So let’s say you are a smart little developer that has an idea for a small niche software product. You’re thinking you could spend X number of hours putting together your nifty tool, and then publish it on your web page with a commercial license, and maybe an open source license as well. What sort of hurdles would you expect to run into? Would bug fixes be too much of a bother? Does publishing your code under an open source license help with these bugs? Just how easy is it to sell your code and publish it for free at the same time? Is it feasable to put into your commercial terms a clause limiting your liability for use of your code? Would selling a well-constructed piece of software make you more attractive to prospective employers? How often has a single person done this (I know Jules did when he wrote juce)? Lot of questions!
Having worked in the audio world for a couple of years I’ve got a couple of ideas for tools and wrappers I’d like to write and sell for a little extra cash in between jobs, so naturally this idea is interesting.
I wrote Carve, a C++ library for constructive solid geometry. It turned from a hobby project into a commercial project when I realised that it was actually performing quite well with regard to other possibilities.
The three main problem areas I’ve come up against are:
1a) producing a library that’s stable enough to be used in a commercial setting requires a lot of non-interesting work.
1b) support hasn’t been too onerous, but i can see the potential for it to become so.
1c) responding quickly to issues is hard when you’re also holding down another job.
2) although I price it well below other, less capable products, the cost is still quite large. despite having several companies express interest in it, each of which has taken a reasonable amount of time to follow up, i’ve had no sales this year.
3a) i’d like to dual license it with GPL, but i’m worried now about the need to get it entirely right.
3b) providing evaluation versions to companies has been especially fruaght (this is why the GPL version would be handy).
Right at the moment, I’d love it if I had someone/some company who was prepared to handle the marketing/management side of things for a percentage of sales, so that I could just be left alone to write the code.