SGPro 3.0 and other changes


#23

Moderator comment: please keep it civil…

Personal comment: The new model means that everyone gets all the “add ons” for the same price as the original core software alone cost. And remember that once you have the software you can use it forever without ever needing to pay anything again if you choose. So if the software is doing everything you need already then there is no need to update. Or, 5 years down the road when all the new cool stuff has been rolled out in major updates, you can decide to purchase that version.


#24

I very much like SGP. I am on a limited budget and like a lot of folks need to keep costs under control. My experience of SGP has been great - a really nice product with great support. I favour a move to a business model which improves long term sustainability for the product and the development team. I really look forward to new feature releases. I’d like a cost model which discounts against previous versions so for instance if you’re four or more versions behind you pay full price for an upgrade, 3 behind you get 10% reduction 2 behind 20% etc. It’s just my thought. Incentivises folks to keep up to date, spend money on the product and benefit the development / support effort.

Overall SGP has been really great for me - in the midst of all the electronics/ equipment/ drivers etc that have to all work together at the same point in time, SGP has been a really stable and reliable product.
thanks and good luck with the new proposals.
Paul


#25

Sure, and for you it probably makes sense to stay at 2.X until something worthy of an upgrade comes down in 3.x, 4.x, etc. Previous versions will still work just fine.

I guess I see this a little differently. We’re essentially giving you something you don’t need…not charging you additional for it.

Thanks,
Jared


#26

Fake astronomy eh? I have been imaging since there were CCD cameras in the early 90’s. I have been published many times, include a couple of S&T covers. Look it up on my webpage. If that is fake astronomy, count me as fake. I stand by my opinion which basically was that this is not a cheap hobby and that in any hobby this expensive, SGP is a great bargain.

I offered an opinion and that was returned with personal insults, sounds a lot like Trump to me.


#27

Not even close. In our worst year we increased sales 200% over the last, and it’s been accelerating year over year.

We currently do this part time as SGP cannot support us full time. This is to hopefully move us into an area where we can dedicate full time support to SGP within the next few years. More features, faster, and better overall support.

Thanks,
Jared


#28

How long will the current betas continue? And will they finish with an un priced updated release?

Ray


#29

We’ll keep releasing 2.X features and bugs until we’re ready to release 3.0. Unfortunately I can’t give you a date when 3.X will be released. Unfortunately our schedules aren’t that predictable and I can’t tell you if I’ll be addressing a defect or working on 3.X “things”. Essentially there is some amount of work that needs to be done to prep for 3.X. Many of these things are administrative and “not fun” like licensing, website, website license management area, paypal things. We may also “revamp” how we create user licenses at this time as well. Essentially they just won’t be explicitly linked to your PayPal account…but that may come later as it gets easier without the Mosaic and Framing Wizard and Notification System.

So essentially when we get “that stuff” done we’ll move to 3.0. We’ll certainly have more 2.X releases between now and then. If I were to make a guess I would HOPE that we’ll be at 3.X within the next 3-6 months but it just depends on how much time we get to focus on that vs other things.

And yes, prior to 3.x we will release something like a “final” release for 2.X.

Thanks,
Jared


#30

Thanks Jared, a comprehensive reply, much aprieciated.

Ray


#31

People’s value equations vary wildly but even so for most, as CCDMan suggests, the price of SGP is a drop in the ocean. This is not an inexpensive hobby and even for those operating on a budget, with an equipment level that requires computer aided acquisition, having the acquisition software equating to 5% or less of the total outlay is not unreasonable.

Comparative applications are significantly more expensive and until astrophotography becomes mainstream, it remains a niche product at a niche price and even less than the subscription prices of others. It is unrealistic for it to be priced like say Affinity Photo, whose target market is orders of magnitude higher.

