Users, RW, and third-party developers


(Michael Lever) #1

Following on from my comment in another post about sky-rocketing prices of themes and add-ons, etc from USA (mostly) developers (the phrase ‘rip off’ springing to mind), I suggest some consistency in terms and conditions for the sale of the products of third party developers is called for.

I appreciate each individual developer is its own business, but that no excuse for themes, add-ons, etc that only work with RW. When third-party developers are allowed to latch on to a high-profile core product, such as Rapidweaver, the owners of the RW should impose mandatory guidelines on the conduct in relation to customers of any third-party developer/seller.

For example, some developers offer free trial, others money-back within a short time if not satisfied, and one particular, there may be others I don’t know, doesn’t offer refunds at all.

Those that do not offer free trials claim that customers might abuse the process, but that could be overcome either by incorporating a time-limt on usage (number of hours, rather than days - not everyone, myself included, has the time to experiment shortly after downloading) or only working off-line. That must be possible, surely: with all the software I’ve bought over the years (with the exception of some RW developers), I have downloaded a trial version first and not been required to part with money before deciding whether to buy. Sometimes, the trial period might expire before I’ve had time to experiment, in which case the developer has on request usually granted an extension. Where no extension is granted, I then decide whether to take a chance or not bother. (Nowadays, having spent a fortune over the years on software that I end up rarely using, if ever, I am far more circumspect.)

It’s not only some third-party developers (you know who you are) for RW, but also Realmac itself that comes into criticism, A good example of outmoded thinking is Typed which offers a free trial provided you pay at the onset. If before the free trial ends you decide not to continue, then you cancel, and your payment is refunded. I don’t know whether the credit card company registers chop-and-change, but it obliges the customer to check the monthly statement carefully and puts the onus on the customer to ensure the refund. When you read the report to investors, (of which incidentally I’m not one) you’ll note that the number of new subscribers in December one year was considerably lower by the following January when the free period had elapsed and many subscribers cancelled. The well-known adage ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity’ seems to have escaped some, which might explain why increasingly investors in start-ups are discovering that start-up managers are better at attracting investment and spending money on launching the business than making any money out of running the business itself.

“RapidWeaver is used by novices and professionals alike”. It would be helpful if third-party developers could make it clear for whom their ‘products’ are designed. Most if not all third-party developers for RW present outline details of their product; some with documentation. and/ or video, but in my opinion there is no substitute for experiencing the theme, etc on one’s own site.

Many products are promoted as easy to deploy but when it comes to it, speaking for myself, are more complicated than the developer would have us believe. That can lead to needing support, which might not be forthcoming by return (frustrating if you’ve set aside time to use the product) and a flurry of questions and answers which, bearing in mind the differences between inexperienced amateur description of the problem and informed technical explanation, might if you’re lucky resolve the issue, but could leave the customer confused.

I consider myself an intermediate novice. Having started with an Acorn (BBC model B), then PC and now iMac, my knowledge of computers, operating systems, coding, and so on, has come from learn as I go, following instructions for resolving any problems that I’ve experienced. When anything like I’ve just outlined happens to me, as it did on a couple of occasions recently, I give up, delete the product and put it down to experience (also I might be wary of buying from that developer in future). [It amuses me when developers want to replicate the problem their end and finding nothing wrong suggest it must be the customer’s fault. How a problem can be replicated when the system set-up might be entirely different is beyond me!]. The solution to the level of understanding needed for using a product would be for the product to be advertised as suitable for novices, intermediate, or advanced users of RW (where each category is clearly defined) so at least we might know what we’re letting ourselves in for at the onset.

Allowing third-party-party developers to do as they please in their dealing with RW customers is risky. It only needs a few rotten apples to tarnish the honourable.

When I used a PC, I started with NetObjects Fusion but after being advised its coding was proprietary and difficult for outsiders to help with, I switched to Dreamweaver and took a few lessons in how to use the software. When DW stopped including its own starter-templates, I had a go at Sandvox but found it rather twee for my purposes so had a go with RW and have never looked back. For a while, I felt uncomfortable in having to use some else’s template but after a while, realising that content is king, I now focus on that.

I thrive on helping businesses and people to be successful, so don’t get me wrong: I enjoy using RW, simply the running of the business-side of things I reckon could do with some more oomph.


(Peter Danckwerts) #2

I can’t say I’ve noticed but if themes and add-ons from the US have gone up in price, it’s probably because the US$ has gone up against most currencies. Besides, with themes such as Foundation, BootSnap, Freestacks and those from ThemeFlood, how many themes do you need? Since Stacks came along, a few themes go a very long way.

I haven’t noticed any add-ons which are difficult to use. The most complex one I’ve used is Armadillo but, apart from a slight confusion on my part when upgrading, I’ve found it very easy to use.

