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Would you buy a web application starting kit? - Printable Version

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Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-21-2011

[eluser]Ollie Rattue[/eluser]
Hey,

I am currently developing my first for sale web app - Flaregun (http://getflaregun.com). What I am realising is that there is a lot of 'common' code which every web app requires. Anyone who builds a web app needs:

- User accounts
- Signup / login / amnesia (forgotten password)
- Logged in account (change password, email, mailing list subscription)
- Plans - displaying payment plans powered by db
- Account - plan upgrade / downgrade
- Billing - recurring monthly payments
- Invoicing
- Basic web app design and CSS

The special stuff that makes your web app different from mine is what you should be concentrating on. This routine code is just extra fluff that everyone has to do (and learn the best way to do through trial and error). So this got me thinking wouldn't it make sense if I could buy a Web app starting kit. On top of the above it could also include a nice admin system which would show:

- Users
- Plans use (percentage of users on each)
- Upgrade and downgrade statistics
- Monthly income (eventually growth predictions)

All of the above would save me days of time. Personally if the code was good enough I would be willing to pay upwards of $750. I envisage a license and then perhaps a yearly subscription to pay for continued development.

- So would you guys pay for this?
- What price point would you be willing to pay?
- Is the number of people developing web apps in CI large enough to support this?
- Are there any other features which you would find useful?
- What's the law on selling a package of code which includes libraries by other authors?

I routinely open source my CI code (https://github.com/ollierattue) but this feels like it has so much value commercially that it warrants being a paid for product.

All thoughts and ideas welcome.

Thanks,


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-21-2011

[eluser]Developer13[/eluser]
I don't think you're going to find much of a market for that here because these forums cater to developers, and developers tend to have fun writing things on their own and in their own way.


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-22-2011

[eluser]Ollie Rattue[/eluser]
[quote author="Developer13" date="1306016827"]I don't think you're going to find much of a market for that here because these forums cater to developers, and developers tend to have fun writing things on their own and in their own way.[/quote]

Thanks for taking the time to post.

Sure, developers like to write things but the objective of a paid for web app is to make money. It's a business. The primary goal is not fun. So any time savings you can make are invaluable. They get you onto the market quicker, they increase momentum and in turn motivation. Getting your Minimum Viable Product to market and acquiring your first paying customers is the most important thing for a startup. Your idea is validated, or disproved, as you get feedback from real users who challenge or confirm your assumptions. From here you can iterate your idea or pivot if a better business model or idea becomes apparent.

Personally if the 'web app kit' had good testimonials from others I would be prepared to pay. I take your point that developers like to do things in their way, but to me the time saving is far more valuable, and offsets the learning curve to familiarise yourself with someone else code. After all this is the reason why we use frameworks like CI.


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-22-2011

[eluser]CI2RULZ[/eluser]
i think it's a good idea. especially for new developers or developers new to frameworks because it not only speeds development, it speeds learning curve on how to do it yourself.


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-22-2011

[eluser]Ollie Rattue[/eluser]
[quote author="CI2RULZ" date="1306112166"]i think it's a good idea. especially for new developers or developers new to frameworks because it not only speeds development, it speeds learning curve on how to do it yourself.[/quote]

Thanks, that's interesting to read. I really saw the core market as professional developers who are bootstrapping their first for sale web app. When bootstrapping time is everything, giving the web app kit value. If you freelance and this code saves you 3/4 days, you can take on client work, which will more than cover the cost of the kit (this is my current situation). I like the idea of new developers using the kit to learn but feel the economics are different and so don't anticipate much demand here.

I think my next step is to get in touch with developers behind existing profitable web apps built in CI to see if they would of paid for this. That would be a good indicator as to whether a market exists.


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-25-2011

[eluser]Ollie Rattue[/eluser]
The kit would also include useful documents which take time to research and write yourself, or money to pay a professional to produce. This would include:

- Refund policy (in line with the way the upgrade / downgrade system works)
- Privacy policy
- Terms of use


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-25-2011

[eluser]toopay[/eluser]
At the starting point, that maybe a good point (even i believe each developer who have been develop any large-based application, should have their own). But the problem is, each developer needs, is different. Also their coding standard. Also their coding "style". And that, from my experience at least, is the different between software and other product.

Each software or app, as a result of development process, have their own uniqueness, based by their unique needs. I bet, any developer can not reproduce their finish product as same as they was.

In the end, i think, the real "web application starting kit" is the framework (including CodeIgniter) itself! ;-)


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-25-2011

[eluser]phpserver[/eluser]
You should worry about what piracy could do to your bottom line. Any developer will almost certainly be interested in looking at your code throughly.If you trust people that much to give them code you wrote for over a month, you may wanna stop reading from here on because it do not make any business sense.If the toolkit is free like Django's Pinax,an opensource license will suffice. However,how you make money is a different question altogether,maybe be a CiCon or Pycon keynote hustler but i am thinking not a lot of people will pay attention since the number of frameworks for web applications are increasing at a record number.

Good luck though with your project.

Update Confusedmirk:

Once Upon A Night

http://designrules.tumblr.com/

http://designrules.uservoice.com/forums/83939-codeigniter-starter-kit-features

I wonder whose blog it is.


