Why BurrTools Is Free
I've been asked many times why I choose to give BurrTools away for free. I will try to explain it in here. There are various reasons why BurrTools is what it is. The following are probably the most important ones.
Hoping for contribution. When I started writing I quickly realized that this is going to be a big project that will take ages to finish on my own. So I was hoping that I could motivate other programmers to contribute so that it could be accomplished faster. But that hope has not really been fulfilled. The help I get is appreciated but it is not really much.
Using available free infrastructure. When writing something that is released using an open licence you are able to use freely available tools and infrastructure. For example the web-page is not costing me anything even if I have higher traffic after a release. I can also use free libraries that help me get along faster. For example just a GUI library will cost 1000 Euro when I want to write a commercial program. And that is just a parts. Some pieces of the software are not available at all for commercial programs.
I wrote BurrTools for me, I need it. I write what I want. This is something to keep in your mind. BurrTools is written to scratch MY itch. And because I don't have any additional costs I can share it. Yes "share" is the proper word and not "give away" because I still have it after you got it. You can make suggestions but in the end I will do what I want and what I think suitable and what I think is worth the effort. I never wrote the program as a service to the puzzle community but for me. It is just a useful side-effect that you can use it. And because I wrote it for me I am and always will hold back features that will give me an advantage when it comes to design puzzles.
Donations: Of course you're free to make donations, but I will never ask for them and there are 2 reasons for that. First the 2 people that contribute should get something as well and what happens if there are really more people starting to contribute. How to divide the donations among us? The second problem is that donating is different quality of giving. As explained above you'd give something away while I share what I have. The best donation is source code because that would be the same kind of giving that I do. But if you really want to give something else. I will never say "no" to a nice puzzle.
I understand that many people just don't have the capabilities to provide code but it is just not really worth the hassle to make BurrTools a proprietary software. If I made that step I would need to rewrite bigger parts of the program to not use some of the libraries that I use. I would need to buy licences for some code. I'd need to buy a web account and transfer the web-page, I'd need to set up a business, talk to my employer, finance a way for you to pay. All that are some initial costs and then ongoing costs. Taking into account that around 2000 people downloaded the last version. Of those 2000 I guess not more than 50 would actually buy the program. That is not more than 5000 Euro. Bill Cutler told me similar numbers that he made with his program. So it simply is not worth the effort. BurrTools it too much a niche product.