I agree with you about free trials which require you to claim the money back. I hardly ever bother with those.


(gary pullings) #3

This part I agree with whole heartedly. I would like better tutorials for the novices like me who do this as a hobby. Some of the tutorials that I have found are you have to pay to view them. RW has a gold section on this site, however for a novice that is a waste for me, even if I might use it. I can’t justify spending the money for me. I wish they had a Novice subscription and a professional subscription. If they did that I might pay for that extra service. For me this is not a business however for others this is their business and their way of living.

I am thinking that their gold subscriptions could differ in a way of customer support etc. Example if your a business you get faster Customer support that those of us who are novices because our subscription is different. I could see that easily. I get more help from the community here than I do from the company because most of my problems I have had were with 3rd party add ons not with the core of RW. The few problems I have had with RW is due to add ons anyway which RW has addressed time and again. For example with that is that the Stacks 3 causes crashes. I still get hangups but not as bad as I did prior to their last update.

For me I like this product but as a novice I don’t see a reason to scrutinize the pricing on 3rd party pricing. Usually I find their pricing to be pretty economical most of the time. I use a $5.00 hear and there, how i look at it is this. I can skip my weekly red bull to purchase that. Other times it is not though and I have to think to myself can I justify it.

The companies I have gravitated to for my purchases are from the recommendations of the members here and based on that, they will continue to get my money. I feel blessed that the professional site builders spend time and give me and others like me their advice free of charge and in return they give some developers preferred recommendations over others. I am ok with that. Are they getting kick backs, I highly doubt that. In a free market people go with what works best and I have always gotten good advice and used that advice to the best that I could.

I wish that some things were better however the community here makes up for the shortfalls that the companies have in their tutorials etc.


(Jannis from inStacks Software) #4

I do not want to answer this post in deep detail, but some comments:

You are able do deduct from a product, which is priced with 10 Euro gross, following (may vary)

  • 0% - 27% VAT
  • 2% - 9% transaction fees
  • 25% Tax

At the end, only 5 Euro are left in the basket. Not much, hmm?

A free trial for Stacks and Themes requires at the end a complete separate product/download, as there is no licensing possible with serial numbers or keys. This is a high effort.

It is a digital download, and with this (may differ from country to country) does not need a refund from legal point of view.
Remember: After the download, you are owning the product and are able to use it.


(Jason Bostick) #5

I think strictly defining a price structure of defining what is a novice, intermediate, and advanced stack/theme/app/widget would seem difficult to implement. Part of the appeal of RW is the ability to appeal to various levels of experience (or move up a level in your ability) using the exact same product. So, Sections by Big White Duck can be a simple stack that sections off content, or it can be a robust stack that adds angles, overlays cut-outs, etc.

I don’t know what business model is most appropriate (regarding free trials). I’ve definitely had an occasion or two where a purchased theme is underwhelming in how “out-of-the-box functional” it is, but I’ve been disappointed by the occasional pair of shoes or album or package of strawberries too. I personally think the level of involvement that Big White Duck and Will Woodgate provide on free stacks are exceptions. I’m grateful for it but I’m not sure it’s sustainable to expect all developers to do that.

I’m not sure how else they are expected to remotely troubleshoot your problem.

I think, generally speaking, the appeal of Rapidweaver to many is the community aspect - the robust forums, the diverse developer community, etc - and with that comes Realmac passing on ownership to the community.

Anyway, you have lots of interesting comments. I just don’t know how realistic it would be to implement them and, worse yet, if there might be unintended consequences of it.


(Ken) #6

@mog1
I’ve been using RW since Version 3 and the one thing I’ve learnt is not to dive in and spend lots of money. Eventually the 3rd Party offerings find their on Price in the Market. I would agree with you that some Offerings are on the high side, particularly from the USA - but they nearly all come down in price after a little time. The latest “wheez”, for want of a better word, is “Foundation Projects” from Webdeersign (and another seller) which initially will cost $40 and that’s before you’ve purchased the Foundation Package & CMS Package from Joe Workman (essential purchases to make the 'Projects’work) - that will set you back over $100 dollars. All of Joe’s stuff actually adds excellent functionality to RW.

Webdeersign seem to think their designs using Foundation is worth $40 a 'Project. For those who’ve been with RW for years - there is ‘Zero’ advantages for purchasing their ready-made ‘Projects’. If you feel compelled to use this route and Foundation - I think that Joe Workmans video are sufficient (even for newbies) to get your own tailored solutions for Web Sites.


(Jason Bostick) #7

To each their own but I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement, even at $40. And I’m from Canada, where $40 US dollars might as well be a mortgage payment with our economy.

Otherwise, I’d agree that if you had Foundation and carved out a bit of time to go through Joe’s videos and demo projects you’d pretty much be set.


