Ayende @ Rahien

My name is Oren Eini
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Profiler Subscription?

time to read 1 min | 136 words

One repeated request for the profiler is to have a personal version (which a price to match).

I am not really happy with the idea, for several reasons. One of the major ones is that I have enough variability in the product already, and adding a new edition in addition to the 4 we already support is bound to create headaches. Another is that I simply cannot just draw a line and say “those are the pro features and these are the personal features”.

Instead, I wonder about offering a subscription model, something with a cost around 10 – 15 Euro per month. This would be renewed monthly (automatically), and beyond just having a lower price point, it will also provide automatic upgrades across versions (so free upgrade from 1.x to 2.x).



Rob Gibbens

Would the subscription just be for a single version, or for Uber-Prof?

Ayende Rahien


The subscription would be to a single version, with a subscription option for UberProf as well, probably

Demis Bellot

You may have missed the point of what people mean when they want a 'personal licence' it's essentially the full product except that it is only for individuals i.e. licensed to a single developer, so when the contractor leaves the licence leaves with him.

A lot of software products are dual-licensed it essentially allows you to get a large user-base of 'individual contractors' at a discounted price while still being able to charge companies the full price. I think this model is really important for developer tools because it's hard to charge the full price to individual contractors who have to 'pay out of pocket', providing the personal 'individual discount' will give you a larger user base and when you start having more competent developers being fluent with your product, they're more likely to recommend their employers to also buy it thus generating more enterprise licence.

It's essentially a win-win I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Microsoft is thinking with their BizSpark and WebsiteSpark programs, effectively giving most of the software away to individual contractors or small companies so they will choose to standardize on their development tools and server software so when they develop for larger clients they generate more enterprise sales.

Check out http://monotouch.net/Store for an idea on how others structure their software licensing.

Personally I don't like subscription software, it's more admin to register and keep track of and you don't feel like you own it. Subscriptions software also make you feel like 'you have to use it now' which is not a good feeling if you're a busy developer.

Diego Mijelshon

That would be great... It's probably easier to get my company to pay a subscription for a few months than to pay all at once (I don't think nhprof is expensive, but you know how corporations work...)

Martin Aatmaa

I like the idea of keeping feature parity, so only one edition (the current model) is preferred here.

I would also like the option of paying by subscription. As Diego mentions, this would allow us to ramp up adoption at a quicker pace.


Diego, this doesn't sound like an installment plan ("for a few months") -- I read this to mean that the license is only good for as long as you are paying every month -- whether for 2 months or 10 years.

10-15 Euro sounds crazy expensive to me, especially if it isn't uber.

Martin Aatmaa


"The personal edition as a individual discount is by no means the only meaning (or even the common one) of personal versions."

True, but it's certainly the preferable one.

A good example for me would be Resharper.


I want to be able to use Prof at home on my personal projects, stuff I don't actually make money on, or when I'm helping out on community projects on CodePlex and such.

Obviously because I don't make money off using the tool. I can't see the benefit in me forking out 200+ dollars for a tool I may use for 1 hour one week, 2 months without it at all, or maybe a solid week in my spare time that I'm working on a project.

If i recommended it for the company I work for, I would expect them to pay for a commercial license, where they are using the product to improve their product for the purpose to make money...

As Martin says, a perfect example is Resharper.

I spent money on a personal license of Resharper because it's an AWESOME tool at the right price for personal use.

I use that at home, and only at home on my own things.

BTW I'm sorry for whinging on every single article you post about a personal license. But I wanted you to bring up a discussion on it or at least tell us why there is no personal licensing model.

(BTW from the 3 examples you listed. I actually own a "home" license for SmartFTP)

Michael Teper

Unlike ReSharper, profiling tools have two modes: ad-hoc and regular. The current full purchase license scheme fits the "regular" use case well. The alternative is not really the "subscription" model but rather the "one-off" model. For example, $15 for a license good for 1 week seems like an easy buy vs. the hassle of subscribing and then unsubscribing.


