Thinking about Subscriptions

I have been meaning to post this for a while, but haven’t had a chance until now. Since we launched the Developer Resource Kit (DRK) about 5 months ago, I have seen a number of posts requesting that we make the DRKs available via some sort of subscription based service.

So, my question for the day is: what do you think of software subscriptions in general? What about a subscription to our tools? What would you want to see included? How would you want it implemented?

Update : note that I am not talking about DRK subscriptions (or at least not that specifically), but subscriptions in general.

Post your thoughts in the comments section…

37 Responses to Thinking about Subscriptions

  1. graham p says:

    To be honest I’m not keen on paying for the DRK at all. I’d only be interested in the Flash stuff, and from what I’ve read the exclusive UI components available aren’t that great. To me it doesnt look like good value, and is the sort of thing I expect as a free support download

  2. Justin Hall says:

    I think the DRK’s are an important part for Flash developers. I use components and Movie.prototype to extend them. I think a basic template for a component should cost money, no matter if it comes from Joe Blow or MACR. Why? It takes a long time to develop and the re-use of the component is what the buyer will be paying for, long term. Try developing some of these components and you will be putting in a lot of time. Time = money in the world of programming.The components shouldn’t come in a download, or upgrade for Flash. They should be packaged individually in MACR’s store. Point, click, and purchase the component or .mxp that I need. If I developed a component that is what I would want for my site.

  3. Daniel Dura says:

    Well, I actually think that subscriptions in general are pretty good. They keep you up to date on the latest software and techniques and are generally a good deal. (I’m thinking of things like MSDN subscriptions). Could I use something like this for Macromedia. Yes. Could Macromedia pull off putting together a service that would be worth the money? Maybe. I believe that the subscription would be mainly for developers who spend alot of time developing RIA using flash, and very advanced users. Just being a DRK everynow and then wouldnt be enough. I believe that upgrades on new versions of flash should be included. This may sound crazy, but think about it…minor flash updates come every now and then, and then about every 2 years, we see a new version of flash. If you subscribe to the ‘Macromedia Developer Network’ you should include the most recent upgrades to Flash. The cost of a subscription should cover that.Also, the number of DRKs released would need to be increased. Maybe not just including components, but exclusive articles regarding flash development would be great.Price? Well, if it was comprehensive: 400/year.I know there are alot of people that believe that this is rediculous, but I am looking into the future, if Macromedia really could step up the quality of the DRK and throw in a few more goodies, it would save me atleast that much in development costs.

  4. Richard T-J says:

    Having purchased DRK 1 & 2 and having made use of components and extensions on both disks, I can honestly say that they are worth the cost.I’ve actually suggested the idea of a subscritption to our local Macromedia team (Australia/New Zealand), and would definately subscribe.The only thing I would wish for is more products supported. I used Director and Authorware as well as the MX tools, yet they still seem to get left out in the cold. Perhaps bundling a few Director behaviours or Authorware commands would sweeten the deal.Also including the Tips and Tricks quicktimes to save downloading them.In regards to software subscription, that would depend on the benefits. If I paid an annual subscription, I would expect:- Free upgrades and patches- Some form of technical support- Advance notice of new versions (within reason)- Maybe preference to the beta teamsAs far as implementation goes, having set up A|W Maya license nodes, a system like FlexLM would be best, as it basically has a data file (encrypted) that allows a fixed number of concurrent copies to run at once, which would benefit larger organisations, and a set expiry date. When you re-subscribe you are sent a new data file.These are just my AUD$0.02 worth…Richard

  5. Byron Fast says:

    I’d have to agree with Graham, above. I didn’t buy the last DRK because there’s too much stuff I don’t care about for the one or two things I do care about. If I could have paid $5 or $10 for the couple of things I wanted, I would have, and that is definitely what I would prefer. This could also help Macromedia gauge what people are interested in.Not a big fan of subscriptions yet. So far all companies that implement them essentially use them to eliminate all possibilities of installing the software twice.The worst mistake Macromedia can make is using subscriptions to fight “piracy”. Software has to still be able to be moved around – it’s how you investigate new things, and it’s how people unfamiliar with something can take a look. No, the 30 day trial is not good enough.

  6. Leif Wells says:

    I am all for subscriptions. I have a Microsoft subscription for most of their software. If I had more money, I’d have one for Apple’s as well.What I think would be helpful would be:1) PDF versions of the tutorials so that they could be properly printed.2) A set schedule of releases. Hell, make it a montly surprise of Dreamweaver MX extensions, ColdFusion MX CFCs, and Flash MX components along with the tutorial content.What would make me crazy would be if people were “sharing” (pronounced “stealing”) the contents of the Subscribed DRK with their co-workers, friends and neighbors. I will pay for a subscription, as would my company. I’m not the RIAA or anything, but I believe that if I expect to get something of quality that I can use in my daily work, then it is worth paying for. Macromedia has been able to produce two DRKs that are of that quality.

