Licensing questions / requests

I want to clarify the user license on the Ignition Maker edition. I feel like I know the answer to this scenario, but I would like to get other people’s opinion on it AND also make a request to IA.

I dream of starting my own home automation business sometime in the future. This would be a business that installs sensors to gather data on power consumption, air circulation, window/door state, etc and it would use some sort of unified interface to display this data. Since I work with and love Ignition (particularly, Perspective), the natural fit for the interface would be the Maker edition. However, the license states

Maker Edition may only be used by individuals for personal use. Businesses, non-profit organizations, and other entities cannot use Maker Edition for commercial, revenue-generating, or non-profit activities

so that excludes the use-case I’m describing above, right? It seems pretty clear, but the only thing that doesn’t make sense for me is if you’re not charging customers for software that is free (Maker), does that count as commercial or revenue-generating use? What if the customer creates an account with Ignition and get the Maker codes, but then part of the package would be to develop an interface for that customer that they would then display using their Maker edition?

I have a feeling that would be usage of the Maker edition that falls outside of the license.

Request for IA

Release a licensed version of the Maker edition for commercial and/or non-profit use! The tool is already built, the community already exists, the functionality is already there! In my opinion, there is a hidden market that would pay a few hundred bucks for a slimmed down version of Ignition for the excellent feature-set and support. I know home automation customers don’t NEED a full version of Ignition and they would never pay $6k - $20k for a home system anyway. Again, it doesn’t make sense to me why such a version doesn’t already exist - I can’t think of a feature I would need and Perspective either doesn’t already have it or it’s not on the horizon.

Other use case besides home automation

  • Non-profit use (think of the Room In The Inn project) - I use Ignition daily and I was going to build out a system for a local Sunday school that tracks attendance, scores, and a lot of other data. They didn’t want to pay for a license (and if you think you can build it out using regular web development tools, you’re obviously right, but it would take 10x the time and would require a team to support it, add new features, etc).

Disclaimer:
This is just like, my opinion, man. I keep myself deliberately insulated from business conversations like this.

The market for consumer software is completely different from the market for business-to-business software. User’s expectations are completely different in a whole host of axes, and our whole company infrastructure really isn’t geared towards consumer sales (and therefore support). I personally think that as much as Perspective is a very cool product, anything offered to individual consumers would have to be a much more turn-key solution than what you currently get with Ignition. I think we can all agree that there’s a learning curve to get up to speed with everything Ignition offers.

I am not a lawyer, but I would agree with this feeling.

I do think non-profit use is a cool idea, but I don’t know if it’s common enough to require a whole extra product offering. Your sales rep might be convinced it’s worthwhile, though :man_shrugging:

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I didn’t even think of my original question in terms of a full-fledged consumer product. For me, one of the biggest selling points of Ignition is that it doesn’t try to be full-fledged - it just gives you all of the tools you need to create your own system exactly how you want it.

I can’t think of a direct analogy that makes sense - maybe something like Wordpress or an AWS EC2 instance, both of which are platforms/tools that require specialized knowledge and are very popular. Also, yes, Perspective has a learning curve, but it is nowhere near the learning curve that web developers go through, for example. The drag/drop components, easy database access, easy scripting, etc are sooo much nicer and easier to use than to build a similar app using the mern or lamp stack, for example.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m somewhat tech-oriented but I hate what is on the market for home automation / smart home. Usually, they’re sloppy systems with cheap sensors that aren’t reliable (ie. Vivint) or the interface is crappy (this is my personal experience). I’d rather choose my own sensors and devices, and build my own interface than use a consumer product.

I think one of the main reasons why I asked the question was because the product is already built and supported - it’s not like it requires building out a different visualization module or anything like that.

Well, if you inundate IA support with retail consumers, that won’t stay true.

I disagree for a few reasons:

  • I don’t see how the array of home automation devices can be greater than, more complicated and more numerous than industrial or commercial devices. A support engineer who can troubleshoot an entire enterprise, plant, facility, area, machine etc will definitely be able to support a home automation project.

  • The risk / severity / cost of downtime on a home automation system is much lower than a production system. If your window sensor isn’t working, that is a different class of issue than if a production system is down.

  • Ignition aside, if your support is being inundated by customers, your product is either very crappy or very popular. Ignition has a track record of being a stellar product and having an amazing community.