$15 for something I may use an hour. Or a few days. Once a month, or 10 times a month. Varying all the time. Doesn't justify a week long license or month long license.

On going paying will end up being more expensive than forking out 200+ dollars because of exchange rates and conversion fee's.


Hi, what about me in a country with monthly salary of 200 euros? Pay EUR 20 each month is impossible.

Garry Shutler

At the end of the day it's completely up to you.

If you believe the extra overhead of multiple models is worth it in terms of increased revenue then go for it.

If not, save yourself the hassle and keep it simple. Most people want a "more affordable" license because they are cheap, not because they don't think xProf is worth the money.


Garry is on the money.

Prospective clients always want to pay less but, in my opinion, $300 is perfectly acceptable for this type of tool. I see some people referring to Resharper but their personal license is around $230 which is not miles away from NHProf.

I sell a tool in a different market and I get the same requests over and over again. I am sure that if I add a very cheap version then the same emails will morph into free version requests.

A subscription could be a good idea and I would like to hear about your experience if you ever implement it.


I think there are two fields of application for the profiler. One is for use in production/professional environments to make things work the right way. The other one is for learning purposes used by individuell developers.

So why not limit the availability of a personal licence for use with NHibernate? As you can see in the mailing lists there would a huge demand for such a tool for a good price.

Garry Shutler

@Demis Bellot

Why should individual contractors get a discounted model? $300 is around a days billable work (at most and I'm talking UK/US rates). If the individual thinks it will help them provide a better service they should invest in it themselves.

Hell, if it makes their work that much better they can up their rate and more than cover the price of the license in increased revenue.


Garry. Not everyone makes $300 a day. Not everyone can afford prof for personal use.

Garry Shutler


First and foremost xProf is there to make money. The pricing shouldn't be based on the lowest common denominator. There should be people who can't afford it or the pricing is wrong.

Software development is so weird. It's a lucrative business but everyone thinks their tools should be cheap or even free!

Demis Bellot

@Garry Shutler

Why should individual contractors get a discounted model?

Umm because you get to sell more licences? And more people using you're software ultimately means more companies are using it too. These companies are also the ones that routinely buy bulk licences as part of normal IT expenditure. I have a personal copy of R# and every company I've worked for have either had 1 for me or I've recommended them to buy it for other devs.

It's basic economics to structure your pricing based on the affordability of different markets. There is no major software company in the world that doesn't do this and that's simply because they can generate more revenue by doing so. Its not a question of what the software is worth, it's a question of which price point will generate the most revenue for every different market segment and so you maximize accordingly.

I'm not sure about you but I don't spend my working day looking for software I can spend $300 on, especially if I don't intend to use it more than once a month. Personally the only software I would ever consider spending $300 on is Visual Studio or R# (or more recently MonoTouch) this is because the ROI is a no-brainer.

Garry Shutler

@Demis Bellot

Selling more licenses and generating revenue isn't the goal of business. The idea is to make as much profit as possible whilst spending as little time as possible.

The model being used at the moment is very simple. You pay for an eternal license for a given version and it's done. A subscription model is a lot more work, there may be some benefit in terms of increased revenue but there will be an increased overhead involved in providing 2 models.

I don't spend time looking for software to spend $300 on. I look for solutions to my problems. Now I can get an NHibernate consultant in for a week to look at my NHibernate problems every so often at whatever rate or I can have a portion of Ayende's knowledge looking over my shoulder constantly.

I personally think NHProf is the most cost-effective solution.


"Selling more licenses and generating revenue isn't the goal of business"

"The idea is to make as much profit as possible whilst spending as little time as possible."

Ok so lets weight up the options.

Option 1)

Sell commercial license (for companies) @ $250 a license.

Sell commercial license (for companies) volume discount. ($200 per license if purchasing 5 or more at a time...)

Sell personal license (for personal use, not for profit) @ $150 a license.

Software is the same, the license agreement when purchasing the software differs.

Option 2)

Spend time and effort, limiting features, or implementing other pricing models for subscription based licensing.

