Lightroom Plugin Development: What To Do When a Hobby Becomes Work
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I do a lot of Lightroom-related development. I don't get paid for it, but I'm a geek and I really enjoy it.

In case you're familiar with Lightroom, but not with what I've provided, here's a bit about what I've done...

First, I built and released my Lightroom Metadata Viewer Preset Builder, which allows you to create a custom metadata view so that you see just the items you want about each photo. Building it took weeks of intensive research, coding, testing, and tweaking. I didn't need this myself (I knew how to build templates by hand), but I spent so much energy on it because I thought it would be really helpful to a large segment of the Lightroom-using community.

Then I built and released my Lightroom Configuration Manager, which allows you to customize a bunch of things about Lightroom. It also took a long time, but this one involved a lot more trial and error, trying to figure out what knobs and buttons Lightroom had under its hood for me to configure.

Then came plugins. I was hired by Adobe for a period to help test and debug their plugin infrastructure, and so I became well acquainted with it. I put that knowledge to work and built export plugins for Zenfolio and for SmugMug. These are pro-level photo-hosting sites, and although I personally had no interest in using either, I knew that they matched Lightroom's demographics, and so I knew a lot of people would appreciate having such plugins.

There were quickly calls for more plugins, and I ended up making one for Flickr, one for PicasaWeb, and one for Facebook. The early versions of Lightroom's plugin infrastructure was severely limited, so I worked overtime to figure out a way people could get more out of my (and others') plugins, inventing the Piglet extension that perhaps served as the inspiration for post-process actions in Lightroom 2.

I've also done other plugins... for Geoencoding, metadata maintenance, proximity searching, and more... the full list is on my Lightroom Goodies page.

Well, that's enough of tooting one's own horn... you get the picture.

I don't actually use most of these personally, and I don't get paid for them; I work on them because I enjoy it. I enjoy creating useful stuff, I enjoy that people use the useful stuff I've created, and I enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings that people sometimes return when I give them useful stuff.

It'd be nice if it were as simple as that, but more and more, the unfun aspects of software development have been creeping in. It seems that the mere act of giving actually creates much more work than it took to make the thing in the first place. Some days the crush of email – mostly bug reports, feature requests, and complaints – is so overwhelming that I can't even get through them, much less actually fix something or add a new feature. As I write this, my inbox has 1,544 messages that I've yet to fully attend to. This is stressful. Why do I feel a responsibility to follow through on something I've done for free in my almost-nonexistent spare time? I don't know, but I do.

Some days, of course, I do have time to work on things, and so far, for example, I have pushed out 72 upgrades to the Flickr plugin, and that's just since Lightroom 2 came out. For Lightroom 1 there were 47 additional versions. And that's just for one plugins; I've so far written 10.

I've been working on these as a warm-fuzzy side project for over two years now, and it's come to a point where it's now work and I have to make a change, to decide to let them languish, or get more serious about making it more tangibly worthwhile for me to attend to the unfun parts.

I sort of took a step last year when I quietly added a “donate” button to the plugins and to my blog. I have received some donations, and I am grateful. Oddly, the largest donation (a hundred bucks!) was unrelated to Lightroom: someone in Denmark simply enjoyed my blog.

Anyway, I'm thinking of ways to carry this further, to make the time and effort I spend on plugin development and maintenance – the work – worthwhile in a way that justifies it to me and my family. This is the point where most people would start a business, and start selling their work.

But I don't want to run a business. I don't want to sell a product. I don't want to deal with marketing or irate customers.

What to do?

The approach that plugin-developer Tim Armes has taken has a certain appeal. His freely-available plugins are limited (in his case, to process only 10 photos at a time) so that you can at least try them out. However, by making a donation via PayPal – a donation of any amount you like, whatever you feel the plugin is worth – you can remove the restriction.

A lot of people have been using my plugins freely for a long time, and may feel “cheated” to be suddenly restricted and hit up for registration. Sure, they could do it with just one cent (or whatever PayPal's minimum is), but perhaps even that's more hassle than it's worth for some. Some people might have philosophical issues with it, not wanting to part with even one cent, on principle. I expect that having used my free plugins for so long, some may even feel a sense of entitlement for them. How much of that is my responsibility?

I'd like to hear your comments. If you're a user of one of my plugins, how do you feel about this? What kind of approach would sit well with you, feel reasonable to you? What about if you use more than one plugin, and/or do so on more than one computer?

You can leave a comment on my blog, or via email. Thanks.

(To head off one thing I'm sure some plugin-users will comment on: I'll likely remove plugin expiration, but at the cost of rejecting bug reports that aren't for the most-recent version.)

Continued here...


All 70 comments so far, oldest first...

Hi Jeffrey,

Its the nature of the beast. If you didn’t have to pay for anything in life: house, family, transportation, food, etc. Then you probably wouldn’t have to work at a profession that pays you.

Since that is NOT the case, your time has a value to it. The things that we do for fun are a form of non-monetary income. The things that we do for work are incented with money to keep us doing that work.

In any hobby, when the amount of fun starts to shrink in comparison to the amount of work, there needs to be some kind of incentive to keep doing this activity.

I sincerely hope that Adobe paid you for the plugins that you made for them because their software(s) are very expensive and your work contributes to their profits… -they should contribute to Jeffrey Friedl’s profits.

Since the creation of these plugins has clearly mutated into something that is no longer bound by the mandates of a hobby (but instead the mandates of industry-level software components) its time for the people who use them to pony up the cash. Otherwise, all of those people who balk at paying the ridiculously cheap (pay what you want) usage fee; well all those people should tell their bosses, “Keep the paychecks, I’ll dig these ditches for free!” -Not gonna’ happen.

I don’t use Light Room, but I tell you what, Adobe should pay you for all the free advertising and promotion you give them. When I do start blogging and need a photo management software I probably will use Light Room (if its half as good as Fireworks then I’m sold already) and I’ll pay for your plug-ins. No problem.

About Adobe paying me, they did when for what I was hired for (testing their plugin infrastructure). It behooves me that Lightroom is an ongoing success, because as a photographer, I use it every day and the more success it has, the better it gets, and the more features I can enjoy. So, I’m happy to promote it. I wouldn’t, though, if I didn’t think the product was worthy of the praise. —Jeffrey

— comment by Ron Evans on February 4th, 2009 at 12:02am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I always wonder how people manage to deliver free software in their spare time. I’m a developer but I’ve rarely ever produced stuff outside of work. I can imagine how overwhelming it must get.

