Scott Is Back in the Commercial Software Business ... Or Why Is Inbox Buddy NOT Open Source?
Last updated: 8/4/2002; 5:29:32 PM
 
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Scott Is Back in the Commercial Software Business ... Or Why Is Inbox Buddy NOT Open Source?

With this week’s release of Inbox Buddy, I’m back in the commerical software business.  
People that read this blog may or may not be surprised by this and I wanted to explain why
Inbox Buddy isn’t Open Source.  And that’s going to require a bit of space.</P>
The first thing to understand is that Inbox Buddy fits my criteria for a software product
that’s going to survive the coming software industry implosion.  Specifically, Inbox Buddy is:
<UL>
        <LI>A low priced utility.  There’s always a market for utilities.
        <LI>Something that needs constant updating.  As spam changes, Inbox Buddy needs to be regularly updated.  It’s actually as much a service as it is a product.
</UL>
So from a product criteria, it makes sense to be commercial not open source (at least as I
see the future; and heaven knows, I’m not always right). But, as always, there’s more…
Inbox Buddy isn’t solely my product.  Most (heck all) of the code was written by my partner in (email) crime, Brian Giedt.
Brian was my first real business partner; he and I founded NTERGAID back in 1987, created HyperWriter together and
worked together on a daily basis from 1987 to 1999 (9 years as partners and 3.5 years as co-workers at the company that acquired us).  Brian’s an outstanding engineer (one of the very, very, very best I’ve been lucky enough to work with), a great human being and a wonderful father.  He’s also one of my best friends and someone I’ve known for more than 25 years now.  However, Brian is not an Open Source advocate.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Additionally, this was always intended to be a for profit enterprise.  This past fall, when I conceived of Inbox Buddy as a Microsoft Outlook add in, Brian had just been laid off (I was already out of work) and we both needed something to just keep us busy while the resumes flowed in an outbound direction.  So we figured that even if we never again found full time work that we could at least be in business together again.  After all, we did well the first time.  And this time we were targeting a much bigger, more strategic problem space.
A final reason why this isn’t open source is tied to the technology we used – Microsoft Visual Studio and MSDN / Office Professional.  It’s always seemed to me that Open Source projects flourish most when any developer, regardless of cash flow, can tap in and modify the code.  When you require a $1,000+ worth of software just to get started, that’s a huge barrier.  And it just doesn’t feel “open source” to me.
So, when you come right down to it, there are a lot of reasons why Inbox Buddy isn’t Open Source.  Some practical, some philosophical, some commercial.  When you come right down to it, I’m a believer in Open Source but, by no means, a zealot.  For this product, it was the right decision to be commercial.  For other products it’s not.
And, in case you are wondering, does this in any way mean that I’m not doing Open Source stuff?  NOT AT ALL.  The FuzzyGroup is still focusing heavily on Open Source consulting and software development and we have a killer open source application in the works.  It’s still at the development stages and the code won’t really be available until late September (earliest) but full details are at: http://www.fuzzygroup.net/products/fuzzyoffice/ if you are curious.
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