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Open Source Killing Commercial Developer Tools 742

Posted by kdawson
from the evolving-ecosystem dept.
jexrand recommends an interview with John De Goes in which he argues: "The tools market is dead. Open source killed it." The software developer turned president of N-BRAIN explains the effect that open source has had on the developer tools market, and how this forced the company to release the personal edition of UNA free of charge. According to De Goes, selling a source-code editor, even a very good one, is all but impossible in the post-open source era, especially given that, "Some developers would rather quit their job than be forced to use a new editor or IDE." N-BRAIN's decision is but one in a string of similar announcements from tools companies announcing the free release of their previously commercial development tools.
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Open Source Killing Commercial Developer Tools

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:05AM (#23722245)
    and gasoline killed steam, and steam killed sail, and sail killed slave rowers...

    Its called progress.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and gasoline killed steam, and steam killed sail, and sail killed slave rowers...
      It's more like:

      Diesel engines (and electricity on the railways) killed steam, steam killed sail. Slave rowers were killed off by cannon and the fact that a 17th century man-o-war was simply to big and well protected against cannon shot into the waterline for any galley to stand a chance of successfully ramming it.

      Yes.. I'm done nitpicking...

    • by alx5000 (896642) <alx5000.alx5000@net> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:26AM (#23722409) Homepage
      Extra, extra! Better, cheaper tools make worse, more expensive ones unsellable! Film at 11.
      • by Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:40AM (#23722519)

        Extra, extra! Better, cheaper tools make worse, more expensive ones unsellable! Film at 11.

        Doubtless. But inferior, cost-free tools sometimes make better, commercial ones unsellable. That is the tragedy.

        • by alx5000 (896642) <alx5000.alx5000@net> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:52AM (#23722621) Homepage
          Tragedy? That's free market in its purest form!
          • by Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:06AM (#23722761)

            Tragedy? That's free market in its purest form!

            Pure free-market economics assume that the players are making rational informed decisions. In software acquisition, that assumption fails often.

            If the more-expensive tool saves time worth more than its cost, then the appropriate free-market choice is to invest. My experience is that buyers at all levels won't do that when there's a cost-free alternative. They'd rather waste time (=money) or lose quality (=money due to cost of fixing later) than spend capital.

            • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:16AM (#23722885) Journal
              That is bullshit.

              The reason open source has taken off so much is because it allows people who have no capital to dodge around the wage-slave line and produce things with their own tools.

              Teach a man to fish and all that jazz...

              Capitalism and all its fictional scarcity have been destroying productivity in the name of control for a long time. The liberty that lies beneath free software and open publishing is increasing productivity, not damaging it.

              Capitalist economics is a big shell game, meant to fleece suckers. It's monopoly, dependence, exploitation and theft, pure and simple.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                So next time my management refuse to buy a $200 tool and I lose a week of working time with an inferior FOSS equivalent that's me saved is it? Even if I have to make up the lost week in unpaid overtime? Good for my soul, maybe.

                Don't get me wrong, I like FOSS software, but I do need it to work. It's for using, not for looking at. If I need a tool and the FOSS versions are inadequate, then I need the commercial version, at least until the FOSS world catches up.

                Bad free tools don't increase my productivity

                • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:50AM (#23723175)
                  Everyone in your example is making an informed, rational decision except for you. Why would the management invest $200 in saving you a week of overtime when they don't have to pay you for it? Also, if $200 is worth less to you than your week of unpaid overtime, you should have bought the tool and used it on your own. I hope that having this pointed out to you triggers an epiphany--the only irrational actor in the free market here was you.
                  • by Anonymous Conrad (600139) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:39AM (#23723703)

                    Why would the management invest $200 in saving you a week of overtime when they don't have to pay you for it?
                    Because a week's unpaid overtime when it's not your fault pisses you off, and pissed-off programmers leave for better jobs elsewhere. Workforce morale isn't free - sometimes management need to invest money for morale's sake.

                    The part that doesn't follow for me is that tools failure implies unpaid overtime. Things go wrong you go straight back to management and sort it out - pressing on regardless is never the answer, especially when it's on your own time.
                  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@gmDALIail.com minus painter> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:41AM (#23723747) Journal
                    Why would the management invest $200 in saving you a week of overtime when they don't have to pay you for it?

                    Why doesn't the company just give you pen and paper and tell you to program with them..
                  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:44AM (#23723787)
                    Everyone in your example is making an informed, rational decision except for you. Why would the management invest $200 in saving you a week of overtime when they don't have to pay you for it? Also, if $200 is worth less to you than your week of unpaid overtime, you should have bought the tool and used it on your own. I hope that having this pointed out to you triggers an epiphany--the only irrational actor in the free market here was you.

                    In a vacuum, that's perhaps true, but nothing is. It's the economics equivalent of one of those first year physics problems where you pretend all projectiles are perfect spheres and encounter no wind resistance.

                    For example, maybe the poster would have done something else useful for his employer during the non-overtime time that he wasted with the inferior tool, something that would have been worth more than $200.

                    Or, maybe it drives the poster to change jobs and work at a company that will actually pay for the tools it takes for him to be most productive. I've done exactly that in my own career. Time spent as a developer trying to solve some business problem with code is fulfilling to me; time spent as a developer wrestling with a shitty tool is not. I guarantee that the costs involved in finding and hiring a replacement developer are more than $200.

