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      How to use the Wishlist   09/21/2016

      Create a new post here, stating both what you would like to see added to Vectorworks or it's supporting systems and web pages and why you would like that change made. If you see an idea you like, press the ^ arrow to the left of the post's title to promote that idea or feel free to comment on that idea with any additional considerations or concerns you may have. 
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Christiaan

Built-in third party plugin marketplace

Question

The problem with 3rd party plugins is not the money, it's the process.

 

It's the inconvenience of having to install and maintain them. It's the perceived risk involved. You have to buy them through random websites and companies that you have little or no relationship with. What's quality control and security like? Is their plugin popular enough that it will make enough money for them and still be around next year? What do we do if we centre our workflow on a plugin and then it stops being developed?

Money is a factor but I would suggest it's the least of people's concerns.

 

What Vectorworks needs, preferably within the application itself, is a marketplace for third party plugins that let's you browse and search for plugins, rate them, review them and download them. It would manage installation and updates automatically and would offer some sort of quality control and security.

Edited by Christiaan

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Sounds allot like AppStore. I agree though this would be a fantastic addition.

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They should start by having a board on this forum where people can "wish list" a plugin that they want. Then developers could look at them and respond with proposals to build such plugins.

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Then developers could look at them and respond with proposals to build such plugins.

And then the poeple that wanted this need to buy it...

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They should start by having a board on this forum where people can "wish list" a plugin that they want. Then developers could look at them and respond with proposals to build such plugins.

I'm always happy to build plugins, but I need to be sure that they will be bought.

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And then the poeple that wanted this need to buy it...

Which determines further development and support of that tool - and, the introduction of further tools from that developer.

Though there could be several somewhat more intricate variables at-play here, at one level there really are simple "chicken-and-egg" questions: Would more 3rd-Party developers have incentive to create, develop, and support quality VW tools if there were more effective ways to tell users about their wares, if more users actually purchased licenses(!) - and, if it were easier to get their products to users? ...or... Would more users actually purchase 3rd-Party tool licenses if more high-quality tools existed, if users knew about them, if the tools were easier to manage, and if users had more faith in the tools'/developers' longevity? (And, those questions could probably be rearranged in different ways.)

My "gut" is that it's all of the above.

The Landru Design tools were initially created because I had a specific need in my day-to-day work. As much as I enjoy the development process and responding to users' wants/needs, the reality is that our tools only exist in their present state because of the support of our users in the form of license sales. Without that, I don't believe I'd have been able to justify the huge time and effort committment the tools have required.

My 2?...

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I agree. It is a chicken/egg thing. My thought about having people post their wishes for plugins on a forum was that it would allow developers to see the level of interest across the spectrum of users. Rather than building a tool and putting it on a site hoping/waiting for users to come by.

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The Landru Design tools were initially created because I had a specific need in my day-to-day work.

Indeed, suppose it's not initially about profits. Suppose that Landru or Dworks have a need. So they create the answer and then go about their business more efficiently with less frustration. Would it not be beneficial to then offer the item (developed out of personal need) for sale in such a marketplace? Why not?

They are already reaping the personal benefits. So then maybe someone will buy it and then they would reap monetary benefit. It's already happening, isn't it?

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Suppose that Landru or Dworks have a need. So they create the answer and then go about their business more efficiently with less frustration. Would it not be beneficial to then offer the item (developed out of personal need) for sale in such a marketplace? Why not?

There are actually 2 different questions here:

1) Would a "proprietary" developer offer a "need-met" tool commercially in-general (and, why or why not)?

I can't speak for Dieter, but this is precicisely how the Landru Design tools came to be.

As to the "why not" for those who've chosen not to offer their tools commercially, I don't know. I've asked a few folks but haven't gotten incredibly clear answers. I suspect that it has primarily to do w. either the "hassle factor" or, perhaps, a feeling of not being "ready for prime time."

2) Same question, but related to a VW/NVW-specific marketplace...

