Online software

Something that I am not comfortable with is the whole notion of online software. When I am writing code, I’d like to think that I am giving the end user something of quality which will be everlasting until a new better technology comes out. If I write some web based software and an end user enters all their hard work into it, shouldn’t they be able to access their work forever more?

With the current model which most coding companies are adopting, it is about renting the software for a monthly fee. If I ask them about using my data say 8 years later, but had stopped using the software, their answer is for me to resubscribe to the service and then I can access my data. But what if 8 years later management has changed and they no longer support the old data structures. Why should I have to pay again to access something that I created?

Also it’s not a capital expenditure whereby, your business pays down the initial outlay and then you can start to make more profit. Yes, I do understand that renting is often more cost efficient or profitable than buying in many situations, but I want the option to choose.

The other issue is that  I have to trust staff in another company that they will do the right thing, or they will know how to do the right thing. Problem here is that the definition of “the right thing” varies depending on who you’re talking to and who holds the keys to the gate., In this situation, if you are not comfortable with their service, you often can’t just fire them without losing your data. Often they will give you your database, but who can read a raw database?

As Matt Mullenweg mentioned in an interview recently, it’s kind of like buying a car whereby when you look in the engine bay and all you see is a black box which you’re not allowed to open, even though you paid for it. Now it’s a level worse in that the black box isn’t even in the car. There’s just a string hanging from some sort of sky hook which you pay a monthly fee for. When you stop paying your monthly fee, the string disconnects.

I understand I.P., but this just does not seem right. For me personally, I am looking for web based software I can host on my own web servers that I build and upgrade. I want an unrestricted licence once I’ve purchased it with a preference for being able to access the source code.

As much as this is a criticism of the current way things are, I have not escaped it. For instance, I do use online software like MYOB essentials, Fusion360 and Workflowy.

MYOB has saved me up to 4 hours per week because of it’s automatic transaction matching, but text matching is not such a complex piece of software to write. I am looking for something else now whereby if I close a particular business and want to see the accounts in 10 years time, I simply load the OS in a VM, install the accounting software and check what I need to. Or even better have it stored on a VM image and just boot it.