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Freemium Model Ends for .NET Reflector

Red Gate Software has changed course with .NET Reflector, a class browser and decompiler that appears at the top of just about every .NET developer's indispensable tools list. The former community edition of the popular utility will cost $35.00 starting with Version 7, which is expected in early March.

.NET Reflector 6.6 remains free for download until Version 7 is released. Version 6.6 is set to expire on May 30. Commercial versions of the product going forward will not have "time bombs" that force upgrades, according to the company.

A commercial company, Red Gate Software acquired .NET Reflector from its creator, a Microsoft developer named Lutz Roeder, in 2008. At the time, Red Gate implied that it would continue to offer a free community edition; .NET Reflector was initially released as a free tool in 2000 and the standalone version has remained free for about a decade.

This week Red Gate announced that despite good intentions, it could not get the free model to work. The company did not get enough traction with its commercial Visual Studio plug-in .NET Reflector Pro or the expected cross-over to its other developer tools, ANTS Profilers and SQL Compare. Releasing .NET Reflector as an open source project was considered, but Red Gate decided against it.

In a YouTube interview about the decision, Simon Galbraith, Red Gate joint chief executive explains:

"Right now further development doesn't make commercial sense. Reflector is a tool that has to stay current and has to work in all sorts of new ways with mobile devices and new versions of the .NET platform. We need to be able to spend money on it and we can't do so in a commercially justifiable way."

Version 7 introduces a tabbed browsing model and PowerCommands such as a query editor among other features. It comes in three flavors: .NET Reflector, .NET Reflector Visual Studio, which offers a new Object Browser within the IDE and .NET Reflector VS Pro for debugging code from decompiled assemblies even without the source code.

Express your thoughts on these latest developments with .NET Reflector. Are you willing to pay for a commercial version of this indispensable tool? Drop me a line at krichards@1105media.com.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 02/03/2011 at 12:54 PM

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 Jan Romell Sweden

Sure, of course they should charge for a product being developed. I agree with that. I don't really believe in open source. I for sure like salary for my work. BUT, and this is a big one. Time bombing the existing version that everyone has (due to forced online upgrades) is really rude! Instead, they should offer a good reason for users to pay for the 7.0 and onwards version. If it's good, developers are willing to pay 35 bucks for it. But this way. Nah, I go look for an alternative..

Thu, Feb 17, 2011

@Nellie Kane - what a shill.

Wed, Feb 9, 2011

I'll be buying it as I depend on it to figure out what others had done - usually wrong. Anybody want to start an open-source project?

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 Tim Wilimington MA

In all honesty - Reflector is a powerful tool. If I have to pay $35 for a tool that won't expire I will. I don't use it often but when I do it's the tool I need.

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 Waltdog

Blatant money grab from a company with precious little else to offer the industry. Die Red Gate.

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 Bryan

It's a useful tool, but when 6.6 expires, it goes in the trash. I don't begrudge RedGate's decisions regarding their intellectual property but I also don't support them. Let's see what's on Codeplex on SourceForge...

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 80's Rocker

One other thing, most people did not buy the pro version so what makes them think that people will buy it now. They will just find a new alternative that is free of comes with tools they already pay for (ReSharper, etc).

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 80's Rocker

I will not buy it since i mainly used it to look at source code to learn how other people do things in code. The only way I would buy it is if I lost the source code to an application and needed to get to decompile to restore the source code.

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 William Clardy

While I enjoyed using the basic version of Reflector for free, I understand the economic reality that RedGate has been unable to recoup their investment by asking a small minority of users to pay for keeping the tool up to date. I'll probably be forking over my $35 "extortion" fee because Reflector I expect my time savings with Reflector 7 to be worth a few times that "investment".

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 Dave

There is no doubt in my mind that Redgate bought Reflector with the idea that they could roll it in with their Net Development Tools. These tools are priced for corporate developers and are out of reach for most individual devs. In other words, Redgate's business model is completely contrary to 'open source' and, in the end, that's what they decided too, after a suitable (to them) period of mourning. I expect in the future it will get more expensive...

Mon, Feb 7, 2011 Richard

Ironically, I would have been prepared to pay for v7 - it looks like it has some nice improvements over v6.

However, RedGate's decision to force everybody to pay for the upgrade, even if they don't want it, is nothing short of extortion. It shows a complete lack of respect for their users, which has only been reinforced by their responses in the Reflector v7 forum.

It'll be a cold day in Hell before these scumbags get any of my money!

Fri, Feb 4, 2011 Nellie Kane Waban, MA

Cool! Don't mind the cost and have every bit of confidence that Red Gate will add much value to the product and put their special touch to enhance this version. Good news Redmond Developer people! Thank you.

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