As such a beast doesn't exist, this is hard to answer but, as a developer, I'd be asking things like...:

- What "hassle factor" exists w. this approach?

- How would distribution work?

- Who would be setting standards and what would they be?

- Would there be there any moderation of comments?

- What licensing fee percentage would be held back?

- Would there truly be an expansion of my current audience and would that offset potential hassle and expenses?

Don't at all hear me saying that I think a VW "Marketplace" is a bad thing. From a developer's perspective, it could be an absolutely fantastic thing. I'm simply expressing some of the questions I'd be asking.

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The app store is a success because the apps are easy to find (all in the same place), easy to buy (2 clicks if you have an account), easy to manage (all install themselves and function like native apps/icons) and there is a rigid quality control (no risk of paying for half baked, virus/trojan ridden products).......this I believe would also be needed here if it is to succeed.

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The app store is a success because the apps are easy to find (all in the same place), easy to buy (2 clicks if you have an account), easy to manage (all install themselves and function like native apps/icons) and there is a rigid quality control (no risk of paying for half baked, virus/trojan ridden products).......this I believe would also be needed here if it is to succeed.

Missed one crucial thing: user reviews and ratings.

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They should start by having a board on this forum where people can "wish list" a plugin that they want.

The current wishlist forum could probably already be used for this purpose. Plus it's pretty easy for any potential developer to come on here and simply ask the question.

In any case I don't think there's any chicken and egg thing here. There are already plugins available to buy. If I'm right, what we need is a plugin store.

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You are right. But the problem of quality control and ease of purchase will ultimately be the owners of this forum. If NemV wants to do that...

Remember that Apple and it's iStore has millions of customers, and extremely broad based apps, thus making the entry point for developers easier.

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Remember that Apple and it's iStore has millions of customers, and extremely broad based apps, thus making the entry point for developers easier.

True, that's why their apps generally can be so cheap, however when they started the user base was much smaller, the fact remains that the iStore still is basically the same as when they started i.e. well thought out from the start.

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1) Would a "proprietary" developer offer a "need-met" tool commercially in-general (and, why or why not)?

The thing is that most of my tools are made to work good, but they don't have a good ui and you really need to know how it works. This is because it's meant to work for me and a few other poeple at work. They work, but for shell (ui) to create around it, so others can use it in a fast and easy way, will take time and effort. I really want to do the effort, but my time needs to be paid back in some way. So I really need to be sure poeple will buy it.

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So I really need to be sure poeple will buy it.

If there was a plugin store you could start with a minor plugin and see how things go.

Edited by Christiaan

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So I really need to be sure poeple will buy it.

If there was a plugin store you could start with minor plugin and see how things go.

True, I already have some.

This plugin-store could be a really good solution, if handled full-baked.

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That's exactly how Apple's App Store has worked too. Developers started tentatively and then it eventually became a torrent of sophisticated apps.

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This would also make it possible to buy plug-ins that currently only ship with country specific versions.

An added advantage would be stimulating non VWs using developers to join the game and develop (advanced) plug-ins purely to earn a buck, we are the ones that benedit the most in the end. It might even stimulate the continued development of disappearing disciplines eg machine design and stimulate the development of new ones eg VWs construction.

Edited by Vincent C

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One thing to keep in mind is that expectations for paid software are often MUCH higher than someone doing things on the side can reasonably meet.

I have hundreds of scripts I have written for my own use. Nearly NONE of them have the types of error checking that would be required to make them safely usable by other users. And I don't have the time or inclination to put the work in to make them safe. I am happy to give them away (with lot's of disclaimers and no warranty), but in reality unless a VW app store draw enough interest very quickly to make it reasonable for someone to make it close to a full time job writing scripts, I think it will mostly fill up with the equivalent of flashlight and fart apps.

My opinion only, not as a moderator. I am a HUGE proponent of third party extensions to VW. I am just afraid of the expectations of users.