  7. >Could I use something like this for Macromedia. Yes. Could Macromedia pull off putting together a service that would be worth the money?what would you want included? what tools and or services?mike

  8. mike chambers says:

    >Advance notice of new versions (within reason)richard, what if you could get free product upgrades during the duration of your subscription?i.e. you pay for a year, and then when a new version of, say flash comes out, you automatically get it?mike

  9. I agree with Daniel, there would need to be exclusive/more frequent content to make subscribing worth the money. Free product upgrades would be nice. And maybe discounts on products that you aren’t upgrading (full versions). A good addition would be a newsletter that would announce more of the hard to find features of MM’s site like upcoming video lectures on Java & Flash Remoting. Maybe partner with Flash Forward to provide discount tickets?

  10. >And maybe discounts on products that you aren’t upgrading (full versions).what if a subscription just included all of the products? with free upgrades during the subscription term?would that be useful / attrractive?just thinking out loud…mike

  11. All the products would be very attractive, but then I would think you’d start getting into a pretty hefty price for the subscription. After all, some of MM’s products cost $1000 and up. Maybe you could have different levels of subscriptions, one where you get free upgrades w/ discounts on full products that would be at a lesser cost than a full subscription.

  12. Jason Key says:

    I am up with Mike and Daniel. I think a subscription service would be great, for software updates or upgrades. Though I am a bit timid in saying software updates being a good idea overall, as I am a bit more sensitive to a development environment being upgraded too quickly. Backwards compatibility being the number 1 issue along those lines.But in truth, seeing that some of the most fantastic dev components come out of MM, I personally would like to see more content overall. Even so far as additional tools that I know MM has laying around for testing purposes. (hint .. Flogger Upgrades .. bigtime)Being Flash centric personally, I would love to see more components such as are on the DRK put out as it saves us all time and energy as developers to get bits and pieces such as this. But they would have to be regularly updated, to justify the cost, not to mention the popularity of the service overall. Regular updates are the juice in the Open Source movement, and really drive much of that community. To see Macromedia as a Commercial Software Company emulate some of those ideals would truly help develop a tigher community.My 2 cents.Jason Key

  13. when i mentioned free upgrades, i meant if a new version came out.i.e. if you had a subscription, and a new version of flash came out, you could get it free (i.e. as part of the subscription).i didnt mean upgrades as in patches. just wanted to make that clear.mike

  14. bembino says:

    A subscription service that allowed for automatic upgrades for free would be great.I agree that it would be nice to buy components one by one as you needed them. The only thing keeping me from buying the DRKs is that I would only use some of the components.

  15. Sean says:

    Subscriptions are definitely the way to go, especially for any sort of developer tools. The MSDN service, when I had it, was nice, reliable and kept me up to date without having to do the work of keeping up to date.

  16. Nik Khilnani says:

    I think subscriptions work for companies or product groups that have frequent updates or integration between products with the group. for eg. microsofts msdn subscription which has different levels depending on which u get updates, new versions, licensing for the entire office, support levels etc.this would defnitely work for macromedia with the mx prodcut group. But it is usually the companies that opt for this, not home or free-lance users, so single user licensing would still be absolutely neccesary. this would only be supplemental and help companies adopt the mx work , having to order a version of flash etc for each developer or project being done is a pain. for some clients my firm/prev firms used to buy a version of flash &/ director for the project associated with them.for companies subscriptions would work. single users would only subscribe to the most basic form which should exist as well. the basic form would be exclusive articles, components, tips, a forum etc.depending on the subscription type, beta copies, pre-release, documentation of all features at release time instead of thing coming out slowly, expected dates for next prodcut launch etc. would be made available…there should be a per user and small business subscription program starting at 5 users i’d say cause there are a lot of firms with a small number of dedicated flash developers would definitely like a discount and would no doubt stay loyal as well.the drk should be on a subscription not not cd’s that come in the mail, they should also be downlaodable (i think theyre only cd based, or so i was told when i had them ordered). Usually the need for components or articles is immediate. by the time they come in the mail you can probably build one ureself. time is the issue in my opinion.just thoughts…nik

  17. Richard T-J says:

    re: updates and patchesSorry, I should have clarified what I meant.Free upgrade to the next version if it was released within your subscription period.The reference to updates and patches was meant more in the support area and from the point of view of notification of such. I’m a registered user and don’t recall ever getting an email about DW 6.1s release, but found out through blogs like yours. (But my emails from MM are sometimes erratic )Just another thought: I remember when I first investigated CF I came across LiveDocs whereby the documentation was in a constant state of revision by the community. It would be useful to have perhaps a dynamic version of each apps help system online, with community input into additions and corrections. It would have to be in a password protected area, to avoid its use by those whose copies of MX feel off the back of the web.I hope this is a little clearer :-)See you at MXDURichard

  18. ericd says:

    as long as the quality is always there – i would be in favor of a yearly DRK subscription. I think the schedule is 1 per quarter? Charge $250 for a year or something perhaps… but make it easy to change one’s preferences someplace (delivery), etc.

