activeCollab – An Open Source Project Gone Sour

Many of us have heard of activeCollab which was famed for being the free alternative to Basecamp and became very popular. Then, once the aC community was formed, the owner of the software decided to take a turn. As of version 1.0, the cost for activeCollab (w/ unlimited projects) went from free to $1999 + $499/yr for support & upgrades. Nice.

The pricing announcement was posted early this morning CDT, and the general vibe in the comments of the announcement page is not looking good. I, personally, am not impressed with the decision at all. I was excited to see an open source alternative to Basecamp for as long as it lasted. Yes, it was known that aC was going to go through some changes in the licensing and pricing. That was announced back in beginning of the year (blog post), but this change was far more radical than most people were expecting.

Back in February when the announcement was made, Ilija Studen kept the user’s confidence up by saying:

You will not lose your data, don’t worry.

Can’t tell much about licensing, but we will most probably go with something used by profit oriented open source projects (MySQL, SugarCRM…) One thing is for sure – there will be a free and open source version that match current feature set so current users will not be let down when 1.0 gets launched.

Whole point of this transformation is to provide more value to users, not to drive them away. We are aware that some people will now like the idea of profit oriented open source project, but still being able to provide good support, dedicated development team and guaranty that we’ll be here next year is something that we find really important. Hope that most of the users agree with us on that.

I’m not really sure how “there will be a free and open source version that match current feature set”. The new free version limits to 5 projects, and the old version [0.71] had no project limit at all. Apparently, the coders in aC land got a little more greedy along the way.

I find it a shame that such a good project has turned more towards the mid-size companies because I know that I will not be forking out $2k for a script that will sit on the same server with an operating system that was free.

So then how is the company that made aC supposed to make a living? They got to eat too, right? I agree that everybody has to earn a living. There are many ways that open source projects make money including accepting donations, selling advertising space, and charging for support. Maybe that will be a future article.

You can read comments I posted on that activeCollab post here and here.

Update: The aC team has since updated their pricing. That information can be found here.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 17th, 2007 at 2:34 pm and is filed under Entrepreneurial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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