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Thread: Pre-release and expired subscription

  1. #1
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    Default Pre-release and expired subscription

    Like many I didn't realise that if you install a patch that is 'pre-release' and your subscription expires then you are forced to update your subscription or revert to the last official release before your subscription expired.

    That's fair enough, however its not very clear that this is what happens and I've had many unhappy customers to deal with as a result of the app server telling them the server is not licensed.

    Also - in my case the pre-release fixed a fatal bug so now I am forced to update my subscription or have a version with a fatal bug.

    It's Sunday and I'm screwed ! ;-(

    Very disappointed - I would have updated if I'd have known this, but as a small company I have to watch my expenses carefully, I assumed any patches loaded before the expiry date would continue to work.

  2. #2
    "Certified" Alphaholic kkfin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by mikew2 View Post
    Very disappointed - I would have updated if I'd have known this, but as a small company I have to watch my expenses carefully, I assumed any patches loaded before the expiry date would continue to work.
    The only subscription benefit is bug hunting from pre-release builds. But Alpha seems to change license policy once a year on the fly so lets again wait what happens in the future.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    The way it *should* work is that Alpha should prevent you from installing a non-qualified patch. That's what some other programs do. OTOH, I do think it is self-evident that if you "subscribe" to a service, and that subscription expires, you will no longer be eligible for releases following the subscription expiration date.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Surely if the patch was to fix a bug and it was provided before the subscription expired he should not be penalised because Alpha hasn't got around to doing a formal release ??

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    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    The pre-release is provided for early adopters and is not an official release as Alpha clearly states. They could just as well keep the pre-release hidden from the public until they get around to making an official release. I don't think anyone is being penalized. The release "schedule" is what it is.
    Last edited by Peter.Greulich; 08-28-2016 at 06:57 PM. Reason: typo

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Thats a fair point Peter, I think my disappointment is with the way that the subscription expiry is handled and the effect that it has had on my customers.

    I assumed that any patch installed up to the point of expiry would be safe and I was aware that unless I renewed any future releases would not be available.

    What makes it a little more difficult to accept is that I had to install the pre-release because of a bug discovered several months before the expiry date. I should say that the bug was fixed and a release made available within 24 hours of reporting it - truely remarkable response in terms of the patch but months later I still have no idea when it will be 'officially' released.

    I've been working with Alpha for almost 10 years now and my experience has been really positive, I love the product and there is much to admire about the way they deal with development and bug fixes.

    I understand the subscription model, I just didn't expect my server to close down and all my client applications fail.
    Last edited by mikew2; 08-28-2016 at 06:48 PM. Reason: typo

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    Volunteer Moderator Peter.Greulich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    I don't disagree that it could be handled much better. Failed web sites reflect badly upon Alpha.

  8. #8
    "Certified" Alphaholic iRadiate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by mikew2 View Post
    I assumed that any patch installed up to the point of expiry would be safe and I was aware that unless I renewed any future releases would not be available.
    Actually, this is a bit of an eye opener! I was under exactly the assumption as Mike that until your subscription ran out that you would have access to any available builds, not just official releases.
    I have looked on the Alpha Anywhere site and could not find this spelled out anywhere. It is certainly something that should be make very clear.

  9. #9
    "Certified" Alphaholic kkfin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by iRadiate View Post
    Actually, this is a bit of an eye opener! I was under exactly the assumption as Mike that until your subscription ran out that you would have access to any available builds, not just official releases.
    I have looked on the Alpha Anywhere site and could not find this spelled out anywhere. It is certainly something that should be make very clear.
    Pre-release build is for testing not for production purposes. It is said clear in pre-release notes: "This is not an official patch, so you should not deploy this update to a production environment". So if your subscription ends you lose your right to test and find bugs.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    I have to sympathise with Mike W. It seems a pretty random way for Alpha to issue bug fixes. My own experience is as follows:

    Purchase made August 2015
    No official release until April 2016 - over 8 months from the previous release
    A further release in April, followed by 4 more in May and another in June
    Nothing more before my subscription expired.

    I'm sure Alpha were busy developing and making fixes between July 2015 and April 2016, but NONE of them were released to the production environment during that period.

    This is one of the many reasons that I have decided that AA is no longer the tool for me.

  11. #11
    "Certified" Alphaholic kkfin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Obviously the development cost with Alpha and the yearly change in license policy means something today .
    I have liked Alphas earlier decision to bring Nodejs available. But things are again with Alpha different like year ago. 1000 is now 2500 plus deploy. In fact I do not even know which version I have now.
    But this all has had an impact to me. I still use Node to handle submitted form data and websockets. But now I am using Node with EvenNode stack and more changes is coming in near future.