  19. g.wygonik says:

    i don’t think the company i work for would be adverse to paying $2000 – $3000 a year for a MSDN Universal-like subscription to MM. i just don’t know how feasable it would be for MM to release betas, rc1s, documentation updates, DRKs, technical papers, tutorials, and player versions on cd quarterly.MSDN Universal is fantastic from the standpoint that we can see how soon-to-be-released technology will affect our product and workflow, and allow a faster adoption once the final release is out.should MM be able to do this, i would imagine the same would happen. we would be able to see what benefits will come of the new versions and be ready to rapidly work with the final release. it would mean that the 6-9 months of waiting for a widespread distribution of the newest flash player (and features) might be shortened to maybe 2-4 months as you’d have more apps ready to roll.of course if this included beta versions of apps, you would have a captive, non-public beta group that paid for the privilege :-)and, naturally, this would also include any final release program that came out during the subscription period – with more than single-user license. (MSDN Universal is 10 users for non-commercial/non-production purposes, IIRC)however, this being said, as one who also works with flash in his spare time, none of this interests me as an option. i don’t have the money to put towards extras that sometimes i feel should be part of the product to begin with. with the huge amount of free and built-into-the-browser dhtml objects, flash is not always people’s first choice for web apps… i personally havn’t purchased a DRK because they don’t fit into what i’m working on, and there was too much “other product” stuff that i wasn’t willing to pay for…therefore, i agree with others that perhaps just being able to purchase individual components from the MM site would be cool (priced within reason please). like the data grid – certainly worth $$. but not basic UI components (which really should be free IMO)…and this option doesn’t fall into a subscription scenario then… just a one-off “pay-for-play” type scenario…my 2 cents… FWIW…:-)g.

  20. Ralf Siegel says:

    I would subscribe to anything which leaves the library panel in Flash MX in place.

  21. Peter Hall says:

    >> I didn’t buy the last DRK because there’s too much>> stuff I don’t care about for the one or two things I do>> care about. If I could have paid $5 or $10 for the>> couple of things I wanted, I would have>>That’s simplistic thinking. The price tag already assumes that you only need one or two of the components. If you need more then you’re really onto a bargain!

  22. g.wygonik says:

    certainly the DRKs are a fantastic bargain, but perhaps if MM had put a price of say $50-$100 for individual components, in the long run there might have been more sales/revenue individually since poeple wouldn’t think they were getting extraneous stuff they didn’t need… sometimes people want more choice and less pre-packaged goods – regardless of how it affects their pocket book…maybe subscriptions get pre-assembled DRKs for the rockin’ price they are, but casual users get to buy individual components for a little more $$…options aren’t a bad thing…

  23. Brian Lesser says:

    Subscriptions are great when they:1. make license management easier instead of harder. The devil is in the details. If not executed well they make customers feel like they’ve bought protection from an extortionist. Please don’t have someone call me to say that because we didn’t get the paper work we have to pay double. Done well – there is usually some price protection involved – budget planning can be a lot easier.2. are cheaper. Basically, you are committing to buying something repeatedly. If this lowers your longer term costs somewhat in exchange for a more stable market for Macromedia then everyone wins. In many cases Macromedia will also see more rapid adoption of newer releases and fewer people delaying upgrading by an extra year.3. customers have to own the licenses. Renting something that is a core production tool is not a good idea.My 2 canuck cents worth.Cheers,-Brian

  24. jaded says:

    I tend to agree with Graham P, to leverage Flash as a RIA environment the Resource Kits should be a support function rather than a pay for product.

  25. Anonymous says:

    well, with that argument, you could say that ColdFusion MX should be free as a support function for RIA, instead of a pay for product.

  26. David Dodson says:

    The question is how much does a component cost. If you’re charging for components, the anticipation is that they will be used by a large number of people, as such the cost for the individual component should not be that high. In my opinion charging more than $10 for one component is absurd. It’s just another money makins scam, because if your component is good, at $10 with the number of downloads you see at the exchange, you’d earn a pretty penny, surely enough to cover the costs.A subscription would be nice, but I would say anything over $100 for the year would again be absurd. Also there would have to be some sort of garuntee that two or three geniuses over at macro are working exclusively on designing the next best components.DPLD

  27. crooked spoon says:

    I’ve heard it pretty often… (Jacob Nielsen and the kind)… One of the downsides of flash is the lacking of interface standards. Components could change that up ’till a decent extend. By using the UI-components that come with MX, you have a somehow consitent set of tools to be used, for free, and they will be used because of either laziness or time pressure.These UI-components should be extended -for free- to improve consitency. If every flash-developer has to re-program every button/scrollbar/slider for each application, i think it’ll get quite hard to get to some level of consitency througout ‘Flash’ on the web…my 2 cent worth of…

  28. Constant upgrades, as well as components, should be always developed for free.

  29. buscadores says:

    This is the best of the subscriptions are pretty good because you have information and feedback for latest software, components, etc.

  30. whois says:

    Count me in please.

  31. D. Latz says:

    we have purchased DRK 1,2+3.They are worth the cost!

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