(Peter Danckwerts) #8

@jabostick: @kpryce1 prefaced that remark with the words ‘For those who’ve been with RW for years’. That, I’m sure, is his point. In any case, what is the point of buying a ‘blank canvass’ theme such as Foundation if you are then going to pay for a theme project on top of it? You might as well just buy a theme which suits you.


(Ken) #9

@peterdanckwerts Yes - I agree with you - new users having followed the Foundation route, will not be impressed with a ‘Blank Page’. But then - the “Projects” route to get an acceptable site is going be pretty pricey at $40 a pop.

I’ve wasted a lot of money in the past buying Themes etc that I’ll never use again. Personally, I think a couple of ThemeFlood’s Themes (Flood & Volcano), The Stacks Plugin & some Stacks4Stacks offerings with the excellent guidance from Stacks4Stacks, will go a hell of a long way without spending a fortune.


(Jason Bostick) #10

Because (for me anyway), the projects teach me different ways to use a variety of stacks. And, for as much as themes are billed as ready to go ‘out of the box’, I’ve found that your mileage may vary. So, I dont mind the extra bit of money seeing as I am learning new skill sets (beyond what I’ve learned through Joe et al’s videos). And, for premium themes that are $30, I think the extra $10 is worth it.


(Michael Lever) #11

I too have wasted a lot of money on themes etc that I have never used. To be fait, that’s not RW’s problem. My approach now is to stick with what works for me and ignore the rest which means not buying.

One cannot blame developers for wanting to come up with a stream of new products - that’s their business modus operandi - but I do think there are a lot of ‘me too’ products that are just not worth it.


(Michael Lever) #12

The first part of your reply I don’t understand. How are these taxes deductible. Perhaps you would like to explain. (For my part, all RW and related products are a business expenses so 100% tax deductible).

The other comments are with respect indicative of someone who cannot be bothered and prefers to rely on the letter of the law than treat customers fairly. Customer service is about helping the customer, not yourself!


(Jannis from inStacks Software) #13

When I sell something for 10€, I only earn 5€. From that, I have to “pay” the time doing support…
Nobody will get rich by selling themes and stacks.

Btw: IMHO, RW addons and their license terms are much “cheaper” and better than for other platforms like WP. Have a look at theme forest, where it is common to sell themes by multiple licenses (1 site < > multiple site licenses).

And at the end, it is good that all customers are able to decide by themselves if they buy or not.


(Brad Halstead) #14

My only wish is consistency…

If you’re no longer developing a product, put it as free and/or remove it from your store… period!

If you’re developing the product further, keep it updated, especially for outside code calls like FA or jQuery, Stacks 3 updates. Purchasing items (stacks) from even the same developer can get you multiple calls to different versions of jQuery and FA in the same darned project… this is frustrating, a waste of bandwidth and cause page load slowdown due to excessive external calls… Why is this so tough?

Keep your instructions up to date (screenshots too!)

Some developers are good at this, others not so much and no, I will not name to shame or name to fame for any of my comments. My experiences may/will be different than yours, so you have to make up your mind who to support and who not to.

Support run-a-round - This is somewhat problematic in general. Some dev’s are great, some give you a one sentence reply that is of absolutely no use… ex: it’s in the manual! Well yes it is, but the images are wrong and the steps are out of order, please update… nada done… I had 2 open tickets with one developer for 3 months, multiple support emails back and fourth, sample projects given, complete support & corroborating evidence by another developer involved and it still took 2 months for an update…

If you rely on Waterfall for updates, make sure they work… This seems to be multi-developer issue that use Waterfall for updates (i.e., it occurs with more than one developer).

If you have a product update, send an email, you have the info on file of what I purchased is this so hard (only 3 devs that I can think of do this)?

I’m not trying to be negative, but supportive to the community and developers, Some developers have it all down to a science and yes, people have bad days, even developers, so they must be given a break so to speak. There are quite a few developers that are exceptional for support (when needed) and a lot of times it’s a case of users being lazy, not reading the instructions or downloading a sample project if available or doing their own research, instead they post a help me now (with no sample project, no clear instructions on how to reproduce, no clear indication of OSX version, RW version, Stacks Versions, Theme Version, stacks used names and versions, etc) support email and then wonder why developers give them short answers!

Personally I have my GO TO developers that I trust no matter what and will buy from them regularly, others if I feel I am being ignored or cheated, I no longer buy from them regardless of what new whiz-bang product they make and I ALWAYS give the new guy a chance or two then make a decision.

All this being said, some oneness MUST be put on the user! as per my example above about emailing developer support or using their support system.

