10/07/2004

ranting ... again...

I've read the conversations here and have a little rant to get off my chest.

Here's what I wrote:

I'd like to respond to a couple of the points raised above. I'll rant on my blog :)

"GPL seems a better choice than CPL"
That all depends on who is most likely to embrace and extend your software. When making these choices you need to make sure that the license grants the proper freedoms to the community. Many believe that APL or BSD are better choices. CPL is a good compromise that doesn't rely on the shifting sands of "current copyright law" as the GPL does.

"But If I had purchased LPS at 2K a month before it went open source, I'd be quite angry."
Laszlo has quotes from their current customers who did pay for the software that counter your arguement. I'm sure that those customes take solace in the fact that they now know that the platform will continue to be supported and developed regardless of the business status of Laszlo.

You made a point about the changes created by open source and gratis software. The whole industry is changing and it has been for the last 15 years. Proprietary and closed source software came after open source. We just didn't call it that back then. Software was a science before it was a business.

There's been a recurring thing about this being a desparate move for Laszlo. They're hiring as was pointed out previously. The deparation seems to be coming more from Macromedia. Why else whould they choose to start giving away their product? They also chose a dubious day for it...

The histories and personalities of these two companies are intertwined. Macromedia obviously caught wind of Laszlo's move and tried to counter it.

Flex didn't win anything. Flex showed up to the game late and Laszlo just upped the stakes. When it comes to choosing a language now you have to decide on closed source mxml or open source lzx.

You also choose between Flash lockin for good or the potential for other runtimes. At this moment you choose between Flash 5,6, and 7 support or Flash 7 only.

Will Flex 2.0 support Flash 7? Or will Macromedia rev the player to support the new features, locking you into 8?

Then what about having to throw away everything when Microsoft locks you into XAML. It will take a few years, but all of the time and code invested in mxmxl will be tossed when you have to make *that* move. Laszlo's solution is designed to be future-proof.


And now for my rant:
I've let this one sit long enough...

I've been a long proponent of open source software and open source development. Up until recently, every company I've worked for adhered to the closed source proprietary methods of building software and making money. This model worked very well for a long time and brought us many software packages created to a quality level that was just good enough to sell.

The internet wasn't built that way. The web wasn't built that way. The core of the internet is open source. It follows that any technology that will change the landscape of the web will also be open source. This has been proven by the wide use of PHP, Apache, and Perl to create a dynamic web rather than a static one.

As a proprietary tool Flex will fill a niche (boutique?) market for those companies willing to pay for a platform and then pay for the staff to build applications on that platform. Laszlo now has the ability to focus its business on creating applications and supporting the continuing development a very powerful platform.

In case you havn't noticed, the only company that is really able to sell a proprietary platform is Microsoft. Even they have their problems with adoption (.Net anyone?).

Flex was a response to Laszlo. The NC license for Flex was a response to Laszlo. If Laszlo is desparate why are they leading this charge?

Let me back up a second. In order to have something like LPS or Flex adopted by a customer, you first need to convince them that they have a problem. Then you can show them that you have the solution and, oh by the way, you have a seven figure problem that justifies a six figure purchase.

Selling server licenses is a business model of the old school closed minded and closed sourced. In this day of ROI and outsourcing, IT departments are only willing to pay to keep things working. They're very conservative when it comes to spending. Many IT departments are penny wise but pound foolish also. How else can Microsoft convince people that Windows has a lower TCO than Linux?

There is a fundamental chicken and egg problem here. You can't sell a platform without demand, there's no demand unless there's adoption, there's no adoption if the price is too high, you can't make money without high prices, nobody will pay high prices for somthing that they don't have a demand for. So we go around for ever. One other thing to factor into this is the startup vs big company problem. Many customers are leery of purchasing core infrastructure from a small company that is dependent on VC money and building a market from scratch. The question inevitably becomes one of survival, and will this little company survive long enough for me to get the promised ROI? Many companies will wait and see what happens in the rest of the market. Open source breaks all of those cycles. There is no longer a fear that the platform will not be supported, nor is there the sticker shock of purchasing software license.

Laszlo understands the open source community, and business models. This is not a move of desparation, this is an opportunity to move the whole industry forward for the benefit of all. Developers now have the means and opportunity to explore this next generation of internet application without the shakles of old school development cycles. This move also allows the technology to be proven and fully vetted in the real world without charging users tons of money.

As for Macromedia's NC license, it's the carrot and the stick. You get the carrot now and the stick later. They are still locked into charging you for the privilege of supporting their platform. You get to pay for their sloppy work both by living with the bugs and inadequacies now and by charging you for an upgrade when it's in their best interest to fix those bugs.

I don't know about you, but I don't like being a slave.

Laszlo will make their money in different ways. They get to sell applications, training, support and professional services without the software license barrier. You developers get kick ass tools and real choice.

I'll admit to being colored, I've been fighting this fight for years. The names have changed but the fight is the same. I abandoned the use of commercial tools almost totally 6 years ago.

Do this, forget all about the cost. Look at both toolsets and choose based on their technical merits. The biggest difference until now was the name on the box.

2 Comments:

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