As of today, RedGate’s .NET Reflector is no longer free. It is now $35. In an interview their CEO claimed they can not justify dedicating any developer resources to the product under the current free model.
I am a big fan of Redgate’s SQL Compare tool, it makes DB deploys as easy as code deploys. I’ve used .NET Reflector, although naturally its not the sort of thing I use on a regular basis. I had mixed reactions at first. I do think that $35 is a fair price for the tool. I am glad that they will continue to develop it, and I have no doubt that will happen if a revenue stream is realized from the product. That being said, perhaps it would be better to open source it.
So your probably asking how they could make any more money from an open source product compared to a free as in beer one? Well, I’m suggesting that a bounty system be setup for the public to buy the source code from RedGate. RedGate could set a price on the source code, lets say $500,000. People can pledge money to some escrow fund. When the half million is raised, RedGate releases the source code and gets the money.
Now the first argument against such a move is that it would turn a potential revenue stream to a single lump sum payment. However, that is not necessarily the case. RedGate has several options for further revenue from an open source Reflector. The most obvious is to make this a one time fork. The community has their version and RedGate goes and develops their product. With half a million in their coffers they can lock 2 developers in a room for a year and have them churn out whatever ideas they have had for reflector. Another option is to steward the open source product. They can administrate the public .NET Reflector repo, and accept patches. They can make the contributors assign copyright to RedGate. Redgate can then work on premium add-ons to .NET Reflector. In his youtube interview, Simon Galbraith, RedGate’s CEO, claimed a fremium model did not work in the past. However, this will give them some funds to kickstart the development of better premium tools.
If you support such a model, please say so in the comments below.