  12. #12
    "Certified" Alphaholic peteconway's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    The way I see it, AA Pre-release builds is one of those products where the cart is always before the horse, that is - it doesn't need to be pulled along as it's development force (momentum) is greater than the energy the horse (us developers have) to pull it.

    Consuming change at his rate is always going to be difficult, for me - I jump on as soon as they are available, I put them into a test bed, see if they still run my benchmark components, and if they pass - then great if not, then I pass on them. This has worked for me to-date, in my spare time I revisit them and see what the issue was and when possible submit a bug report.

    But the issue of bug fixes for issues being fixed from prior releases is indeed an issue in itself and should be addressed one way or the other - as one person put is once - 'it's an inconvenient truth' - if something has a flaw, and the source of the flaw was discovered, and a fix was created to resolve the flaw, then the fix should be applied. – But it’s not necessarily the case.

    The issue here is, it's made clear that when you subscribe, you get a product, you get support for the product, you get revisions - when you subscribe, you subscribe to what is being offered to you at that time - if its 6 months old at that time and bug fixes during that period supplied or not, then that is what it is, else customers could wait (defer use) until the new model comes out, and then purchase - just like buying a car, if you are happy to walk or take the bus for six months, then wait for the latest, if not a second class ride is better than a fist class walk – so you could decide get it now.

    I have to say - I once took a hard line on this matter - the it's not fair - how could this be, but not anymore - AA helps me earn $200k + every year - and one of the reasons for that is I like seeing the cart in front of me, not behind me. So do my clients.
    The solution
    Here's what you do if you develop in AA and struggle with cost of development and server licenses - shift cost to your prospective client in the very first meeting - if they can't handle it, then you need to go figure why you’re at the meeting.

    Cheers Pete
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

  13. #13
    "Certified" Alphaholic iRadiate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by kkfin View Post
    Pre-release build is for testing not for production purposes. It is said clear in pre-release notes: "This is not an official patch, so you should not deploy this update to a production environment". So if your subscription ends you lose your right to test and find bugs.
    There is a big difference between stating "This is not an official patch, so you should not deploy this update to a production environment" and "You will lose the ability to run the pre-release if your subscription expires."
    That was not my interpretation and it sounds like Mike's understanding was also wrong. It should be spelled out clearly by Alpha to avoid this kind of misunderstanding.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by peteconway View Post
    The solution
    Here's what you do if you develop in AA and struggle with cost of development and server licenses - shift cost to your prospective client in the very first meeting - if they can't handle it, then you need to go figure why you’re at the meeting.

    Cheers Pete
    ... or move to .Net and Xamarin !

  15. #15
    "Certified" Alphaholic kkfin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by iRadiate View Post
    There is a big difference between stating "This is not an official patch, so you should not deploy this update to a production environment" and "You will lose the ability to run the pre-release if your subscription expires."
    That was not my interpretation and it sounds like Mike's understanding was also wrong. It should be spelled out clearly by Alpha to avoid this kind of misunderstanding.
    It sounds different but in practice is same for those how develop for clients.

  16. #16
    "Certified" Alphaholic
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Perhaps Alpha would consider building in a three day grace period?

    Shut down the server as it does now, but when the developer goes into the server configuration to investigate, have a button next to where it says "subscription expired" to allow the developer a 3 day grace period that will allow the server to run for 3 more days.

    Yes, I know you get emails beforehand - but this would allow everyone to save face. The developer would have a couple days to get the server resubscribed or allow them to toggle it back to the previous release. The customer doesn't lose business because their website is down, and Alpha (and the developer) don't look like they are causing trouble because somebody ignored a subscription reminder.

    If Alpha had 24/7 service - or the ability to resubscribe over the weekend - this might not be necessary, but they don't - so it is.

    Three days is long enough to get the job done, but short enough so it doesn't cut into subscription profits. (And the new subscription can be renewed at the expiry date anyway.)

    Does that sound fair?

  17. #17
    "Certified" Alphaholic iRadiate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Activation woes

    Quote Originally Posted by kkfin View Post
    It sounds different but in practice is same for those how develop for clients.
    Ken, I don't disagree with you. My point is that the way it stands people can and are misinterpreting the subscription. This shouldn't happen and it should be made crystal clear.

  18. #18
    "Certified" Alphaholic peteconway's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Well it is now crystal clear, Selwyn advised the following today.
    I think the real issue here is that we expect customers to have a valid subscription at all times.

