Software is almost always temporary. Especially when it’s free. Free just means that the creators have chosen to not charge for their software yet.
The issue is when they never really figure out how to charge for the software. They just kill it. Err, I mean sunset it. Or whatever you call it when someone kills a product you use and depend on.
The dirty little secret is that they don’t really care about the software. They had an end game and it didn’t work out. Your loyalty and data are often just a casualty of them not finding a business model.
There are exceptions. When a developer or team of developers build something for themselves and offer it for others to use. Sort of like an open source app. It’s like saying ‘Here, I built this thing. It works really well for me. Feel free to use it.’
This can be a great opportunity to use something that someone cares about and maintains well.
But the risk is still there. Either a) the developer reaches a point where they need to make money if they are going to continue. or b) the developer decides he doesn’t need or want the app anymore.
While there is this exception, the result could be the same.
Creating your own software is easier than you might think. And certainly more rewarding. There are a few benefits to building software for personal use
When you build it, you know when it’s broken or doesn’t work like you need it to. There are no bug reports. The only waiting for a fix is waiting on you to make the time. The software is as reliable as you make it. No more wondering if your password is plain text. This happens way more than you care to think about.
Built Custom for Your Needs
When you build your own software, you are building what you want. As you discover that the features aren’t working for you, you’re free to do whatever you would like. Kill them, iterate on them, even start over if that’s your thing.
You Learn a Ton
New programming langauge? New framework or library you want to try out? This is the perfect opportunity to build something for yourself and learn some new skills. In my opinion, this is the best way to learn something new. I’ve never really been a fan of trying too many new things on someone else’s dime.
I really think that eventually this is what we will do. We will just build our own tools. And this is why learning to program is so powerful.
The next time you worry about someone killing your favorite app. Fire up your editor and build it yourself.
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