If you are just starting out and the price of SGP is daunting, there may be trouble ahead! If I had fully budgeted for this hobby at the beginning, I may have thought twice…but once you are in, you are in… :scream:


#32

Thanks, buzz. That is pretty much what I was trying to say. I was just a bit too blunt with my phrasing! I have also experienced lots of “cost creep” over my many years in the hobby. It never gets cheaper, that is for sure.

Bottom line is that SGP is great software at a great price and it was not realistic to expect the old pricing model to go on and still have the software continue with it’s present excellent level of development and support. In fact, I have been wondering when we would see a pricing change and what it would look like. I am quite happy with what is proposed if it keeps SGP strong and healthy.


#34

In general, thank you for all the comments. A couple notes:

This model is standard practice in the software community… everyone from Microsoft to Adobe uses it because software is expensive to maintain. Taking this into consideration, we were looking to the community to understand tolerance. In general, I see two expected camps:

  • Please keep upgrading SGPro, I love new features and better response to support and defects. I understand that the current business model only allows for SGPro to receive a very small amount of attention (because we have full time jobs that are not related to Astro)
  • SGPro seems complete to me. I don’t want to spend any more money on the software and I am fine with the current level of support

The one thought that I want to stomp out is this one:

Switching to this price model smells of a reduction in sales year over year, and this is an effort to keep the cash coming in.

Not attacking anyone here, I just want to make sure that folks are aware this is not a money grab. We believe products should sell on merit and we don’t believe in handouts. The truth of the matter is this:

  • We have considered raising the price to slow growth. We were on the fence about this because we felt like the current level of support is thinning as the user base increases.
  • Movement to a sustainable business model might allow us to work on SGPro full time and rectify the issue above.

The intent of this thread is to see which camp folks fall in to.

One last personal note: In terms of money (it seems bizarre that I am discussing this in public), there is no version of SGPro as a full time job that means more money for us. It’s not about money… if it were, we would just keep things as they are now. SGPro, full time, would equate to a decided reduction in income, but possibly a move toward “do what you love”. If we can answer the question: Can we support our families with SGPro? then it is something to consider. Not everything in the world needs a cynics perspective.


#35

Hi
I have no problem with paying for future upgrades and improvements , the software must generate a income for the writers
or it will become obsolete over time ,and goes without saying that it is fantastic value :slight_smile:-- this is the only bit I have a problem with

The version of SGPro I own is not the most current, but it has a bug. Will it get fixed?

The short answer is: No. Any remaining fixes will be addressed in the next major release of SGPro. That said, if we deem the bug to be significant with respect to the core of SGPro’s operation, we will, at our discretion, issue a fix for a previous version of SGPro.

I had a version of maxim at one time that had a bug that meant it would not guide correctly with my sx guider , it was only after many months of complaining that it was fixed after my subscription had lapsed , effectively maxim wanted hundreds of bucks over my original purchase to make the software useable , I was not amused and refused to renew as I felt the mickey was being taken…
IMO the software must do what it says on the tin at the time off sale , Upgrades can off course be chargeable and is the choice of the user weather to pay or not .

Regards
Harry


#36

@harry

I understand your hesitancy. That said, if SGPro does not perform some function that is critical to operation, as mentioned, we will likely fix it. If dependent software changes and prevents SGPro from working with it, we will likely fix it. I will say however, that it is unlikely that a defect like that would suddenly be discovered at the end of a version’s life.


#37

Ken and Jared,

First, let me say I adore MSS and SGP. You guys have been one of the best bang/buck purchases in this hobby for years. If seeing you move to a more traditional licensing/cost model increases the chance of MSS growing and continuing to thrive, I’m all kinds of on board here.

I don’t suppose I can say I ENJOY “Oh, yes, please make this thing I like cost more!”…but there’s certainly times I don’t begrudge it, and this is one of them. :slight_smile:

I would like, however, for one or both of you to please clarify something regarding bug fixes. Some of the language here is, for me at least, not quite clear.

Ken, initially you said :

This language suggests, to me at least, that bug fixes ONLY come with upgrades. Is this true even for the current version?