Which of those generates as much profit whilst spending as little time as possible?

OH SHIT. Selling more licenses and generating revenue!!!!

Well I know who's comments to not bother reading now.

For the record. The prof tool, is a time saver, not a problem solver. All it's functionality (besides suggesting solutions to common problems) is functionality that exists in software we probably have available (SQL Profiler), or is information we can currently get debugging the problem.

At the end of the day tho, it's Ayende's choice on how he licenses his software out. But I have absolutely no doubt changing his pricing model would generate him far more money at the end of the day.

Demis Bellot

Selling more licenses and generating revenue isn't the goal of business. The idea is to make as much profit as possible whilst spending as little time as possible.

I think you'll find the two closely related, in fact with software where the cost to the business for each additional sale is negligible the goals are effectively the same.

A subscription model is a lot more work

Aggreed, as I mentioned previously:

"Personally I don't like subscription software, it's more admin to register and keep track of and you don't feel like you own it."

Now I can get an NHibernate consultant in for a week to look at my NHibernate problems every so often at whatever rate or I can have a portion of Ayende's knowledge looking over my shoulder constantly.

You can also continue to use the other free tools and profilers that you were using before the product existed. We have real-time UDP logging in place at our work that can monitor each of our services in real-time. We also have a sophisticated UI to be able to filter based on functionality, e.g. we're able filter to see only the sql queries and the time taken to execute each - this is more than we need.

Sean Feldman

Personally, I like the idea. I needed it for a project, for a very limited amount of time. Trial was enough, and when tried to come up with a business case for purchase, it was turned down. With a subscription model, I can definitely see my case would go through and get approved.

Sean Kearon

I like the idea too and I think that 10-15 Euros for a month is very reasonable on a 200 Euro product. It lowers the barrier to entry and is hence likely lead to more sales.

Simon Bartlett

I would personally appreciate a cheaper license for personal use. I am currently working on a project at home, and have been using the trial version of nhprof. This project is not a commercial one though, so I will not be generating money to purchase a license for it.

The problem you also have, is that if you offer a personal license you have got to trust the individuals that they're purchasing a non-commercial license for non-commercial projects, and not for use on a commercial project. Which is perhaps a hard thing to do?

I would also think it'd be nice to offer the software to open-source projects that are using an ORM - again though, I think this would perhaps be hard to police?

Ayende Rahien


But I am offering free OSS licenses

Simon Bartlett


I apologise, I did not realise that you were offering free OSS licenses - I don't think this is mentioned on the nhprof website? I'll keep it in mind for the future though, as I'm want to start an open source project in the near future.

Anyways, see you tonight! ;)

Garry Shutler


Sorry, I was unclear in what I said. I meant that selling more licenses through implementing a subscription model is not necessarily beneficial because of the fact you've sold more licenses.

Obviously not changing anything but selling more licenses is going to bring in more money as you've done nothing yet got more. However, introducing a lower price license may not be worthwhile.

Of course you'll reason with yourself that if you would buy it at a $100 discount then thousands of others will do the same. But then what about $150 discount, etc, etc. If it cost $1 the whole world would buy a license! Potentially generating billions!


I don't get why the big money license is only good for one version. Knowing my luck, I'd spring for it and version 2 would come out the next day.


Reasons I have not bought it yet:

My employer will not pay for it.

Too expensive to pay out of my own pocket.

As dotjoe said, the day I did buy it, v2 would get announced the following week.

The subscription plan does sound interesting. Interesting to see where this goes.


Mark me down as a user in favor of a subscription license.


Just forget it. Don't offer a personal subscription. I see very very little ROI, other than motivating people to NOT get their boss to buy it.

Walter Poch

What about SaaS, and hourly rates. So people like @NC could buy 1 hour of 'profiling' to use whener he want.

Every time the profiler opens it checks the validity of the current user and determine the amount of time allowed to use it.

It's like Skype credit.

Just my two cents,

Ayende Rahien


That would be quite complex to track and manage, though

Steve Py

This is always going to be a problem with software in an international market. What is one persons' single day net pay is another's month of net pay. The value of the application will be completely different.