I’m a big user of the Flickr Export plugin (I’ve even uninstalled the Flickr Uploadr now) and I for one would be happy to pay a reasonable amount for it. Not only is it a great piece of software but you’re delivering great service too. I reported a bug on Christmas Eve and you fixed it the same day! That sort of commitment deserves some recognition from your users. 🙂

— comment by Mark on February 4th, 2009 at 12:39am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I’m a big fan of your work, mainly using Geolocalization plugins, and export to picasa / flickr ones.

I’m also using Tim plugin. After trying his version, I said to myself: yes, this is nice, this makes exactly what I would like to do, but I’m not happy to pay for that, so i’ll try to make something on my own.
But without the knowledge you and Tim have, this is quite impossible in a short period of time. Ok, I’m a developper, I can be considered as a geek too, so this wouldn’t be a technical issue. But I’m running out of time, and, damned !, you already did the job.
So I took my paypal and I donate a few euros to Tim to be legally allowed to use his plugin.

I beleive I would do the same for yours, if you would apply a similar policy, as soon as you keep this fair (I mean: I’m not a pro, LR is already expensive for a private usage, if I’ve to pay for an automatic update plugin to picasa $20 a month I’ll make the export by hand, I can’t afford this). Giving money back to the guy who really did the job is fair.

Of course, you could ask me “the donate button is here, just help yourself”… But yes, like many of us, if it’s free… But if it’s no more free and it helps you to make them better, yep, ok, no problem.

(Just reading my post before submiting… funny, my last words are the same as Ron 🙂 ).

— comment by sysedit on February 4th, 2009 at 12:46am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hello,

Thank you for your honesty! I understand your point of view at 100%.

The problem is that your plugins are so good that everybody would like to see them improved!
If you would develop too bad / bugged / unuseful software then you wouldn’t have any problem because nobody would use them! So you have to choose your way 😉

I use some of your plugins and also plugins from Timothy.
I find the solution of Thimoty (to pay some bucks to unlock the limitations of the plugins) really nice and fair, and it wouldn’t hurt me if you would adopt the same approach.
You could also publish your plugins on the same plattform http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/ and share the infrastructure! So you could spare some administrative job and concentrate you on the development of your software.

If you become so much emails, you should also perhaps adopt an issue-manager system to help you prioritize and track the issues.

You should also perhaps specialize you on certain types of plugins and concentrate your forces on these aspects, to not disperse you and loose your forces with too much opened “sites”; but then you would enter in a commercial approach of your work, and loose your spontaneity and freedom!

Thank’s a lot for all your work, I hope you’ll find a solution to continue on this way but with less overhead!

— comment by Etienne on February 4th, 2009 at 1:04am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I think that the fullfree web is in way to extinct… but some dollars is a cheap price for people who bought Adobe Lightroom. As Mark, I’m a user of the FlickR Export plugin and I’m ready to spend some bucks (or euros ;)) to continue to use this plugin!

Best regards from a France!

— comment by Mathgon on February 4th, 2009 at 1:13am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I agree that you deserve something in return for the time spent making your excellent plugins, but please don’t forget that not everyone has a paypal account – and we don’t all want to get one. The ‘honesty box’ approach has the advantage that it doesn’t restrict anyone from using them – but perhaps you should make the donate button more obvious, and suggest an amount.

Rather than make a free, limited, version you could charge for the latest version but offer an old version for free, or charge for new versions for, say, the first fortnight after release. People using it for important work would be willing to pay, and amateurs who use the plugin less often would be happy to wait for it.

Limited versions, by their very nature, detract from the usefulness of the plugins, which might reduce the “warm fuzzy feelings”. Also, once you start charging (non-voluntarily) people will expect you to continue giving up your free time. However, I suspect many (but not all) people would be happy to pay.

— comment by Ian on February 4th, 2009 at 1:27am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

it is very understandable that you are coming to a point where you need to look at the big picture. You have been providing us with such great tools that save us so much time (i use the flickr and metadata wrangler plugins on one computer) for free for so long.

I would be willing to pay for it, what price is another question, my guess is something like 15 euros for the two plugins I use would be sensible. That is just an idea though and you might decide otherwise 🙂

— comment by Arnaud on February 4th, 2009 at 1:30am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Your plugins are some of the most useful software extensions that exist, and there is no doubt in my mind that many people would be happy to pay the real cost (plus profit) for your work. They would also be ahppy to donate to get a full version as Tim Armes has done. I personally have made donations to get Full version of 2 out of 3 of Tim’s plugins, and will probably be picking up the third in the near future. Similarily I would definitely do so to get several of yours (but of course not all of them). I say go for it!

As an aside, I seriously dislike the automatic expiry of your existing plugins and will be happy to see it go away. I like to stay up to date, but so far have never felt the need to take advantage of all of the updates you have provided. I generally skip 3 out of every 4 of your Flickr updates, and that ‘s the one I use the most so I’m sure I miss a lot more updates for the others…

Long story short, I have happily updated to many websites and authors in the past, and also purchased many useful plugins and addons to Lightroom (I’ve also purchased at least 6 different web gallery templates) and would definitely purchase yours too.

— comment by Sean Phillips on February 4th, 2009 at 2:56am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I really appreciate both your plugins and your blog. And as a software developer I can appreciate the amount of work you put in.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Open Source yet. Donation-ware is fine in my opinion, and open-source donationware can be viable too. But why not delegate some work? Better than that, I’m sure there are many people such as myself who would be happy to make code improvements, or take over details such as releases, support, etc.

Separately, I’d suggest creating a Forum or mailing list — you’ve fostered a healthy following, so let the community do the lion’s share of answering those 1500 emails. Comments on your blog aren’t quite what’s needed for such a large number of people, especially since you’re the only one who can “reply”.

Thanks!

— comment by Peter Davis on February 4th, 2009 at 3:01am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I believe you should charge individuals for an unlimited version, despite my personal desire to pay nothing. Altruism has its limits.

Alternatively, Smugmug, Zenfolio, Facebook etc should/could make it worth your while, but that is a different business model altogether, isn’t it.

