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"PledgeWare" : Aiming for a Dolphin Restart #2

Folks,

I posted this message to c.l.s.d to evoke a response from outside the 
immediate Dolphin community. I'm assuming that most Dolphin users will 
have seen this proposal in the "64 Bit VM" thread. However, for those 
that have not, I repeat it here.

As you are probably aware, we decided to halt major development on 
Dolphin a couple of years ago because we were having trouble making the 
existing business model work for us.

However, my thoughts have often been directed towards how we can restart 
innovative development on Dolphin, both to move the product forwards and 
to provide security and peace of mind to those developers who depend on 
it daily for their applications. But to make it work, we mustn't fall 
into the old traps.

One of the issues we had with the traditional business model for Dolphin 
  was that we would engage in quite long (circa 2 years) 
development/release cycles, the idea being to cram as much good stuff 
into a new release to make it "worth" the upgrade fee. At the same time 
we would not receive much income during this period (most income comes 
from upgrades as you probably know) and at the end of each cycle we 
wouldn't really know how many people would actually take the upgrade. 
The end result was that most of the time we barely broke even and 
sometimes we even lost money on a release. One possibility was a 
subscription model but we were never sure how to price this to make it a 
viable option.

It occurred to me the other week that an alternative way of supporting 
continued development might be to fund it by upfront "pledges" from our 
customers, a scheme that could be called (for want of a better word) 
"PledgeWare". Here we could list a number of features to go into a new 
release and ask people to pledge an amount that they would be willing to 
pay to upgrade to a version with the features they were interested in. 
This way we would be able price in development costs and match these 
again potential customers.

To this end, we have decided to put forward a short-term proposal using 
a simplified version of this scheme. A more complex version might give 
users the ability to effectively vote on the contents of the future 
release but here (to test the viability of the PledgeWare idea) we are 
going to ask for pledges towards a new release of Dolphin Smalltalk 7 
with the following fixed set of features:

1) Major Feature: 64 bit support. This will obviously give better memory 
addressability as promised by 64 bit but, in addition, one of the key 
things our pro customers need is to guarantee future support for their 
applications. It seems clear that with Windows 7 the push to move to 64 
bit installations of the OS will gradually increase until, in a few 
years time, 32 bit applications will be considered decidedly old 
fashions. Having the guarantee of a future-proof 64 bit option now 
should provide peace of mind.

2) Roll up of features and fixes in the current 6.1 Beta release into a 
new version 7.

3) Support for connection to a shared STS code repository to be included 
in all versions of Dolphin 7, including the free Community Edition. A 
public repository will be held on the Object Arts site.

If you are interested in seeing development on Dolphin move forward, and 
you would be interested in the above update, then we would ask you to 
consider pledging an amount towards this new release.

Please send me an e-mail with the subject line "New Dolphin Pledge" 
indicating:

EXISTING DPRO USERS USE THIS PROFORMA:

DPRO6 -> DPRO7 32/64, I would be prepared to pay an upgrade price of:

(a) $200
(b) $500
(c) $1000

POTENTIAL NEW USERS USE THIS PROFORMA:

DPRO7 32/64, I would be prepared to pay a full price of:

(a) $500
(b) $750
(c) $1000
(d) $1500

Don't just check one price but all that you would be prepared to pay if 
D7-32/64 was available at that price. That way we can work out what 
demand there is and what minimum price could be charged after costing 
the development effort.

Note that you would not necessarily have to pay the highest amount you 
pledge. All pledgers will eventually be charged the same upgrade fee.

You can use the return address of this message (minus the "SnipThis" 
tag) or find our e-mail on the contact page of the Object Arts website.

I'll let you know the results in a week or so.

I'd also be interested in comments on the PledgeWare proposal especially 
any ideas on how to make it work to fund more general software development.

Best regards

Andy Bower
Object Arts Ltd
0
bower (2)
11/24/2009 1:37:37 PM
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Hi Andy!

Well, IMHO, like Adreas said, that's not enough. You still go on 
thinking in old categories of "realeases", "update fees", 
"professional/community edition", "closed source = hidden development 
processes".

"But to make it work, we mustn't fall into the old traps"

Ooops, but you did it again!

Sticking to old "business rules" won't do in future.

My advice: Think strategic!

regards, Guido Stepken
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Guido
11/24/2009 4:10:58 PM
Guido,

> My advice: Think strategic!

