Sencha’s Licensing Model

Lets overcome objections to Sencha’s licensing model. Yes, I’m addressing the licensing model, the one area Sencha and I disagree on.

To start let me start explain I think programmers are being unrealistic in avoiding Sencha because of their licensing model. It is expensive and does come with ongoing support and maintenance costs. My disagreement is the license model does a good job of eliminating small, single developer offices. In my programmers logical mind, yes requiring an annual subscription of price of (at time of writing) $1200/year is considered vastly expensive to an independent writing a program without any foresight if the product they develop can even recoup the expense when going to market. This means going into development this way I will face $2400 expense outside of my time to write the code, money to market it and other expenses having no clue if or when it may return a profit. As an independent I don’t have a lot of capital and don’t often don’t have an existing product to help offset this expense.

Being fair to Sencha, I don’t have inside knowledge of their target with development. Further I don’t have their operating expense reports so I’ve no clue on profits they are currently making. Without this information I cannot determine right or wrong about their license model decisions. Clearly they are a corporation with the intent of employing individuals and making investors money. Aren’t we all trying to make more money?

Again programmers are quick to make conclusions and then bash a company based something like a license model. Yet when we sell products we develop we are guilty of doing just what Sencha does; this is the price I have to sell the product at in order to remain profitable and to allow me continued development and improvements to the product. Gee, since I can say this about how people react to some other of Sencha products, Architect and Themer come to the forefront; programmers complain about how a product works because it doesn’t meet their expectations while telling their customers it is not how the product was intended to be used; kind of makes programmers a difficult breed to work with. A programmers reaction to Sencha’s license model is no different; programmers are difficult to work with.

Sencha is also unique in they do offer an open source option for using ExtJS in your application. Sencha’s open source model may or may not answer your issue with licensing. That is a choice you and your attorney have to make. Sencha follows GPL 3, requiring you to release source code each time you distribute your application. This may or may not be a game stopper for you. GPL 3 in some cases could allow you to offer software as a service and still keep your source code. This would have to be determined between you and your attorney as I am not a lawyer. For me, currently the open source option does work and I do develop using ExtJS with the open source version and am fine with the GPL 3.

Reality check, Sencha’s license model is expensive. I don’t think we can find anyone who can disagree either subscription or the requirement to purchase five development licenses is an expense. But if you have products your selling already or have something you know will eventually cover your expense then the license is doable and is beneficial for you to pay the cost. The five license pack does still have the advantage of being perpetual should you cancel your maintenance/support agreement. Sure cancellation has a cost to as you will not upgrade to the latest version by just signing up for maintenance/support; should you cancel, renewal will be back dated to bring you up to date in order to get the updated versions. You may agree or disagree with Sencha’s decision on this but face it, development cost money, time, marketing and resources. Think about it, if you have a client using your software, do you give them the upgrade for free? NO, you have stepped pricing for upgrades typically. The longer the time has been since their last upgrade the more they pay for the newest upgrade; up to an including if enough time passed they have to purchase a full new license giving them no discount on the upgrade. So then why blame Sencha for doing the same thing?

Sencha has a past, unfortunately at one point they were faced with going away or creating a license method that would allow them to be profitable; even at least pay the bills. They made a choice and the product is still around, it is improving and their road map is constantly changing. So whether I agree or not with the licensing model they made a decision that has worked for them. There are massive improvements from ExtJS 4.2 along with new products since that version was released. Ergo I don’t agree but they are doing something right.

Concluding, don’t let the license model stop you from using Sencha’s products. But also don’t expect Sencha to make their entire product line open source or use anything different than GPL 3. It was their choice and your choice is using Sencha and what license model works for you. But don’t let this or opinions stop you from exploring using Sencha. If you do, you will lose whether you know you have lost or not. Sencha is heading in a positive direction and I will continue using their products, blogging about them regardless of their license model because I like their product and believe in where they are going.


Author: aallord

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