                    (For the record, I've worked for a company that insisted on non-free tools for everything, and I've worked for a company that refused to play for anything. They're both wrong.)
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by ShieldW0lf (601553)
                  So next time my management refuse to buy a $200 tool and I lose a week of working time with an inferior FOSS equivalent that's me saved is it? Even if I have to make up the lost week in unpaid overtime? Good for my soul, maybe.

                  So, if there were no free tools, and your management had to close up shop and go get jobs working for someone else because the cumulative cost of all these tools was too much for their enterprise to bear, would that make you happier?
                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    So next time my management refuse to buy a $200 tool and I lose a week of working time with an inferior FOSS equivalent that's me saved is it? Even if I have to make up the lost week in unpaid overtime? Good for my soul, maybe. So, if there were no free tools, and your management had to close up shop and go get jobs working for someone else because the cumulative cost of all these tools was too much for their enterprise to bear, would that make you happier?

                    No of course not. Listen, I don't want the free software to go away. I want it to fulfil its hype and be as good as the paid-for stuff. In cases where that hasn't happened yet, I want the commercial stuff still to be available.

                • by Yetihehe (971185) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:18AM (#23723467)
                  And what with bad paid-for tools? If your management bought tools which are still usnusable, but paid for them, you would have no problem? The problem here is with management, not free software.
                  • by Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:39AM (#23723699)

                    And what with bad paid-for tools? If your management bought tools which are still usnusable, but paid for them, you would have no problem?

                    *Grits teeth* No, I don't want commercial tools regardless of quality. I want each tool to be evaluated on its merits, and I want alternatives in each category. Sometimes the commercial tools are good alternatives, sometimes not. If the commercial tools go off the market, then I lose choice. If my organization won't pay for tools, then I lose choice. Both are bad.

                    I am not in opposition to FOSS. I make my living writing exclusively FOSS; I am privileged in this respect.

                    The problem here is with management, not free software.

                    Yes! I agree! See informed, rational decisions, lack of, in other posts of this thread.

                    • by orasio (188021) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:01AM (#23723993) Homepage
                      What you claim as "losing choice" is just free market. Of course, free market has its good things and its bad things. That's how it is.

                      Software companies selling stuff for more than it's worth go under. And you lose choice. But the fact that there are other competitors selling inferior things cheaper is only good. In fact, the original company has the opportunity to change the price to the real market value, that in some cases drops to zero. That is a good thing, not a bad thing.

                      I think you have a wrong idea of free software and open source. No-cost or non-commercial was never a goal. Free software is intended to be free as in freedom, they can charge as much as they want, only most people choose not to. When I sell free software, I charge, usually because I build custom software. Free software is usually commercial.

                      If you want your manager to buy the tools you want, free software has nothing to do with it. You could make the comparison of management buying some cheaper propietary package you didn't want just because it was cheaper to acquire than the one you wanted. The fact that free software can be acquired for no cost doesn't make a difference. It has nothing to do with the "FOSS"/commercial false dichotomy.
                • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:44AM (#23723773) Journal

                  PS: informed, rational decisions are an assumption in free-market economics. The fact that you don't like capitalism doesn't make this untrue, as you seem to imply.
                  They are not assumed, they are required. Thus any market economic model is invalidated when a non-trivial portoin of the actors do not have access to information, or do not make rational decisions. These factors can be adjusted for, but it is difficult to accurately assess.

                  The reason I point this out is that this is independent of free or not-free economic models. The reason free-market capitalism actually reduces choice for purchasers is that there are barriers to entry for production of a good. Some are regulatory (and thus would disappear in a true free market) but some are natural and cannot be removed from the equation.

                  One other thing to note... from an economists perspective, your productivity doesn't matter. Something may benefit some people and harm others, but the interests of the individual are meaningless -- what is important is the benefit to the economy (&hence, society).

                  Sorry if you have to take one for the team while OS tools catch up to proprietary tools, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
              • Capitalist economics is a shell game? I strongly disagree but I will go with it for the purposes of discussion. (I believe capitalism does a damn fine job of allocating resources efficiently)

                Question for you: what is the alternative?

                What is the utopian economic vision you have in mind? If capitalist economics sucks, then what is the "right" model, in your mind? Please enlighten us.
                • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:09AM (#23724121) Homepage Journal
                  The free market is efficient at allocating resources according to supply and demand.

                  To start with, there's no requirement that a society needs to be capitalist to use a working free market. There's no inherent contradiction in having a free market in a socialist society, for example - the thing that would define such a society as socialist would be how capital is allocated, while the selection of providers of services and products could be left to the free market.

                  Personally I'm a strong believer in socialized medicine, for example, but at the same time I wouldn't see a problem with a system where private providers competed for the "business" of people needing treatment, while the base payment is provided by government. After all, the goal of socialized medicine isn't for the state to run hospitals, it's for the state to guarantee a certain level of medical services to all.

                  You may notice that most European countries operate somewhere along a scale from completely government operated services, to a hybrid model. Some indeed shows signs of both - the UK National Health Service is one of the largest employers in the world, with 1.3 million employees (depending on who you believe and how you count it's it could be considered the 4th largest employer in the world after the Chinese Army, Walmart and Indian national Railways), at the same time a lot of services are outsourced to private companies, and both GP's and dentists that gets some or all of their income from the NHS compete for business.

                  I'm politically far to the left of the sitting UK Labour government, yet I actually wish they'd open up larger parts (most) of the NHS to free market pressures, as long as they keep their eyes on the goal of providing top quality healthcare for everyone.