Erm.. perhaps in this case you could do the thinking for me and let me 
know what you mean?

Best regards

Andy Bower
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Andy
11/24/2009 4:46:42 PM
Hi Andy:

A project with this kind of pledge oriented development :) is (or was
sometime ago) the Mantis Bugtracker, http://www.mantisbt.org/.
As the mantis development is tracked using Mantis, of course, one of
the features of MantisBT is the tracking of the pledge for each issue
or enhancement request posted.

From the features list:
"Sponsorships Support - users are able to place bounties or
sponsorships for specific issues, also developers can track such
sponsorships / payments."

But I think that Object Arts should offer enhancements to be pledged
too, and not only the Dolphin users who ask for them. I'm no sure if
this is correctly written, forget this line if you can't understand
me :).

My 2 cts

Best Regards
  Sebastian Calvo
0
GallegO
11/24/2009 5:47:45 PM
On Nov 24, 11:46=A0am, Andy Bower <bo...@SnipThisObject-arts.com> wrote:
> Guido,
>
> > My advice: Think strategic!
>
> Erm.. perhaps in this case you could do the thinking for me and let me
> know what you mean?
>
> Best regards
>
> Andy Bower

Hmmm.... Well, I don't know if I'm able to do the thinking for you or
Guido (or myself, for that matter! :-)

But here's my 0.01 Euro:
I think a subscription model is still a better bet. I'm subscribed to
a well-known consumer's evaluation site, and it automatically re-up's
me for each year. I have the option of opting out, but just when I'm
about to, I see something useful enough to say "I'll keep my renewal
going another year".
That analogy could go for Dolphin as well. I don't know what the
appropriate subscription fee would be ($200/yr?), but if small chunks
of useful functionality came out 3 times a year or so, I think folks
would be inclined to maintain the subscription, thereby smoothing your
revenue stream.
The bigger issue is how to *grow* the installed base to make it a
viable initiative. I know DNG is geared towards a certain group of
customers (it doesn't sound like me), but there's another 2-3 groups
that would find the power and productivity of Dolphin compelling, if
you could get them what they needed, at a reasonable cost to you:
1 - Mobile developers targeting things like Mobi.net, iPhone,
Blackberry, etc. Yes, I know Dolphin isn't (yet) well suited for that,
but I do recall that PocketSmalltalk (for the defunct PalmOS) was
originally hosted on a specialized Dolphin environment. And it worked
great!
2 - Web developers (using Seaside?) for those tired of the Java/Ruby/
Python/Perl treadmill

Either way, I think to avoid the mistakes of the past, we need to
think outside the box. Object Arts' technology is fantastic, but great
technology and a great implementation is not enough...

Keith
0
keith
11/24/2009 5:50:55 PM
> I think a subscription model is still a better bet. I'm subscribed to
> a well-known consumer's evaluation site, and it automatically re-up's
> me for each year. I have the option of opting out, but just when I'm
> about to, I see something useful enough to say "I'll keep my renewal
> going another year".

Subscription works for me as long as the software continues to work
past the subscription date, obviously without updates but with limited
support.

> Keith

0
Travis
11/24/2009 9:21:11 PM
Andy Bower wrote:
> I posted this message to c.l.s.d to evoke a response from outside the 
> immediate Dolphin community. I'm assuming that most Dolphin users will 
> have seen this proposal in the "64 Bit VM" thread. However, for those 
> that have not, I repeat it here.
....

I would like to suggest e-mailing your customers with this proposal, to 
get a better response.  I suspect that many people may have left the 
newsgroup after they believed that Dolphin Smalltalk was dead. 
Additionally, some users may have never read the newsgroup.

....
> I'd also be interested in comments on the PledgeWare proposal especially 
> any ideas on how to make it work to fund more general software development.

I should imagine that any company that uses Dolphin Smalltalk would be 
willing to pay a reasonable fee on a regular basis for upgrades, even if 
they were just maintenance releases perhaps with minor enhancements.  It 
is in our own interest to maintain the commercial viability of Dolphin 
in the future.

Chris
0
Christopher
11/25/2009 1:50:12 AM
On the "subscription" meme... I'd happily pay $15 USD per month for a
subscription to "Dolphin", if you factor this out over your typical 2
year release cycle, it actually ends up being $360 USD (more than what
OA to upgrade from 5.1 -> 6!)..

I don't know how you solve the issue of people subscribing->updating-
>cancelling, because basically all that would happen there is the long-
term subscribers end up funding the short-term subscribers updates.

