Ayende @ Rahien

My name is Oren Eini
Founder of Hibernating Rhinos LTD and RavenDB.
You can reach me by phone or email:


+972 52-548-6969

, @ Q c

Posts: 6,007 | Comments: 44,761

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The customer is always right?

time to read 3 min | 408 words

When you get this sort of an email, you almost always know that this is going to be bad:


Let us start with: Which product? What license key? What order? What do you expect me to do about it?

At least he is polite.



Hm, I wonder what is going on in here…

This error can occur because of a trial that has expired or a subscription that has not been renewed.



He attached a Trial licensed to this email.



It is like a Greek tragedy, you know that at some point this is going to arrive at the scene.


I mean, we explicitly added the notion of subscriptions to handle just such cases, of people who want to use the profiler just for a few days and don’t want to pay the full version price. And you can cancel that at any time, incurring no additional charges.





I think your $16/mo subscription is incredibly reasonable, and it's what got my to talk my company into buying multiple subscriptions.


Awesome. I got a good laugh.

Colin Bowern

The subscription model made it a much easier sell to have my current customer acquire three seats of EF Prof.


Just go to C:\Users\\AppData\Local\NHibernate Profiler and delete license.xml


Hm, your message box displays that a trial license can be requested and you are wondering that he does it?

Daniel Lang

Yes, actually NHProfiler is incredibly cheap for what it does. On the other side RavenDB is way to expensive, because I will have to buy at least a few licenses during the next month. This prevents us from using Raven in small-budget projects. I personally think Rhinos pricing should be more balanced across their products.

Patrick Smacchia

It does happen to me as well, I understand well your need to share this WTF!!!


Daniel, RavenDB costs 25$ per month. I am not really sure how you can be any cheaper

Daniel Lang

Ayende, I'm not sure if a subscription is appropriate for an infrastructure-product. Since we are usually not responsible for hosting a software, I'm quite sure every customer wants to have a one time payment. For the bigger ones, 600 USD are absolutely ok, but for small projects it's just too much. Consider a customer who pays us for reading an XML-file and displaying it's content on an intranet application. 1-2 days of work worth 1500€. If we use PostgreSQL it costs us zero, if we use Raven it's about a third of the whole project. We have many such projects and I'm sure so do other small software-companies.

I certainly understand, that RavenDB has great value to even the smallest applications and it should not be free. I'm absolutely against using it illegaly and so we need to stick to other databases in these kind of applications. Probably you could have different pricing depending on the usage of the server? Those ones using it over a certain amount of documents (or maybe I/O ops) could pay more than 1000 USD and those who use it just for basic apps pay 300USD.


Daniel: well if using Raven saves you 1 day of development time, its a money saver (600 < 1500).

Frans Bouma

Yep, sounds very familiar. "I need 2 more weeks".... 2 more weeks before the project is over? ...

A programmer costs so much money per day, let alone a full project, it's stupid to bicker about pocket change that today's tools cost. A dev waiting for an extension of a trial already costs more money than the tool itself.


Ayende Rahien

Daniel, Assuming that you are talking about such small projects, it is expected that you would use RavenDB in more than one project. I believe that we provide enough value for the price we charge, especially considering any alternative you care to name with regards to the functionality and features compared to the costs.


I suppose I can see your point re TimCollins "Your message box displays that a trial license can be requested and you are wondering that he does it?"

But I think the word "trial", in this context, carries the obvious meaning of a one time event. Given the message, it is pretty obvious that once a trial happens you need a valid (non trial) license. Especially in the context of software & being a software developer where trials & trial periods are very common.


The customer may not always be right...but, they are always the customer!

Wayne M


Exactly, but I think I've met exactly ONE company in almost six years of being in the IT field that understood this. Usually it's "We have to buy what?! Hell no!" even if it has a relatively simple cost because any perceived cost is additional overhead, while for some reason a programmer's salary is seen as already accounted for.

I have yet to even work in a place that USES NHibernate, or understands why it would be good (mostly it's "oh it's too complex to use" or "We don't use things like that around here").

Ayende Rahien

Scott, Sort of. A customer that isn't going to purchase anything is not a good thing to have, and he isn't really a customer.

Daniel Lang

Ayende, As I'm a big fan of RavenDB I didn't want to question its value in any way. I'm sure you could even double the price per instance while still being reasonable in many projects. The idea of a more usage-based pricing was just a suggestion (based on my personal experience) of how we could deliver it to more customers easier.

Ayende Rahien

Daniel, In general, I don't have a problem with additional pricing options. In practice, more pricing options means more complexity, but I have no issues with negotiating something specific for your needs if you have special requirements. Do you have any ideas about how to do usage based pricing in a reasonable way?

Also, this probably should go over to email, rather than the post comments

Matthew Shapiro

This conversation reminds me of how my company was trying to do all these work arounds because we needed a few additional people to do functional design mockups with Balsamiq, and they didn't want to buy extra licenses. After a week of them trying to figure out ways to get around having to buy more licensing my coworker looked it up and saw that Balsamiq licenses were $79.

Keep in mind our clients go into into million dollar annual contracts for our software

Paul Stovell

A while ago I requested an EFProf trial key. I was a bit surprised to get the 'expired' message. I searched my email history and found I had already used an EF trial - a few years ago - and forgot about it.

Maybe when you re-send the license key, you could check if it has already expired, and tell the user in the email instead of letting them be surprised.

(I own an NHProf license, and I ended up getting an EFProf subscription since I work with it less frequently, so I'm not trying to rip you off - I just think the workflow could be changed to make it clearer)

Ayende Rahien

Paul, The trial generating part an the website are on different processes, but that is a good point, we will update this


NHProf has saved my ass so many times. I want to give Ayende my money so he will keep making killer products like this. It's the least I can do.

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