The only solution: Ayende has to move to a country with the lowest per-capita equivalent income, then everyone will either be paying a fair price or getting a bargain. :)

I had a lot of fun when I was contracting to a company in Malaysia from Canada. They could pretty much hire 3 locals for what was a bargain rate where I lived.

Ayende Rahien


I think that I am going to object to that.


If someone doesn't think it's worth $200, then I think he/she isn't worth having it.

If the product had been $1000, yes, for $200, not worth the bother.

It's strange that people don't think twice about paying good money for Windows OS or MacOS (when decent alternatives are available for free), a LOT of money for visual studio/MSDN subscriptions, but then complain about a couple of hundred $ for productivity tools on top of that.

I assume the people pushing for cheaper licences want everything free, likely using cracked copies of Windows and Visual Studio, and do you really want to support that?

Victor Kornov

Subscription model would be almost IDEAL for someone like me, who works on NH, L2SQL and plain ADO.NET on and off. I'm not a contractor.


driesie, I don't think you get it...

You pay $179.99 USD for Windows 7 Ultimate. Which you use on a day to day basis. You use it for everything you do on your computer...

You pay $256.99 USD for Visual Studio 2008 Standard. Which you use on pretty much the entire lifespan of the project your working on. Weather it takes you 3 months to develop, or 2 years...

THEN you have some querying issues, you can do 1 of two things.

Use free profiling tools or manually debug the issue in Visual Studio taking a few hours.


You fork out $315 USD for 1 L2SProf license... A piece of software that will save you a couple of hours, that your not going to use again for a few weeks.

YET you really think it's a justified price point? HELL FUCKING NO. It costs MORE for a time saving profiling tool, than it does to buy an OS or the Software to develop the application your trying to build? And you say I want everything for free?

I paid for my OS, my copy of Visual Studio 08. I even paid money out of my own pocket for Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, for my server for my personally project.

A project that MAY, or MAY NOT make me money.

I would have absolutely NO problem paying for L2SProf, or NProf, if the price was right. But as far as im concerned, i'm not working for a company that racks in millions of dollars, so the price is an absolute rip off.

Steve Py

@NC Then for you it's an absolute rip-off and leave it at that.

Windows and Visual Studio are priced the way they are because they are leveraged by 100k's to millions of licensed users. If software manufacturers were expected to abide by your logic, useful tools like NHibernate Profiler, or Resharper, etc. would never see the light of day. How many people are using NHibernate extensively enough to warrant profiling? 10,000? Even if he set a price attractive enough to entice all NHibernate developers I doubt he'd even cover his costs, and where does that leave him for producing other tools?

If you don't see value in a tool then by all means, go without. Use the free tools, or what you already have on hand... Spend the extra time, whatever... Don't whinge "I want a freebee, you're too expensive..." based on comparisons of apples and oranges until you've put your own nose to the grindstone and personal finances on the line to build and market a product of your own.


"Don't whinge "I want a freebee, you're too expensive..." based on comparisons of apples and oranges until you've put your own nose to the grindstone and personal finances on the line to build and market a product of your own."

I swear sometimes reading comments on here is like going to Jeff Artwoods blog. Full of idiots.

I never said I wanted it for free. I'm also putting my nose on the grindstone and personal finances on the line to build and market my own product.

Yet apparently your too much of an idiot to read the 3rd to last thing I said.

"Windows and Visual Studio are priced the way they are because they are leveraged by 100k's to millions of licensed users."

How many people developed Windows? How many people developed Visual Studio. How much money went into marketing all that. A lot. Right?

How many people developed NProf, S2LProf, etc? 1.

That 1 person has 14,000 people subscribed to his blog.

If we took 200 people, paying $300 each, thats 60k right? But what if the tool was hmmm say $120. More affordable to more people right? So that figure of 200 people jumps to 500 people since they can now afford the product. Thats 60k still.

Now lets look at it in the long run shall we?