I'm sure theres a business model you can make work for you, whether
its a subscription model, or some sort of pledge-per-feature model..

Good luck!

0
Sean
11/25/2009 2:30:56 AM
On Nov 24, 7:37=EF=BF=BDam, Andy Bower <bo...@SnipThisObject-arts.com> wrot=
e:

>
> EXISTING DPRO USERS USE THIS PROFORMA:
>
> DPRO6 -> DPRO7 32/64, I would be prepared to pay an upgrade price of:
>
> (a) $200
> (b) $500
> (c) $1000
>
> POTENTIAL NEW USERS USE THIS PROFORMA:
>
> DPRO7 32/64, I would be prepared to pay a full price of:
>
> (a) $500
> (b) $750
> (c) $1000
> (d) $1500
>
Hello
I wroke a program that I still use daily in my medical practice in
Dolphin 5 and moved it to Dolphin 6 about 4 years ago. I was rewritten
from Digitalk ST/V and I could not get the functionality I wanted from
VW 7. After fits and starts about learning MVP, the conversion went
quickly, days vs the weeks I had dedicated to the project. This
included time to learn about combo-list box. I had to learn about how
to produce and detect triggers for each key stroke occuring in a combo
box for my program to do what I wanted. In any event, I still am a
Dolphin supporter. But from a self-taught beginners standpoint. For
example, it took a lot of learning to figure out MVP and Printing. I
point out that Dolphins browsers and demo code for web pages do not
use combobox drop lists that most browsers do for web page address.

To keep me as a customer, I thinking $300 +/- $200 per yr, depending
on the quality of the upgrades and activity of this support group.

I thought the Ted Bracht's book was good. This support group has alway
been helpful. But I am not sure that a beginner would have the
perseverance to learn Smalltalk this way even with such a cool tool as
Dolphin compared to Visual C/C++, Visual C# IDE's. What I recall
helping me in the distant past was a beginner's vs expert's IDE option
from TurboPascal/Turbo C/C++ days. Launch a Dolphin, VisualWorks, or
Squeak System Browser and I believe a beginner is overwhelmed.
Learning any one's IDE takes a lot of time. I recall the first time I
launched Dolphin, I did not understand what all the little icons in
the browser indicated, or what I was to be concerned about. Sometimes
I still use Digitalk ST/V when I want to test a quick idea.

If this were another time with a bigger market, the book "Smalltalk in
Brief" by Kenneth Lambert and Martin Osborne, re-written for Dolphin
instead of ST/V would be great to have around to compliment the Bracht
book.

I have and read about every published Smalltalk and Squeak book in my
library, from ST-80's Blue Book to Budd's 'A Little Smalltalk',
including Cincom's documentation for their non-commercial VW 3, 3.1,
5.1, and 7.4. But the lack of Dolphin-specific techniques was almost a
killer for me.

Smalltalk caught my imagination years ago. But using ST/V and Dolphin
kept the passion going.

Thanks for a great environment...that I purchased and will upgrade as
needed.

ACG
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acg
11/25/2009 6:37:31 PM
ACG,

Thanks for relating this personal account of your experiences with 
Dolphin. I'm glad you stuck with it!

<snip>

> I thought the Ted Bracht's book was good. This support group has alway
> been helpful. But I am not sure that a beginner would have the
> perseverance to learn Smalltalk this way even with such a cool tool as
> Dolphin compared to Visual C/C++, Visual C# IDE's.

<snip>

> If this were another time with a bigger market, the book "Smalltalk in
> Brief" by Kenneth Lambert and Martin Osborne, re-written for Dolphin
> instead of ST/V would be great to have around to compliment the Bracht
> book.
> 
> I have and read about every published Smalltalk and Squeak book in my
> library, from ST-80's Blue Book to Budd's 'A Little Smalltalk',
> including Cincom's documentation for their non-commercial VW 3, 3.1,
> 5.1, and 7.4. But the lack of Dolphin-specific techniques was almost a
> killer for me.

I wonder if there are any enthusiastic souls out there who would be 
prepared to adapt "Pharo By Example" (pharobyexample.org) for Dolphin? 
It is published under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license that allow 
the book to be rewritten in whatever way, providing it continues to 
abide by the license.

I think such a book would go a long way to addressing the issues that 
ACG talks about in his post.

