Wolf Vollprecht
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gnu money

Why UberWriter is not gratis in the USC

Wolf Vollprecht // 19 November 2012

I decided to sell UberWriter for $5 in the Ubuntu Software Center (USC). People might ask why — and I wanted to give a little reasoning.

  1. Making quality software costs time and thus money, so I really appreciate a little reward for the many hours and the long nights I have put in to the programming. Furthermore, if I am able to make some bucks by selling it, that would be a good incentive to keep on making software for Ubuntu and of course, making UberWriter a better program (I still have some great features saved for the future). Of course contributors will also get a share of the money and i will try to be as transparent as possible in sharing my sales numbers -- which could also incentivise other developers if they see Ubuntu as a viable platform.

  2. Publishing to the software center a gratis application takes a lot of time. UberWriter hang in the waiting queue for approximately three months until I gave up. The process for paid apps seems to be quite a bit faster. So I went the route of deleting my initial submission and reuploaded a already much newer version. The second process only took about two weeks.
    Please note that there are plans to make the process for gratis applications also faster, but for now it seems the App Review Board (ARB) consists of only 4 members and the process is really slow and frustrating. For example, as of this writing, most of the apps published more than three months ago during the Ubuntu App Showdown are still waiting to be published. To get a little overview about just how many apps are in the queue, look at this Trello Board: Link.
    I don't blame anyone in particular, but it's got to be said that this is really frustrating for someone who has just wrote his first Ubuntu application.

  3. Giving users choice. I got some feedback of users who didn't want to install the initial non USC version because they don't like to add PPA's to their system. Those people can use UberWriter now, too. Also there might be some guys who still haven't heard about it, and discoverability is of course better now, being in the USC.

  4. Supporting Ubuntu. Every time someone buys UberWriter, some of the money goes directly to fund Ubuntu (from every $5 you spend, I »only« get $3.20). This is of course something I am also interested in, because the Ubuntu guys also offer me an incredible nice platform and many other benefits for free (e.g. Launchpad).

What will happen to the PPA? What are implications for the existing users of UberWriter?

Now this is also an experiment from me. since I have released UberWriter under an open source GPL 3 license the source code will always be free (as in beer and as in speech). This means you will always be able to check out you're version and modify it as you wish. What I am trying to test is, wether it possible to make a open source program and sell it.

For those existing users: I will continue to maintain my PPA. It will always contain the latest release, however it could happen that there will be one or another more experimental release in between. I think PPA users will get more frequent updates and stay more up to date, because the process of getting an update into the USC is probably taking some time as well.

Also other people are completely free to put any version of UberWriter in their PPA, or redistribute UberWriter in another Linux distribution (e.g. Arch Linux).

And now: If you want to buy UberWriter, here is the link to the software center UberWriter in USC (only available from 12.10 upwards, note that you can get a version for 12.04 from my PPA, but I am not maintaining 12.04 anymore because of some GTK-CSS incompatibilities).

I would be very honored.

And if you are interested in stats: So far I have made two sales. One of them was was apparently really happy – here is what he wrote (you can view it yourself in the USC):

Great little program!
I wasn't expecting something that useful when I bought UberWriter. It lets you just write - nothing else, and it makes you feel good while doing it. I really like the formula editing.

It includes a small tutorial for markdown, which is very helpful while reasonably short and simple.

I'm still exploring the full potential, though. Apparently you can also use a bibtex or endnote database. Exporting documents with formulas to odt or docx seems to have problems then and when.

I also want to thank the three people who gave me 30 € in donations (thank you again!).

I don't have any measure on how often UberWriter was downloaded from my PPA but I have gotten around 120 emails for UberWriter so I guess that approximately 20 - 30% of all users wrote a feedbackmail (a pretty conservative guess, I think), so my estimate is that there are around 1000 - 1500 People who have used / are using UberWriter – that's already quite impressive for me, and is quite a bit of a responsibilty not to break things :)

I hope with your help and the help of the community I will be able to continue developing UberWriter.

Tell me on Twitter what you think!

UberWriter in Action!

If you want to check out, what UberWriter looks like in action, watch the video below. Unfortunatly, since GStreamer or whatever is still buggy, I couldn't use PiTiVi, Kdenlive or OpenShot, and the end of the movie is more or less complete garbage. In the middle are also some errors, but I've searched as much as 1.5 hours for a solution and didn't found anything, so I gave up.
New Features are from 50s (Inline Latex Preview and much more!)


Image Credit: From borman818 on flickr (CC BY 2.0).