200 people, word of mouth, growth is slow.... How many of those people will blog about their good experience with it. How many of them will recommend it to the company they work at? Sweet fuck all...

But what if we had 500 people. Growth would be slow, but faster than having 200 people right? More penetration! And of those 500, more of them will recommend it at work. And more of them will blog about it... Your word of mouth would grow a lot faster than 200 people right?

And what happens if the license for commercial was still $300?

Of those 200, maybe 1/4 will get the company they work for to buy it. Thats 50 licenses. Or 15k.

What if it was 500 people tho? Maybe 1/4 of them buy it for their work...

Thats 125 licenses. Or 37.5k.

But what ever. It's Ayende's decision at the end of the day. I'll still come here and read his blog and such. But I'll never be able to justify the price to get a license for myself. As a result I'll never get to learn the product and its strengths to ever recommend it anywhere I work.

Steve Py


If you read his blog you'd know that it wasn't 1 developer working on NHProf, he paid others to help develop it out of his own pocket. Yeah, I did read you're working on a project that you may or may not make money off of... So am I, hell, so is probably 60% of the software development work-force. :P My point was don't bother trying to convince others how the world should work UNTIL you've already been in their shoes. If and when your product is ready for the world, then we'll see how you justify pricing it, and how successful your assumptions are.

As for Windows, you're still comparing apples and oranges. Yes, WIndows has thousands of developers and sells millions of licenses. Ayende had a handful of developers and will probably sell thousands of licenses... What's your point?

Only Ayende knows how much NHibby Profiler cost to develop and I'm pretty sure since he's an active contributer on NHibernate he has a good idea how big his possible target market is. Blog subscription is dodgy at best. Ayende has his fingers in dozens of projects that interest people, plus the general .Net community. Sure, quite a few probably use NHibernate, but how many actively work on projects of significant complexity to warrant a profiler?? (A show of hands?:)

It's impossible to guess what the optimal price is, there is always going to be somebody that thinks it's too expensive. There's not much he can do about geographic monetary value, but say 80% of his market is relatively equivalent to US in terms of value for dollar.

Lets say theoretically 80% of the total number of developers in that demographic there using NHibernate AND at a level where something like a profiler would be beneficial don't think $300USD

is too steep. If dropping the price to $120USD got him 100% he'd be throwing money away.

We can conjecture and guess and rationalize it any-which-way until you're blue in the face but the simplest, safest approach is to base your price on "similar" products. (Which he did take into consideration.)

If you were remotely interesting in learning about the product all you need to do is download it and request an evaluation license, or join an OSS project to get an OSS license he is offering.

Ayende Rahien


Your math actually ignores a lot of factors. I have a full post queued for tomorrow that goes into the details of actually pricing things.

Oh, and as an aside, NH Prof team size is greater than 1.



I think I do get it, but you're free to disagree.

When I buy stuff, I don't care how much it has cost to produce, I care how much it's worth.

When you buy a book, do you count how many pages, and how many hours somebody spent writing it before making sure the "price point" is right? I don't think so.

As somebody said before, nobody needs NH Prof, it's a productivity tool, and if you don't think it's worth it, you can get the same data buy setting up effective logging, thrawling through and making sense of them.

My original point still stands, if somebody doesn't think it's worth the $200, then it's not worth worrying about it.


I think its a great idea Ayende. It will enable people who want to use it for personal projects to have access to it. Most of the time on those sorts of projects you are doing profiling and performance testing for a finite period of time so an affordable month by month licence would be great!


I have bought NhProf (personal use), i wanted a one off payment, please do not enforce a subscription.

In my experence the developer tools as subscription would not be helpful, or ideal for my case. If I have an out of date version of a tool, I do not care, its a tool i like. I only want to pay for it once (for that version).

I still use old versions of JetBrains tools because they work for what i bought them for! I do not have to subscribe for them

If i wanted the latest version the i would buy an upgrage to V2 or V3 etc

@Ayende - if you do decide to move to this route please could you keep the original method available? (Pay $120, or how much it is, for a full version of V2)

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