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"How not to license your app"; an open letter to JetBrains

I love JetBrains's PyCharm, a great IDE for Python, and for Django in particular. I would even say it's the best tool for Django programmers. It's got great features, good syntax highlighting, excellent support for debugging, and very very good code completion, even within HTML templates. I think it's priced fair (although on the expensive side) at 87 euros for individual developers, but sadly their license sucks so much, that it prevents me from buying it.

While you buy a “permanent” license, it's only valid for the current major version, with free upgrades to major versions released within the next year. A great new version in 13 months? Sorry, not for you. Well, that's nothing new, most licenses work like this — but most offer other ways to get the updates at a reasonable price. Not so with JetBrains.

What they propose you do is this: you can buy a “subscription renewal” every year, for 34 euros per year. In their words:

To stay current with the new product releases and to continue receiving technical support, you should renew your upgrade subscription annually.

Well, that's no so bad, is it? I mean, for every year when there's no new major version, just don't upgrade that subscription. Once there is a new major version, just upgrade then! Sadly, no:

Upgrade subscription renewal is optional. However, if you do not renew your upgrade subscription within 1 year upon expiration of the previous upgrade subscription term, you will not be able to renew your upgrade subscription any more and a new license purchase at the full license price will be needed to use then-current version of PyCharm. Stand-alone upgrades to particular versions of PyCharm are not available.

Hey, wait a second. So, if I skip one year, I must buy a completely new license, again for 87 euros? Hey, but maybe there's a bit of hope:

You can renew your upgrade subscription at the discounted upgrade subscription price during your upgrade subscription term or within 1 year upon its expiration.

Okay, so I could just wait 11 months and three weeks, and then renew my subscription? That would at least soften the pain, right? Guess again:

Regardless of the actual upgrade subscription renewal date, your new upgrade subscription term will always start on the date following your previous upgrade subscription expiration date.

Arg! Why do you hate your paying customers, JetBrains? It's like you want me to pirate this.

I think one of the most expensive pieces of software I ever bought was UltraEdit, way back when I still did PHP development on Windows (yeah, yeah). Their standard license was 57 dollars, with one year of major upgrades. However, they also sold a true permanent license, with free major upgrades for the rest of your life. At only 3 times the cost of one normal license. So while I bought version 9, about 8 years ago, my license is still valid for version 17 today. Hooray!

JetBrains, I love PyCharm, but I refuse to play (and pay) your stupid license game. Either add a true permanent license option, or just let me buy new major versions at a discount, something you specifically mention is not possible now:

Stand-alone upgrades to particular versions of PyCharm are not available.

Please, make your licenses as user friendly as your software. I will not pay 34 euros each and every year, only to have to pay 87 euros once again, if I forget to “renew” within a year. PyCharm is cool, very cool even, but not that cool.

Have feedback? Let me know on Twitter.