[Edit 26 January because analytics] This is an older post, free trials are back.
One of my many jobs is to constantly review what we offer for sale to our users to ensure that our product is pitched right for them.
Up until now a license bought you access to all Jomres plugins. A consistent suggestion from users over the years, and one I've resisted for a long time, is to sell different licenses that offer different sets of plugins. I didn't really like the idea as it, in my opinion, introduced a level of complexity at the purchasing stage that I didn't really feel comfortable with and because the licensing software didn't support it at the time.
That said, the scaling license approach is very popular when selling Joomla and Wordpress extensions and well understood by users. Let's take everybody's favourite newsletter plugin as an example : Acymailing. As you can see on this page, their Starter/Essential/Enterprise/Multi-site products offer different feature sets depending on the user's requirements.
What we will be offering with be quite similar and it is the industry standard when selling extensions. There will be a Single Property license with just the bare essential plugins need, a Portal license with a set of plugins that are typical for a basic portal, and a Developer license that gives you access to all the bells and whistles. A new jomres.net site is under construction and there's a new license comparison page that clarifies this a lot more.
So why does this mean that I am stopping ( for now ) our free trial licenses?
In short, I'm worried that a user could request, for example, a trial license key for Developer, but then purchase a Single Property license. If they do that, then the potential for user dis-satisfaction is huge, because they'll only be able to download about 30 of the 160+ plugins that are available for Jomres and that they might have expected to be able to access. Yes, I know "caveat emptor" and all that, but these are normal, busy human beings you're talking about, they wont read the stuff they should read and it will come back to bite me on the bum.
Another reason for removing trials is that users could download a Portal Quickstart ( which is the equivallent of a Developer licensed Jomres setup and ready to go ) but only purchase a Single Property license. This would give them plugins that are not available to their license. Now, I could write the code to ensure that all plugins that are not relevant to their license are automatically uninstalled if their license doesn't allow them, but can you imagine the outrage if Jomres did that? Huge portions of their sites that they had configured and setup whilst the trial license was active would become unavailable because the plugin had been removed. That's a receipe for unhappy customers, right there.
Free trials required the use of Ioncube Loaders on a site to use the trial as it's the only way to disable plugins after the trial license has expired. Sadly there are large numbers of hosts on the net that either don't offer Ioncube Loaders, or the versions they have are old and don't work with scripts that have been encoded with the more recent versions of Ioncube. This meant that users go through the process of installing a Quickstart just to discover that it didn't work for them. This created an unpleasant situation in that they would be under the impression that Jomres was faulty ( it wasn't, it's a hosting setup problem ). Whenever a trial user has contacted us about this we've always been happy to help them and their hosts to setup the correct versions of the loaders however I hate to think about how many potential users we've lost because of this problem.
A final reason for removing the trial license is trial abuse. I have a handful of "users" ( actually, scumbags is the word I wanted to use ) who religiously create a new user every two weeks who purchases a new trial license key to use on a site. Basically they're getting long term usage of Jomres for free. I'm not going to name and shame them, they know who they are. This doesn't really bug me much, because knowing the sheer nuisance value of them having to get a new key every two weeks is satisfaction enough, however it is mildly annoying all the same. It's not fair on other users who have made the effort to invest in the project by buying licenses.
So, for the time being, we are not offering trial licenses.
I will keep this policy under review, however at least for the short term while I experiment with the plugin package licenses, trials will no longer be available.
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