Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

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brent
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Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by brent »

Image
We tried the open source model for over 2 years. User contributions were very low, so nearly all work was done by us. So we ended working 10 hours a day 7 days a week which we could not spend earning money. In addition other used our work for their profit without sharing it with us. Fortunately not all companies go that way. Quite some printer vendors support us with custom host version and we believe this step will even increase the number of supporters, so we can keep a free host version with new features. The alternative would be to stop developing the host, which would be even more lost to the community.


Thread with official confirmation:
http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?267,313864


Post any thoughts you may have that are on-topic. Please do not threaten the developer.

Questions to consider: Will you be using Rep-Host anymore due to this decision? How do you feel about the devs closing development? What alternative(s) will you use? Can a free, open 3DP Software be supported in this modern day? What software is next on the chopping block? What vendor is next?

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by brent »

I'm going to reply to my own thread with my thoughts.

*Yes, I'll still use it until a better alternative comes up. I like MatterControl but I'm not 100% set with it just yet. I'm not going back to Pronterface or ReplicatorG.
*The developers could have sustained development by issuing a "nag" screen for donations like Transmission does
*MatterControl/Pronterface/ReplicatorG are alternatives that I know of. As far as slicers, Cura and Slic3r are still OSS
*Printrbot looks like it's going to become closed with the release of the metal simple and metal plus

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by int2str »

Just another company who doesn't understand the open source model - too bad.
They did a fantastic job elevating the 3D printing workflow.

Going "closed source" will however not change anything. First off, someone will fork RepetierHost and a new "defacto standard" fork will emerge that will be community driven. Secondly, a new open source solution will emerge that will be even better than RepetierHost that people will migrate to.

Open source is too important - especially in a DIY community like the one surrounding the 3D printing world.

Repetier should have embraced it and structured a business around the model.
Really is too bad. I wish they would have been successful and prospered.

But "taking your ball and running" is not a good response and will do them no better in the long term...

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by JohnStack »

Software is a tough business. I can completely understand their point of view.

People shouldn't have to do anything for free and open-source does necessarily mean free. There's a parallel here: The Rambo board. Know anyone making them other than Ultimachine? What's the difference? Ultimachine charges for the implementation of the product and can. Not everyone can make their own boards.

On the other hand, people can make minor changes (tier 3) to software (options, variables, menu items, etc) without providing a substantial tier 1 contribution to the community; yet, people freely download it. They can make tier 2 changes if they have basic skills (copy an existing design pattern, etc) but tier 1 changes are a different breed. They require a full embrace and they're time consuming. They're structural or incorporate features that aren't easily implemented.

I can't fault them for making it private, ads-based, or anything for-profit. They've contributed, they've responded to suggestions and implemented them, and their software is embraced by many a printer. I'm sure it wasn't in their plan to close the source but let's be practical: people have to eat.

Looking at them, unfortunately, it's the code heads that do great things that frequently get their lunches eaten by simply trying to do the right thing. It's too bad. Had anyone known, they probably would have helped by reaching out to the hardware vendors and attempt to provide a consulting model - so that hardware folks would be able to spend their time more freely doing what they do best.

What's it mean to the community? Competition. Competition is, for the most part good for us consumers. Someone will open source something or they'll rock it with an inexpensive closed source print manager.

The fallout is inevitable and it's real. Stay tuned while hardware manufacturers produce more of their own stuff....I know of three printer mfrs who have given up on Repetier and Kisslicer and are building their own.

What can you do? Support your open source dev - with contributions - either code or cash!!!
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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by Captain Starfish »

If you are a developer or tinkerer who has made a single change to RH in the past or may do* in the future, then obviously this will have an impact.

Otherwise, if you're like the rest of us who have no plans of modifying it and are happy to use it as is, difference between closed and open source is... zilch.

Closed / Open source ≠ Free / charged software.

Personally, I didn't even twig that Host was open source. I cared even less. It did and continues to do a halfway reasonable job. There are other alternatives with better integration to other slicers such as MatterControl BUT that comes at a cost, I think Repetier overall does a better job if you are looking for more than a simple click-and-print interface. Even knowing it was open source, was I going to blow a billionty hours of my life away integrating Cura? Nope. I have better things to do with my life. As, apparently, does pretty much everyone else. At least this way they bring the control measures and testing schedules etc in house where it's easier to stay on top of.

