Follow-up: TechRepublic and Outsystems’ Agile
I recently gave TechRepublic and their Editor-in-Chief an unfair pasting. This generated a robust response from Jason Hiner who patiently pointed me to articles which genuinely criticised the hand-that-feeds the website (i.e. its advertisers). It seemed only fair to sample TR’s ongoing fare so I dug much deeper and found a mine of excellent information which, together with my email subscriptions, has generated some useful follow-ups.
For example, I was drawn to a series of articles by Justin James on the Agile Development Platform from Outsystems. It seems the chaps at Outsystems took note and are using a community model to fuel propagation (and, let’s be honest, sales !) of their IDE. I had been floundering with various environments, including Visual Studio, and wanted one which avoided too in-depth a delve into extensive coding. Yes indeed – a pretty GUI that builds grown-up web apps but is usable by a muppet – Agile fits the bill. So far so good with the community edition. They have also included documentation on how to extract ‘generic’ (i.e. standard) source code for ASP or J2EE environments from the Agile output – very community-spirited stuff.
Well, fine, but it needs to be ! Their licensing model means that the production application can only support 5 simultaneous users under the community edition. Their commercial offering starts at EUR 19 (yes that’s NINETEEN) PER MONTH PER CONCURRENT USER. Oh dear ! There are not many commercial websites / web applications that can claim revenue models which draw enough subscriptions in to pay for such a platform (if my monthly ARPU was more than 19 pence then I would be drafting this little ditty from my yacht in the Bahamas). One further twist is that the community edition can only be deployed on Microsoft (.NET and IIS) environments (although the extracted source code can reportedly be deployed on J2EE platforms under Linux). This seems a tad counter to the common open-source ‘LAMP’ suite but obviously keeps the retention factor high for Outsystems.
It easy to be cynical , and Outsystems has hit upon a familiar marketing ploy. Quality software – and I can certainly say that so far the Agile platform seems very good – has to be paid for somehow. Open-source can too often be seen as free beer and not as the crucible for genuine community developments that is is intended to be. I will attempt to prototype a fledgling web application service using the platform and see how it goes – more on my experiences with Outsystems’ Agile in the future.
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