On the contrary, the home automation space is terrible for standardization. Everybody invents their own protocol; if you’re lucky it’s close enough to REST if you squint, and if you’re very lucky it’s got a sane JSON structure. But there is absolutely no market incentive to standardize on protocols (unlike the the industrial space); there’s no Modbus lingua-franca beyond HTTP, there’s no common manufacturers with significant market share. Instead you have to do piecemeal integration with every. single. device:

https://assistant.google.com/explore/i?intent=ControlTemperatureAndAir&hl=en-US

Ignition doesn’t (and never will) have the market share Google and Amazon do that gets third party developers to add their own devices to our platform, so we’d have to hand crank things ourselves, or rely on third party developers, which then becomes its own headache; see NPM/Github/etc drama for some examples of ways that can go wrong. This also circles back to ‘users have their own expectations’ - if the product is anything other than free, users will expect $whateverDevice to just automatically work on it, often with very little patience.

I’m genuinely not trying to be a total downer - I can’t really understate how much I agree with you with regard to how much better Ignition would be than ~everything currently out there in the home automation space, I just don’t think it’s as easy a switch as it seems at first glance.

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I don’t disagree with you about the lack of standardization - that’s what’s attractive about Ignition to me, the fact that you can connect to a wide array of devices using just a TCP driver, MQTT, or web dev endpoints. In my head, if Ignition can’t connect to a device, it’s not the fault of Ignition for not supporting some novel or legacy protocol, it’s the backward thinking of the device manufacturer / designer.

I understand what you’re saying that it’s more difficult than I’m making it seem, but man, a commercial license for home automation would be so nice. Even if it was Ignition Maker exactly (except suitable for revenue-generating use) and no technical support, I would still pay for this license. Even for non-profit use - a use-case that has nothing to do with automation but that can leverage the fast development Perspective provides.

Hmm. We get what we pay for. Retail customers and employees of any end-user, non-profit or not, will expect support, particularly if an integrator is involved in any way. Expectation of transitive responsibility, whatever might otherwise be said.

Phil gets it. The issue is support. We cannot offer a “few hundred dollar” product and offer support for it. We would lose money, which isn’t something we’re too keen on doing.

Well, sure. It’s not a matter of the difficulty of the support. It’s purely a volume issue. We simply cannot staff the support department adequately on the revenue that the home automation market supports.

Yep. I’m right there with ya. That’s why we bothered to do Maker Edition in the first place.

Besides support, another difficulty is in the ability to delineate/separate the two markets. As you have undoubtedly noticed, Maker Edition is essentially 90% of full Ignition. The clean break created by the non-commercial license and lack of support are what make it possible. If we start tip-toeing into a few-hundred-dollar commercial “home automation” product, we get into a very difficult to define difference between “home” automation and our normal industrial automation market.

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When I said a few hundred dollars, all I meant by that was something significantly less than a full Ignition license but not free…

I wish it wasn’t this way, but I understand what you’re saying… I guess the last question in my mind is about support (excuse my ignorance here) - is support always necessary? In other words, if I pay for a license where it clearly states that it doesn’t include support, how would that be different from people who use Maker edition for their own homes now? The original question had to do with revenue-generating home automation systems using a Maker-like license, where the person installing the system would be different from the owner of the home (who can already get Maker for free).

If people wanted support, they could pay a monthly subscription fee or something like that (by people, I mean home automation system integrators). In my mind, if an end user gets a custom home automation system installed by an integrator with a Maker license and something breaks, it doesn’t seem obvious to me that their first instinct would be to call Inductive Automation instead of the integrator who installed it.

I’m coming from this purely from a consumer’s perspective - I obviously have no information about IAs support structure or costing structure.

Hah! Consumers don’t care what the license is on something they pay for. If they have a problem that the integrator can’t solve, and some will, they absolutely will feel entitled to go up the chain of supply. And, if I recall correctly, the law in some parts of the world will back them up.

IA telling end-users “No, Maker isn’t supported” still takes time from IA support, and muddies IA’s name in public.

That’s the point - they wouldn’t be paying IA. If anyone in the world wants to make their own home automation system with Maker, they can do it now for free. Also, the Maker license is a small (but integral) part of a home automation system.

At the end of the day, its 10000000% up to IA what they do - it’s their software, they built it, and they get to sell it however they want. Thank you @PGriffith and @Carl.Gould for helping me understand things from IAs perspective.

No, they’d be paying someone for an IA-derived product. If that someone promised the moon, then took the client’s money and failed to deliver as promised, whose “big” pockets does the ticked-off client try to raid? Or whose support line do they hassle?

I understand both points of view here. As an integrator, it may be feasible to offer a cloud-based solution (Ignition on cloud server), giving home automation clients access via subscription. Of course you’d need enough subscribers to make the subscription affordable. And it won’t be a local solution, though that’s typical of many of the less attractive options out there. Then your angry (or preferably happy) customers will look you up, not IA :slight_smile:

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