If there was minimal public developer involvement, what they have done makes a hell of a lot of sense. And adding a revenue stream to a project which has required a lot of work and continues to do so but which is now successful enough to support that income model? That is just sensible. Devs have to eat and, as they say, the alternative is to just abandon it. When the ads get more annoying than switching to MatterControl or coughing up for a commercial job like Creator then I'll make the jump. Or I'll just stay with 0.95.

*this does not include the "gunna"s who have every intention of but realistically never will.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by bubbasnow »

haven't hooked up RH in months, i am 100% on octopi now. I haven't sliced with RH since i purchased kiss 6 months ago.

I've even seen a .gcode sender on android devices that seem to work well if you already got the file sliced.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by johnoly99 »

John Stack,

For the rambo comment, see http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/190966451391?lpid=82
Haha, now, if you think you'll get anywhere NEAR as good a board as the real deal, i've got bridges to sell you :)

As for RH going closed source, I personally am pretty bummed. I've spent many emails/comments/etc... working on what i could to make it a better experience, and personally, it's sad to see that go closed source. As a company though, we've spent thousands of dollars supporting repetier, and now that it's closed, we will no longer spend $0.01 on supporting the host software. I really wish we had some sort of heads up, or an email explaining things are tight and he needs more revenue to continue dev. but, I think the smarter people in the room see what's going on here. The only two other examples of going 'closed' because of fear of 'copycats' ended up in big buyouts (MBI anyone?) Don't know if that's what's on the table for RH here, but i'd not be surprised.

From here on out, I will be using and promoting MatterControl by MatterHackers. For them, going Open-Source unlocked a whole new world of developers, and they're updating, fixing and making their software better every day or two, trust me. I'l be posting our first official build of MatterControl here shortly, with machine defs and slicing configs and stl files all preloaded for new users. Yes, there are things RH did better, i LOVE the gcode viewer for instance, but outside of that one feature, I've found MatterControl, once you get used to the different layout and flow, has more nice tools than RH.

All said, I'm sad to see Repetier Host go, as i'm sure this time next year it will be a thing of the past, like repG/skeinforge etc... Dropping his userbase to around 20% of previously and the signs on the horizon, it's almost a sure bet. Roland, thanks for the good times man, and I still wish you luck

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by 0rionN00b »

brent wrote:Image
We tried the open source model for over 2 years. User contributions were very low, so nearly all work was done by us. So we ended working 10 hours a day 7 days a week which we could not spend earning money. In addition other used our work for their profit without sharing it with us. Fortunately not all companies go that way. Quite some printer vendors support us with custom host version and we believe this step will even increase the number of supporters, so we can keep a free host version with new features. The alternative would be to stop developing the host, which would be even more lost to the community.


Thread with official confirmation:
http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?267,313864


Post any thoughts you may have that are on-topic. Please do not threaten the developer.

Questions to consider: Will you be using Rep-Host anymore due to this decision? How do you feel about the devs closing development? What alternative(s) will you use? Can a free, open 3DP Software be supported in this modern day? What software is next on the chopping block? What vendor is next?



1. This is a prime example of why communism (and any socialism-based model) is doomed to fail. The basic concept of the value of personal property & rights of ownership is an undeniable fact of life. Flame me if you wish--i really don't care - the truth will defend itself.


2. A business model dependent upon the largess of its users will eventually run into a cash-problem. Without cash flow, you can't develop. Without development you can't improve. Without improvement you can't provide a better mousetrap to your customer base..

i have no issues with them doing this at all. (also wondering if certain political parties couldn't use them for some consulting work)...

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by joecnc2006 »

With so many 3d printers out there, maybe they are thinking they can provide an OEM version of the software which will come with the printers.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by mhackney »

NO FLAME ZONE

I'll chime in to add some color but my intent is not to start a flame war. I am an entrepreneur / professional software developer in the Boston high tech sector. I've started something like 9 software companies. I've done shareware, free ware, open source, freemium", subscription and commercial licensing models. They all have their place and can all be successful.

Companies don't "make money" on Open Source, they make their money supporting, professional services, etc. This works well in the commercial sector where companies value these services and are willing to pay for them. Companies would typically have to pay for services in addition to licenses for commercial products too so they are used to this. This does not work in the consumer world. Few consumers are willing to pay an annual support contract, they just want to "figure it out" themselves or on forums like this one.

