Why is Valentina free? From time to time, this is the question people ask themselves when they first learn about the project. Why indeed? And is it really so? Let’s find out.
Free in our case refers to the way in which it is distributed. After all, the software is distributed freely, without charge, which means that in most people’s minds it is free. But in reality it is far from that.
All living creatures on our planet are constantly faced with challenges. How and where to find food, how to avoid predators, how to reproduce and many others. Many techniques are developed for this: wings, covers, special organs and so on. From primitive solutions to very complex ones. At the same time, several solutions to the same problem may exist and compete at the same time.
Humans are no exception in this sense. Mankind has to find answers to a large number of challenges. From food and shelter to the way society is organised. We have spent centuries in a struggle of attitudes and approaches, a war of systems. Until one side surrenders to the other.
The methods of achieving goals can rarely be described as ideal, but at some point in our evolution, they allow us to achieve our goals. The methodology we have chosen allows us to organize the creation, testing and distribution of the software we develop. Why such a method? It might incorrectly seem to a person not familiar with software development that the results we have achieved so far could be just as easily achieved using the traditional model. But this is not the case. You have to own all the resources to create this level of product. It requires significant investment, a market and purchasing power. If you look at the current state of affairs, the main trend in this area becomes clear. CAD is the main solution, the existence of parametric drawings is often ignored. The bulk of existing solutions are aimed at companies with a corresponding price tag. Valentina is clearly going against the main trend against this background, raising the issue of a return to the use of parametrization and the development of better modern techniques.
Observing the success of Valentina’s implementation, one can draw the unfortunate conclusion that the business model for selling software is unlikely to succeed in this environment. A market is just being created. Gradually, thanks to the emergence of our project, there is a return to the idea of working with parametric patterns. You could call it a renaissance. However, it is impossible to imagine the success of this technology without the support of large companies.
As is often the case, the existence of a need is no guarantee that the idea is attractive. However, the very need to develop such software goes nowhere. We are those who believe and cannot imagine a better way of designing patterns. Fortunately, humanity has found an alternative approach - the free software movement (FSM) . It is an answer to the needs of people who could not be satisfied by the classical model of development and distribution. It is a philosophy based on the right of the people to own and modify software. In this article we won’t look at all aspects of this model, only at the aspect that interests us most: price. For those who want to know more, we suggest that you read the relevant source materials.
Whichever model you choose, there will always be a price. The only difference will be the way the load is shared. With the free software model, the payload is shared among project members. The software is distributed for free, but very often you have to find solutions to problems on your own. For example, lack of professional support and documentation. Users are expected to actively participate in discussions and testing. Very often users forget this fact. Thinking in the paradigm of commercial software we see the zero price as a nice bonus and do not think about what is behind it. Then there is the disappointment, not at all appropriate here, if the product can’t meet your needs. After all, your direct involvement in the development of the program is suggested and expected. No one is obliged to leave their duties and rush over to solve your problem.
You can think of the process as a marketplace where people come to find solutions to their problems. There they find solutions left by others. You may take others’ solutions, but you are expected to solve problems on your own if they do not meet your needs. You can, of course, ask the people around the solution you are looking for, but this doesn’t always help. Just because you use a solution does not obligate them to help you. What’s more, the participants expect you to participate. That you won’t just take a solution they’ve worked on together, but also suggest improvements.
That’s why Valentina may be called conditionally free. No one will ask you for money. But you are expected to actively participate: testing, developing, documenting, discussing, donating, implementing, distributing and the list goes on. This is especially important for people who plan to start a business. Without a guarantee of support from the authors, using software is like gambling. The day may come when you are left alone with a critical problem with no one to solve it.
This approach does not satisfy all users. Not everyone has the time or ability to develop a project. This is often cited as a major drawback of open source software. In order to meet the needs of this group of users, community members can provide paid services. Therefore, you can safely add the cost of paid books, courses, tables and patterns to the cost of ownership. Support and development services. All these services are absolutely optional and are designed to make your life easier. And at the same time are a source of funding for further development of the project. Not all members of the community providing paid services are actively involved in the development itself. You pay for services provided honestly, but the project itself receives nothing. There is no mechanism for getting these people to share with the people behind the development. This is not a forbidden form of parasitism. But very often, people don’t understand this; they think of anyone who promotes a program as its original author. We do not urge you at all to boycott such community members. We prefer instead that you understand who the true authors are, and how you might help them.
To summarize, Valentina is conventionally free software. The cost of ownership will be closely related to your needs and abilities. Some may find it too high, while others may not notice it at all.