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Community Edition?

IvanKoshelevIvanKoshelev USMember

Good day. I'm a C# \ JS developer working for a large bank and passionate about all things C#.
I'm currently looking into cross-platform mobile app development both as a side project and due to growing interest from management. Naturally, Xamarin was my first choice, since I've heard so much about it and even used Mono with Unity game engine to great satisfaction.
However, I find myself with only an obscure and, apparently, limited-beyond-use starter edition. Considering the fact, that premiere companies like Microsoft and JetBrains are now recognizing the benefits of open-source friendly Community edition, I'm not sure, why Xamarin is lagging behind.
For me, the only proven way to estimate a technology, is to build a personal project with it. I will not recommend any technology to my employer before I do that. No profit is concerned here, if anything, I will be investing my time into researching a new technology. In this circumstances, investing any money is not justified for me. The only acceptable way for me in this case is revenue share, the model effectively used by all major mobile app stores today. Not to mention, I have learned to be wary of technologies blocking the open-source community with pay-walls.

That being said, I'm now switching my time investment to Apple Swift and PhoneGap (Cordova). I'm disappointed by this choice to the point of going vocal, because I consider C# to be the most advanced general use language currently available, and I'm hoping you will follow in the footsteps of Microsoft and introduce a community edition free of limitations so long as revenue is not concerned.


  • SebastianSeidel.9226SebastianSeidel.9226 DEInsider, University ✭✭✭✭

    I understand your post as follows: "Give us your products for free, and we promise to not make any money with it". To be honest, it does not work this way. Consider that Microsoft for example has other products and services to make money with.

    Xamarin is working on things like this with Test Cloud, Insights and so on. What Xamarin offers allready is a, as far as I know, free of cost license to open source projects.

  • mridonimridoni ITMember ✭✭

    Sebastian, you're right that Xamarin needs (and deserves) to be paid for its efforts, and the standard disclaimer (their product, their policy, their prices) applies to what follows.

    The problem lies in the fact that the current Indie tier makes little sense: it's the only edition that has no Visual Studio Support., while even student licenses can be used with Visual Studio to publish paid apps to an official store. I purchased an Indie license because I need it for a project: I'm not a hobbyist, far from it, but since my focus is currently not on mobile apps, I cannot justify spending money for a Business license and, most of all, renew it every year. After this project is finished I will probably not renew it, it's simply not worth it for me.

    Xamarin has a very good product in its hands, but the current pricing structure is difficult to justify: you get a meager 10% discount if you get two platforms, there's no discount for license renewals, and the Business tier is (still IMHO, of course) way overpriced, especially since Microsoft published a Community Edition of Visual Studio for free. And the fact that software prices have been steadily going down for years just highlights this issue: the full Adobe CC Collection includes an ungodly amount of applications for €60/month, that's almost a third of two Xamarin Business licenses (yes, I know that the pricing structure and the markets are different, still the comparison is impressive).

  • SebastianSeidel.9226SebastianSeidel.9226 DEInsider, University ✭✭✭✭

    I really don't get it, that every time when it comes to Xamarin pricing Visual Studio support is mentioned to. I am fine with the pricing and end there is also a discount if you have to renew your licenses.

    And to be honest. Everyone who needs Visual Studio to code, should ask himself if he really is a software developer. It is fine to have tools like R# and I also know that VS is a great IDE. But this does not reflect the potential Xamarin really is about.

  • IvanKoshelevIvanKoshelev USMember
    edited July 2015

    Sebastian I'm sorry you see it that way. I hope you will hear me out and reconsider. I work for a bank where a single specialist TCO per day often exceeds the price of your yearly license per platform. My employer has software written in COBOL before my birth still moving $ in the millions today. He also has a history of using 3rd party software long enough for some key principles to emerge.

    • Community is King. Community means your products have proven their worth in the field, it means the kind of support no hotline can give, it means sustained development and wide ecosystem, available specialists for the bank. The bank is not worried about what it pays you today, that's a drop in the rain compared to the price of devs who will do the actual coding, the bank worries about its risks tomorrow, being stuck with abandoned tech (hello Silverlight).
    • The only way the bank decides to buy a tool is if one of the seniors recommends It to the bank. And for the senior in question, it means putting his reputation on the line. If the product has backfired - the senior gets fired ( budgets with 6 zeroes make mistakes costly ). In this situation, people don't recommend things they haven't experienced front to back.
    • For me, Xamarin is no bigger time investment than, say, Apple Swift, let alone Java. And for sure much riskier - those two are first class citizens of their respective ecosystems, backed by million-strong communities and giant corporations. Take a look at the tag counts for each respective tech on SO . Taking into account my first point, the amount of SO documentation alone is enough for me to choose those languages over Xamarin.

    The greatest asset of Xamarin is the existing community of C# devs who would be wiling to give Xamarin a chance just for fun and see what comes out of it. They are not Indie devs, they are highly paid professionals passionate enough about C# to try anything related. The kind of professionals MS is wiling to give 100$ in Azure credit every month just to expose this technology to them. The kind of professionals who launch start-ups in spare time. You are effectively shutting them off.

    P.S. I just checked if Unity policy has changed in recent year, and it hasn't - . With an industry-ready free edition, that doesn't just let you develop free software, but lets you develop commercial software as long as you don't exceed 100K $ in yearly profit - no wonder they are an industry leader. That is the model I can get behind, using the very same runtime. You should take a page out of their book.

  • mridonimridoni ITMember ✭✭

    Well, Sebastian, I don't think the hundreds of thousands of people who use Visual Studio every day, do it only because they want to feel like they're real developers. They use it because, as you say, it's a fantastic IDE and it enhances your productivity. In theory you can use a text editor to write C# applications, in practice this would be a nightmare.

    Xamarin Studio/MonoDevelop has gotten better, but still manages to crash at least twice a day, gets syntax completion wrong here and there, sometimes it completely fouls up syntax highlighting. Despite these quirks and bugs, it's a great IDE, really, but it can't touch VS, and with VS becoming free it makes little sense not to have Xamarin integrate with it in all its editions. As I said, their product, their policy, their prices, but as a customer I feel I can express my dissatisfaction with this policy

  • SebastianSeidel.9226SebastianSeidel.9226 DEInsider, University ✭✭✭✭

    Visual Studio is not free. Even the Community Edition has usage limitations (company size and revenue).
    What does Xamarin currently offer for free:

    • Xamarin.Insights
    • Xamarin Platform (iOS, Android) with some limitations (Up to 90 days full product trial or completly as Starter Edition)
    • Xamarin Test Cloud (1 hour per month)

    If you ask me this is more than other bigger companies offer.

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