However, the Open Source model does work for consumers but requires a large(ish) community of developers and/or users. The Shaker saying "Many hands makes light work." is the operative phrase. Individuals who start Open Source projects are usually not looking to make money, if they were, they should seriously think about HOW they plan to monetize their work before going down any path. One option is with an advertising model, but that requires 10s of 1000s of user visits per day to be viable. The idea is, visitors to your web site who come to download the product or participate in forums will see banner ads.

When monetization has not been thought through, situations like this happen. Open Source projects require a community of contributors to be viable and become viral. It might not take many, but certainly more than the "founder". Without this, the project ultimately becomes an anchor and chain if the product is useful to end users, with no easy way to monetize the effort to get out from under it. This is when Open Source projects die or, as in this case, (attempt to) close. There are legal ramifications to closing an Open Source project depending on the licensing that was originally used - and there are many (confusing) OS license models. Repetier Host was an Apache v2 license and I suspect he has now realized that "close sourcing" it is not as easy as he thought - the source is available (again?) and that big "Closed" sign is gone. I don't want to go into the legal side of this, I've personally spent 1000s of hours with IP lawyers scrutinizing license models for Open Source code. I know enough to know that it isn't easy navigating the landscape.

The observation I would make is that the developer should have anticipated and prepared up front for a business model that allowed him to make money. 1000s of Open Source projects have done this successfully with advertising models, extended functionality models, donation models, etc. Changing in mid-stream is always a difficult thing to pull off without upsetting the apple cart. The folks at MatterControl state up front what their intent is. Is that stopping anyone from trying it out? No, and when they do offer for-fee plug-ins or other options, it won't upset the OS user base either. KISSlicer used a freemium model and was closed source. The "free" piece is what most consumers are looking for in the 3D printing (and other) space. But, like many, I am willing to pay if 1) there is advanced functionality I can use, 2) I truly get value out of the free software and the developer is asking for a small donation or 3) I can contribute my time/experience in adding functionality or improving the documentation or product.

Personally, I love the donation model conceptually but it rarely works out. If everyone who used a particular product more than once or twice a month would donate even $1 or $5 it would usually be enough to keep the effort going. But, unfortunately, people do not think like that and never contribute. Repetier has a donation/support option. How many of you who use Repetier Host more than 2 times a week have donated anything? This is a rhetorical question, please do not answer here, just think about it.

I'm almost hesitant to post this but I think a view into the bowels of the software world might help put things in perspective.

cheers,
Michael

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by Jimustanguitar »

mhackney wrote:NO FLAME ZONE
Companies don't "make money" on Open Source, they make their money supporting, professional services, etc. ...

However, the Open Source model does work for consumers but requires a large(ish) community of developers and/or users. The Shaker saying "Many hands makes light work." is the operative phrase. Individuals who start Open Source projects are usually not looking to make money, if they were, they should seriously think about HOW they plan to monetize their work before going down any path.


Excellent point. At its simplest, Open Source is a philosophy about how to share intellectual property. Open Source doesn't mean free. I mean, the information is free, but companies still make and sell products and services. SeeMeCNC is a great example of this.

I wonder what Repetier's business model really was and if they intended for any income aside from website hits and voluntary donations.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by mhackney »

I think they had a naive approach that "if we build it, people will donate" that did not work. They did solicit advertising on their web site, and it looks like they have a little revenue from that stream. It's speculation on my part. But from the start, their website had more of a commercial "feel" to it than the typical Open Source site.

I would suggest that a better approach for them would have been a "freemium" model, which may be what they are planning based on the comment the developer made. We will see. I have no need/desire to abandon RH immediately. I have a copy of the sources and according to the Apache License, I can post these, compile the app and offer it to the community and even sell it if I choose. I have NO plans to do any of this, but these options are possible.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by 0rionN00b »

mhackney wrote:NO FLAME ZONE
The observation I would make is that the developer should have anticipated and prepared up front for a business model that allowed him to make money. 1000s of Open Source projects have done this successfully with advertising models, extended functionality models, donation models, etc. Changing in mid-stream is always a difficult thing to pull off without upsetting the apple cart.


excellent & astute observation..

I've personally only used repetier about 4 or 5 times. for only a few things that couldn't be done elsewhere... But simply offering an extended features model (allowing saving or say rotating or some other features, perhaps the ability to save configs?) for a nominal charge ($10-15 would bring in a decent cash stream) - these models would've seemed to have been a reasonable approach.

