Rev_rant part 4

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Wed Nov 15 11:02:21 CST 2006


Bernard, I really admire your passion for Rev, but may I suggest that 
you may be reading Dave stronger than he writes?  I've been reading his 
posts carefully, and I believe we may have another Bill Marriott in the 
making here:

I used to misread Bill's posts as being more critical than they were, 
and although he had indeed been a bit of a gadfly his tone was never 
less than professional and his aim was focused squarely on improving the 
quality of the customer experience.  Now look where Bill's at. :)

With Dave I see something very similar, an equally passionate interest 
in seeing Rev succeed.  So while some of his posts may be firmly worded, 
it seems his intentions are well demonstrated by his professional tone. 
Perhaps his posts deserve a second read if they appear insulting; they 
may be steadfast, but so far I've not seen anything beyond the sorts of 
things Bill used to post, and all of it seems aimed at helpfulness.

With the hope that we can all recognize that we're moving in the same 
productive direction here, let me please add to this:


Bernard Devlin wrote:
> If your development team really were convinced by you that Rev would  
> solve lots of their interoperability issues, staffing issues, and  
> save them money, then I don't see that they would have been put off  
> by the cost of annual update packs.  

In all fairness, I see a good many people here, in the forums, and 
elsewhere who are put off to varying degrees by the current update 
policy.  This is somewhat unsurprising, given that it deviates from 
long-established industry norms.

My own pursuit of success leaves the back-office decisions to the big 
boys and keeps my focus on software design.  For generic back-office 
decisions like upgrade policies I just look at what wildly successful 
companies do and do my best to do what they do.

One thing I see across the industry is that it's far more common than 
not to distinguish between upgrades and updates.  The former contain 
significant feature enhancements, while the latter focus on merely 
addressing bugs.

Traditionally, customers expect to pay for upgrades while most 
successful companies deliver updates for free.  The list of those who 
adhere to this practice include not only the biggest names in the field 
(Microsoft, Apple, Adobe), but even smaller vendors like Ambrosia (Snapz 
Pro), Thorsten Lemke (GraphicConverter), Stairways Software 
(Interarchy), Omni Group (OmniGraffle), and many others.

The only exception to this practice on my hard drive is Revolution. 
Even RealBASIC offers free updates for the first 90 days, so as far as I 
can tell this leaves Rev pretty much alone with this unique pricing 
model.  There may be other exceptions, but I don't know of them and I'm 
pretty sure they are few in number.

While I don't believe this is necessarily a deal-breaker, it does 
unnecessarily introduce questions into a sales decision-making process 
that could have a shorter path to "Yes!"

I'm confident Rev has their own reasons for reinventing this 
long-established update/upgrade distinction, but it's also worth noting 
that to some degree Rev appears to agree with these customer 
perceptions, having announced that at least v2.7.5 will be a free update.

With any luck we'll see more from time to time.


> Maybe they are used to using free scripting languages and compilers,
> so paying anything for Rev might be a hurdle for them.

That's a legitimate concern, even more so as time passes and things like 
PythonCard continue to evolve.

It's another good argument for the type of comprehensive QA intitiaves 
that Bill Marriott and Rev and working on with v2.7.5:

You can get anyone to pay you for anything as long as you can 
demonstrate that they'll ultimately save more money than they spend. 
With development tools the real cost isn't the purchase price but the 
time it takes to reach productive deployment -- the developer's time is 
worth far more than any development tool costs.

So competing against even free products isn't necessarily even difficult 
as long as you can show a positive ROI for the customer.  Solid quality 
is one area where a product that's funded by sales can compete well 
against volunteer open source efforts, provided of course that the 
revenue is spent very, very carefully.


> Can you tell us which other tools they use that come with free  
> support from the vendor?  I don't know of any.

Everything I produce.

I've found no bigger driver for sales than being able to earn the trust 
of our customers by demonstrating a willingness to stand behind what we 
deliver. They know that while I charge for features, I address all 
potential-data-loss bugs and most lesser issues in free updates in 
between feature upgrades.  One of the benefits of using a true RAD tool 
like Rev is that on occasion I've even been able to deliver custom 
builds in between updates when a customer has a critical need (that 
would be prohibitively expensive with many other dev tools - ever have a 
crash resolved with Photoshop by having Adobe send you a fresh build? <g>).

On paper support is free here for one year, but that's really just to 
provide reasonable constraint on our obligations.  In practice I've 
never refused support to anyone no matter how long they've owned the 
product, and customers understand and appreciate this.

This strategy of staying in touch with the customers and rolling out 
free updates to address bugs has reduced my tech support costs to about 
a third of industry averages, raising my profit margins considerably, 
well above the small cost of deploying the update.

But more importantly, it's inspired my customers to become a sales staff 
of thousands, singing the praises of our products far and wide and 
without qualification.

-- 
  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Media Corporation
  Developer of WebMerge: Publish any database on any Web site
  ___________________________________________________________
  Ambassador at FourthWorld.com       http://www.FourthWorld.com



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