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The #reflector licensing debacle

Posted by Jeroen Pluimers on 2011/02/06

Earlier this week, Red Gate announced that the new Reflector version 7 would cost USD 35, as of March 2011, and the current free version 6.6 will expire on May 30th, 2011.

That caused a lot of stir, on their forum, twitter, reddit and a lot of other places. Even an old thread at StackOverflow got a new boost. It seems Red Gate did not read Social media judo: How to turn a fight into a brand-building moment.

Here is a summary of the past, present and future of things happening around reflector, including some workarounds and alternative products.

First a bit of history.

Lutz Roeder over the years developed .NET Reflector as a free tool. A few hightlights:

Red Gate took over:

  • In August 2008, both in a Simple Talk interview and on their web-site, James Moore – Red Gate’s general manager of .NET Developer Tools – announced “Our commitment is to maintain an amazing free tool that will continue to benefit the community while seeking input from users on ways to make .NET Reflector even more valuable
  • During 2009 and 2010, Red Gate added support for opening assemblies from the GAC, .NET 4 assemblies and syntax, assembly lists from .NET 1.0 through 4.0, Silverlight, Mono, XNA and Managed Direct X, and a Visual Studio plugin
  • They also did bugfixes, and introduced new bugs, thus provoking mixed reactions from the community
  • In February 2011, Red Gate apologized in an open letter to the .NET community, that  “it will charge $35 for version 7 of .NET Reflector upon its release in early March. Version 7 will be sold as a perpetual license, with no time bomb or forced updates“.

As a result, a lot of the people in the community got upset: .NET Reflector  had been free for about 8 years, but after the Red Gated promised for it to stay free, in 2 and a half years it moved from free to paid.

Furthermore, people in the community don’t believe that the Version 7 will be free of expiration, or that future versions will stay at USD 35.

There were even a couple of forum postings by a curious user named JAssange.

And Jay Grieves offering 60 free licenses (of which 50 sponsored by Red Gate) on his blog.

People started to investigate workarounds for the expiration:

And a lot of attention was drawn to these products/projects (for instance in a post by Miguel de Icaza):

My personal opinion is that the Reflector tool is worth the USD 35. If Red Gate had handled this differently, I’d pay them for it. But now I’m doubting between the about sketched alternatives.

What I hope that Red Gate will do is what Keith Dahlby wrote:

–jeroen

PS 1: Here is a nice presentation on .NET Reflector.

PS 2: Lutz is still active in the .NET scene; he has some projects on github.

PS 3: Feel free to use this info to update the .NET Reflector Wikipedia article from the info above: feel free; it is a bit thin on history.

4 Responses to “The #reflector licensing debacle”

  1. [...] long time ago, I wrote about the Reflector debacle and the URLs how it used to update. Since then Reflector 6.8.2.5 came out. No newer free versions [...]

  2. [...] 4.1: en…David Fischer on Online Backup of All Your…Tweets that mention … on The #reflector licensing …Gad D Lord on The #reflector [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dan Miser, Jeroen Pluimers. Jeroen Pluimers said: The #reflector licensing debacle http://wp.me/pvelJ-1lY [...]

  4. Gad D Lord said

    Who cares. It will leak cracked on day one of becoming a paid product. Pity for Red Gate.
    Their Schema/Data Compare tool is now killed by the VS 2010 Data menu.
    Reflector won’t be able to feel the cash gap Toolbelt left.

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