                  In fact, some would argue that a lot of government intervention that they support should be done in the form of markets. CO2 quotas being one example: Create a competition driven market to achieve the government goals rather than set hard requirements, as it acts as an incentive for innovative solutions that you're unlikely to have thought of from the outset.

                  But apart from all of this, which is not dependent on a capitalist society (to make that clearer: none of this require private ownership of capital even - a free market can still function in a society where all actors are private citizens or publicly owned companies instead of privately owned), a free market is only effectively allocating resources when two conditions are met:

                  • It is actually free. That means it almost inevitably need to be regulated to prevent monopolies etc.. Free != unregulated. On the contrary, the part of "free" that is important is unhindered competition. Unhindered both by government and by abuse of dominant positions, or inefficiencies introduced by government will just be replaced by inefficiencies introduced by dominant players.
                  • When the immediate needs of actors serve their long term needs.

                  Looking at for example the cellphone and broadband markets you see a classic example of when more regulation actually contribute to more competition, because it prevents monopolies from strangling the market:

                  Several European countries have extensive unbundling of services baked into their laws. In Norway, for example, the network operators are required by law to offer unhindered access to their networks by third parties at "cost plus" terms (they can charge their cost plus up to a certain margin), and at the same time all operators are limited as to how long contract periods they can require as part of handset bundles.

                  This has created a massively competitive market for operators, with a large number of "virtual operators" that don't own their own network, and at least one operator with only a limited network that depends on roaming in rural areas. In all I believe there are more than 40 GSM and 3G operators in Norway, with a population of about 4 million. That's a testament to successful re

                • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:29AM (#23724477) Journal
                  Capitalist economics is a shell game? I strongly disagree but I will go with it for the purposes of discussion. (I believe capitalism does a damn fine job of allocating resources efficiently)

                  Question for you: what is the alternative?

                  What is the utopian economic vision you have in mind? If capitalist economics sucks, then what is the "right" model, in your mind? Please enlighten us.


                  First off, the way to create a fair and equitable society is to recognize that people are not born free. The real world imposes requirements upon us, and those requirements must be met.

                  To be strong, self-sufficient and confident individuals, we must meet these needs through the direct application of our own power. We cannot yoke our fellow man like a horse to meet our requirements for us, because doing so strips us of our individuality transforms us into dependent parasites. We must do it ourselves, and we cultivate the capacity to do for ourselves within ourselves, and within each other.

                  The right economic model to deliver this is communism, without currency. No taxes. All contributions to be paid in labour, all people to contribute to each industry that sustains life to the best of their capacity.

                  Everyone, from the top to the bottom, does their time in the industries that create our food, our shelter, our power, etc.

                  This means spending some of your time in the areas you're good at, demonstrating to your peers that you're a skilled asset in that area, and being given the opportunity to lead by those who recognize that you have something to offer that they do not.

                  It also means spending some of your time in the areas you're not good at, recognizing your limitations, and learning to recognize the people who surpass your limitations so you know who to be led by, for your own self-interest.

                  This is how you create a self-reliant and informed population.

                  This would reduce the workload on all people dramatically, because we wouldn't have a vast multitude of people dedicating their entire lives to creating things which do nothing to sustain anyone, but merely titillate the fancy of our ruling class.

                  Once you have such a strong population of informed individuals, you need a democratic process to allow them to co-operate.

                  But not a democratic process like we have now. What we see in the world today is a joke, in which we are given a short list of unappealing rulers, and we must choose one who will rule over us for years, with no capacity to change our mind should we be betrayed.

                  What we need is a democratic process that leaves us always in control of our own political voice, small though it may be in a crowd so large.

                  Ideally, this would mean direct democracy, in which all people vote directly on all issues, in the fashion of the Romans. But this ideal would require that we have infinite time to inform ourselves, and to gather the opinions of those we trust more than ourselves to answer specific concerns.

                  So, the way to solve the problem is to allow us to embed expressions of our trust into the system, and have those expressions be under our control.

                  We allow everyone to vote directly on each issue, and we allow them to choose instead to vote for any individual they wish. If they choose to vote for an individual, that individual gets the extra vote transferred to them, to wield as they see fit.

                  The "vote", the "transfer of power", this should be revocable at any time, and all votes cast should be part of the public record, with no anonymity. This way, there's no power usurped under false pretenses and wielded in an arbitrary fashion without consequence during some arbitrary political term of office, which is what we see so much of today.

                  In such a world, people would remain strong individuals, understanding of how their life is maintained. They would have no need to prey on each other. They would have developed as much knowledge, wisdom and experience as
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Arthur B. (806360)
                How exactly is capitalism theft ? Theft implies coercion. Who is being coerced and deprived of his property ?
                • by MrNaz (730548) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:45AM (#23723795) Homepage
                  Those whose economic liberty is undermined by parties greatly more powerful than themselves. Capitalism is fine if you assume that all parties in the game start off on equal footing. But that assumption is as unrealistic as "frictionless" is in physics, making capitalism as a model as useful as the theoretical models that high school physics students discuss.

                  No, I won't be baited into rooting for communism, so don't go asking me what the alternative is. I'm saying "capitalism is broken". I don't need to suggest an alternative in order to make that assertion.
              • by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:13AM (#23723423) Homepage Journal

                Capitalism and all its fictional scarcity have been destroying productivity in the name of control for a long time.

