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How Much Is Too Much for RDi?

November 10, 2015

We hear a lot of comments/complaints about the cost of purchasing licenses for RDi. We hear it in face-to-face conversations at conferences, on forums and mailing lists, LinkedIn discussions, blog comments and most recently as a comment on our EXTRA article about RDi. So we decided that it may be a good time to devote some blog space to our take on that subject.

It's funny in a way because these conversations almost always come from opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one hand we'll hear from those who work in relatively large shops, "It's not so bad if you only need to buy one or two licenses, but to buy RDi for all our developers would cost a fortune!" On the other, we hear comments such as the one last week from self-employed developers, who because their client won't reimburse them, say that  they can't afford it.

We also often hear comparisons of the cost of RDi to the cost (and sometimes lack of cost) for development tools on other platforms or environments (e.g., PHP or .Net or …)

So here is our take on the subject. We are freelancers and we pay for RDi. Would we prefer that it cost us less than it does? Of course we would. A lower-cost RDi would be great; free would be even better! But we don't concern ourselves with comparisons to tools that don't help us get our jobs done better and faster.

For us, the equation that really matters is comparing the value that we get from the tool to the cost of it. And for us, the boost to our productivity so far outweighs the cost that it's a very easy decision.

RDi makes our development easier and faster. We look at it much like other tools that we use in our business, such as our laptops or the accounting software we use to bill clients or the cost of word processing or email tools or spreadsheets. We also feel that our clients have a right to expect us to be as productive as we can be while they are paying for our services. Just as we wouldn't expect a carpenter that we had hired to fix our fence to show up at our house and expect us to supply him with a hammer and power saw, we don't expect our clients to pay for our "tools".

Sure, we could use our clients' licenses of SEU to develop code for them just as we could (probably) find free software to do the other things we need to do for our work, but that would negatively impact our productivity to research and find them, learn how to use them, get help for them if things go wrong, etc. So we choose to pay for the software that seems the easiest and fastest to use, best supported and/or most widely used.

Similarly, when it comes to our laptops, we could certainly find much cheaper options than the Macbook Pros that we choose to use. Why that choice? It's really the same reason as the RDi one, because we're far more productive, less frustrated and happier using Mac than a Windows system, even though we are (very sadly) currently forced to use a Windows environment on our Macs in order to use RDi.

(An aside, there's an RFE out there for supporting RDi natively on Mac. If you don't know what an RFE is, read about it in our EXTRA article. We even made sure the Mac RFE appeared in one of the figures there in hopes some fellow Mac users would see it and add their votes!)

All of us--particularly, but not exclusively, freelancers--need to make our own decisions about whether any tool used in our jobs is a good value compared to not having that tool. It's a fairly simple value equation. Admittedly, if you've never used a tool before, it can be hard to know if it is worth the cost. We admit to making some less than stellar choices from time to time about tools, equipment or software for our business. But RDi isn't one of those. We both shudder to think about what it would be like to go back to coding with only green-screen tools again, just as we can't fathom the thought of going back to Windows for everything else.

We're not saying that everyone else's value equation will the same as ours--perhaps not even for a tool like RDi. Each situation is unique. We're sharing what that equation is for us. We have also talked to many RPGers who aren't freelancers but because their companies wouldn't purchase a license for them, they bought it themselves. When the value is there, it's worth the cost, even if you have to pay it out of pocket.

By the way, there is at least one other tool oriented to RPGers that is much less expensive than RDi--Mi Workplace, which comes from the developers of the older RPG Next Gen editor. It's another option to consider if you just can't make the RDi value equation work for your particular situation.

Posted November 10, 2015| Permalink

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