    For historical reasons, the legacy customer base (i.e. customers who were v11 users before V12 came out) have a special type of subscription that allows them to continue using the product after their subscription end (but limits them to the last official build that was available at the time their subscription ran out)

    we no longer sell these types of subscriptions anymore.

    we only sell 'true' subscriptions which means you must have a valid subscription at all times in order to use Alpha Anywhere.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    But that is not true. I have a couple V12 servers working fine off of expired subscriptions. They are not using a prerelease and their patch date is old, but they are working. I DID have a subscription expire that was on a prerelease and that one failed - but fortunately it was during the week, so I was able to get it taken care of quickly. If it had been on a Saturday or Sunday it would have been bad.

    That is why I suggest a Grace period possibility - until Alpha can figure out a way to renew subscriptions on the fly.

    Note: Even with the Grace period, they server should be shut down first - otherwise people will just ignore it as they ignored the warning email. But you have to be able to turn a mission critical server back on - even if for a short time - so you can deal with the financials without going out of business.

  20. #20
    "Certified" Alphaholic peteconway's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Well i'm just passing it on.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Thank you Peter passing the Selwyns statement (post #18). As you did say it is now totally clear. Selwyns statement : "...we only sell 'true' subscriptions which means you must have a valid subscription at all times in order to use Alpha Anywhere. "

    According to Selwyn there are also "legacy customers" that may have different valid license (but not anymore new licenses in the future.) I hope everyone knows at the moment under what kind of license their AA is.

    So in the future as a Alphas customer you have to pay what ever they ask at the end of subscription period or your Alpha Anywhere stops running. I would say fair play now when you know it forehand.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Another reason I'm moving away from Alpha "we only sell 'true' subscriptions which means you must have a valid subscription at all times in order to use Alpha Anywhere." If I lease a printer I don't have to return the prints when the lease expires. Why should I lose the ability to run software I have built just because the tool used to build it is out of subscription?

    I'm a one-man band developing solutions on the desktop for a small customer base and don't need the latest 'bells & whistles' but am forced to pay $XXXX to Alpha EVERY YEAR just for the privilege of having the software run.

    And what happens if Alpha go bust? Does every copy of AA stop working because the authentication servers are taken down?

  23. #23
    "Certified" Alphaholic iRadiate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Well, like it or not, now we know where we stand!

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    I wonder of new users realize they must be hostages for life if they want to continue to use the software?

  25. #25
    "Certified" Alphaholic peteconway's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Well - as I said, I only deal with clients that understand they pay the required licenses, I've come to undertand just how expensive it must be to run an entity like Alpha, and the terms are the terms - As a developer I'm happy with the service provided and the advances coming through. Fact is if they aren't funded - they don't continue, and that's not good. So everyone needs to adjust to the process by re-thinking their model, as I have done, it will help you.
    Cheers Pete.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein, (attributed)
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    The subscription model is what all software will move to eventually. Probably sooner than later.
    Mike Brown - Contact Me
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Pete,

    I don't have any problem with a subscription model whatsoever. It makes perfect sense that if you want to continue to receive updates you pay. No problemo. The problem occurs when you stop the software from working at the end of a subscription. The software should continue to work, period. Stop paying and you don't get the benefit of new features, understood. But kill the software product; I just don't see how that is a winning model.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    It helps me understand what Alpha is likely to do by realizing that Alpha only has one version. The don't maintain V11, or V12.3 after they release V12.4. So, any fix that is in the prerelease will be in every future release, but will never be available separately in a past release. So, the policy is like a treadmill: keep up or drop out. It has always worked like that, from the $99 version I started with through today's $2000 + version.

    I'm too old to start over, but I am hiring new programmers who know more than Alpha so we can start migrating to a new platform, and have cut back from 11 copies of Alpha to 3 and will probably cut that back to 2 when the next subscription ends.
    Pat Bremkamp
    MindKicks Consulting

  29. #29
    "Certified" Alphaholic kkfin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    Lets hope that Alphas customer base is rock solid and also new customers understand the benefits they get from the new license model.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Pre-release and expired subscription

    if you go to Microsoft office, the subscription plan is spelled out: what happens when the license is not renewed, not in alphasoftware.com . there is no mention that the software will not work. anybody who feels that the "software should work, period" is in for a shock when they look outside. almost all the software is on subscription model now or will be there soon. if the terms are spelled out and gradually the software dies as in Microsoft office, then the people who want to buy let them buy or if that does not suit them they can walk away, and if they buy there is some time lag to gather themselves to new entity or whatever they want to do with their product. server stops working on the weekend with no hope of recovery is not good, not for the software company, nor for the developer who depends on the software company.
    my two cents when I don't have the model that needs the subscription services.
    thanks for reading

    gandhi

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