                A lot of capitalistic theory deals with the reality of scarcity. When you reduce costs to zero, you eventually get to the point where you realize time is scarce. Now time is sometimes hard to reduce to a simple and abstract currency, and opportunity costs complicate things, but scarcity exists.

                BTW distributing free software does cost money. It is cheap, cheap enough for entities like sourceforge to absorb, but servers require electricity, which in tern require nuclear rectors or fossil fuel to make.

                Now open source does lower the cost of entry for building and using software, along with other benefits, but it does so because of capitalism, not in spite of it.

              • by aurispector (530273) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:24AM (#23723531)
                Capitalist economics isn't a shell game, it's human nature. Capital is just a word that means "money". It could also be referred to as a "stake" or "seed money", etc., but it just means money. Take that money, use it to sell goods or services and you have a business. Make money on your endeavor and we call it call it "profit". The aggregate of all people buying and selling is called a "market". "Economics" is just the ebb and flow of market prices for various goods and services. If the market is competetive it's called a "free" market. Follow me so far? Good boy!

                Free market economics work because people in the market make "rational" choices. The underlying assumptions may be flawed and the choices may be wrong but this is still part of the market. Make the wrong choice and you go broke because in a free market you are free to be an idiot and go broke. However, if you make smart choices and DON'T go broke, this is STILL the market at work, because the market is still just the composite behavior of people buying and selling things.

                The key word here is "free", because if you are the dominant player in a market the most natural thing to do is control the market so it's more difficult to compete by the inherent value of your good or services alone. Various methods can be used to accomplish this and various laws exist to discourage this. If you are successful in eliminating your competitors you have a monopoly. Still with me? Good boy!

                This is the tricky part - monopolies can STILL be viewed as part of a free market and the collective behavior of people in response to the monopoly is ALSO part of a free market. For example, Microsoft used every dirty trick in the book to create a virtual monopoly in the operating system market. The market responded with rampant piracy and theft, but also with free open source operating systems. The reason this occurs is because people are smart and don't like being screwed. Microsoft, along with big media corporations use their vast, monopoly generated profits to buy political support for draconian IP protection laws in order to legislatively protect their monopolies. They view this as necessary because the market value of an electronic copy of their products is practically zero. This is due to virtually unlimited production and distribution at extremely low cost. The market continues working.

                Still there? Good boy!

                There's no practical way to prevent these types of abuses since people are greedy and politicians are whores. However, the market is PEOPLE (kind of, but not exactly like soylent green) who are smart and don't like being screwed. Existing IP monopolies relied on the difficulty involved in copying and ditributing the content; you had to buy a vinyl record or cd or videotape or DVD - essentially that was the SAME as buying a copy of the IP since they couldn't easily be copied or distributed.
                Oops! Here comes Digital Audio Tape! The monopolists killed that one quick because they knew it would eventually put them out of business. Wait, what's that thing called? The INTERNET? Awww, shit! Instant production and distribution! Our evil schemes are failing! To congress!

                So, thank goodness for the market because no matter what kind of IP protection rackets they come up with, people find ways around them. Meanwhile the IP monopolist's traditional business models are failing, since it's possible to produce and distribute alternatives for virtually nothing. What were they selling, a cd or the recorded music/software? What about radio? Ad suppported-a different revenue stream, Hmmm. The ball is in the free market's court right now. These companies will either find a new way to sell their products or die on the vine.

                The moral of our little story? Don't confuse capitalist economics or a free market for monopolistic behavior by bad actors in the market. That's like blaming the henhouse for the wolf. Now be a good boy and go to bed.
            • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:17AM (#23722897)
              They'd rather waste time (=money) or lose quality (=money due to cost of fixing later) than spend capital.

              Well then their competitors will beat them by using the superior tool and shipping a product faster, better, cheaper. That IS free-market economics. Not every company is going to make the best decisions. The best teams will survive, the weakest will fail.

              It seems to me these guys selling the source-code editor are not doing their job of marketing/advertising well enough. If their product will truly save time/money then they need to do a better job of convincing people of that. If their tool would save me hours daily I might be interested. But I've never heard of their tool. I've never seen it. That's not MY failure, it's theirs.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by the.Ceph (863988)

                It seems to me these guys selling the source-code editor are not doing their job of marketing/advertising well enough.
                Ah but the real story is how they're marketing department has "embraced" open source.
                1. Write article almost-trolling OSS, make sure to mention your product a bunch.
                2. Get article posted to slashdot
                3. ??????
                4. Profit!!
            • by alx5000 (896642) <alx5000.alx5000@net> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:25AM (#23722983) Homepage

              I think we're both generalizing and 'if'-fing a little too much. Every case should be examined separately. We can safely assume Qcad is not a real replacement for AutoCAD, whereas OOo will be more than enough for the majority of MSOffice users. The problem with companies such as the one TFA mentions is that they seem to be trying to sell the same thing you can get somewhere else for free, without any noticeable quality difference, and then bitching about it and crying "the communists are destroying my business!". Ask ice-sellers what they think of the price drop in refrigerators.

              My experience is that buyers at all levels won't do that when there's a cost-free alternative.

              If that were true, most places where employees only use email, web browsing and office software would be installing Linux instead of the almost ubiquitous Windows.

            • by Rix (54095) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:04AM (#23723339)
              It requires all participants to be omniscient.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              If the more-expensive tool saves time worth more than its cost, then the appropriate free-market choice is to invest.

              But in a lot of cases, the more-expensive tool doesn't save time, or doesn't save enough time to justify the cost.

