I just want to follow up on the Meteotemplate Pro idea. First of all I would like to thank all of you who filled in the questionnaire, where one of the questions dealt with this. I have taken into account several factors when deciding how to proceed:
- The questionnaire
- Technical issues
- Administrative issues
- Protection issues
Based on that I have made up my mind about this. I came to the conclusion that a Pro version would not be worth it. I would now like to explain a bit more why. Feel free not to read this, only do so if you are interested to know the reasons.
Let´s just go through the pros and cons of creating a paid Pro version:
- More features/support for those who pay
- Regular income for me to cover costs and time
- Much more administrative work – having to keep track on who is Pro and who is not, keep track of the payments, different taxes
- Technical issues – time necessary to actually implement these changes and then continue developing two versions of certain things
Now I would like to comment on those. Basically, the major issue I found was in that it would be relatively complicated to implement. It would be easy to say “priority support”, however, it becomes much trickier with actual extra features. One major issue is that PHP code is not compiled and the template is not running on my server. This means that each user has full access to the code and can make any changes they like. Some of you for example suggested limiting the number of blocks for standard users to a certain number. This of course seems like a good idea, however, if I included some function that would prevent more blocks, it would be a matter of 1-2 seconds for a more skilled user to delete it and use any number they want. I guess in terms of protection, there is no way I can 100% prevent someone from anything. Normally, if you have a desktop software, you compile it and changes to the code are not possible. Or if you have a web service, such as for example Spotify, it runs on Spotify servers and so you cannot make changes to the code. However Meteotemplate is on your server, therefore you have full control over it. People could resend Pro scripts to each other, delete any protection mechanism etc etc.
There is no doubt about the fact it would take quite some time to actually create the scripts that would allow you to register for Pro, create some documentation, description etc. Also, it would be a lot of administrative work – keeping track of the payments, taxation… and one thing I also couldn´t figure out was whether it would have been better to use annual or monthly fees. One is easier because it is less work (annual), but many people would prefer monthly and I myself, as much as I want to, cannot 100% say what will be in a year´s time. It would work, but again, lot of extra time from my side.
It would also be relatively complicated to come up with features which would be attractive enough to make people join the Pro version. I could include for example priority support, but the truth is that given I prioritize support over development, you might get an answer maybe an hour earlier, but I would then deal with standard users anyway before starting to develop something new so priority would not make such difference.
Some of you suggested extra features, but those are problematic given what I said about protecting things (impossible) and given that everything that is already available would have to be part of standard because everyone already has it anyway.
One other suggestion was possibility of personal customizations. This I guess would be possible, but again it is a bit of a risk because I would somehow have to make sure someone does not ask every other day for some major changes.
Last but not least, probably the most important problem was the actual price. Based on the about 50 questionnaire answers I received (and assuming those who did not answer are passive users who would not be interested anyway and don´t read the Blog), the amount each one of you would find reasonable is extremely variable, ranging from 2EUR/year to 60EUR/month. And again, the problem is that if I set the price too high, I might get very few users, in case of setting it too low, I would have more users, but overall I came to the conclusion that it would not be worth the time. If I used the average amount, which people found reasonable, and multiply that by the number of people interested, it really definitely wont be worth it given all the technical difficulties, administration issues and other potential problems. It would also then be likely that people paying for Pro would (understandably) not see it as sensible to donate for the actual scripts (i.e. pay extra for the actual blocks, plugins, not included in the Pro version) and in the end I could end up with even less money than now, more administrative work, more technical issues and that’s definitely something I want to avoid. Pro would only work if I was in control of all the scripts and if I hosted your page. Not like this, feel free to comment, but overall I will not change my mind, I have given a lot of thought to it, did various calculations and time estimates and this is what I found to be the best way to continue.
In conclusion, it means I will simply leave it up to everyone to decide how much they value the stuff and help whenever they feel like it would be reasonable. I am not afraid of the future of Meteotemplate as such. I can also already tell you that some of the features you suggested in the questionnaire for Pro version, will be available in v16 for everyone and I am sure some of it you will love…