You then, however, say later :

This seems to suggest that previous versions will no longer be patched unless there’s an issue with core functionality.


#38

@gboulton

This is true. But more specifically, it means that an outstanding bug identified in 2.6 3.0, after the release of 3.0 may never get fixed in 2.6. Two examples:

  • After the release of 3.0, a bug is identified in 2.6 where SGPro sometimes fails to update the temperature at which focus last occurred (or similar). This bug does not make SGPro 2.6 unusable and, because of this, the fix will ONLY be applied to SGPro 3.0.
  • After the release of 3.0, a bug is identified in 2.6 where SGPro sometimes fails to execute end of sequence safety options. This bug does make SGPro 2.6 unusable (for some) and, because of this, the fix may be applied to past versions. We cannot set a blanket policy on this and we will examine each case individually. Keep in mind that, regardless of the severity of the bug, at some point it becomes unreasonable to go back through the entire history of all SGPro releases and patch them (say… in 5 years).

Indeed it does. Please see above.


#39

LOL I phrased my question poorly I see now. It came across as somewhat “incredulous”, and was meant to be anything but.

I just felt like the two phrases could mean different things…that one meant the current version wouldn’t be fixed until an upgrade was released and paid for, while the other meant that only previous versions wouldn’t be fixed (unless core functionality was impacted)

You have clarified with

Makes sense. If 3.0 is out, then bug-fix support has stopped for 2.6, unless (possibly) 2.6 is rendered completely unusable or unsafe.

But 3.0 WILL be fixed if a bug (even a non-core-functionality one)is found in it while it’s the current version.

Thanks!


#40

I’m on exactly the same page as Harry and equally refused to throw further money at ‘the gold standard’ when fundamental issues were not fixed (at all).

I have no fear that Ken and Jared will behave similarly. They are responsive and considerate to customers and the thought of achieving this in their spare time too, is incredible. They are suggesting a model that makes it sustainable.


#41

Choosing what to fix in 2.6 will be contentious, people will inevitably see a problem that affects them as vital, n matter that it only affects them. New DSLRs will be a particular issue.

The approach I’d take as a developer would be a triage one where I match the cost of doing a fix with it’s importance. I’d expect something that affected few people, such as something hardware specific, not to be fixed but something that affected everyone, such as a bug in the core meridian handling process, to be fixed, even if a lot of work is involved. Things that are really easy to fix, if all that’s required is to copy some files from the 3.0 to 2.6 sources, build and distribute, are more likely to be done.

All but the most trivial fixes will involve testing and maybe documentation, these are significant, testing particularly. A one line fix, taking 10 minutes to implement could take many hours to test, especially if it needs time under the stars.

One approach that may help is to do an occasional - maybe yearly - maintenance release.

BTW I don’t see astro imaging as fundamentally expensive. Sure you can spend many thousands on the latest high end kit but you don’t have to. A simpler set up can work well. Something like an AVX with an 80mm scope, a guide scope, a motor focuser and the family DSLR may not break the bank, especially if bought second hand. Once you have the kit the running expenses can be minimal.


#42

Usually major release of software, in this case 2.x to 3.x, represent some major feature additions. Can SGP give us a sneak peek at what those major additions might be if that is the case and can the user base make suggestions/requests? I know people already make feature requests so I guess that has been taken into account.

I have no problem paying for increased functionality as the product matures, it was a bargain at its original price, but I also have not upgraded in quite a while as the version I use works just fine for me, so I would likely not be jumping on any new version unless an added feature made it a compelling purchase.

Thanks for the great software and support at a great price and if this is what is needed to keep SGP alive and healthy then I am all for it. We are not talking about breaking the bank here…at least not for me, so I trust the developers to do what is right for the project.


#43

This model is best for both users and developers, especially in such a niche market and developers that want to go “fulltime” (I hope this license model will permit fulltime development). Fulltime development will accelerate the solution, and users can decide if they jump to new release or not.

/Yves


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