Blog: "Full Screen Ponderings and the Nature of Sharewa

You ask why people seem to ask more from a shareware project than a big corporate project, when it comes to feedback. First, I’ve never been in either position, but it would surprise me if every major software developer is not completely swamped with customer feedback. The difference is, with Adobe or whomever, you’ll probably never hear back from them, and the odds of your ideas going anywhere are extremely slim. So it becomes a black hole that unaware users feed constantly. The rate of new users coming into these bigger applications is such that I doubt it ever abates.

From my point of view, I would never spend a single minute writing up a proposal to a major piece of software, because in my mind I view that more as a business transaction. They treat everything around them like “business,” so why I should I treat them any different? Why should I work for them, for free? What if one of my ideas does really kick off, then they’ll be making millions on some feature that I did all of the conceptual on, receiving no credit; maybe a thanks; and certainly no monetary compensation. Their own employees might only get a small bonus for such a contribution, if any.

With small software projects where only one or two people are even actively programming, I have much more respect and such. If the program is useful to me, I have no issue monetarily supporting their project, as well as offering ideas and “work” for free. I always attempt to test the waters and see how open they are to communication. I’ve become good friends with some developers, and with others I can tell they’d rather pursue their own vision without any “yammering”, so I respect that too. The key difference is that I enjoy helping out People and having a relationship with the project and its designers.

That is why I am the way I am, anyway. I would imagine that with most it is similar on most points. People feel more obliged to help out when their actions will be appreciated. There is no such thing as pure philanthropy. :slight_smile:

Yes, Amber, I coincided with you. Support to independent developers has benefits that feedback to a big corporation would never do. It helps develop pieces of software that wouldn’t make business sense for a corporation. Yet, software that could become a day-to-day tool, as Scrivener Gold is for me.

The most important benefit, nevertheless, is that it is a mutual interest–developer-user–in which both parties are benefited, provided that the developer is a discerning listener, and the user understands that some features, though important, might not be shared by most of the user base or not fit in the developer’s time and schedulle.

My experience with Scrivener, and Keith, has been very positive from the beginning. And I’m ready to support Scrivener in anyway I can.

Thanks for the comments… I do find this different relationship interesting. I hope I made it clear on my blog that I am very grateful to the users who have made all the suggestions and contributed so much to Scrivener. Does anybody remember the cruddy purple binder icon that Scrivener used to have? I’m not bad with a pencil and paper, but I’m no graphic artist. But now Scrivener has a very eye-catching icon thanks to… AmberV - a user. And the new interface is mostly driven by user feedback on SG. I was never 100% happy with SG’s interface, but it got the job done. But then users pointed me in the way of Hog Bay Notebook, Mori, and various others, and they started to discuss outlining processes and annotation systems and what worked about SG and what didn’t work so well and… Well, I don’t always agree with every user suggestion, obviously, but there are occasions often enough when I think, “Oh yes! I missed that…”

Actually, I think this relationship is very important to shareware developers. Not only does it frequently create a loyal group of users who freely do a lot of advertising for you (most newcomers to this site are here because of word of mouth from current users - I haven’t tried to get any attention for Scrivener whilst it’s unfinished); there is a more important aspect to the relationship, I think. Big businesses such as Adobe and Microsoft have dozens, maybe even hundreds, of developers and designers working for them. I’m a one-man-band. It often takes a fresh pair of eyes to see something you missed - in a shareware app, the users who become active in the community bring some of this with them. And that is probably one good reason why shareware should remain cheap - because the users are often also contributors. Certainly, Scrivener is becoming a much more polished application, and a much more professional application, because of the users who have contributed.

Did I say thank you? :slight_smile:


P.S. None of which changes the fact that once 1.0 is released there will be a lull in development for a while - aside from bug-fixes - whilst I use the thing myself. :slight_smile: