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    Implications of HS's plugin source code licensing

    Is HST going to continue to support an official (binary) release of those plugins such as JRiver or Russound that they have now made available in source form through licensing?

    In other words, what happens to those users who have already licenced one of these plugins if they need a bug fixed for example? Will HST release any fixes or must users either 1) purchase a new compiled plugin from a 3rd party who has licensed the source to develop and distribute the plugin, or 2) purchase the source license to maintain the plugin for their own use?

    Thanks,
    Don

    #2
    Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner!

    You've got it. I don't like it, but it appears that HSTech is in a tough spot and is facing not being able to keep up with the stuff they already have developed. The decision process they are faced with on any item that comes up: Is it HS3? Nope. Is it Z-wave? Nope. Then there isn't much time for it.

    The updater / store for independent plug-ins has no certification process, and no source code escrow, so any developer can post anything (working or not) and walk away from it whenever they want. Homeseer Tech becomes only the storefront, with no backing of the product or anyway to even suggest support when someone chooses to stop supporting their own thing. I've been critical of HSTech not doing more to support the plug-ins they develop and sell, but I've been way more critical of the free-for-all that is the third party stuff. In this case, they are selling what they have to anyone willing to buy it, and from that point forward it is 3rd party. I don't mean to imply that all (or even most) of the independent developers are not supporting their stuff, but the real product her (with a company) is HSTech. They may have the best of intentions, but fact is I think they are washing their hands of these plug-ins, except to try and make sure they get some future revenue.

    I don't mean to rant, but I was wondering how long it would be before someone picked up on the most important point of this new licensing program. Like I said: You are the winner!

    Steve

    Comment


      #3
      As a software engineer, I would rather have access to the source than an unsupported, unimproving binary anyway, so I would most likely go ahead and purchase source for my own use if it was a plugin I depended on and which didn't meet my current needs. But I think there should be different source code prices, one for someone purchasing with the intent to distribute commercially and a another for those purchasing for personal use. I also think a user who has already purchased a binary should have to pay only an incremental upgrade fee to obtain the source.

      Ideally i would rather have seen these plugins opened for community development. Why not put the source for example in github to allow multiple contributors, with perhaps a smaller runtime licensing fee going to HST when a user installs/runs the plugin with the HS2/HS2Pro system.

      If everyone buys their own copy of the source for their own use and development, then where are the boundaries drawn for joint development? Can developers share source code patches on the forum or outside a HST supported channel (in cases where the source trees haven't forked too far)?

      Don

      PS I hope this post isn't coming across as a rant. Overall HST has done some amazing things given the limited programming resources at their disposal and in the end the total cash outlay for customers is still lower than for many other commercial solutions (all of which have their share of issues, even Creston which we recently had "professionally" installed where I work, and whose reliability is less than stellar with no provision for us to fix programming ourselves). At least with HS making source available, we have some way to keep our systems functional, albeit with an additional associated cost.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by stevea View Post
        . . . I don't like it, but it appears that HSTech is in a tough spot and is facing not being able to keep up with the stuff they already have developed.

        The updater / store for independent plug-ins has no certification process, and no source code escrow, so any developer can post anything (working or not) and walk away from it whenever they want. . . .[HST] may have the best of intentions, but fact is I think they are washing their hands of these plug-ins, except to try and make sure they get some future revenue.
        Steve, I think your assessment that HST cannot free the resources necessary to maintain all 'the stuff they already have developed' is right on the money.

        I differ with you, however, in my assessment of the potential consequences. Left as things are, there is virtually no hope of any progress on any of the plug-ins being offered for sale. By making the source code available, I think HST is 1) acknowledging the problem in a forthright way, and 2) providing a path to allow members of this community to participate in developing a solution.

        It may not be ideal, but I'm guessing that the cost to maintain 'stuff' is a major problem, and the incremental revenue cannot justify it. The offer to license the source code for orphaned plug-ins looks to me to be a rational compromise that gives us the opportunity to 'vote' on which of those plug-ins is worth further development, either for personal use or for resale to others.
        Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
        HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

        HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Uncle Michael View Post
          Steve, I think your assessment that HST cannot free the resources necessary to maintain all 'the stuff they already have developed' is right on the money.

          I differ with you, however, in my assessment of the potential consequences. Left as things are, there is virtually no hope of any progress on any of the plug-ins being offered for sale. By making the source code available, I think HST is 1) acknowledging the problem in a forthright way, and 2) providing a path to allow members of this community to participate in developing a solution.

          It may not be ideal, but I'm guessing that the cost to maintain 'stuff' is a major problem, and the incremental revenue cannot justify it. The offer to license the source code for orphaned plug-ins looks to me to be a rational compromise that gives us the opportunity to 'vote' on which of those plug-ins is worth further development, either for personal use or for resale to others.
          Mike,

          I don't think we actually disagree much. I didn't comment on whether this will allow some forward progress on those plug-ins that haven't gotten any attention. I think it will. My main comment was about the lack of certification of plug-ins by HST, and the lack of source code escrow for anything that is listed for sale in the updater.

          Let's say someone way smart (and way younger than you or me) gets the sudden interest in Homeseer. He buys up the source for a plug-in, makes lots of changes (most good, some bad), signs up with HST to sell it in the updater. It gets some interest, several dozen people buy the new plug-in, and he supports it on the board for a while. Then his interests shifts to girls and surfing, and he stops coming to the board, or fixing the reported bugs. History indicates that HST will continue to sell the plug-in to anyone who wants it, with no caveat that it is no longer supported and may have issues. The kid and his source code are gone. Some number of people have invested their money - and more importantly - built their Home Automation around a plug-in that has problems and is a dead end.

          It isn't blatant, but stuff that HST sells would seem to have some backing by HST, but it doesn't. The continued support and refinement of 3rd party plug-ins is totally dependent on the developer remaining interested in doing it.

          I'm not even addressing the other issues that may come up, especially initially: What happens when four people want to buy the source for the same plug-in? HST doesn't seem to restrict that, but what if all four are unawere of each other but pay the $100 thinking they will make some money back selling it through HST. So do we end up with a half-dozen different plug-ins in the updater that are almost identical, derived from the same HST source code? All I can say is that it is a good thing this is a hobby, else I don't think any sane person would jump in.

          Steve

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by stevea View Post
            It isn't blatant, but stuff that HST sells would seem to have some backing by HST, but it doesn't. The continued support and refinement of 3rd party plug-ins is totally dependent on the developer remaining interested in doing it.

            I'm not even addressing the other issues that may come up, especially initially: What happens when four people want to buy the source for the same plug-in? HST doesn't seem to restrict that, but what if all four are unawere of each other but pay the $100 thinking they will make some money back selling it through HST. So do we end up with a half-dozen different plug-ins in the updater that are almost identical, derived from the same HST source code? All I can say is that it is a good thing this is a hobby, else I don't think any sane person would jump in.
            I think the hobby part is the key. As hobbyists we represent a really difficult business for HST. I think the only way they can support us is to encourage our own mutual support. At any rate, that is almost certainly the model they are using for the part of their business that we participate in.

            That makes collaboration among the participants on this board crucial. To their credit, HST has made collaboration fairly easy, starting with their terrific support of this forum, which is the best I've ever encountered. Clearly, the 30-day trial period is also an important part, and the new store has added the opportunity for users to rate and comment on plug-ins, so that offers another avenue for feedback - and warnings. The scenario you describe is probably unlikely, but certainly not impossible. The best way to avoid it is to discuss here any plan to purchase, further develop and then sell one of the HST plug-ins before making a purchase.

            I have noticed that there are some fairly spontaneous, even impulsive folks here who jump first, then look to see where they're going to land. Only experience and a few hard landings will be of much help there I'm afraid.
            Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
            HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

            HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

            Comment


              #7
              My 2 cents...

              It appears to me that this is just another way for HS to get some cash.. and as we already seen with the Doo plugins and others , a lot of us have purchased these plugins and now have no support and HS don't even have a copy of the source code to correct problems or get these plugins moving forward.. If it is such a problem to that care of these plugins maybe they should make the source code free to those of us who have all ready purchase these plugins in one way or another..
              One other thing is that over the years the price of HS has gone up and up and we have been told that this was to make it a more professional program ,, yet this appears to be making HS more of a hobby program than professional ,, are we stepping back ??? What professional is going to pay the plus >$300.00 to purchase a product that only has limited support.. You don't see Micosoft selling there source code...
              If supporting these plugins is such a hassle maybe HS should see if some of the programers that they have worked with in the past would be willing to solely purchase these plugins to mantain them.. Most programmers don't want to take on somebody elses program ,, when if they are any good it programming they could rewrite the code from the ground up and make it fit there needs better..
              Maybe this is going to be HS's undoing,, Any shop owner will tell you it's not a good sign when you have to sell the equipment in the shop to make payroll !!

              Comment


                #8
                Taking the scope of this topic a little wider, HST need to make an income to survive. This is why they are putting all their effort into Homeseer 3. Their return for this is going much higher than supporting a few plugins which will all probably need upgrading anyway when HS3 arrives. This plugin source code licencing could be a risky purchase IMO as it may be time limited.

                My worry is that they will force a Homeseer 3 upgrade by making Homeseer 2 EOL sooner rather than later. How will they do this...simply by stopping licence verification via their current method of phoning home.
                Jon

                Comment


                  #9
                  Just a quick note. We don't have the resources to keep developling all of the plugins that we have written. Some plugins have not sold enough to even break even on! We will continue to support the plugins the best we can, but no further development is planned on the plugins that we are offering source for. By offering the source, a developer can now expand on the plugin if needed. This has been a BIG request and we are now honoring that request. If we only sold 2 copies of a particular plugin, does it make sense to assign resources to it? I don't think it does.

                  Note that any developer can also take the source, expand on it, and re-sell it from our store as their own plugin.
                  website | buy now | support | youtube

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jon00 View Post
                    . . . This plugin source code licencing could be a risky purchase IMO as it may be time limited.

                    My worry is that they will force a Homeseer 3 upgrade by making Homeseer 2 EOL sooner rather than later. How will they do this...simply by stopping licence verification via their current method of phoning home.
                    Jon, if I understand what you are suggesting (and I may not), I think you are being a bit pessimistic. Given the "need" of most of us to continually add new capabilities to our systems, simply requiring the latest version of HS in order to add an attractive new plug-in should do the job. I don't see any advantage - but considerable risk - to HST to incapacitate someone's working system simply because it's an older version.
                    Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
                    HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

                    HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

                    Comment


                      #11
                      All I am saying that there has been no reassurance that HS2 plugins would work in HS3. Therefore is the investment in the HS2 plugin source and development worth it? I hope they do work but it's a risk that people need to consider.
                      Jon

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Makes one think, is HS3 a complete re-write? Or just a modified HS2?

                        Will there be 3 .exe files running under HS3?

                        homeseer.exe (HS3)
                        hs_compat.exe (HS1)
                        hs_compat2.exe (HS2) ?

                        Makes me wonder.

                        Esp. since recently (beyond my issues with the server) I've been trying to eliminate hs_compat...but not having a lot of success.

                        --Dan
                        Tasker, to a person who does Homeautomation...is like walking up to a Crack Treatment facility with a truck full of 3lb bags of crack. Then for each person that walks in and out smack them in the face with an open bag.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I believe that Rich's comment pretty much confirms what I was saying. I don't blame him / HST for having to do this. I just think we all need to be aware of what it means, and perhaps pay attention to what he didn't say: The existing plug-in will remain on sale, people will probably buy it, and they don't plan any future work on them.

                          I think Jon00 is right that it is somewhat likely they will change the plug-in interface for HS3. They've already said they will make it so plug-ins are in their own thread, and so if they abort it won't pull down HS (that is one of the few reasons I've not written any plug-ins to date). However, I think Dan is right that they will have a backwards-compatible bridge like they did for the HS1 plug-ins.

                          Steve

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jon00 View Post
                            All I am saying that there has been no reassurance that HS2 plugins would work in HS3. Therefore is the investment in the HS2 plugin source and development worth it? I hope they do work but it's a risk that people need to consider.
                            I understand, but my point is that if upgrading to HS3 disables all my existing plug-ins, the incentive to upgrade will be significantly diminished. That seems counter productive if the objective is to increase revenue. Dan's scenario is closer to what I expect, but I'd guess that compatibility with HS1 might be thrown overboard. (At least it would be if it were my product. You've got to draw a line somewhere.)
                            Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
                            HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

                            HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

                            Comment


                              #15
                              You have a valid point Michael.

                              The current model for HS2 is flawed IMO as all plugins and scripts run within the umbrella of the main program. Any bad script or plugin programming causes Homeseer to drop to it's knees. As SteveA states, if they can get these to run outside of Homeseer's core program, they will be on to a winner. Maybe with this model, all plugins and scripts would need to go through a compatibility/interface conduit...I just don't know.
                              Jon

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