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-25-2011

[eluser]fedeisas[/eluser]
I agree with you. Most web apps share some common ground. That's exactly the reason why frameworks exists!

From the CodeIgniter user guide:
Quote:CodeIgniter is an Application Development Framework - a toolkit - for people who build web sites using PHP. Its goal is to enable you to develop projects much faster than you could if you were writing code from scratch, by providing a rich set of libraries for commonly needed tasks, as well as a simple interface and logical structure to access these libraries. CodeIgniter lets you creatively focus on your project by minimizing the amount of code needed for a given task.

I've been watching a similar project this week. It's called CI Bonfire. You should take a look, because it seems promising.

To be honest, I wouldn't pay for any of this. If I want a User Access Managment, I would use a library (actually, I use IonAuth in most of my projects). You can build a blog module, an image gallery module, but how would they connect each other?

Most apps have unique ways to sell and make different plans. How could you make a system flexible enough for that?

My point is: you can't cover every possibility. And that's why I would prefer to develop my own solution, instead of trying to adapt to yours.

PD: I'm from a far far away country, Argentina. If my english isn't perfect, I apologize in advance.


Would you buy a web application starting kit? - El Forum - 05-26-2011

[eluser]Ollie Rattue[/eluser]
Firstly thanks for all your detailed replies. It is great to get real world feedback and validation of a business idea. The feedback has made me question my assumptions and the developer market in general.

For me in business terms this product makes sense for a bootstrapping developer. I would buy this right now if it existed. I am my market. I freelance (3/4/5 days a week) and build my SAS product whenever possible. Anything that could speed up this process, save me time, and get my MVP to market is worth paying for.

So I guess I am a little surprised at the general response here which seem more orientated towards the developer / hacker mindset than the business side of building a commercial web application. It would be interesting to see the responses from developers in other frameworks communities such as Rails which are perhaps more business / startup orientated.

To be clear this 'starting kit' is aimed at SAS web applications with a monthly payment plan such as BaseCamp and Buffer. The starting kit is the nuts and bolts behind the product, which need to be coded, but don't add unique value (i.e. I don't buy Basecamp because of it's great billing system).

[quote author="toopay" date="1306343727"]But the problem is, each developer needs, is different.[/quote]

I disagree. The reason for making this in the first place is that developers needs for SAS web applications are in fact very similar. The product I am building at the moment (Flaregun) has a lot of identical needs to other SAS web apps such as Buffer (also built on CI). I am quite literally re-inventing the wheel here...

[quote author="phpserver" date="1306352371"]You should worry about what piracy could do to your bottom line. Any developer will almost certainly be interested in looking at your code throughly.If you trust people that much to give them code you wrote for over a month, you may wanna stop reading from here on because it do not make any business sense.[/quote]

Maybe I am being idealistic but for me piracy doesn't seem to occur as readily for small scale products. Expression engine sells their code without encryption etc and runs a business. A 'SAS web app kit' is not going to be put up on bit torrent networks in the same way as Photoshop is. I also envisaged a license system whereby you get access to updates, documentation, support network. So you are buying additional services on top of the code.

[quote author="toopay" date="1306343727"]In the end, i think, the real "web application starting kit" is the framework (including CodeIgniter) itself! ;-)[/quote]

You are missing the point. There is so much functionality which every SAS product requires which is identical. It is why features such as recurring billing are sold as third party services (Charify, spreedly, recurly etc). Clearly CodeIgniter does not provide this.

[quote author="fedeisas" date="1306398693"]I've been watching a similar project this week. It's called CI Bonfire. You should take a look, because it seems promising.[/quote]

Thanks for suggesting this project. I heard about it a while back. I open sourced a similar set of 'get a head start' code for the previous version of CodeIgniter based on my own tweaked layout - https://github.com/ollierattue/codeigniter-starting-point

[quote author="fedeisas" date="1306398693"]To be honest, I wouldn't pay for any of this. If I want a User Access Managment, I would use a library (actually, I use IonAuth in most of my projects). You can build a blog module, an image gallery module, but how would they connect each other?[/quote]

This code is slightly different to what you have outlined above. Yeah you are right there are lots of user libraries available. But there is a difference between a user library and ready to roll code which integrates said user library into a recurring monthly billing system with price plans, upgrades, downgrades etc.

[quote author="fedeisas" date="1306398693"]Most apps have unique ways to sell and make different plans. How could you make a system flexible enough for that?[/quote]

I disagree. Most SAS products actually have very similar price plans. A charge per month with a limitation of features or an allowance with perhaps a free plan and trial periods (30 days free before you pay) on the paid plans.

[quote author="fedeisas" date="1306398693"]PD: I'm from a far far away country, Argentina. If my english isn't perfect, I apologize in advance.[/quote]

No need to apologise. I am learning Spanish at the moment. Hopefully I will go Argentina next year Smile

Any other thoughts, suggestions, ideas? I think this is a very interesting discussion. At the end of the day if there turns out to be of no commercial value then I will open source the 'nuts and bolts' code I am currently writing for Flaregun.