What’s Happening to Reflector?
So Red Gate have made the announcement that the next version of their excellent Reflector application will be a “paid for” product. This is OK, I totally understand the reasons for this – they have a business to run and have tried the free model, but it’s just not working out for them.
Neil Davidson, Co-CEO of Red Gate Software said this in an “Open Letter to the .NET Community“:
“As many of you know, our original intention was to maintain .NET Reflector as a free tool. But, after two-and-a-half years of providing it without charge, we realized that we could not make the free model work. We know that this will cause pain for some people in the .NET community, and we apologize for the change in policy.”
So my initial thoughts were, “You know what? It’s only $35 and I have been using it free for a couple of years, so I’ll take the hit if I want to upgrade. No hard feelings.”
And then I read this in the FAQs:
“A free version will be available for download until the release of Version 7, scheduled for early March. The free version will continue working until May 30, 2011.”
So the version I have on my machine will cease to function on the 30th May!
I will spend $35 on the new version, but I won’t be happy doing it, I have little choice. I like Reflector, a lot of people do. It is a very useful tool for looking behind the scenes of an assembly to see whats going on (both for debugging and educational purposes). I recommended it as an essential .NET development tool in my last blog post.
In my opinion, disabling the free version of the software on 30th May is not a good way to go. Why not make the new version so awesome that I NEED it? Don’t FORCE me to begrudgingly pay you money – make me WANT to pay you for an even better product. Maybe the new release is going to be that good, but let me decide for myself.
You have only got to look at Twitter or search around a few blogs to see that this has already annoyed a lot of people. All that Red Gate is doing is giving someone the incentive to start, or improve an existing Open Source project (like Monoflector) to give equivalent functionality because they don’t give out a free version anymore. Someone could make a big name for themselves by writing the new Reflector.
I hope that Red Gate have a strategy re-think. Reflect on it, if you will.