or how to sell little tools for little money...
A while ago, I wrote a little tool for exporting UML-like diagrams for Java classes and packages to OmniGraffle. I blogged about that tool and, from my statistics, it got downloaded over 100 times. I also announced that the tool will stop working in 2012, which it actually did. As I wrote in the announcement of the tool, based on the feedback I wanted to decide whether to continue developing the tool or not.
So, what is the feedback after almost six months? There were a few comments, and about 150 downloads according to my logs. Although I installed a donate and Flatter button on my blog, I received no money at all. The natural consequence would be to stop developing (and providing) the tool.
Today, someone posted a comment as the tool has stopped working (just as announced). The commenter also wrote that he needs the tool to create some diagrams for him. Hmm... As I'm trying to be a good guy, I published an update of the tool working until June 2012.
I won't complain about people not giving any feedback or money voluntary. Instead I'm wondering how to make the tool available for a small amount of money. Actually, I don't know about any Eclipse tools to be sold for a couple of dollars/euros, except Log4E. Most tools are either freely available, or they are really expensive. Log4E comes in two versions: A free community edition and a so called "Pro" version for only €7,50. I have purchased that tool a long time ago, rather to support the author than urgently needing the additional features of the Pro version. However, due to the lack of Eclipse supporting this kind of "business model", it is rather complicated to install the license key (and keep it up to date with new Eclipse installations), and I figure managing licenses and payments to be time-consuming for the author as well.
Apple, and also Google, have successfully created systems enabling authors of software to make (little) money by selling there products very easily. Although I don't like the Apple way of approving software, I'm wondering if some kind of "Eclipse PluginStore" would be a good idea. People spend a lot of money on "apps", including a lot of small games. If buying a commercial Eclipse plugin would be as simple as purchasing an iPhone/Android app, would people do that? And how many programmers would publish their tools then? Maybe combining that kind of store with a BugStore (see "Should We Pay for Eclipse Bug Fixes?" for a summary of a discussion taken place in April 2010) would be a good idea as well...
As long as there is no Eclipse PluginStore available: How do you sell your tools?