I also support the idea of the (voluntary) donation button, but whether that is sufficient for you only you can decide.

I do know that, without your contributions the lightroom community would be the poorer. If you step out of this space, then surely someone else will step in, perhaps, but rest assured it will be based on a pay model.

— comment by Paul on February 4th, 2009 at 3:08am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Please, do the same thing as Tim Arnes! Even a poor student like me can afford to donate a few bucks to the cause. Who cares if people feel entitled; it’s your time, not theirs, and they (we) should feel appreciative of your efforts. In any case, a “donate as you see fit” is much more palatable than just charging a fixed price, from the user point of view.

— comment by Andy on February 4th, 2009 at 3:37am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

You are sitting on a gold mine. If you want to harvest income from your work it is yours for the taking. Your work is excellent. There are a ton of ways you could charge for your work, I’m sure that won’t be an issue for you to figure out.

I’ve paid $300 to Adobe for Lightroom license and upgrade fees. $180 to Zenfolio for two years of their premium service and $75 to Smugmug for a year of their Pro account, not to mention all the print orders through these sites. All of these companies and photographers all really benefit financially from your plugins. Your plugins are the glue for these products to work together. Everyone is making money from these solutions except for you. Don’t hesitate to put a dollar value on how you make other people’s life much easier.

— comment by Cody Hilton on February 4th, 2009 at 4:06am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

It’s also worth mentioning that a Facebook plugin doesn’t have the same economic value as some of the other plugins do. One must always consider the audience/consumer.

That’s a good point. If I indeed do something along the lines that Tim has (make it fully-functioned, up to a certain number of photos), most Facebook users probably would be fine working within the constraint. It’s my impression that Facebook users don’t upload gobs and gobs of photos. Facebook doesn’t allow plugins to upload to business pages, so until it does, upload from Lightroom will probably remain something for tinkerers, so yeah, less economic value. —Jeffrey

— comment by Paul on February 4th, 2009 at 4:24am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Out of the many different methods of compensation, I think the crippled until unlocked for a price (whether “Honesty Box” or set amount) is the better way. You still get some of that fuzzy feeling, and if people feel they’re wanting the unlocked version or they think what they get out of the plugin is worth it, you’ll have some $$ in your account.

No matter which way you go, I feel your plugins have saved me an enormous amount of time (the geocoding one especially) and I’m perfectly happy to donate/pay for the ones I use. I’m sure I’m not even CLOSE to being alone on this. Having something take up that much of your time (hobby or not) can become a chore… You might not be able to live off of it, but a little bit of payback can soften the blow.

I second the idea of a forum or wiki type site to allow the community built up around these plugins to help with your inbox. I’ve noticed a few times that people have asked questions for your plugins on http://www.lightroomforums.net and they often get directed here to ask their question.

— comment by JasonP on February 4th, 2009 at 4:25am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,
Voluntary donation is a fair trade for your work. Look at what it did for Wikipedia 🙂 I enjoy free software as much as the next guy but if you are duty bound to try to fix and improve your plugin then it was only a matter of time before it became a job/chore.

Whether you cripple your plugins or not is really up to you and I don’t think it would make a huge difference either way. People that will donate will donate either way.

Lastly I just wanted to thank you for your work.

— comment by Lim on February 4th, 2009 at 4:26am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’ve already made a commitment to using commercial software. $300 to Adobe for Lightroom, $150/year to SmugMug for a pro account, $25/year to Flickr for a pro account, and so on.

I would gladly send a donation your way for a registered/unlimited version of the Flickr and SmugMug plugins. I’d recommend not tying it to a certain computer.

The idea of letting folks choose a reasonable donation sits well with me. I suspect folks will contribute what they feel is reasonable. I know that I would.

— comment by Aaron on February 4th, 2009 at 4:35am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

My wife always complains that I can’t find anything, even when it is in front of me so I hesitate to ask: Exactly where is the donate button?

It’s on the Plugin-Manger dialog, in the upper-right section (along with version info, etc.) —Jeffrey

— comment by Howard Messing on February 4th, 2009 at 4:50am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I hadn’t realized exactly how many versions you had put out for the various plug-ins you’ve developed. For that alone, I’ll be sending you something today via PayPal since I use your Flickr & PicasaWeb plug-ins. If you were to require payment for “pro” versions of the plug-ins, I’d request to make them usable on any computer of mine since I’ve got LR running on multiple machines.

Is there any way we can get Adobe to pay you for the rights to the plug-ins so they can integrate them in as standard plug-ins? I can see them being useful for every photographer out there. If that’s something you’re interested in doing, I’m happy to help by making suggestions to John Nack…I’m sure others would be will to do the same!

More broadly, I think the idea of making your plug-ins open source might be a good one. I understand your feeling of ownership on this so I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to continue owning them exclusively.

Great work regardless and thank you very much for the time & effort you’ve put in thus far.

— comment by Jigar on February 4th, 2009 at 5:01am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I really appreciate some of your plugins. My personal advice is not to make a philosophical problem out of it. It’s your time, your piece of software and your decision how to make it available. Make a good price, maybe something between 5 and 50 Euros, fair conditions (no binding to certain hardware, please! No home calling ! Unlimted Updates 😉 Bundeled licenses, etc. ) and everyone will pay for it. Please ignore those guys using LR, probably having an iMac, some other Adobe licenses etc. but not some money to support your great work. Ignore those without Paypal account and / or credit card it’s easy to get both of it. Pls keep up your cool work!!!

— comment by Martin on February 4th, 2009 at 5:08am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’d be happy to pay a small fee for your plugins. They are of superb quality and have saved me lots of work. Making them open source might also be a good idea, but be careful that you won’t end up doing the exact same amount of work. I think BTW you should do both. Charge a fee (perhaps voluntary) for the nicely assembled auto-updating package, but open source the code for people to put together if they are technically inclined. My guess is that many will opt for the first. Anyway, good luck and thanks again!

— comment by Jao on February 4th, 2009 at 5:27am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Although I am not currently the user of any of your plugins, I do eventually intend to use a couple (such as the geoencoding plugin, once I actually buy a GPS logger). Still, as a software developer myself, I have to ask whether you need the money badly enough to take on the responsibility that selling the plugins entails. I mean, putting them out there for free does mean that everybody (or, at least, everybody with half a brain) understands that this is a labor of love on your part and that your involvement is on a voluntary basis. Sure, people can email you like crazy, but one can hardly look a gift horse in the mouth…

Conversely, if you really want to charge money and make this worth your while, I think that the expected revenue has to be commensurate with the commitment. In the end, only you can make this decision.

