Please, Support Your Commercial Software

September 14, 2013 3 min read

I’ve been working on an ExpressionEngine project, for which we decided years ago to use your add-on. It’s a commercial add-on, meaning that people pay for your work to be able to take advantage of what the product advertises. It’s still being sold as I write this.

After years of evolution, the product sucks. Simple things like broken pagination, a data exporter that only provides 100 records, and a high-profile tool that denies you access even as a Super Admin – bugs that aren’t hard to fix. Bigger things, like sloppy code and questionable implementation – those are harder to fix unless you refactor and get serious about planning well and working cleanly.

But these things could be excused, at least, if you were taking feedback from your users and constantly patching up the junk. I write software, and I’m not at all perfect or always designing things I’m proud of – I understand how that can happen. What I don’t understand, however, is how you can release this software to the public with a certain expectation, take money, and then turn your back to problems by not supporting your software.

This is irresponsible and bad business. I’m not sure if the Pixel & Tonics and Lows and Causing Effects of the world necessarily care deeply about their customers’ wellbeing, but I would be shocked if they didn’t all agree that happy customers are an essential part of the business. In each case there are products that fill specific needs (like yours), and thoughtful, friendly, responsive support – very much unlike yours.

I would love to have a product I could charge for, evolve, and support – but the type of workload I maintain right now would leave support efforts (or current clients) shortchanged and I’m not willing to half-ass something out into the marketplace. I’m not willing to put something out there and charge for it ultimately to hurt the reputation of ExpressionEngine’s talented, thoughtful development community. Or worse, to create new headaches for the customers whose problems my widget attempted to solve.

If your product sucks so bad that you’re completely overwhelmed trying to support it, apologize to the people whose money you’ve stolen and take it off the market. Or open source it so we can all fix it up together. Or just work out the specifics of your business so that you can at least catch up to your promises and get your product back on track.

I’m not asking that you write perfect software, that you test like you should, or that you rethink everything you’ve done. But please: in the interests of professionalism, decency, honesty, and consideration of the community, support your software or make it go away.

Matt Stein’s face

by Matt Stein

Full stack tinkerer, sporadic blogger and Craft CMS fan occasionally found on the podcast.


Updated 6/16/19 at 7:52pm