              Why is Microsoft SourceSafe dead? Because it didn't save any more time over the free software revision control tools. How about ClearCase? It's getting old and newer, more nimble systems like GIT, GNU Arch, and Mercurial are replacing it. Sure, CLearCase has a few unique featu

        • MS was the cheapest game in the town, till Linux came about.
          Similarly for other cheap products.
        • by Cyberax (705495) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:01AM (#23727715)
          Nope. Inferior cost-free tools usually make inferior commercial ones unsellable.

          For example, Eclipse IDE has not killed IntelliJ IDEA because IDEA is a f*ing great IDE. VIM has not killed TextMate on Macs, GIMP has not killed Photoshop.

          I looked at UNA and I'm completely underwhelmed. It's a mediocre tool at best.
    • by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:02AM (#23722717)
      curious, however, that the screenshot on their site looks too much close on netbeans 5.5.....

      Also, Visual Studio express it is NOT open source, and kicked out every possible competition on ms.net/msc++
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Octorian (14086)
        Wait, you mean there were usable .NET IDEs besides VS that got kicked out?

        Ok, what real options have I ever heard of? Well, there's SharpDevelop (but its windows-only, and why not just use VS.Net then), and there's MonoDevelop (which is an unusable pile of garbage, but at least it runs on Linux).

        This is really my main beef with .NET. As a programming language, I like C# better than Java. But as a complete environment+tools, I'll pick the Java ecosystem just about any day without a second thought.
        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:38AM (#23723681) Homepage
          You don't have a lot of choice with .Net. You pretty much can only choose VS.Net. It's the only really good tool. However, it's great. There's a couple things that could be changed, and it would be nice of the price was a little lower, but it's really an awesome tool. VS.Net is much better than any other IDE, at least as far as I've seen. I like open source software, and try to push it whenever I can, but VS.Net is one area where MS got it right for once, and really did turn out a better system then open source.
    • by msormune (808119) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:03AM (#23722737)
      No it's not progress. It would be if OS tools provided an actual better and more advanced way of writing software. But as the article says, OS development tools have no technological advantage; The only advantage is they're free.
      • by Decameron81 (628548) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:20AM (#23722915)

        No it's not progress. It would be if OS tools provided an actual better and more advanced way of writing software. But as the article says, OS development tools have no technological advantage; The only advantage is they're free.


        Technological advantages are not the only way you can have progress. Progress can be attained by, for example, having every programmer in the world be able to access affordable development tools. This goes to the advantage of everyone, and the disadvantage of those who want to sell development tools. Maybe they should just move on to the next product, or look for an alternate business model. It happens all the time to all kinds of companies.

        I really think that we have reached a point where all development tools offer the same features, more or less. Maybe the point is that these software companies should move to something more than making source code editors which we can no longer distinguish from each other.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mongoose(!no) (719125)

      ...and sail killed slave rowers...
      Did it impale them or something?
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:09AM (#23722281)
    If you want to complain, use emacs. That will give you a whole set of (other) reasons.
    • Re:Why complain? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thermian (1267986) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:29AM (#23722431)
      Having been forced to use Emacs at Uni, I'd have thought it would positively promote commercial editors....

      Actually I find that I use Notepad++ these days, it does enough of what Emacs does to please, but does it in a simpler fashion, I don't have to remember 5^10*24 keypress combinations.

      Aside from that, I'd have thought it was Visual Studio that's killing the market myself, it has free versions, has the industry standard languages, and always implements the most recent windows technology.
      • Re:Why complain? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:54AM (#23722637)
        Actually I find that I use Notepad++ these days, it does enough of what Emacs does ...

        Bah. What good is an editor that doesn't include email, usenet, telnet and ftp functions?

        Seriously, though, I don't doubt your sincerity, but whenever I read something along the lines of "It works great!", I wonder why it is the endorsement never includes its limitations, or what should be a requisite qualifier of "It works, but only for the limited manner in which I need it to work."
  • by Tsagadai (922574) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:10AM (#23722289) Journal
    Markets which close because of open source tools are akin to weavers complaining about mechanical looms in days of old. Technology advances and no one wants to buy the old way any more. It is not a bad thing, it's progress. The less companies are paying for software the more they can spend on expanding their products and making money instead of sinking money into re-inventing the wheel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Toreo asesino (951231)
      It's Visual Studio (plus add-ins) arm-in-arm with the Team Foundation Server that's really selling I'd say.

      TFS is not cheap, no really it's not, and yet it sells very well.
  • by Daffy Duck (17350) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:10AM (#23722293) Homepage

    "Some developers would rather quit their job than be forced to use a new editor or IDE."
    And I suspect their bosses would be glad to be rid of these prima donnas. Nothing says "value" like "I refuse to learn!".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Viol8 (599362)
      Learning a new language for a task is one thing. The benefits are obvious. Learning a new editor or IDE is not so obvious. They're simply tools to make your life easier to get a job done. If you already have a hammer you like then why be forced to use another hammer to bang in the same nails?
  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ricebowl (999467) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:12AM (#23722299)

    "Some developers would rather quit their job than be forced to use a new editor or IDE."

    And some prima-donna developers will presumably find themselves without a job after a couple of resignations based on the code-editor they were required to use.

    I'm glad to see that (F)OSS is making an impact, even if it means that a company has to give away their software. I know that this might put a lot of jobs at risk, which is bad, but maintaining a false-economy-based business model as a welfare system is, I tend to assume, more harmful to the overall economy. Plus there's always the option to release advanced tools under a paid-for license, as well as the paid-for support contract.

