It was the hardest, most painful decision I had to make in a long while.
I had worked hard on the project. I downloaded a few open-source versions of similar projects for comparison. I went through the use cases, on how to do certain tasks with those open-source projects.
Then I went to a couple of commercial projects. I couldn’t afford to buy them, but I went through sample source code to compare the use cases as well.
I did all that for research. Then I came up with a list of features that would be useful. Then I implemented them in a way that makes it easy for programmers to use.
It was also supposed to be a “big ticket” item, something I could sell for a higher price. I’m biased of course, but I believe my software is easier to use than either the open-source projects or the commercial projects.
The open-source projects targeted people who wanted free software, or supported open source projects (vehemently sometimes), or small to medium businesses. The commercial projects targeted the big enterprises. I targeted the small to medium businesses, appealing to the programmers or the IT managers/directors of those businesses and companies.
I launched my project. It didn’t do very well.
I added more features. I wrote detailed documentation of the software. I tweaked the price. I changed the sales copy. I did some advertising. I marketed the software project as best as I could. I created a whole website around it. Months of work went into the project. Still it floundered.
In the end, I dug into the core of why the project existed, and it was because I wanted to make the lives of programmers easier. And putting the software behind a payment wall might have put a dent in that.
And so I set it free.
It was heart-wrenching. I cried. Not so much for the lack of sales, but more because no one wanted to use the software. Ok, fine, it was equal measure of “no one using it” and “I need to eat”.
So if you have a few minutes, I’d appreciate it if you’d check out my spreadsheet software library. It’s called SpreadsheetLight, and it’s free for download, and has source code available. Tell someone who might find the software useful. Thanks.