Free Circuit Lab Timeout Messages - CircuitLab Support Forum (2024)

I guess I should have known that there is no such thing as a free CircuitLab. What bothers me though is that there was no indication that the Free availability would time out and become "Cripple-Ware" once we had all become hooked on it's flexibility and availability as a hobby tool. Most similar gEDA tools don't hinder use of their tools for hobby users. Instead they add higher powered features for their paying customers. This avoids the "I've been had" feeling that occurred when the Time_Out_Message freezes started appearing.

Had I known up-front that this service would be moved to a commercialized system I would never have marked any of my designs PUBLIC. Now it feels like I gave away my work for free to a system that wants to charge for my work. Where is the ethics in this?

Yes, I have Spice available for free on my Linux computer, but CircuitLab was easier to use for small circuits because we did not have to build or download attribute tables for common devices. Now I guess I will have to move all my CircuitLab files over to local SpiceLab.

by arvevans
June 06, 2013

Hi @arvevans, sounds like CircuitLab was useful to you and saved you time. If that's the case, please become a customer and help support our operations and future development.

by mrobbins
June 06, 2013

Can't help agree with arvevans. Personally (as a Hobby user), I am not willing to pay an ongoing licence fee; wouldn't mind donating or a one off fee for an offline copy, and then again for each future major versions.

Non-commercial users, like myself will likely go off and use alternatives. The sudden 'gobbled your designs' approach is a bit of a frustration.

Working within one myself as a Business Analyst, Corporations gobble up licencing structures because they generally have short sighted budgets and don't think of the future. Depending on the primary users of CircuitLab, this could be a massive success or failure - nothing in between.

It would be a shame to see such a lovely system go to waste. Best of luck CircuitLab, you will be missed.

by ocarlier
June 13, 2013

Hi @ocarlier,

One-off fee per major version is something we can think about -- and even with our current setup, you can sign up for an annual plan and then cancel and effectively get a one-year upgrade with a single fee.

There are certainly trade-offs between an ongoing subscription versus a one-off fee structure. The ongoing subscription gives the user a much smaller initial outlay (seriously, it's $5 or $8 for non-commercial users), and lets us do continuing improvement releases rather than batching them up into a single "major version" release. (This continuous release software development style tends to produce far better quality, less buggy software.) The continuing model also gives us dramatically better predictability of revenue, which lets us hire developers to expand the features of the product.

Hope that helps!

by mrobbins
June 13, 2013

The small initial outlay is not the issue - I would be happy to pay any of the rates. But of course I have to do that every months, and you have to admit that your price is just not competitive. I can get MATLAB with about 30 toolboxes (including the much more powerful SimScape) for a license contribution of 70 pounds a year. Circuitlab would cost my $360 plus VAT per year, and it is a toy compared to MATLAB.

I have no problem paying real money for a quality product, but unfortunately your offer does not even come close to being competitive. Look around - there are free competitors with very similar products. I like what you are doing, I appreciate that it is technically challenging, but you are about to kill it.

by MrPuddington
June 28, 2013

Hi @MrPuddington, I think you may be comparing some sort of MATLAB student pricing (beyond an institution site license!) with CircuitLab's commercial use pricing -- apples and oranges. An individual, commercial-use license for Simscape at list price comes to $7,550 (Simscape $2,150 + Simulink $3,250 + MATLAB $2,150). I'm not sure which 30 toolboxes you're referring to, but those are about an additional $1,000 each.

We're continually working on releasing new features like Smart Wires and our faster simulation engine, and I'm happy to say that a lot of our users (professional and hobbyist/academic) are indeed signing up to support us with operations and development. I hope you'll become one of them.

by mrobbins
June 28, 2013

Well, that is one of the problems with your license. From many software vendors, we get an academic licenses, which is well suited for my kind of occasional use. But I am most certainly a professional, so according to your license I would need the commercial license. And the fact is that I pay significantly less for academic use of MATLAB with a wide range of toolboxes.

by MrPuddington
June 29, 2013

Wow, you folks sure screwed up. Bait and switch will make this fine start fail fast. See ya!

by liquibyte
July 12, 2013

I'm sure others have gotten this email. Here was mine and my response.

1) If we made hamburgers, surely you wouldn't ask me for free hamburgers. Good software isn't free, partially because good hamburgers aren't free, and my team of developers needs to eat too. We think our pricing is reasonable, and we have active subscribers at all of our different plan levels.

I would if we were at a cookout. Good software usually isn't free but excellent software quite often is. I myself am a developer and freely release my code because I care more about being a person than a marketer. Your pricing would be reasonable if there were a decent parts library and it was coded in C and not served via a browser page. You will still not have me as a customer for two reasons. First and foremost, I am an open source developer and user and have been since the early 90's and don't plan on changing the way I do things any time soon. Second, you released a piece of software as freeware and then locked people out when you decided that it was good enough to make money on. It would have been better had you stated your intentions from the start.