I’m not sure where donation-ware stands on the scale between the two (free and free of responsibility vs. for pay with a commitment). I am sure that some will feel that your asking for donations entitles them to expect more of you but, realistically, I think it still is far less responsibility-generating.

I, personally, would love for you to continue working on the plugins I’m interested in (Flickr upload and geoencoding) — I’m selfish that way, although I would be happy to pay/donate for them — but I’d be really wary of taking on open-ended responsibilities. I always choose to do volunteer work in my spare time but I’m always careful to keep it strictly voluntary. I don’t need another *job*. I’m guessing, neither do you.

— comment by Carl Irving on February 4th, 2009 at 5:36am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’ll pay! I can’t believe you have been doing all the work on plugins you don’t even use!

–Bill

— comment by Bill on February 4th, 2009 at 6:04am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Oh, one thing. Do avoid the BreezeBrowser debacle that Chris Breeze had on his hands. He had a “buy once and get lifetime updates” license which I happily paid for. Then without any notice to his user base, he comes out with BreezeBrowser Pro, which has just a couple of additions from the “old” product. The Pro version also came along only one-year of updates. A lot of users felt burned. I guess the point is, if you go with a fee structure (which I think you should), think long and hard about the details, then stick to it.

–Bill

— comment by Bill on February 4th, 2009 at 6:09am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Gold min is right! I’ve heard it said many times that the best way to make money in the photography business is to sell things to other photographers. I wish I had come up with this thing myself!

— comment by Sean Phillips on February 4th, 2009 at 6:41am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

As someone who has contributed to Timothy Armes plugin LR2/Mogrify, I can understand that it does take much of your time and would understand if you were to go the same way. Your plugins are invaluable to me even as an amateur photographer and I do really enjoy them. My comment when I sent him money was that I wanted to support him taking more time being behind the camera than in front of the computer… 🙂 Cheers and thanks again.

PS: Hi from gnn (you know who I’m talking about).

— comment by Ollivier Robert on February 4th, 2009 at 7:22am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Another vote for the Timothy Ames approach. I will happily pay. I happily use Geoencode almost daily!!!

I have an iPhone, where I am confronted with thousand of Apps for sale. Of these thousands, only a small percentage have free limited versions, along with a full-featured pay version. I have bought several full versions after trying the limited version, whereas I have been stung by a few worthless (to me) paid apps without trial versions that I regret having bought, leaving a skepticism that makes me wary of purchasing untried apps.

Thanks again.

Ina

— comment by Ina on February 4th, 2009 at 7:34am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Your plug-ins are AMAZING! I do hate the whole expiration thing though since I’m only a hobbyist and it seems like I have to update every time I go to use Lightroom. 🙂 So I would gladly donate a couple bucks to keep my current version minus the expiration! I’ve never had a bug so I’m not sure what I’d be missing… but if I ran into issues and you had a newer version, I’d gladly chip in a couple more bucks to get the fixed version. As a hobbyist, I doubt I’d pay more than $5 per plugin but that’s just me – the hobbyist. I have other ways of uploading to zenfolio or facebook and I don’t have to do volume. Your plug-ins just make it super easy. 🙂 So I’d highly recommend you to a friend!

Have you considered a flat fee to access ALL plug-ins vs. a fee per plug-in? Maybe an unlimited year use for the pros (to all plugins and updates for the year?) And just a couple bucks per one time use per plug-in for us hobbyists?

You do deserve compensation and I’m not sure if you have statistics on how many downloads you get – but it’d be interesting to see how much you’d make at even $1 per download… I bet that would be good money! 😉

— comment by Catherine on February 4th, 2009 at 8:00am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I am one of those who have been very happily using your plugins and enjoying your blog without hitting the donate button … I had not even realized there was one! I discovered your plugins via smugmug and was impressed on how well it fit my needs; then I was very surprised to discover you don’t use them yourself. You have a real ability to come up with a tight product that does well what it needs to do.

I would be happy to donate for a license to use your plugins, but I like the approach of having a limited version to try out extensively for free. Please don’t make the free version limited by time or by hardware. I never seem to get around to really trying these things in somebody else’s time frame. A version that is limited in convenience (like the 10 photo limit) makes it possible to appreciate how good the product is while allowing occasional use. When it becomes something that you use all the time is when you really appreciate the limitless version and when you are more likely to jump through whatever hoops are there to make the payment. The idea of introducing some kind of forums to help with support seems a good one, but I have to say that I also enjoyed the simplicity of your approach up to now. No forums, no adds, just good stuff 🙂

One last thing. Perhaps you could discuss with smugmug and the others the possibility of adding a checkbox to our bill paying thing that says something like: “I use xxx plugin please add x to my bill to pass on to Jeffrey”. This would make it trivial to make the payment and it addresses those users who are already paying for a service and are most likely to chip in.

— comment by Antia on February 4th, 2009 at 9:51am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I wouldn’t mind a required donation, but… I’d be surprised if an organization like SmugMug didn’t send you some cash. There must be more users than just me for whom a major reason for paying for SmugMug is the ease with which I can upload from lightroom thanks to you.

Flikr and some of the others may be too big to care.

From the outside looking in, it seems that selling it to Adobe and them retaining your services to consult on its (further) integration would also be within the realm of the reasonable. I don’t know if that would constitute a conflict of interest, since they have paid you for some of the development work already.

— comment by Voytek Jarnot on February 4th, 2009 at 10:06am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hey Jeffrey, I fired you off an email – call me up, let’s talk.
– Andy

— comment by Andy Williams on February 4th, 2009 at 10:39am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’d never noticed a Donate button but was surprised when you initially released the plug-in with no tip jar. Please take whichever approach suits you but definitely do something!

I use the Flickr plug-in on an older version of Lightroom. It is of a very high standard and works extremely well–you deserve a very healthy return on your time and talent. Not to mention the content of the excellent blog. Best wishes.

