Growing pains

JetBrains Toolbox payment model angers community – “told you so” says Eclipse

Coman Hamilton
Subscription image via Shutterstock

JetBrains users have been loudly voicing their disapproval at the new “JetBrains Toolbox” SaaS payment model, announced this week by the makers of the Java IDE IntelliJ IDEA.

A new internet-dependent and an apparently indie-unfriendly JetBrains software subscription model has provoked an angry response from the JetBrains community.

Earlier this week, JetBrains announced the availability of the JetBrains Toolbox from November 2, 2015, and with it its new Software-as-a-Service business model. The JetBrains collection of desktop tools will now be available on a yearly or monthly subscription basis, thus replacing the company’s previous perpetual licence model.

Customers can freely select from the product selection and thus build their own “toolbox” according to their own needs. The new model includes many JetBrains products such as IntelliJ IDEA, AppCode, Clion, PhpStorm, PyCharm, RubyMine, WebStorm, ReSharper ReSharper C ++, dotTrace, dotCover and dotMemory, but does not incorporate its server tools YouTrack, TeamCity, Upsource and Stroke.

JetBrains claims the change is designed to provide better budget planning and greater flexibility. The Czech software company wrote that the new approach will deliver “easier access to your coding tools, more control and flexibility and a lower entry price”.

The company is attempting to lure older customers into the new payment model with special pricing packages, however the discounts are only available to previous users, and look set to disappear in 2016.

Cash-dependent, internet-dependent

Although previously purchased perpetual licences will continue to retain their validity after November 2, customers will be forced to switch to the new model in order to avail of updates. Unlike previous perpetual licence purchases, developers subscribing to JetBrains software will now lose access as soon as they stop making monthly or yearly payments.

Commentator Daniel Yankowsky says this will impact indie developers the most. “For a developer with an unstable income, it might be perfectly fine to stay on an older version of the software until they’ve stashed enough cash to afford the upgrade. That will no longer work. But it’s not just indie developers. I’ve seen companies who forget to renew their licenses promptly or who have long and convoluted processes to approve the expenditure. I guess, under the new model, development grinds to a halt until the purchase goes through.”

On top of that, JetBrains is now requiring developers to connect the software to the internet at least every 3o days to use its software.

Many users have taken to social media, comments sections and Reddit to explain their reluctance to switch. Redditor slccsoccer28 has written an open letter to JetBrains appealing for revisions to the payment model. JetBrains has responded it will consider how to “address the negatives” of its payment model.

“This decision shows a lack of empathy for the community you have worked so hard to build and I am extremely concerned about your future considerations of myself and the rest of the community,” writers slccsoccer28 in the public letter. “Unless Jetbrains decides to amend this new policy with consideration for traditional, perpetual based licenses, I will no longer be purchasing new offerings. I will use the current version of software.”

However many users on Twitter and the JetBrains blog have threatened to switch to an alternative IDE.

“Told you so”

Eclipse’s Mike Milinkovich was quick to rub salt in JetBrains’ wounds and used the opportunity to bring back the debate over proprietary vs. open source debate.

The JetBrains switch to SaaS model is “a perfect example of why and how trusting a proprietary tools vendor leaves you and your business exposed to the whims of their profit margins,” Milinkovich writes on his blog. “Make no mistake: this is motivated by what’s good for their business, not what is good for the developer community. Even if JetBrains backpedals on this decision, it is a lesson worth learning.”

Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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