The whole "open source" idea seems to have a zillion potholes.

We don't approach buying a car this way - why would we with software?

With a car, you get a demo version (test drive with a copilot), you get all the documentation you would possibly want, you get guarantees & promises (or not), and you know well in advance what options you're going to get with that car. You buy a small pickup truck expecting to be able to move an office desk, but knowing that if you're gonna be pulling a ski boat you're going to need to upgrade the tow package & tires, or possibly get a larger version.

The same model would make a lot of sense for packages of this sort. That said, I dunno the legal possibilities of that with the open source license he had - could he legally have a free version and an 'enhanced' version?

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by Jimustanguitar »

The open source equivalent to buying a car would be a bit more like buying/building a dune buggy. The plans are out there, lots of people make the parts, and if you have a better idea... you make your own plans and parts.

The community part of Open Source that is very important and often overlooked is: if you make a better widget, share it!
When you've used other people's open designs and experience and you improve upon them, give it back. That's the whole idea, in a nutshell.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by neurascenic »

This isn't intended to inflame or be hostile...

I am confused; how is open source equated to Communism or Socialism? is it some how government owned? Do they dictate who, what or how people in the OS/OSHW operate? are these people payed by a government so that they can provide such a service?

To me, OS/OSHW is just the Wild west of the free market. Experimental Free Market. A much larger market. Potholes, to be sure. But doesn't "Capitalism" also have potholes? What is the percentage of business startups that fail?


Michael. too your point... I have donated in the past to projects I believe in. though, admittedly, and sadly... repeater was not one of them. I have yet to try any others, but once I get to dabble in the others... I will donate to at least one of my favorites or Buy into Repetier. Thank you for reminding me.
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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by Eaglezsoar »

Very well written Michael. Thanks for making us all think.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by mhackney »

Thanks Eaglezsoar. I've been doing software for a loooonnnngggg time!

At the end of the day, the companies that are successful are those that treat their customers with respect and produce a quality product. Go figure!

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by Jimustanguitar »

neurascenic wrote:This isn't intended to inflame or be hostile...

I am confused; how is open source equated to Communism or Socialism? is it some how government owned? Do they dictate who, what or how people in the OS/OSHW operate? are these people payed by a government so that they can provide such a service?


Communism doesn't always imply a government. It can be a philosophy or a state of mind. A like minded community, even.

The concept is good natured and innocent, but people tend to get in the way and put their own twist on things :)

It's not a perfect analogy for Open Source, but there are certainly some commonalities.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by 0rionN00b »

mhackney wrote:Thanks Eaglezsoar. I've been doing software for a loooonnnngggg time!

At the end of the day, the companies that are successful are those that treat their customers with respect and produce a quality product. Go figure!


agreed... BUT, don't you think it also is tied to their ability to generate revenue? the nicest people on earth will still starve, without a way to feed themselves!

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by mhackney »

My presumption was that the company had a viable business model and a suitable sized market. But you are right, those basics have to be in place too.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by Tonkabot »

johnoly99 wrote:John Stack,

For the rambo comment, see http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/190966451391?lpid=82
Haha, now, if you think you'll get anywhere NEAR as good a board as the real deal, i've got bridges to sell you :)

As for RH going closed source, I personally am pretty bummed. I've spent many emails/comments/etc... working on what i could to make it a better experience, and personally, it's sad to see that go closed source. As a company though, we've spent thousands of dollars supporting repetier, and now that it's closed, we will no longer spend $0.01 on supporting the host software. I really wish we had some sort of heads up, or an email explaining things are tight and he needs more revenue to continue dev. but, I think the smarter people in the room see what's going on here. The only two other examples of going 'closed' because of fear of 'copycats' ended up in big buyouts (MBI anyone?) Don't know if that's what's on the table for RH here, but i'd not be surprised.

From here on out, I will be using and promoting MatterControl by MatterHackers. For them, going Open-Source unlocked a whole new world of developers, and they're updating, fixing and making their software better every day or two, trust me. I'l be posting our first official build of MatterControl here shortly, with machine defs and slicing configs and stl files all preloaded for new users. Yes, there are things RH did better, i LOVE the gcode viewer for instance, but outside of that one feature, I've found MatterControl, once you get used to the different layout and flow, has more nice tools than RH.