  • Urg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:19AM (#23722337) Homepage Journal
    Or maybe your product just sucks.

    No-one wants your editor with an integrated chat program.

    WAH.

    • Re:Urg (Score:5, Informative)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:32AM (#23722445)
      They're not giving away the editor with the integrated chat. They were "forced" to release the personal edition of their collaborative editor at no charge.

      1. Slashvertise crippled version of your program.
      2. ???
      3. Profit!!
  • In the meantime... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:19AM (#23722339) Journal
    ... we are all richer as we get for free functionalities that would cost thousands of dollar without open source.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobBebop (947356)

      Not only are we richer, but we are less likely to be put in a situation where fragmentation in the tools-development department causes our projects to be late.

      Having worked with at least three major source code repository tools (CVS, ClearCase, and PVCS/Dimensions) I could give an entire rant about how they each give the top-level objects that you checkout different names (Modules, VOBs, and Products).

      If you want an honest opinion, I think every developer should know how to work with CVS/Subversion just

  • Oh really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davmoo (63521) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:21AM (#23722365)
    I wonder, then, how come Microsoft still manages to sell gazillions of copies of Visual Studio, even when they also give away "express" editions of their products too.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:28AM (#23722423)
    No wonder nobody buys your stuff. Your online presence gives me the creeps. Quite literally actually. I feel sick watching that presentation and listening to that irritating music. I wouldn't download your tool for free, let alone buy a product from a software company that presents itself like that. No f*ckin' way. And I'm a guy that actually does buy software.

    How about wasting 5 minutes on a concept for an online presence and an online marketing strategy? And, please, *do* get a *professional* webdesigner to rebuild the site. You'll find plenty of them here [csszengarden.com].

    To be honest, somebody who needs to get a job done nearly cares squat wether a tool is free or costs 300$. It's only because the 300$ tools are just as crappy as the free ones (sic!) that they settle for the free ones. And damn the few bucks I have to shell out for it.

    Best example: Zend Studio and PHP Eclipse or PDT Eclipse. If I have to go through the same fuss configging local remote debuggin in either, I see no point in spending 300$ for Zend Studio. That way I'll even learn to configure an open source tool - a skill not wasted - rather than learning to deal with some quirks of some prorprietary tool.

    Counterexample: Mint [haveamint.com] is a web presence statistics tool with PHP backend logic. There are like a quarter bazillion of these in Free, FOSS and public domain scatterd all over the web. However, looking at this guys site (he happens to be a good designer *and* a good programmer) I haven't the slightest doubt that his statistics tool will deliver without hassle. Thus whenever I need a statistics tool, he'll be the first and last where I look for it.
  • Offer value (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zelos (1050172) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:32AM (#23722449)
    Surely the answer is to offer something that's of value? If the value of the tool is greater than its cost, then I'll look at it. I can't see that much value in distributed programming tools: our distributed team works fine with IRC, Perforce, code review and email. We've tried software aimed at distributed teams before and always fallen back to our old system because it's easier and it works everywhere.

    For example: there's an expensive, commercial ARM compiler despite the existence of GCC. People buy it because it generates code that's ~20% smaller and faster.
  • by OzTech (524154) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:33AM (#23722451)
    The real reason people have trouble selling commercial Editors, IDE's, and Compilers is because they charge to much. Many if not most programmers get this thing in their head that once they have written one program, they should never have to work again. They charge over $100- and in some cases over $500- for a compiler or editor and then expect a small company with 3 or 4 developers to buy a full license for every developer and every computer that developer uses.

    Even in a small company with 2 developers/engineers, this can often mean that they need 8 licenses.

    1 for each developer/engineer for their primary machine = 2 licenses
    1 for each developer/engineer for their home machine = 2 licenses
    1 for each developer/engineer for their notebook = 2 licenses
    1 for each test lab machine = 2 licenses

    In total, we are now looking at 8 licenses for 2 blokes, when in reality only one of them will ever be using it at a time anyway.

    Then they put a myriad of protection and security in there which makes it a pain to install, maintain, or move.

    Then we need a yearly maintenance fee for each license to get bug fixes. With 8 licenses, we need 8 maintenance fees. Even at $100 per license for maintenance, we're now looking at $800- every year just to get bugs fixed!

    Assume the Editor costs $250 per license and $100 per year for maintenance (bug fixes), which is about what they charge, with 2 developers/engineers we are now looking at $2,000 for the initial licenses and and additional $800 every year if we want to keep using it or heaven forbid we actually expect it to work. If course, they claim that we get "features" with the maintenance, but most of the time we don't want "features", we just want the product to keep working. Yeah, I know, they'll add support for Windows-Vista or another feature which is neat, but instead of looking at that work as a way of expanding their market, they tend to look at it as a way of lockin or bleeding their existing customer base. This is at the very core of what is wrong with software and the mindset that programmers of software development tools end up with.

    Here's a tip for you guy's who do make good tools.

