support!

    Quote Originally Posted by E. Corp
    Dear customer,

    Let me introduce myself. My name is B. S. and I am the senior developer for E. Corp.

    Thank you for the detailed information you provided, it has helped us to narrow down the range of possible issues considerably. However, to make sure we fully understand the nature of the error and provide the best possible assistance, we would like you to provide us with some additional information.

    First, what data structures are you using in the program. Please be detailed and specific, including reasons for why you chose each particular structure, as well as other alternatives you may have considered or may be considering.

    Next, what is the overall design of your application? We need to identify whether the problem is in-fact coming from our software, or if your application design may be responsible. The error message you provided is not specific enough to infer this information.

    Finally, the simplest solution for us to provide you with the ultimate in support would be for you to package your application source into an archive file or files (.zip or .rar would be acceptable) and upload them to our secure FTP site at steal.your.IP.com using the login name "sucker" and the password "sawUcoming".

    We will be happy to discuss any questions you may have, but can not proceed with support procedures until the above instructions have been followed.

    Thank you and have a nice day!
    I mean,
    I am in no they interested in disclosure of you business idea, know-how or any other aspects subject to intellectual property.

    I hope that all above will convince you to tell us about your company and functions that will be implemented with Solid File System Standard Edition.
    is quite contradictory all by itself! If they are in no way (I assume "they" should be "way", but if not then perhaps I misunderstand the e-mail...) interested in disclosure of your idea, then why would they hope you would tell them about the functions you will be using to access their software?

    Now, after having quoted you the price and confirmed the sale (assuming you bit), I can certainly see them asking to help you out, if you want. They could explain ways in which they anticipate their software to be used (perhaps including examples of functions that call theirs or maybe small example programs). Then they could ask you if you would like to elaborate on your particular case so you can discuss your ideas with others who have obviously put a lot of thought into the subject and maybe provide you with ideas you otherwise might not have thought of right away. Of course they would probably put something in their License agreement that any code you share with them will be used to help them sell their product to others, or perhaps even to continue development of their product, but at least it would be something you would (should) have read about before ever showing them a single line of your own code.

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