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The Disappointment of Rubymotion

I bought Rubymotion last year in a frenzy of excitement over writing iOS apps. It cost me $200 which is a lot for an independent developer these days, especially when you consider that Xcode is free and they’ve just released Swift, a much more approachable language than the daunting and hated Objective-C. Hell I even bought the Rubymotion book by Clay Allsop in my excitement.

But their website said that it was a one-time investment with no restrictions whatsoever so that sounded good. I bought the software, started trying to learn it for a bit and then had to abandon it because real work got in the way. But I wasn’t worried, it was free forever right, I wouldn’t be strong-armed into upgrading every year like evil companies such as Adobe, Autodesk and Microsoft force you to, right?

Wrong. I just got a message saying that my Maintenance is about to expire, what the hell? So I check the website and, sure enough, they want another $199 for yearly maintenance. Wait a minute, what? I thought it was free forever! In a tizzy I shoot off an email to Laurent Sansonetti, the owner and founder of Rubymotion. He responded immediately in a very civil manner saying that while the software was indeed “free forever” the maintenance has always been a yearly renewal. I guess I missed that part. But he does go on to clarify that in the past the maintenance was $99 a year and that now they’re raising it to $199 to, and I quote, better serve our customers!

How the fuck does raising the maintenance cost by $100 better serve us? In no way at all, it better serves Laurent and the Rubymotion people, but not the fucking customers. Essentially, he is forcing his customers to pay a full license every year! Why the hell? What is the justification for that? I mean not even Autodesk does that and they’re the worst of the worst when it comes to customer service and blood leeching prices.

Disappointment Leads to Abandonment

This has been such a disappointment that I’ll probably have to abandon Rubymotion forever and kiss goodbye to those $199 I thew into the trash last year buying the software, thinking I’d get a chance to use it later on. How can I go to my boss and say that I want $200 a year to develop iOS apps simply because I like Ruby? He’ll tell me to shut the hell up and use Xcode and Swift which are completely free, and with good reason. Don’t get me wrong, if your boss is smart he’ll realize that a yearly investment in your software of choice is a good thing and something minimal to the bottom line, if you have happy employees, using the software they like, they will be much more productive and find less excuses not to do X or Y assignment precisely because they are using the environment they enjoy. Forcing them to use an environment they don’t like is never a good recipe. But $199 a year is a lot harder to digest than the former $99. Especially because it’s the full price of the software! In what mind is this a good investment? Buying the same piece of software for the same price every fucking year? It’s unbelievable.

And it’s really too bad, because Rubymotion is quite good actually, if you’re a Rubyist and want to get into iOS development it’s a great way to start. You’ll still have to learn the ins and outs of the Cocoa Touch API but you can do it in an environment that is familiar to you instead of having to learn everything from scratch if you were to opt for Xcode and Swift. However, there are downsides: namely documentation and support. Googling for how to change a button’s background image in Rubymotion doesn’t net you very many results for example. Debugging can be an issue too, the interactive debugger is great, it’s something not even Xcode has but the Stack trace is not always helpful while Xcode’s debugger is top-notch if a bit cryptic.

Plans gone awry

My plan was to learn Cocoa Touch and Interface Builder through Swift tutorials and courses and then develop the apps in Rubymotion because I love Ruby and its succinct syntax but if that means re-buying Rubymotion every year for the full price of admission just for the privilege of coding in Ruby, I guess that plan is out the window.

Bad decision

Personally, I think Sansonetti and pals are shooting themselves in the foot here. With the advent of Swift and Storyboard, iOS development with Xcode just became much more palatable, and to compete with that, raising the price of your yearly maintenance by 100% is definitely not the way to go. If anything they should have lowered it. How do you entice newcomers to iOS development away from Xcode and towards Rubymotion? By making your software twice as expensive? This doesn’t sound like a good strategy.

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