Regarding @webdeer and his OMG $40 product… if you have not purchased it and seen the amount of work and detail that went into it for you to customize then you should not say a word, because you simply have no idea what you are talking about! I purchased it out of curiosity and to compare to @hipsterweaver’s products and I must say that I am impressed to say the least. You may need other add ons sure, but after the initial investment, you can re-use these projects over and over and over with different modules, different styling etc and for no further investment. Heck, ½ the stacks they both use are donation ware (Free, donate if you like). It does not compute to me all the ruckus about $40 USD ($53 CDN)… Development costs time & knowledge, Knowledge & time has value which translates to $$, what we pay for products is more than fair considering they offer free support as well! When was the last time you asked for a custom logo image… $500USD+ and that’s without the source files… gee whiz people…reality check, shake your head!

All my humble opinion of course, take as you wish, not meant to come down on Developers or Users but maybe to give a reality check to both.

Happy Weaving
Brad


(Gary) #15

Thanks Turtle.

As Turtle says correctly, with experience and trial and error, you soon work out who the good developers are, but you do need to go through that process to work it out.

@mog1 I would like to point out a couple of things that do not seem to be appreciated or understood so I though it was important to provide some facts.

To become a 'developer" you need a big investment in the form of a Retina high spec Mac, a backup duplicate Mac and a MacBook for when you are not at your desk, backup drives, robust Cloud backup service, etc, etc… Each needs a licensed full set of software and stacks and you need to offset an ongoing amount for replacement.

To not operate in this way could be seen as a bit negligent because when support is needed, it wouldn’t (I think) be acceptable to reply that “my Mac is not working”. Users of RW add ons demand more.

Digital download provider fees, paying 81 different rates of VAT specific to 28 countries in the EU every 3 months on EU downloads, web hosting, support services, etc all adds up too.

All of this adds up to a significant initial, monthly and yearly ongoing cost and is a reason why many potential developers cannot contribute because the cost is too high. So when a developer doesn’t respond to a question, they may be on holiday without a MacBook, or they maybe just doing it part time when they can fit it in.

@mog1 I am really not sure where this thread is going, other than to have a good moan about RW, and USA developers prices. If you don’t like the prices don’t buy it. You already stated that “For my part, all RW and related products are a business expenses so 100% tax deductible” so I just don’t understand what you’re point is other than to update us on your computer past.

One other point often not understood, is that RW without add ons would not be what it is today. Developers are what makes RW as powerful as it is.


(Peter Danckwerts) #16

@webdeer is quite right about the ridiculous overhead (financial and/or work) which the EU VAT rules impose on those who sell digital downloads. Worst of all for small UK outfits is that these new rules ignore the VAT turnover threshold (in the UK £82,000), so you have to register even if you sell £5-worth of downloads. On the other hand, it beats being a publisher of printed books as I am. Not only are the books expensive to produce, but you are expected to give Amazon and ‘real’ bookshops about 55% discount and pay for delivery, not to mention accepting returns.


(LJ) #17

I completely disagree that 3rd party RW products are expensive, and amazed at the phrase ‘rip-off’! Drive the price down and we have struggling developers who can’t afford to support their products or get to be bigger than one man band operations. Where does that leave RW users with mission critical products? “Oh sorry the developer’s on holiday so no support for 2 weeks”.

I want to know that 3rd party developers have back up / staff who are available to support their products - I’d quite happily pay more to ensure the RW 3rd party community is rock solid.

With careful selection, you could have RW + a wide range of useful stacks / plug ins for around £100 - £150, a complete arsenal to build as many sites as you like. How that is expensive I don’t know.

Having said that - free trials would be good. it is too easy to buy a plug in, theme or stack which you later find has something you really want missing, and end up with redundant software lying around.


(Michael Lever) #18

“Rip off” is not a phrase that I would use as a matter of course. But if you don’t provoke then you don’t get change.

Whether RW products are expensive or not can only be subjective. Personally I don’t think most of them are, but a new theme priced at $29 or a project template at $40 strikes me as disproportionate.

In the business of selling themes and stacks etc, it seems to me (as an outsider) that there are only two ways to make serious money: low price/high volume, or high price/low volume. It doesn’t follow that the higher the price the fewer sales (or vice versa), but a higher price might be a sign that the developer is not doing that well, hence the resistance to free trials. When you’ve already been paid, who cares that the customer had to find out the hard way?

Perhaps whenever a new product is announced, all buyers could be encouraged to rate the product and any support on these forums: others considering would then have something independent to go on.

RW users are captive audience/potential customers for third party developers. It’s all very well defending the status quo. but the issue around free trials is clearly something others are also concerned about.


(Doobox Software) #19

The community add-ons area http://rapidweavercommunity.com
gives everyone the opportunity to show there appreciation of a product by simply liking it, or leaving a personal review, be that favourable or not. I totally agree that “others considering would then have something independent to go on”.
This mechanism is already in place. I’d encourage everyone to contribute.