— comment by Bahi on February 4th, 2009 at 11:16am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

In the interest of providing a development incentive to you in addition to an incentive for us to purchase a license. I’d suggest not using the limitation of the number of files to upload, but a free personal version (basic features) and a pro full featured version for a fee. This model has proven to be viable in the anti-virus world.

The personal /pro model provides a better price point. Rather than trying to find the lowest common denominator of the entire user community, you will be focusing on the most likely and reliable group to make a purchase. Many/some of the personal users will not pay at any price and simply go away.

The pro version of course comes with a support agreement, that is absent from the personal version. You’ll need to be prepared for the onslaught of support demands that will come from a purchased software product. A quick visit to the Adobe Lightroom User to User forum will give you a good idea of the vitriolic demands that are unearthed when a transactional exchange of monies is involved and things don’t operate as expected.

These are great plugins and I’ve often wondered how you find the time to – blog – photograph – work – and do the plugins. I’m a developer of DB systems and don’t have the time.

Good Luck!

— comment by Morey on February 4th, 2009 at 2:25pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I as well have used your plugin and will be quite happy with paying a reasonable fee for it’s use. It is after all a superior product, actually doing what it says it will with a developer that actually listens and fixes bugs on a reasonable basis.

Perhaps you could add a voting button section into the plugin or your blog to collect user views on pricing and period. Better to set a correctly sized fee and continue to get hits vs setting it too large and only getting the hardcore users.

Consider that when you go this route with fees (notice I did not say “if” as it is ultimately in our best interests to pay and keep you doing your thing), first you must get over the issues of license management. Not a simple task in and of itself, but I am sure there are some sites created to do simple fee collection and assignment of a “code” based on the users “account information”… or more likely you would write similar.

Either way, you must justify in your view the added work (no longer a hobby) and mental load of “perpetual” managment of “user account information” that would need to be maintained and perhaps massaged if the fee is repetitive.

Lots of possibilities as have been suggested, and I think most that read your blogs or visit the page with any frequency would have no issues with a reasonable cost. That said, money justifies many things, but at what price the burden to change from a hobby to a product?

Once settled, secure keys would be the choice of most, as most are quite jealous of theirs once received. You could even disable “exposed” keys in successive versions to enforce IP rights.

We welcome your decision in the matter as we are hooked on the tool and will continue to be for some time.

John

— comment by John on February 4th, 2009 at 4:33pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

We’ve already discussed this off-line, but I’ll respond here anyway.

I spend a huge amount of time developing, updating and supporting my plugins. If it weren’t for the donations I simply couldn’t justify the time, and they wouldn’t exist.

The donation system works well because of the range of users that use my software. What’s a fair amount for a student to pay isn’t the same as a that of a professional photographer, and there’s a huge range of users between the extremes. The donation system seems fair to me, and I get the impression that my users respect this attitude and don’t feel cheated when they pay.

Tim

— comment by Tim Armes on February 4th, 2009 at 7:58pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I think I to some extent use every single piece of Lightroom plugin and tool you have ever released. They are all excellent and some of them are very important in my workflow and makes it possible to concentrate on developing the photos instead of getting stuck on other things. I would gladly pay a reasonable fee for them as I have done for Tim Armes plugins.

Regarding the exact model for how to get some monetary compensation for your valuable work I have nothing new to suggest. Perhaps something along the same lines Tim has done with a limit on the number of photos that can be processed in on go might be the best solution. Possibly complemented by some kind of package deal for people using a large number of your different plugins.

Regardless of what you decide to do I hope you will continue to improve the Lightroom experience and enjoy doing so.

— comment by Niklas Sjostrom on February 4th, 2009 at 8:40pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Wow! *35* different people have actually read your blog! Or do you think that Mom just posted comments under 35 different names, to make you feel loved? 🙂

— comment by Marcina on February 5th, 2009 at 1:51am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

My answer is that you do a great and useful job so I paid a little for your plugins (flickr and geoencode) and I say thanks you for the time spend on them ! (Same thing with Tim Armes)

don’t stop your work 🙂

— comment by Florent Bouckenooghe on February 5th, 2009 at 4:32am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

As I use as atleast one of your plugin’s every day I have previously donated and feel that you should benefit from the hard work and effect you put into these plugins.

My preferred way to do this would be as a service inplace of a one of payment per version.

E.g. I pay $3 a month for the flickr plugin which gives me all of the features I currently have and as long as I keep paying that $3 each month I get all the furture bug fixes, upgrades etc.
Maybe if people use several plugins they pay $6 or $10 a month.
Or have a tiered system depending on how many photos they export. First 50 photos for free, 100-500 photos $3, 500-1000 $6, 1000+ $10 a month.
These are just rough numbers, but personally this is would be my preferred way of paying for it in a low monthly cost. As opposed to a large one of fee.

Thank you again for your plugins

— comment by Adrian on February 5th, 2009 at 7:49am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

>But I don’t want to run a business. I don’t want to sell a product. I don’t want to deal with marketing or irate customers.<

I think you should resolve this issue first… Because none of the various solutions for getting paid addresses this.

Your work is top-notch, it would be a shame to see it fade away. There must be e-commerce and distribution solutions out there that would keep it from becoming an overwhelming chore. The tech support issue is probably a tougher nut to crack.

Have you thought about trying to team up with someone else who can provide some of that support? Maybe talk to someone like Jeff Schewe and get some insight into how they run Pixel Genius?

— comment by Greg Barnett on February 5th, 2009 at 10:50am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hello Jeff,

You have been doing a wonderful work, it definitely deserves some tangible gratitute.

— comment by Britto on February 5th, 2009 at 11:05am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Jeff –

I use your plug-in for SmugMug and I find it invaluable. Would I be willing to pay something to allow you to keep working on this and your other plug-ins, heck yes!

Rick

— comment by Rick Freschner on February 5th, 2009 at 11:54am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

How timely this is — case in point to the first commenter: on Sunday, I literally upgraded to LR 2.x just to utilize (play with, really) your geoencoding plugin. What really pushed me over the motivational edge to seperated me from $100 was your plugin (which also happened to be the first plugin I’ve installed). So, the way I see it, I too hope that Adobe paid you well for your time testing the plugin interface since their investment is certainly paying off.

While I’ve only now geo-coded all of 7 photos, I can see how it’ll be useful. Donation-ware works for me. Open sourcing it may also be another route, but likely, cause a wholly different set of problems (work) as well.

