Ko-fi and paypal have webhooks, I know, but I don’t want to offer a service like that because it would require serious formalisation and I don’t have the time and it doesn’t seem like a good market.
McNeel/F4R doesn’t do it, they are who have the reasons to do it, why should I do it or anyone else, who already does enough developing plugins for his platform?
I don’t think Ko-fi is bad as an intermediary and I don’t think it has the legal problems mentioned above, it is widely used in the programming community. You can find a lot of libraries on Github that can be sponsored using Ko-fi.
This community is too used to getting everything for free. I think the reasonable thing to do first is to see if this Ko-fi component works, if the community repays the generosity of a few. If this happens, then there would be hope for a more time consuming project like that.
It would be even greater if there was a way for developers to thank their plugin users for the coffee with some sort of “in-game asset”.
If there’s no other incentive for users than the altruism of sharing a coffee with the developer, not many people will actually want to pay 3$ no matter how nice they are as a person. But this would change if they received something in return - it might be an example artwork asset, an extra tutorial video, or ideally some native Rhino asset like extra plugin functionality etc. etc. - just something that provides a little value.
Some developers just don’t want to go down the official way of adopting a full-blown licensing system using Zoo etc for their plugin, but they would still rather not do it for free, or just the occasional coffee from one out of 10000 users …
Or maybe they like the idea of free or even open-source software?
Also those who chose to accept donations, probably neither expect it to be a fully-fledged business model, nor that every user can/has/will donate.
Ko-fi allows you to create your own shop and offer exclusive content, although I haven’t explored it yet. That’s where you can include that additional paid content.
With Peacock I have migrated to Discord and one of the reasons is that it allows me to gamify the content, to align the user’s interest with my interest in making it productive, because unlike Discourse, Discord is highly configurable with bots, it is an amazing beautiful app done for the future of content creators. However I have not yet reached the point to validate this so there is nothing to show yet, I hope to do so in a year. At the moment that server is for the patreons of Peacock.
I also have a WIP personal Discord server and I would like to invite everyone to join, to anyone who wants to talk to me directly (here for example you have to wait for me to come in, I don’t open the personal email either…), to solve doubts about GH or my plugins or development or collab with me or anything else. Discord also offers screen sharing, video calls, audio channels and more. Discourse is better in some features, but overall for me it is not better than Discord. I think all open source developers should use Discord as a collective development platform shared with users (there are many already, for example Three.js or the gh plugin Wasp are on Discord). For now you can only sell games in their shop, but I’ve already asked them to generalize it to other products and I’m sure they will do it someday because it would be a massive feature for content creators.
I have asked the ICO for their position on this type of service and the different stances taken by Ko-fi and Patreon, and the implication for the need to register. I will post on any advice received from them.
Personally I think there will be more discussion than actual profit from it, because looking at the donation levels for most popular open-source software, you can see that reaaally small percentage of people are willing to donate, when we compare it to the number of users. I’d say that maybe there is 0.1%, so for a 1000 users you will maybe get 5 dollar once. Well, it’s better than nothing, but still is it worth it then?
I’m looking forward to see stats in the future though!
That’s precisely why I did it minimising the effort to include it, the cost is just adding a component to the canvas. For such a low cost, I think it’s worth it. Also, Ko-fi allows you to create your own shop and offer exclusive content, so authors have the margin to incentivise people to pay them. However, and this is something I’m fine with as a user, you have to compete with people who tend to help for free, so this kind of paid content really has to be worth it.
On the other hand, you can donate as much as you want and there are generous people out there. Also another point that is beyond my control is, as @jess pointed out in my Discord, that companies don’t usually have a budget for donations and it makes it too complicated to issue invoices from a plugin. But well, I think it’s a good first step, and if the community responds it might be worth building more on this.
I haven’t tried it, but I don’t think the problem is where to sell a plugin, but the lack of ecosystem infrastructure that helps the user to find your plugin or contribute something to the author. McNeel can expose you on his blog/rh-splash for a few days and F4R puts you on his homepage for a few days, but then nobody else accesses your content unless you already have an earned audience (and this takes many years of content sharing or a lot of money in advertising and content) or unless it is easily searchable for the subset of users that use the search engine on f4r if the plugin category makes sense to be searched (the tag offer is very vague).
IMO, this ecosystem is not intended for the developer profile that emerged massively thanks to GH, i.e. designers/artists/architects/modellers/etc who use programming as a tool and who, by giving back what they have received, end up sharing their own plugin or research. Instead, it is meant for professional software developers, for companies that sell software, for big ships that can navigate alone in the market. Setting up a shop in internet is not difficult today, but selling software takes a lot of time between one thing and another. Time and resources that the average GH plugin developer doesn’t have, or is not interested in, or is not compensated for, because they are not in the business of selling software. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m sure it’s great for big professional projects, I just think they haven’t worked on the infrastructure to help small developers monetise their work, and I think they are losing a lot of capital (talent, building on top of their software, etc) by letting them escape, by not retaining them, because in the end sooner or later we all end up feeling like we’re wasting our time.
Anyway, the point is that we need integrations with the application, that connect the user with the product, which is the difficult thing when you want to sell something. Imagine that the components support licenses and you don’t have the license of a plugin but it allows you to run it to test it, but you can’t copy it, or instantiate it or bake its geometry or take its result or it has a execution limit, and via right click the menu of the component allows you to redirect you to buy the license or gives you a QR code to open the shop paying from the mobile. Or you can activate certain features or components if you invite the developer for a coffee, like unlocking features. And a thousand interesting ideas like that that can not be implemented by a third party plugin because it would require everyone to have that plugin that allows these things. These functionalities to monetize plugins should be native.
