Those of you who are on the Cardbox News mailing list will have seen this announcement of Cardbox 3.1. Briefly, Cardbox 3.1 makes Cardbox licence-free, so that you can install it on as many PCs and servers as you like without having to pay for licences or worry about managing them.
Some of you have emailed us to ask what this all means: is it the end of Cardbox as we know it? So I thought I’d write this blog post to say a bit more of what we’re up to and what this move means.
The very quick summary is that it’s all a bit of an adventure. In these days of the Internet it costs next to nothing to run a web site and nothing at all to distribute software from it. So there is now no reason not to contribute to the public good by spreading Cardbox among as many people as possible.
Cardbox is especially suitable for this treatment because so many of its users fall in love with it and want all their friends to use it too, and it’s easier to do that if there isn’t an up-front investment to be made. At the same time, Cardbox is solid and reliable and the majority of support requests we get are actually from people who have got their licensing in a tangle and need to disentangle it. So removing licensing from the equation cuts the support burden hugely, and we’re capitalizing on this by abolishing support subscriptions altogether and letting people support each other on the Cardbox forums, which we’ll keep a benevolent eye on, intervening where necessary, and which we’ll expand and restructure as and when they seem to need it. It’s always been rather embarrassing charging subscriptions for technical support which no-one ends up needing to use.
So what happens next?
If Cardbox booms, it booms. I can see some of the directions it could grow in, and you probably can too. I am dying to explore some of those avenues but I’m exercising iron self-control to stop myself. There has to be a critical mass of users to make any serious new project worthwhile.
If it doesn’t boom, it doesn’t, and nobody loses, because it’s still available for whoever needs it. For the things it does, nothing else is as good as Cardbox.
I couldn’t live without it.