    WE WANT TO BUY THEM.
    - price them reasonably
    - license them reasonably

    WE WANT YOU TO STAY IN BUSINESS.
    - we will tell all of our friends
    - we will tell all of our associates
    - we will tell the next generation
    - features and fixes generate new customers

    WE NEED TO MAKE A LIVING TOO.
    - we can't bleed our customers
    - we need to write a new program every month or two
    - slash the price you charge me to fix your problems
    - we can't afford the prices you guys are asking/expecting

    Look at the prices for Micro$haft compilers and tools. They quickly run into the thousands of dollars. Borland has also lost the plot and charge an obscene amount of money for their products. Very few of us have customers with unlimited budgets. Very few of us actually want to cheat and buy "Accademic" versions. We are programmers and developers too. We know that it takes you time and you need to eat, but fair is fair, you guys are providing spanners. If you make a good one, you can sell thousands of them, but don't try to retire just because you've made one spanner. The world doesn't work that way anymore.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      While I agree with most of your post, I don't think it's a fair to call it a programmer issue. Maybe a creative person issue... where a painter would like to sell each print at full price, to reflect the sweat that went into the first one... but mostly I think it's a small business person issue.

      Often, they think they have something special to sell - after all, they wrote - so they can charge like it's gold. I think that many of the tool vendors spend so much energy on their own products... often focusing na
  • by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:33AM (#23722453) Homepage Journal
    I've heard this kind of lament before: "GCC killed the market for compilers." Complete nonsense, of course. There is still a healthy market for good compilers -- gcc is not the be-all end-all of compilers; and niche platforms, such as 8-bit microcontrollers, are mostly under-served by the Open Source solutions. And, incredibly, people are still paying ridiculous sums for Visual Studio.

    What Open Source has essentially done is say, "You must be at least this tall to publish a tools suite." Pretty much the only compilers that died were the bad ones. No one, for example, laments the passing of Whitesmiths.

    As for editors, well, it was pretty obvious 20 years ago that the editor that was powerful and platform-independent (so you didn't have to re-learn everything and re-write all your macros on a new platform) was going to win. That pretty much meant either EMACS or VI.

    Schwab

  • Also (Score:5, Funny)

    by AlgorithMan (937244) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:33AM (#23722455) Homepage
    Also Home fucking kills prostitution!

    and people who'd rather quit their job, than embrace new technology, are no loss IMHO
  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:34AM (#23722469) Homepage
    Either make your product a lot better, so people want to pay for it, or switch to selling an other product.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:35AM (#23722473) Homepage
    People are plenty willing to pay for tools, even just code editors. MS makes a pretty penny from Visual Studio, and TextMate is considered the must-have editor on the Mac. The real lesson is that there are plenty of open source tools for basic tasks, you have to offer something unique in terms of integration or usability to be a commercial success. Sounds like this company is upset that their "good enough" tools can't compete with free tools that are also "good enough".
  • IntelliJ IDEA (Score:5, Informative)

    by CountBrass (590228) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:36AM (#23722477)
    I pay for a dev environment, the one from JetBrains, for Java development. I do that because: I loath eclipse: it's a god-awful, slow, clunky, everything that's wrong with open-source GUIs, editor. Second because I need support for code completion, api prompts/look-up and my favourite editor (TextMate) doesn't support that, although it's great for everything else. So I pay a couple of hundred GBP for a decent editor that it doesn't hurt to use. Bad workmen only blame their tools because they chose crappy ones to use. I pay for quality.
  • Not buying it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:38AM (#23722497)
    Given that some of the most prominent OSS developers have no problem using proprietary tools, the only reason these guys are going out of business is because they suck.

    If an OSS tool has been developed that is better than yours its because yours sucked in the first place, a straight clone of a proprietary product won't get anywhere, there has to be plenty of room to improve and the improvement has to be worth the effort.
  • by voss (52565) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:41AM (#23722531)
    Putting the quote in context(which is allowed under fair use)

    "Unfortunately for us, that wasn't meant to be. The tools market is dead. Open source killed it. The only commercial development tools that can survive today are the ones that leapfrog open source tools. With UNA Collaborative Edition, we have that--there's nothing for real-time collaborative development that even comes close, whether commercial or open source. But UNA Personal Edition is more of an incremental improvement on what's out there in the editing world. "

    So commercial software has to be a LOT better than opensource to survive not merely a little better.
    So whats the problem with that??? If you want to make lots of money...quit your bellyaching and INVENT,INNOVATE and INSPIRE!

  • And? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:47AM (#23722591) Homepage
    Where's the news? This is a slashvertisement for dzone.com (twice, actually) and a dying, primitive programmer's text editor.

    The linked-to article about "Enerjy" says it in no uncertain terms - there were no sales for this type of product. There was also an overbearing impetus within the company itself that free/open source software could do parts of the job just as well, and they were considering using it themselves. The whole industry of "text editors for programmers" has always been niche, and now is dead. I can't say that Open Source has much to do with it so much as "overwhelming choice".

    "Years of work and cutting-edge research went into this editor, and it rivals, even surpasses, commercial editors that are selling for $100, $200, even $400 a pop."

    It's an editor. I think that cutting-edge research is pushing it a bit but even $100 a pop seems expensive for what is a glorified text editor. Even if you did make $400 each time, did you really ever think that's going to continue forever?

    "First of all, I should mention that UNA is a source code editor, not an IDE. It's a very sophisticated editor, well on the road to becoming an IDE, but it doesn't provide out-of-the-box support for compiling, testing, or debugging."

    Point proven. It's a text editor. Designed (supposedly) for programming, that doesn't even have a facility to run a compilation script without "plugins" etc.

