Putting Code Together Since 1987

Posts Tagged ‘Software’

What Used to be Hard, Becomes Easy

In Web Development on June 10, 2008 at 11:20 am

One thing we talk a lot about is how important it is, for costs, to stick to problems which have already been solved. Get fancy and do something new, and your costs have rocketed away.

A developer has just done a nice little piece on spellchecking. In 1984 it was ferociously hard. In fact, if you wanted a decent spellchecker in your custom application you had to pay dearly for the priviledge. Today it can be accomplished in a few lines of code.

It means that what was once going to cost you £100k to add to an application is now a few pounds.

Similarly, when we develop we offer up lots of wonderful functionality at incredibly low cost, because we’re just pulling in something that’s already been done. But if someone asks us for something custom, the price leaps up. They don’t always get it.

So here’s how we do it:

Step 1

We don’t know if the problem’s been solved before, and we don’t know how long it’ll take us to solve it either, so we give what may be considered to be evasive responses. We need time to research. Someone has to pay for that. Depending how interesting this research is to our business model, we may subsidise it. Otherwise, the client pays.

Step 2

If we find the problem’s already been solved, we still need to test the solution to make sure it applies well to the client’s requirements.

Step 3

If all is well, and the solution is found quickly, the client gets a call to say “yup, no problem, it’ll take us x amount of hours.”

But if we found no solution, we have to estimate how long it’ll take to develop the solution. And that’s hard in a commercial sphere. People don’t expect to spend much on R&D – they just want solutions.

So we do spend a lot of time trying to get people to understand the difference between solutions, and development. Just like a DVD player is a £30 piece of kit if you buy one from Sanyo while it would cost millions if you tried to make one your own from first principles. It shocks folk, but it’s an important message to get across that all developers need to take on board and to pass on to clients, or they end up stressed and trying to do the impossible on very low budgets.

Why We Hate American Software Companies (Well, Adobe)

In Business, Web Development on March 13, 2008 at 9:00 am

Actually, that’s a contentious one. We don’t really hate US software companies. Just some of them. Adobe in particular is winning no prizes for its pricing policy.

See the image below:

Adobe software is really expensive in the UK

Now, you may notice something… The purchase price of the UK software is, before taxes, £705 while the US software (presumably with taxes) is $999. I’m going to compare our tax free price with the US full price, simply because I can’t assume that the US price includes taxes – I just don’t know the US system that well.
Now if you’re not well up on exchange rates the figures may make the UK copy seem cheaper. But every one of our Great British Pounds will buy 2.03 of your now considerably Cheaper US Dollars.

So let’s work it out.

If bought in the US, the cost without taxes is:

US$999 = GB£492

If bought in the UK, the cost without taxes is:

GB£705 = US$1431

So there we go – we pay over 40% more to download Adobe Software in the UK than in the US. And pity us with our taxes – if you add VAT the price goes up to an equivalent of a whopping $1682. If there were shipping costs, or shop costs to take into account we could understand it. But this is software. It costs the same to deliver wherever the end user is if you’re using the Internet. While there are costs with accounting, they don’t add up to 40% extra.

The US economy isn’t doing that well, but do they really need to rape the wallets of overseas developers in order to improve the situation?

Oh, and I’ll leave it as an exercise to you to spot just how much of a rip-off the upgrade prices are. I wish I had a daughter just so I could forbid her from dating Adobe accountants and marketers.

Producing Instructional ScreenCasts

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Sometimes there’s a need to produce training videos which show how you carry out a certain piece of work.  Simply explaining a technique isn’t always possible in words.  You need to show people how it’s done.

Alternatively you may wish to demo your lovely piece of software.

And for that, there’s a rather wonderful piece of software called CamStudio.  Even better than being great, it’s also Free Open Source.  Go get it…

Attention WordPress Hackers! At Last, a GPL Theme Worth Playing With…

In Wordpress on December 18, 2007 at 12:57 pm

We finally built GPL theme for hosted versions of WordPress! And very pretty it is too…

Anvil Theme for WordPress

We’ve been writing custom themes for clients for quite some time now, and felt it was time to give a little something back to the WordPress community.

So we did a fully GPL theme, complete with a Fireworks png, all sliced up and ready to be re-exported in such a way that you can completely change the site’s design without ever touching a line of code. You have to work within the limitations of the graphical elements, but there’s no doubt there’s a lot you can do.

You’ll see variants of the theme in use around the place – on the satirical motoring site Sniff Petrol on Dave Coveney’s site, and in a few other places soon we hope. We have high hopes for the underlying platform of this theme – it brings with it a navigation widget to give you fine control of an elegantly styled sidebar, an easy to customise contact form page template, and much much more. It’s a theme for people who like to expand what they can do with WordPress. It’s also, of course, xhtml 1.0 transition, works on every browser we tested on, and the work of a dedicated team of professionals.

Anvil Theme Official Demo and Download Page