2) Tools for electronics design is a niche market. It's not Facebook, where we can make a little bit on advertising from a billion people to pay the bills. Software for niche markets -- and especially ones where there's significant high-end development work involved, like this one -- doesn't work on a "freemium" model, where 1% of the users pay and that supports the other 99%.

I agree that electronics tools are niche. They are also usually way overpriced. Take a look at Eagle. Facebook and its ilk are what has killed the internet, as is advertising. I use noscript and adblock for this very reason. Do what you like with your software and business model, I won't be using it.

3) We see a small number of people, including yourself, upset about the new pricing structure on our forums. And that hurts -- we really do want everyone to be happy! But, as someone on the other side of the table, let me say that we have dramatically more people upgrading every day compared to the number of people posting on the forums about a small $30/mo or even $5/mo subscription fee.

People are upset because they signed up for a thing that was free (at the time) and all of a sudden were locked out. This is called bait and switch and microsoft was the king of this. I'll bet you that over 50% of us that started coming there regularly use linux. I will also purport that it's not a small number of people that are upset. Once again, if you had stated your intentions from the start in a very up front and direct manner, people would not be upset.

4) Effective immediately, I've given your account (liquibyte) 30 days free of CircuitLab Pro. Give it a spin. After a month, whether you choose to not subscribe, subscribe as a hobbyist/student/professional, e-mail me asking for more evaluation time is completely up to you. But I hope you'll give it a try and give us your feedback about very specifically how you use the software and what kind of additional features you would need to see to be happy about being a customer. Please enjoy! :)

I don't want the upgrade now or ever. I'm one of those people that uses open source solutions almost exclusively and won't be changing that position. I will suggest that perhaps your team should rethink the myriad ways that hamburgers can be had.

by liquibyte
July 13, 2013

Some points in fairness to CL.

Up until CL started offering subscription services, the FAQ - right from their launch - used say that although CL was offered for free, there may come a time when some services would be on a paid for basis.

That message seems now to have been removed.

And of course, even though people may not like the presentation or level of features, they do still offer a free version.

Whilst I also am a FOSS Advocate, it perhaps should be made clear that at no point have CL made any claim that it is Open Source.

IMHO, I sincerely wish it had been since I think it would have evolved far faster.

by signality
July 14, 2013

@mrobbinsI have singed up here a while ago when it was still free. I did not care much for an ability to draw diagrams. I was simply looking for help with my problem. And I did find it. Very quickly. Thanks @signality again. It was a very nice experience.I'm here back again with another issue and I discovered I can't post...Lucky me I was offered a 90-day trial.

Therefore, I'd be more than happy to have a FREE or for a small donation/fee access to forum only.Sure, being able to draw a schematic is nice, but not really necessary for me to ask a question.I completely understand the developers and their need for funds, yet as I said previously, I am not after the software. I am here to get help.

Mike, do you think that is possible?

by PLP
December 22, 2015

The conversation revolves around CircuitLab, a circuit simulation tool that shifted from being free to a paid subscription service, prompting various reactions from users due to the change in pricing and access. Here's an overview of the concepts discussed in the article and the comments:

  1. CircuitLab:

    • Initially offered as a free tool for circuit simulation.
    • Users became accustomed to its flexibility and ease of use for hobbyist purposes.
  2. Transition to a Paid Model:

    • Users express frustration at the transition to a paid subscription service, feeling blindsided by the change.
    • Concerns about the ethics of a service moving from free to paid, especially for those who had publicly shared their designs assuming ongoing free access.
  3. Pricing and Value Comparison:

    • Comparison of CircuitLab's pricing model to other similar tools like MATLAB and the perceived lack of competitiveness.
    • Discussion on the value proposition and whether the pricing justifies the features offered.
  4. Business Model and User Reactions:

    • Users' dissatisfaction with the sudden change from free to paid service, citing issues with the business model transition.
    • Some users, particularly those inclined towards open-source solutions, express reluctance to switch to a paid subscription.
  5. Software Evolution and User Expectations:

    • Users' disappointment that CircuitLab was not open-source, which could have potentially accelerated its development.
    • Different perspectives on what users valued – some mainly sought help and community support rather than the software itself.
  6. Suggestions and Alternative Proposals:

    • Users propose alternative payment structures, such as one-off fees for major versions or donations for specific access (like forum access only).
  7. Communication and Expectations:

    • Users express disappointment in the lack of clear communication about the possibility of moving to a paid model from the outset, leading to a feeling of being misled (bait-and-switch).

The article and comments reflect the challenges of transitioning a previously free service to a paid model, users' reactions to unexpected changes, pricing considerations, ethical concerns, and the balance between offering a valuable service and sustaining it financially.

Free Circuit Lab Timeout Messages - CircuitLab Support Forum (2024)
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