Best regards

Andy Bower
0
Andy
11/25/2009 8:32:31 PM
Folks,

> As you are probably aware, we decided to halt major development on 
> Dolphin a couple of years ago because we were having trouble making the 
> existing business model work for us.
> 
> However, my thoughts have often been directed towards how we can restart 
> innovative development on Dolphin, both to move the product forwards and 
> to provide security and peace of mind to those developers who depend on 
> it daily for their applications. But to make it work, we mustn't fall 
> into the old traps.

 From recent posts to this group and e-mails I've received, I think I 
have made a mistake and given the wrong impression with the title of 
this thread. My use of the word "restart" in particular now seems 
inappropriate. I see now that to many people this implied that Object 
Arts would be able to go back to a series of continual product release 
cycles for Dolphin financed by subscriptions and/or upgrade fees. We 
simply cannot do this; it just would not be viable for us to do so.

Over the past few years it's become clear that there is still a core of 
committed Dolphin users who want to continue to work with the product. 
That is where the "PledgeWare" idea comes from. The main reason why 
existing developers would move away from Dolphin is uncertainty. 
Uncertainty about whether the product (and the applications built with 
it) will continue to work in future. Uncertainty about whether Dolphin 
can keep up with developments in other Smalltalks (like Seaside, 
Magritte etc).

The current idea is to investigate a commercially viable system 
(PledgeWare) where Dolphin users can see that there is a route forward 
to keeping the Dolphin VM running in future versions of Windows and 
where there is vibrant community support. The current proposal of new 
version 7 of Dolphin hosting a shared repository and a 64 bit VM, funded 
by pledges from the user base is meant to demonstrate this.

The real point is to get Dolphin into a state where the community can 
support themselves and go forward. This means enabling communal sharing 
of code and alleviating the fear of the VM not being maintained in 
future. This is the "restart" that I had meant to imply.

I apologize for any confusion.

Best regards

Andy Bower
Object Arts Ltd
0
Andy
11/26/2009 2:25:03 PM
> The real point is to get Dolphin into a state where the community can
> support themselves and go forward. This means enabling communal sharing
> of code and alleviating the fear of the VM not being maintained in
> future. This is the "restart" that I had meant to imply.

Don't apologize. It is a very good idea. To put Dolphin into a
community maintainable state, we would even not need the 64 bit VM at
the first step (which however should follow at some point).

The most important point I think is to have a repository which also
includes all the Dolphin base libraries and a defined process how to
community can add new packages or fix dolphin packages.

In addition there should be a release maintainer role, who reviews the
patches and makes a stable release let's say 1 or 2 times year from
the community submissions. This could also be a paid service from
ObjectArts, e.g. a subscription to pay for the review work and
maintaining the repository infrastructure.

As an addition it would be a plus to have an associated issue tracker
(e.g. Bugzilla) for the packages in the repository (including Dolphin
libraries).

I would be happy to pay a subscription even just for the repository
infrastucture, release maintainer/reviewer and issue tracker service.
For the 64 bit VM I would also make an extra payment.

To summerize, my favorite solution would be a n upgrade payment + a
yearly subscription paid to Object Arts for the following points:

1) Maintaining the VM (32+64)
2) Providing the repository which all Dolphin code + community code
3) Playing the role of a release maintainer / reviewer for the Dolphin
packages
4) Providing an associated issue tracker

I would be glad if this idea would come true.

Regards
Carsten
0
Carsten
12/13/2009 5:51:38 AM
Andy,

> I wonder if there are any enthusiastic souls out there who would be 
> prepared to adapt "Pharo By Example" (pharobyexample.org) for Dolphin? 
> It is published under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license that allow 
> the book to be rewritten in whatever way, providing it continues to 
> abide by the license.
I hoped someone else would step in here ... never mind.

I just synced the tex source of the book. It seems to be quite well 
structured. The stuff in the repo contains more than in the current pdf 
version on their website.

IMHO we need to at least rewrite the chapters about the environment 
(Browsers and stuff like that). I think for a first version even the 
book w/o any content regarding MVP would be great.

Thus two questions:
@Andy: Would you be willing to put the current Dolphin Helpfile content 
under a license compatible with the book?
@All: Do you think (I'm no lawyer) that it would make sense to offer a 
printed version (lulu?) of the book as well. If yes - should it be as 
cheap as possible or should we add an additional ammount and use this as 
an additional "pledge"?

CU,

Udo
0
Udo
12/19/2009 12:19:04 PM
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