Welp, not much to post as I wrap up the [shameless plug alert] GUI for my first shareware app. Oh, I'm a long ways away from done. Still looking towards a release in late December, I believe. But things are working well enough I can occasionally take a break by watching the app work, which is exciting enough that it has me working most of the time my hands are on a keyboard.

Been thinking about a number of things while I work, listed here in no particular order.

1.) Licensing schemes. No matter how fancy your means of protection, you're still pretty much stuck with the honor system. I'm hoping I've reached some level of insight in thinking about licensing with the following concepts.

First, there are people that aren't going to pay for your software no matter what. Whether you just use a nag screen or you force them to pay before even seeing the software, they ain't shelling out. The only thing making your software harder to crack does is mean that less of these folk are using your software. Not sure if unregistered users using cracked versions of software is a better thing than them not using it at all or not. At any rate, when you think about introducing licensing schemes, you forget these people. Locking them out doesn't, at first glance, make you more money, pretty much by definition.

So let's say 65-70% of the people that would pay for your software if they had to, whatever that means exactly, are going to be relatively "honorable" and pay your fee after the trialware cripples. For these folk, all your app needs to do is store the date of first use somewhere in plain text and check it each time it starts, in theory.

So licensing schemes only bring in a percentage of that last 30-35% (at least with my dreamt up numbers). Hey, even I might fudge a date in plain text to keep an app working (though I finally even shelled out for WinZip at one point), but if the file's hidden and the format is a little wackier and takes some deciphering, I probably wouldn't. Bam! That's probably half of your wannabe hackers/pirates right there.

But much more complicated licensing schemes than that? I doubt many people who decompile the code were potential customers anyway, right? And the people they distribute the app to are probably habitual pirates as well, I'd imagine, and the overlap with people who would pay if they had to is probably pretty low. It's easy to see you'll hit diminishing returns awfully quickly when creating fancier licensing schemes. Right? Right?!! :^\

Still not sure about this one.

2.) "What's the best programming langauge?" It seems most people will flame you until they're blue in the face with their preference, but I can never come to a clear winner. If I shelled out for C#.NET's VS.NET IDE, I'm betting I could cut down on development time over Java with Eclipse by 10%. Using VB6, that's probably more like 30%.

I like Java, however, as it allows you to use object-oriented programming techniques (VB6 doesn't; C# does, of course) and it's quite easy to port, to say the very least. I still wonder if I wouldn't do myself a favor to port this source to C# and not worry about Mac and Linux until Mono behaves, but to me that seems like a cheap way out of "doing it right".

3.) Wow! In less than three months, it looks like I should have a product ready to ship, give or take. Boy, in the right company I could be making stuff happen hand over first! That's four products a year! Maybe only three once I think about support, but that's lots of products!!

And then it hits me. Even once it's done (even pretending three months is enough time to support three apps), I'm hardly finished. The problem with shareware/trialware/garage programming is that now I have to hock the snake-oil. Brand identity, good manuals, advertising, all those things that make an app worth more than its bits on the hard drive are now my responsibility. I gotta sell this stuff! At least with contract work you've got a guaranteed market before you start programming. Not so lucky in the trailware biz.

I might have three apps in a year, but if I have one that sells at all I'd consider myself lucky.