I guess McNeel could have made an effort towards better visibility of support opportunities for add-on developers a long time ago, but maybe nobody asked for it and/or there was no averseness from their part. If you look at the PackageManager, which is surely meant to be the replacement for F4R in the long run, nothing really has changed in that regard, which doesn’t render me too optimistic.
One thing is for certain, and that is that McNeel are the big profiteers from both the free plug-in development and the active community. After all, learning Rhino and Grasshopper would be very tedious without all the people that volunteer their help, and Grasshopper would even be more difficult to use for beginners without some add-ons that make life much easier by peeling off some layers of abstraction.
As for the free add-ons, I don’t think that most of them should shift to premium models.
McNeel should simply enable developers, who want to, to get donations, and even encourage it! I simply don’t think that a simple website link that nobody visits is enough!
The McNeel customers - us - should be aware of the donating possibilities, should support the creators of tools we like (if we can), and always keep in mind that add-ons being free is not self-evident.
Hops, rhino3dm, rhinoinside, etc. are in my opinion neat tools at first glance, but at second heralds of a free plugin era coming to an end. In the future, I imagine that a lot of people who in the past had to develop to distribute via F4R, will host their own tools, which cannot be free for obvious reasons (e.g. hosting costs, etc.) and thus will be subscription-based cloud add-ons.
You’re 100% right, especially about f4r. There are some great new plugins like LeafVein, Angora2, Triceratops, that are really good, but how they can get more popular, if all you can see is the logo of it on the front page, when they uploaded it the first time, so it disappeared from the front page few days later. And then you won’t see it anywhere else, unless you type the specific thing they did into browser.
Right now the only thing that keep guys motivated to update plugins is self-motivation. For me it’s even a challange to get any feedback from anyone, the only thing I see is that someone downloaded the plugin, but I don’t even know what they think about it, what should I add, how many actual users there is.
True, but all users and developers as well. The fact that this community is supportive, willing to share both their work and knowledge, is not only an important part of the success of Rhino as a platform but also the reason that Rhino has attracted all these people in the first place. I really doubt the current free plugins would sell enough to make commercial development viable apart from maybe a few exceptions, since most plugins are really a niche inside a niche.
It wasn’t like that before, in the old GH forum. It was more social and maintaining exposure was much easier, between the images, videos, groups, personal profiles and the atmosphere that existed. It was exciting.
Yes, I feel what you say. If you want to interact with your users, go to Discord and make them want to be there, there are many ways. There are bots that give like experience points for participating, to level up and get roles to unlock content (more advanced components, tutorials…). You can do streamings to teach how to use your plugin, you can link it with Patreon to assign roles automatically to your sponsors, you can do surveys, create support tickets that open channels to solve doubts, you can gamify it in your own way if you program your own bots or commands… You can have channels for exposure, others for questions, others for FAQs, others for news, feedback, devlog, todo/task list, test logs, github integrations, use private channels to collaborate with other developers… all in the same app. I’m still discovering new things, in fact I made a couple of bots that allowed me to communicate with Rhino from Discord and vice versa, but I haven’t found any real use for them yet… And besides, the app is beautiful and its API works without problems. And unlike Discourse, with a single account you can access any server, from mobile, web browser or desktop.
It’s not perfect either, but if people were there it would benefit developers and users. The bad thing is that you have to move people there, but there are ways. For example for Peacock I would like to make a guest version that is not full (just to try it) and you can get the full free version by simply reacting to a comment on Discord, to get automatically the @user role and unlock the rest of the plugin with it. Then extend the functionality with paid tools or win this by your own merit by helping the Peacock community on Discord. Gamification! I have the tools for all these things in one fucking application, that’s why I love it. But I don’t have it working yet because it requires a lot of work, but I will when I get the next version of my plugin more advanced. I think Discord will become more and more popular because it’s great for developers who want to maximize communication with their users. I leave you two servers of mine (they are not active yet but it’s the quickest way to contact me) and some of the ones I am about programming, in case you want to have a look. I will be happy to help if you want to create your server. Peacock, DaniGA, Three.js, Wasp, C#, TheCodingTrain… I am in a lot of indie VR game developers servers but they don’t usually talk about development in depth.
Yes, there is a feedback loop and most of them would not be profitable projects. But as it stands it’s not sustainable, that’s why the plugin ecosystem is an animal graveyard, although fortunately there are no major breaks from one version of Rhino to another. But the developers quit, because this feedback does not stimulate the non-professional developer, we all see that. The most popular plugin developers, after becoming popular, find a good job and their last contribution about their plugin is to put it in their portfolio. And that’s why I think that being invited for a coffee or two or three, is a gesture that can revive the illusion, even if it’s only to continue giving support, because it sweetens that bitter feeling of giving so much to receive so little.
Well I think so too, but not because they are hyperniche software, because if you offer a real solution to a small market, you can put a very high price to make it commercially viable at the cost of high risk. I think the reason is simply that most plugins are not intended commercially, but are made for yourself and then shared or for the illusion of making a plugin and contribute. I think this is the context that is ignored because it does not mean a relevant economic income, but it is a relevant contribution to the ecosystem that deserves, at least, low-cost solutions, but not doing nothing.
Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Discord more like a communication channel? The reason why I prefer Discourse over those kind of applications (Discord, Slack, Telegram, etc) is because you can search for answers, find stuff back more easily and refer to it. This avoids the problem of getting the same questions over and over again, and make it easier to refer to the answer when the same question pops up again. And I don’t think search engines include results from communication channels?