CDBurn's design philosophy

Quite often, people buy the wrong software for their needs. Sometimes, the software is just not up to the job. Sometimes, people anticipate a certain development pace and direction.

To save the customer from taking the wrong decision, I have put up this webpage to try to summarise CDBurn's design philosophy. If you want to buy CDBurn, read it carefully, because it gives you an overview over the general future direction of the project, and my personal attitude towards software development.

Making money?

The reason for nearly any business is, quite simply, making money. Neither Warm Silence Software nor me have different goals here - the business must be viable, or else development will cease to exist. So far, we have been successful to achieve this goal. Despite the small size of the RISC OS marketplace, CDBurn is a viable product.

CDBurn is a commercial product, which means that I have to keep the development viable. This also means that not every feature you could think of will be implemented, because every change in CDBurn has to be evaluated if it is possible within time and money constraints.

Will a feature be implemented?

The above might sound a little "capitalistic" - however, there are many things to consider when deciding if a new feature is worth implementing.

About chargeable upgrades

It might be a surprise that since its first appearance in 1997, there was no chargeable upgrade for CDBurn, but quite a lot of free upgrades with major features added.

This has many reasons - of course, we could have made a lot more money if we charged at least for the major new features. One of the reasons lie in the history of CDBurn. When we introduced the product at Acorn World 1997, some things were still missing. People came to us and asked about the future development of the package. Because some vital things were missing, it was promised that these things will be implemented and that an upgrade free of charge will be provided.

Other new versions fixed bugs which appeared in previous versions. It is one fundamental principle of Warm Silence Software and me that a user should never have to pay for fixing bugs - after all, it is our fault that they are in the software. This is also a tribute to be paid for using the RISC OS platform. Because of the small market, development time has to be minimised - partly, this is done by using the latest software engineering tools and techniques, but to be honest it is also a question of simplifying things. One simplification is to keep versioning easy, so it is senseless to split the development tree into a bug-fixed base version, and a chargeable new-features-and-bugs-fixed version. Usually, new features are introduced along with bug fixes, and because bug fixes are always free, new features are usually, too ;-)

A big new feature was the Disc at once capability for Audio CDs. However, this feature is not universally available for all customers, as some drives are not supported in Disc at once mode. Also, DAO was used as a stop-gap to provide a workaround for the infamous audio track click bug. So this touches two principles:

  1. The user should never pay for bug fixing - even if it was no "real" bug fix, the outcome was the same: the user was able to work without the bug (by using a workaround, not a "true fix", but anyway).
  2. Users should never have to pay for features they can't use - this applies to the customers using drives that are not DAO-enabled by CDBurn.

The last "big feature" added was Joliet capability. So surely this would have been a reason to introduce a chargeable upgrade? No. One reason for this decision was the reason why Joliet was implemented in CDBurn in the first place: CDROMFS. CDROMFS is a complete CDFS replacement able to read Joliet extensions, and it is also distributed by Warm Silence Software. Having Joliet available in CDBurn helped a lot in selling much more copies of CDROMFS - people got the feature to create Joliet CDs for free with a free upgrade of CDBurn, so they could spend their money on other things - CDROMFS of course. In turn, the availability of CDROMFS helps CDBurn to strengthen its market position against the competition, so it is some kind of a symbiotic effect.

All this does not mean that there will never be a chargeable upgrade for CDBurn. There might be a "professional" version in the future with features that only a few people need. Sales figures might get too low to feed development purely on a "new sales" base, so to keep the development pace we might have to introduce upgrade fees.

The Future

In the RISC OS marketplace, there were quite a few companies who sold products and refused to reinvest the earned money into the market again. Because of these examples, people are sometimes concerned about cease of development or changing platform.

The statement for CDBurn is quite simple: if I ever lose interest in developing CDBurn further, there are basically two scenarios that could happen:

  1. The development is continued by someone else
  2. CDBurn goes open source

Both scenarios will ultimately help to develop CDBurn further, so have no fear - buy now ;-)

Don't worry about the difficulty for other persons to understand CDBurn. It is a very well structured and documented piece of software, mainly because it helps me to understand it, too...

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