    "The incremental search in UNA is so novel that we're patenting it. That's right, we're patenting a feature we're giving away for free. The incremental search interface allows you to navigate documents with theoretical maximum efficiency. You can jump to wherever you want in the document by typing just half a keystroke more than the minimum number of characters necessary to differentiate that position from others. You can't do better than that. People were blown away by the incremental search feature of Idea 7.0, but we've got something better than that."

    I seriously doubt you will be able to patent such an old and over-used idea. Opera does this in my mail, my contacts, my newsgroups, my notes. Pidgin does it in my chat-histories. I've seen it in any number of programs, quite a lot of them "programmer's editors" or IDE's. It's hardly "novel", I wouldn't be "blown away".

    The other reasons he thinks that UNA should win are scarily simple at the least. Dialog boxes that don't say stupid things. Keyboard shortcuts. External actions running in the background. Basically, what he has is the equivalent of a freeware programmer's editor from several years ago.

    The screenshots depict an atrociously complicated screen with which (supposedly) people who don't know the program can write a Hello World in five minutes. Whoopee.

    So his program dies a death because open-source programs do it better? That's not surprising... the program seems to be at least five-ten years behind. My versions of Visual Basic 3.0 and 4.0 had quite a lot of those features, admittedly only for their own language, but similarly thrash his editor in lots of other places (such as being able to compile without needing a plugin!). And the point is that most programmers now use either command-line tools from a particular favourite GUI or they use the IDE/GUI that came with the language (e.g. VB.net, etc.). If they are using command-line tools, then the GUI can be chopped and changed every month with little hassle as various software is released/updated/etc. And you could have a whole group of people use *whatever the hell interface they want* with the same backend tools and work together on a project.

    So the fact that the type of program is dying is not surprising - it's a very volatile, niche market driven by the whims of particular programmers. The fact that his particular program is dying is even less surprising - it doesn't seem to offer anything at all. Certainly not for a pricetag, anyway.

    Are we really supposed to shed tears over the lose of any part of his business, let alone that he's "been forced" to release a program for free that he couldn't sell?
  • ... it's that people won't pay for bad software.

    Time was that you could get away with selling crapware because all the alternatives cost money, so it was harder for people to check them out. FOSS alternatives can be checked out for free, so when people hit a speed bump with your product they're likely to just go check them out. And if they're at least as good as what you're selling, people are liable to stay with them.

    The lesson? If you want to make money selling software, evaluate the FOSS alternatives just like you would evaluate a competitor, and be sure that there is something about what you're selling that makes it better than what other people are giving away.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:04AM (#23722749)
    The tools market started dying when companies like Borland and Microsoft decided they could squeeze developers for thousands of dollars for their integrated development environments. That didn't leave much of a budget for third party add-ons. Open source became big at least 10 years later.

  • by herve_masson (104332) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:45AM (#23723143)
    Jeez, we have great slashdot here: take the most controversial words out of a 4 pages article, and makes it the title, even though they represent nothing. TFA mostly focus on giving UNA a great exposure, and as such, it is interesting, but all of this has really little to do with "open source killed something".
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @07:15AM (#23723441)
    I have been in the software business for a couple decades and I have to tell you, 3rd party tools are typically crap. Open Source/free Software is generally better in quality and, of course, price.

    The issue is the investment in using the tools. There is always a learning curve with a new tool. The 3rd party tools typically have crap for documentation and few examples. They almost never out perform the readily available alternatives.

    For things like editors, that is a personal choice for many developers. The tools you are used to often make you more productive than new tools with features. I have found it is best to be a minimalist as you can't always have your editor of choice everywhere you work, but vi runs everywhere.

    I remember the problems setting up "brief" on every machine years back. After having to do it for several years, I just got sick of spending the time. The vi editor is in every UNIX system and can run on Windows as well.

    For things like debuggers, there are some pretty cool features, but I can still get the job done just as fast with printf and gdb.

    for things like libraries, that market is dead. In fact, except for a few rare examples, there has never really been a big market. Also, libraries have a double hit in that there is the inevitable learning curve, plus their bugs become your bugs. Open source/free software is a win here as there is almost always a larger development environment around the technology.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:09AM (#23724117)
    I've been programming professionally since 1982, and while I havn't personally paid a penny for software tools for about a decade (since RedHat 5.0), I can say that the declining/disappearing market for software tools predates that, and I see the reason as being integrated IDEs starting with Borland Turbo Pascal.

    In the early days I remember paying a lot of money for tools like Watcom-C (32 bit DOS/4GW development - $895 - the hottest optimizing compiler of the day), Instant-C (C interpreter for rapid prototyping/debugging - $695?), BRIEF ($195 - one of the best commercial editors ever - I still use BRIEF-compatible Emacs key assignments), some profiler I can't even remember the name of, etc, etc.

    When Borland Turbo Pascal was introduced it completely changed the software tool pricing landscape. This was a very high performing comiler, with an IDE that included tools that would otherwise have been seperate (editor, debugger, profiler), all for a ridiculously low price (WikiPedia says $49.99 - I'd forgotten). While the integrated editor/etc may not have been as good as stand-alone alternatives, it was good enough for many people and pretty much spelt the death of multi-hundred dollar a la carte tools. The performance of the Borland compiler also forced Microsoft (who's optimization in the early days wasn't very good) to up their game which also helped kill the market for non-IDE optimizing compilers.

    More recently of course Linux and open source tools have kept some competetive pressure on the tools market, but I really see Borland as being the start of the end for a market for software tools at prices that make them an attractive proposition for dedicated tools vendors.

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