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Angry devs hit out at JetBrains over shift to subscription pricing

Signs of flexibility as company says changes are 'not final'

Developer tools vendor JetBrains has run into a storm of protest over its announcement of subscription pricing from 2 November 2015.

JetBrains sells a number of popular IDEs, including IntelliJ IDEA for Java, PHPStorm for web development, AppCode for Objective-C and Swift, and CLion for cross-platform C/C++.

Currently developers buy perpetual licenses for these products, with discounts for upgrades, which is the traditional model of software licensing.

Under the new scheme, called Toolbox, you can buy access to all the JetBrains desktop products for £15.90 per month, or £159 per year, or buy subscriptions to individual products (such as IntelliJ IDEA) for £79 per year, or £7.90 per month.

In a blog post, marketing bod Eugene Toporov explains that the new model is "simpler and easier to understand. In addition, it allows better budget planning and overall provides a more flexible model for everyone."

The changes have not gone down well with developers.

"I don’t rent my computer, I don’t rent my mouse, I don’t rent my keyboard, and I don’t rent my chair. Please don’t force me to rent," says one customer.

While some developers are happy with the changes, others are not, with the usual "I will never buy anything from you again" declarations that such announcements tend to generate.

Oh no, not ANOTHER subscription. Wonderful, now you’ve joined Adobe (CC) and Microsoft (Office365) in “renting” your software. Not for the benefit of your users, of course, just for your own benefit to get continuous cash coming in every month. Subscriptions are a form of ransom : if you stop paying, your software no longer works. I bought and used AppCode for years, but I hate subscriptions and now I’m going back to Eclipse.

...says another comment.

Now the company may (or may not) be having a change of heart.

"We are listening ... The licensing model announced previously including conditions and prices, is not final," says Toporov in an update.

Subscription terms are attractive for software companies since they provide a steady flow of income and relieve product teams of the pressure to come up with sufficient new features to entice upgrades on a regular basis. They can also work out cheaper for customers who only need a product occasionally.

The downside is the inconvenience of time-bombed software that might not run when you need it – such as when a bug is found in last year's project and needs an urgent fix. Having to get a subscription updated first adds friction in such cases.

There is also a suspicion that once users are locked into a subscription model, prices may creep up. In the old model, customers can simply not upgrade if the price is too high – but with a subscription, that approach no longer works. ®

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