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I'm a bit late to this party (been out of town with practically no internet).

I think some sort of third party apps store has been sorely needed for more years than I can think of. Just to state my support (and possibly expand on) what's already been said:

I think a third party store similar to Apple's App store is exactly what is needed. Off the top of my head, here's my thoughts of what it should be:

1. Hosted by a trusted source (NV, in this case).

2. Some sort of quality control so users can be more confident in the products they purchase.

3. Easy to find: Apple puts their App Store right next to the finder in the dock. Probably the most prime piece of real estate there is. They do this for good reason and I believe it is the biggest key to it's success. The reason? The gross majority of Mac users rarely visit Apple's website, so how can they be expected to find an App Store? A VW third party app store needs to have a link directly in the VW interface where users will be constantly reminded of it. I believe that this alone would bring in far more visitors. Of course it wouldn't hurt to also put a link to NV's home page as well.

4. A more user friendly way to install plug-ins that require files to be located in the VW user folder. One could argue that this should be the responsibility of the developer, but this would require many developers to create similar types of installers. While some plug-ins have more elaborate installations, many simply need files placed in folders within the VW User folder. Maybe something as simple as a "bottled" installer that looks for files within a file structure on the install disk image. This would have it copy all files in the "Plug-ins" folder to the VW User's "Plug-ins" folder, and the same for the files in the other folders within the VW User folder. This would give users a familiar interface for most third party installations. Again, more confidence...

5. User ratings and reviews. This is VERY important for users to make more informed opinions.

As several have pointed out, a plug-in created for private use is typically far from one written for public sale. A developer can easily spend many times the hours it took developing the "private" solution on polishing it for public release. Interface development, error trapping, testing, documentation, marketing, etc., can take so much more time that a developer may feel they'd never recoup their investment. Good quality software takes a lot of time and effort and developers need a better way to get the most exposure to all VW users possible. A successful App Store would be a "win win win" for all of us (NV, developers and users).

My 2 cents...

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A VW third party app store needs to have a link directly in the VW interface where users will be constantly reminded of it. I believe that this alone would bring in far more visitors. Of course it wouldn't hurt to also put a link to NV's home page as well.

I'd go further than this. I wouldn't make it just a link. I'd make the store part of Vectorworks. To buy, review and install plugins you'd never have to leave Vectorworks.

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i'd back Christiaan on the "Built In" VW store.

Use the standardised Apple type installer wouldn't hurt either. so they're just there once installed. Only use the WS Editor to remove them if necessary . . . . .

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A couple people noted the work required to take a 'Private' tool to prime time. Many of these private tools are developed to address specific tasks that speed up the workflow. I have dozens of tools that I've used in my office going on 10 years. These have never caused an issue in my files. I would happily share the tools, but I can't see myself going the extra mile to polish for prime time. Hence a 'beta' section in the app store would be good. A place where it is known that a tool might be a bit rough. with all the disclaimers that come with it. This gives a place to let others test tools and give feed back.

I am also interested in seeing what other priviate developers are doing. Hence I would test other peoples tools- provided there was an easy way to access them like the app store.

If a lot of people liked my tools and thought they should be core tools- I would happily give the code to NV. As it means I would no longer have the maintenance issues at upgrade time.

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I think those of us who develop Vectorworks solutions would certainly appreciate an easier way to sell, distribute, and guarantee our products, so I'm glad to hear that there is user interest in an app-store type solution.

In terms of quality and security, I've put a lot of effort into documentation, testing, installers, and automatic order processing that I hope will help convince my customers that my products are fit for professional use. As with most third party developers, I work in the same industry as my customers, and I put continually put my plug-ins through the rigors of professional use. I can also respond to user bug reports and feature requests very quickly. All that would be true with or without an app-store.

I also believe in offering a demo period. Hopefully users will find the time my plug-ins save is well worth the purchase price, maybe even without the level of support I provide.

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