All said, I'm sad to see Repetier Host go, as i'm sure this time next year it will be a thing of the past, like repG/skeinforge etc... Dropping his userbase to around 20% of previously and the signs on the horizon, it's almost a sure bet. Roland, thanks for the good times man, and I still wish you luck



So repeater host is gone. What does that mean as far as repeater-firmware goes? Is that still your recommended firmware to run on the RAMBO?

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by mhackney »

Repetier Host IS NOT gone. It is freely available from the developer and in fact, the source is still available. Even if/when they decided to go closed source, they will still offer the software either for free with a premium upgrade or for cost. What you have now will work just fine until a final decision is made.

As far as firmware, it is based on earlier OS firmware and would be very difficult if not impossible to close. No announcement has been made to close it. And yes, not only is it best for RAMBo, it is best for any delta printer and controller. It has the smoothest motion control. Marlin is "rough". There is work to move some of the recent Marlin auto configuration developments to Repetier too.

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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by JohnStack »

Wow. Ok. Some absolutes for me about open - closed source - and thoughts about the grey areas.

I had an interesting business discussion with a some time business partner about open/closed source. You might find this valuable. We agreed on all of these points.

A. Open Source is Grey in terms of policy and what is right. There's great stuff out there - both open and closed source. There are a number of licenses to adopt or adopt/change.

B. I'll never hold anything against anyone who has tried something open source and for lack of making a living, goes closed source. Will it help them? No but I'm also not the arbiter of their business or their abilities or markets.

C. The decision to go closed source after being open source is a tough one. Most of us put our families first, etc. Maybe they consulted with friends or business associates before making the decision. Sometimes the reasons are technical. In other words, maybe someone approached them (that's happened to me) for a for-profit, closed source version. Perhaps it was enough of a change that open source was not practical afterwards.

D. Originators choose to either abandon their projects or leave it out for others to modify or change license terms at will. They did the lift. They own the code. Do they have an obligation to the community? Not really. What if someone contributed? Well, the maximum they can expect from their contribution is that it worked for them. Their changes / adds were interesting or needed - for them. No one else.

E. It is not the end of the world for someone to go closed source. Remember, they had a pretty good attitude about open source to begin with. It's very likely that they'll be responsive and more organized in their approach since they're finally getting paid for it.

F1. The options for making money in Open Source are huge but developers are just like other folks. Sometimes they can make money at it and other times, they don't have the skills or understanding to do that side of the business.

F2. The options for making money in Open Source are huge but paying customers may not like open source - for security reasons or IP reasons.

F3. The best possible mix example of profit and open source that I know is Drupal/Acquia. Dries Buyart formed up a software/pro services company and still administers what changes happen to Drupal. He took on boatloads of venture capital when he made the decision. It was a good one - and since they are committed to Drupal, it has only gotten better. The second example is probably Java/MySQL/Sun/Oracle. After contributing there, I really was wondering what was going to happen after Oracle bought Sun. So far, it's ok...

Some people see issues as black and white. I don't. Open Source is totally grey and it will likely always be that way.
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Re: Repetier-Host Goes Closed Source

Post by mhackney »

It is important to keep a few points in mind, and you covered some of these John.

Open Source has many facets, there are literally 100s of different OS licenses that each give the user certain rights of usage with certain restrictions.

Just because a product is not Open Source does not mean it can't be free. Remember Shareware and Freeware? Today, "Freemium" is a valid business model and sounds like what RH is planning. Basically, the company owns the rights to the product but offers a version of it for free usage - usually with restrictions like no commercial use, etc. There are many free, closed source applications out there.

Once released as Open Source and depending on the license chosen for this, it can be impossible to convert to closed source. Many Open Source licenses address this explicitly and exactly for this reason. It gets even more complicated when the license chosen does not explicitly state this and multiple developers have contributed to the product. I suspect RH figured out that they couldn't just go closed source because of the license they chose and other factors. Also, if the work is based on another OS product or products, those must always be maintained and, again, depending on their licenses may require ALL DERIVATE WORKS to provide source code.

At the end of the day, most folks here just want "free" and probably don't care if it's open source or not. In fact, having a nice installer and software ready to go is more important than open source that you have to compile yourself (which is how a lot of open source is delivered).

Your point D is a sticky one, Open Source licenses can not be changed at will, depending on what the original license was. Going Open Source has legal ramifications that the developer, contributors and users should understand.

O

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