But, let me also say, “Thanks!”, not only for the great plugin, but, also for the hours of entertainment and general geek/tech/photo wisdom you have shared in your blog.

— comment by John on February 5th, 2009 at 4:03pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

From reading your post it look to me like you have 2 choices really:

1) If you don’t want to devote that much spare time to the those software projects anymore but still would like then to grow and participate in this, the open source is the way to go in my view. Having setup project in something like Sourceforge will give you all the infrastructure and can invite other developers to participate in addressing bugs, implementing new features etc. All the requests can be handled in the mailing lists there or bug tracking system they have. So your burden with handling all of it on your own or having massive Inbox will be greatly reduced by this.

2) If you wtill want to retain total control of the software but feel that you don’t want to spend your spare time on these projects anymore, yet still wont to work on them, then in my view the only option here is to make them “paid for” kind of software. Here however there are a few options that you might need to consider with pros and cons of each model of how you sell it.

The donationware and shareware on one side require minimal committment from yourself as in both cases people share your burden in developing the software by providing some renumeration for your time already spent on it.

On the otherside is full fixed payment model per major release or per service request (as specified earlier by someone per number of uploaded photos). But this in my view require will place a more expectations on you since when people paying for each major upgrade or per-usage, their expectations of the service are higher – i.e. bugs fixed with little delays, their problems addressed in timely manner, some support provided if they can’t figure something out etc. With all this it may as well turn out to be a small business more than a hobby project and will demand even more of your time.

Since I don’t know exactly whether you’ll want to make it into this kind of business or have it as a hobby or whatever else you will decide to do, I can’t say what is best for you. But for me personally I’d respect either of your choices. Your Zenfolio plugin is the thing I use every day and it simplifies my tasks immensely and let my parents on the other side of the world see their granddaughter progress (via photos) regularly everyday. So for me it will be worth every penny. Personally though, I think that service-like payment per number of uploads is a bit too much and is similar to as if Adobe would charge for LR per number of photos processed but again it is up to you to decide.

Thanks for your contribution so far.

Alex

— comment by Alex on February 5th, 2009 at 10:06pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Your plugins are great and seeing regular updates that are easy to update is a very nice feature. I would be happy to pay a modest amount. I use the GPS, Facebook and the Flickr one.

— comment by Ian Butterworth on February 6th, 2009 at 6:58am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I agree with some of the earlier posts.

If the burden is becoming too great then release the code as open source, try to get some other people involved in the development, and reduce your individual workload as a result.

If you are happy to stick with it then the donation approach is a good idea, though the current donation button in the plugin is too easy to miss and you need to be more a little less shy about seeking donations. The other aspect re donations is people can be confused about what might be an appropriate amount and get embarrassed about what they considered offering. I’ve considered combining donations and a “buy me a beer/coffee” approach because its much easier for people to relate to. Most people would be willing to buy a friend a beer/coffee in return for a favour, and by making their LR workflow easier isn’t that what you’ve done for them?

Another thought. If you use the plugins their development will continue because their useful to you and the burden issue should disappear. If you are releasing plugins because you think someone will find them useful (but that someone does not include you) then you will reach a point where this becomes a win/lose proposition with users effectively demanding custom development services for free. Sounds like you are at that point right now.

I’ve just started plugin development myself and while I have some ideas for novel code I think other people would appreciate, I’m starting out with those I will use. If nothing else I have a pretty good idea what the target market really wants in the code! And I get something tangible out of the time I invest.

Enough rambling. Thanks for all the effort you’ve put in, and the development guidance you have given me personally!

— comment by Matt Dawson on February 6th, 2009 at 9:08am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

It seems by now from what I’ve read here that there is clearly a consensus: (a) your plugins are a great convenience (and thus value) to many people and (b) you should have little hesitation about requiring a modest payment to assure their continued and unrestricted use. I’d personally have little concern for those who might have “philosophical” qualms about a payment or who feel a sense of “entitlement” about continuing free use.

As you know, I pushed the “Donate” button some time ago…for me it became a “no brainer” at about my 300th Lightroom-to-Zenfolio export. Keep up the good work, and (hopefully) the continued updates and fine-tuning.

— comment by Phil Rose on February 7th, 2009 at 1:44am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Take your time – don’t let others pressure you. Thank you for the plug-ins.

— comment by DB on February 9th, 2009 at 10:32am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I think some people are missing the point (or a point). I’m all for developers making money on their work. I’ve donated to Gallery, Launchy, Rikai.com, amongst others. I just worry that accepting payment from users, there will be an unspoken sense of obligation on Jeffrey which would make it a lot less fun and eventually EOL the plugins. As Joel Spolsky often points out, when you put a monetary value on certain things you would do for fun, you start thinking of it in a different way. And it does happen. Even if it is sub-consciously you start to calculate the “rate per hour” of your development time and unless it is a near full-time venture bringing in a substantial amount it won’t be worth it.

I don’t use any of the plugins but might use the flickr plugin in the future and wouldn’t mind paying. But it isn’t about me, or other users, it is more about Jeffrey.

One possible idea is to get a sponsor for the plugins. Some related company, like Adobe or Scott Kelby’s Site. Companies sponsor podcasts, and they do so as a form of advertising and to build up good-will amongst their potential clients so it could be a viable option. I wish we had the budget to be a possible sponsor. The amount would be more than donations (and regular) but there would be less pressure to churn out work. Also keep the donation button but have a monthly meter along with it. Good luck!

Finally I would just like to say a big thank-you for writing these plugins and especially the Mastering RegEx book.

— comment by Ian Cheung on February 9th, 2009 at 12:46pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’m coming late to this party Jeffrey, mostly due to the posting coinciding with the death of my grandfater last week.

I’ve said it before, you should be charging. Not just for you, but for other developers. In the ‘free’ environment, there is no incentive for other developers to kick in and create a competitive and innovative market.

It might mean taking the step into a business, creating a dedicated website and perhaps something like e-junkie to manage initial full version delivery. I’m sure that the bandwidth cost from updates can’t be cheap.

With the sheer number of updates, I have to say: Stop.
Fix bugs and update features, but don’t be releasing a build per fix (I know it’s not that often, but you get my meaning!). Set longer time periods for releases to take stress off.

Take a break. I’d rather see you resting than giving up!

— comment by Sean McCormack on February 12th, 2009 at 6:18am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

That’s absolutely the best response to this question yet Sean!

— comment by Sean Phillips on February 12th, 2009 at 6:21am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

As one of those who has been known to beg at your feet, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t donate sooner. Thank you, Jeffrey.

— comment by Mark Sirota on February 12th, 2009 at 6:24am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Another vote for the “Timothy Armes model”.
I paid for the Mogrify plugin, and would pay for some of your plugins.

— comment by René Damkot on February 13th, 2009 at 4:49am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Can “we” help? If I knew… what is needed to make a plugin, how to make a plugin, how to test and fix a plugin, I would love to help. Unfortunately, I’m an “old school” programmer. I started out writing assembler code for the Intel 8086 chip set and have moved on from there writing accounting software. Therefor, I’m probably not the best helper you could get but I’m sure there are a million “new school” programmers that could help. Make a blog on how to make and improve Lightroom plugins and see what happens.
I’ll just donate to your cause.
Thanks for all you’ve done!!!

There’s a plugin SDK on Adobe’s site… anyone can make plugins. I used punch cards in college, so I suspect I’m more “old school” than you! 🙂 —Jeffrey

— comment by Ray Abel on February 16th, 2009 at 4:07am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, I’ll echo Sean’s advice — reduce your release rate, and please feel free to charge for your work. I’ve already donated once, and I’d pay an annual fee for updates.

How about an export plugin for Mpix?

Thanks for your excellent work.

— comment by Quentin Fennessy on February 17th, 2009 at 1:29pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Ooh, great idea, I’d use an Mpix export plug-in. Do they have an upload API?

I think their upload API is called “Zenfolio“. —Jeffrey

— comment by Mark Sirota on February 19th, 2009 at 12:39am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’ll wanted to donate when the Flickr plug-in was working well, but somehow I was surprised that there was no donate link as some other free software. I admit I was a bit proscrastinating in trying to find your Paypal e-mail but now at least I will have no choice. Thank you again for this great work!

— comment by EnsH on February 21st, 2009 at 9:20pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hello Jeffrey,

I can understand your approach, and I’m willing to donate.

Unfortunately, I closed down my PayPal account recently, as their security measures do not comply with my requirements.
So, would there be an alternative to a PayPal donation?

Besides this:
What about adding a forum. Many FAQ could be handled ‘automatically’ by the forum. What do you think?

Greetings,
Hendrik

A forum/FAQ are great ideas, but at the moment I’m overwhelmed. I don’t even have the energy to keep my “known bugs” up to date )-: —Jeffrey

— comment by Hendrik on February 24th, 2009 at 3:29am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

It is nice to read your thoughts on this subject. You are much deeper into it as I am. I have only one plugin to maintain. You have dozens of high quality ones. I also choose the option of using a donation button, with a free of choice of amount to donate. With basically the same results as you have.
I am also contemplating on what road to take. I do feel that these plugins improve the workflow of photographers and that this should at least be worth something to them. My idea right now is some sort of “free” and “pro” version. But a concept like that is only possible if this pro version adds additional value. Unfortunately most upload API (if exist at all) are limited to just that.. uploading.

keep up the good work

Paul

— comment by Paul Kamphuis on February 24th, 2009 at 6:57am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

>A forum/FAQ are great ideas, but at the moment I’m overwhelmed. I don’t even have the
> energy to keep my “known bugs” up to date )-: —Jeffrey

The Forum would save you work, as users would contribute.
I know of software (open source and closed source), where the support is mostly/to a high degree done by users (for example idimager / VDR).

Greetiongs,
Hendrik

— comment by Hendrik on February 25th, 2009 at 2:56am JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I’ll recommend that users looking for community support for Jeffrey’s plugins ask on Lightroom Forums. It’s probably the best place online to discuss all things Lightroom.

Of course, it isn’t any sort of official support channel for Jeffrey’s plugins (unless Jeffrey wants to declare that it is), but I (and, I’m sure, the other gurus there) will be happy to provide what support we can, then direct users back here for more detailed support when only Jeffrey knows the answer.

Jeffrey, if you’re interested in formalizing this in any way, let me know. Or feel free to direct people there if you like.

— comment by Mark Sirota on February 25th, 2009 at 12:51pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hello,

maybe an own Section in LR-Forums for Jeffreys plugins would help.
If then Jeffrey would link directly to it, he’d save a lot of work.

Greetings,
Hendrik

— comment by Hendrik on February 25th, 2009 at 4:52pm JST (8 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hmm, let’s see…you’re a smart and dedicated person so you should have known that over time this WILL take over your life (since you are a perfectionist and will not leave anything half-way). You SHOULD have warned users that this MIGHT come down the line before holding them hostage the way you are with your “donation” requests. Go read a dictionary to understand what the word donation means…means you don’t ask for anything in return. If you are going to hold people hostage until they pay, take the word donation OFF your software. This is not donation, this is plain old “give me $$ or else…” … call it blackmail.

If you really don’t have the time, advertise it on the Internet and let one of your fans take up the cause. The users of your software should not have to suffer. You will loose the faith of the people who trust in your leadership. You’ve just lost an ardent fan because of your lack of long term thinking.

— comment by James on March 10th, 2009 at 3:00pm JST (8 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

“…call it blackmail” — that is an ignorant and thoughtless comment. That is no more “blackmail” than paying $3.88 for a bottle of milk at the grocery store. Jeff’s code is of value, and he does not require anyone to use his code.

For some strange reason, James, you believe that those of us who use Jeff’s software have a fundamental right to continue to do so, regardless of what it means for the person who creates and maintains it.

— comment by Quentin on March 10th, 2009 at 9:07pm JST (8 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Try looking up the definitiion of Blackmail”
” in law, exaction of money from another by threat of exposure of criminal action or of disreputable conduct”
– From http://www.answers.com/blackmail.

Perhaps you meant Extortion rather than Blackmail. I’ll leave it to you to look that one up yourself, but I’ll tell you here that either one of them requires an illegal act. Jeffrey is simply providing a service that you can choose not to take adavantage of. Furthermore, he is continuing to provide Free versions of all of his products, and you only have to “donate” if you want to upgrade them in order to get a little bit more functionality.

So while “Donation” may not be the perfect term for essentially paying for an upgraded product, Blackmail is far worse. The product is still freely available if you decide not to donate (although somewhat restricted in its use), and there are no negative repercussions to you if you choose not to pay.

If you are really trying to say “Gee Jeffrey, I’d really rather not have to pay to use your products” then say it. But don’t accuse him of doing something illegal. That’s just crazy.

I really don’t understand the confusion here. Anyone and everyone can use all the features of all my plugins, forever, without giving me any money. The only way I receive any money, at all, is if someone chooses to gift some to me. There is no quid pro quo. Those who kindly send me a gift, say, out of a sense of thanks or encouragement, get nothing over those who don’t, except the warm fuzzies of my appreciation. I don’t see how it could be more clear. It’s not “blackmail”, and it’s not “paying for an upgraded product”. Registration is required, but I get no money when you register…. unless you want to send me some. Many people kindly do, and I appreciate that. Some don’t, and that’s their right.

As for the anonymous James and his clever summation of my long-term thinking, well, it’s almost worthy of replacing the funniest email I have ever gotten. (which perhaps he wrote?)—Jeffrey

— comment by Sean Phillips on March 10th, 2009 at 11:24pm JST (8 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Oh no, that other email is far funnier!

— comment by Sean Phillips on March 11th, 2009 at 2:02am JST (8 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I have used four of your plug-ins: Flickr, Facebook, Smugmug & Zenfolio when I was trying out their service. All of your plugins are essential to users of both Lightroom and the associated photo sharing site.

To be honest,I was miffed when the frequent updates caused my installed copies to become donation/payware. I didn’t really mind paying a token fee but felt like I was not informed in advance that the software would soon become commercial in nature.

I do not believe that the Facebook plug-in should be commercial in nature because Facebook is a very low-end picture sharing site that ruins any pictures you upload to it. I like to use your plug-in for facebook uploads simply because it works well with my Lightroom workflow. However, I still paid for your facebook plug-in.

Like others have suggested, you need to work with the Owners of Flickr, SmugMug and Zenfolio to make sure that you are fully compensated for the incredible value you are adding to their services.

Fact is that Adobe should have provided build in exporters for the main picture hosting sites along with their software. They didn’t and I think they would have no problem fully funding your efforts to make seriously improve Lightroom’s export functionality.

Again, as others before me have said, as you start requiring donations, you may find that you are even more stressed with the demands of “paying” customers and the need to provide technical support. This may cause the cost/benefit assumptions you’ve made to go against you.

Anyway, good luck on your plug-ins and I hope that you will be able to keep on working on them in the future. Also, please help Adobe improve their export/plug-in hosting implementation so that better plug-ins and export features come in the box.

In particular I would love a feature that automatically (overnight, scheduled?) processes all my pictures that have not yet been exported or have been edited since last export to my traditional “My Pictures” folder so that I can grab my snapshots from the file-system always knowing that they reflect any cropping or post-processing I’ve done to them in lightroom. This is especially important when I’m shooting raw and cannot quickly grab pictures to email or copy to usb stick because they are still in RAW format and do not have the adjustments I’ve made applied to them as JPG.

— comment by Chima on April 20th, 2009 at 2:30am JST (8 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I agree with most of the other posts. Your plugins are simply awesome and you really should be fairly compensated for your work. I don’t think it unreasonable for people to donate $5-20 for most of these plugins.

On another note, have you ever thought of teaching others how to develop some of these presets. Certainly in all of your work, you’ve gained significant knowledge that would benefit other Lightroom developers. I’m not sure if the weekend workshop format would work, but anyway to share that knowledge (and help you get paid) would probably reduce your workload.

Haven’t thought much about it, but I do answer a fair amount of email from other developers, so that’s a start. But it’s important to understand that my “workload” is not “anything possible with Lightroom plugins” because others can and do write them. My workload is exactly what I choose to take on. The problem is that I choose too much… 🙂 —Jeffrey

— comment by John McClement on July 3rd, 2009 at 10:40am JST (8 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I donated for a few reasons. Firstly, I’ve found the stuff you make really rather useful. Secondly, I’ve just been been paid and think I must be feeling the fuzzy glow of being in the black and thirdly (probably the most important part) I liked you, your blog and the way you articulated your reasons for setting up the donations in the first place.

Best of luck with it all…

— comment by Si on September 27th, 2009 at 11:14pm JST (8 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

They “pay what you think it is worth” might be an interesting experiment. But it is one that has done by others and before you commit to it you should ask some of the other developers with a similar payment approach how it has worked out for them. The audio program Ardour uses that model (though with a default, or perhaps minimum, amount of $60).

Once you start accepting money then how committed will you be to supporting the products? Will that commit you to tackling all the emails? What about phone support? How much does someone have to pay to get telephone technical support? If necessary, will you be willing hire someone to help with the support? And how will you handle all that if your average donation is only $4? If one customer donates more than another, does that give them any sort of priority for feature requests, beta access, support turnaround, and the like? How will you be able to take a vacation?

If you have a full-time job right now and aren’t considering a career change, then I guess you can go whichever direction you will. But if you are serious about making these plugins commercial and doing it full time, then you should figure out what you think they are worth to people, charge a little more than that, have consistent and “serious” pricing, and plan on re-investing some of that money into advertising, learning materials, employees, and the like.

I can’t guess what might account for the angst in your note, but your interchangeable use of “donation” and “payment” indicates that you clearly don’t understand my position. This is not a commercial endeavor and I do not accept payments. If someone wants to send a gift in appreciation for what they already have, that’s fine and I appreciate it, but you can’t purchase anything from me (a plugin, support, commitment, photos, etc.). —Jeffrey

— comment by Chris Perkins on May 4th, 2010 at 8:02am JST (7 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, In admiration of your success I’ve decided to try developing my own pluggins, or at least try to.

I am stuck however at the simplest of steps, I can’t seem to figure out how to install the Lightroom 3.0 SDK. I have the LUA pluggins in eclipse but can’t for the life of me figure out or find info on how to install the SDK. DO you have a link or any help you could provide?

The SDK is just documentation, and samples. There’s nothing to install. —Jeffrey

— comment by John on January 15th, 2011 at 8:01am JST (6 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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