Pricing Models: Subscription vs. One Time Purchase


updated the title to reflect that.

Ha! My dictionary of choice doesn’t have a translation therefore. Smart move 😉


it was a typo. “rabbles” should have been “rambles” – i.e. “too much thought-free talking”


Always interesting to hear thoughts from devs, especially someone so critical to RW’s success and allowing so much extra functionality to be added. If it wasn’t for your work on Stacks I’d probably have never bought RW, as it made web design for a beginner like me a lot easier.

On the pricing debate, I recently got an email from the makers of the Sip colour picker. They are changing their pricing model for the new version. You pay for a year of updates, after that you have to renew for another year. Maybe a good inbetween model of one time purchase but subscription for regular updates?


So, maybe modifying the current one-time-charge is a more feasible task? Take an example of Sitelok—Adrian charges $40 for the first domain and then, $20 for each additional one—simple and fair. Of course, you could adjust your price as you see fit. Just a suggestion…

Sorry to the original poster. Maybe this thread should be split into two separate ones? I think the Stacks case is important enough to justify that…


@pmjd I saw the Sip announcement too. i can’t pretend to understand it in full, but i can’t say i was overly excited about it as a customer.

mostly they have granted “a year of updates” for the a yearly payment. i’m sure that sounds great to the developer, but i honestly don’t want updates. i want features and stability. updates is neither of those.

i often feel this way in the subscriptions debate – that the interests of the customer have been lost or are at least subservient to, the needs of the appstore or the needs of the developer. :-/

needless to say, i probably won’t be adopting that model. i’d kind of rather ask people to pay for something they really want. and hopefully offer a little more to those that are willing to pay more or at least more often. doesn’t that make sense? well… it does to me anyway.



Think I get where you are coming from. I can imagine it’s not an easy one to navigate, trying to find the right model to keep yourself afloat and stable, rather than the severe ebb and flow that you described previously. There seems to be a few things other software developers are trying; Picktorial have also changed their pricing model options to: a free basic version, a one time purchase option, or a monthly subscription model. Would be interesting to see which works for them.

I’m not a professional, so one time purchases are more suited to my needs than subscription based services. I know others can do various business things to recoup costs but this is more of a hobby/interest at the moment.

From what you said it sounds like in-app purchases are something you are looking at, so you can pay to unlock premium features in Stacks.

Anyway, should stop distracting you from working on Stacks 4!


Well, yes. Putting aside weirdos like Tav, that’s surely the fundamental basis of any supply of service?

You must put your needs ahead of your clients. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s the way it should be. Surely?


A great business model is when those two things are the same of course. Aligned interests. Nothing better.

But if not, a business had better do the best it can for the customer – otherwise someone else will. This is (kinda sorta mostly) capitalism after all.

When Sip made the announcement I saw one of the stack devs post a (sub)tweet about it. I don’t think he’s signing up for the subscription anytime soon. 😉
And in the back of my mind I thought: there’s 6-month window of opportunity to unseat the dominant color management app.
I wonder what I could get done in 6-months. 🤔

Today was a day for releasing the Stacks 3 bug fix.

I think that was the first Stacks non-beta build that’s gone all the way through the new automated build system using GitLab CI – so there were lots of little wrinkles to iron out – and lots of waiting in between.

I won’t be so chatty for the next few days. Save up your questions. It’s been fun chatting with everyone.

Bye for now… 👋


I’ve still got my pitchfork on the ready.


Me too!

Although I do pay for a few subscription based software, I think as soon as RW, Stacks and stacks start subscriptions, it would be the final nail in the coffin for RW as far as I’m concerned.

If it was a question of just one major part of RW charging a subscription, I’d probably be ok with that. But everyone would jump on the bandwagon.

And with the price of one or 2 developers stacks increasing quite rapidly, I’m being much more selective about who I buy stacks from.

Yabdab has already kind of started with Formloom 4. You only get one year of updates and “support”. Again, if a plugin or stack is worth a yearly payment, why not? But a contact form stack isn’t.


Although I can switch-on subscription payments really easily in the Paddle dashboard, I am not convinced the subscription model is a good fit for RapidWeaver addons yet. And the consensus I have heard from my own customers is one of overwhelming resentment against going that route.

We have already witnessed discussions on the main forums in recent times, where a user has wanted to buy 1 stack, but told it was only part of a bundle or addon pack etc. Nearly always resulting in that person going elsewhere.

I think psychologically there is a barrier with the subscription model - a notion that you are renting, not owning. The risk something can be taken away from you or rendered broken. And the feeling of repetitively paying-out money; like you do for insurance, mortgages, car loans etc. It’s just not a very elegant approach to business IMO.

I too got the email about SIP going for a subscription-ist approach and was quite dismayed by this news. Screenflow and 1Password have also gone for a ‘subscription in disguise’ approach too - in that you have to pay for major updates about once a year - and older versions quickly become incompatible and unsupported. I feel the updates are not always worthy of the fees being asked either. I find it makes me want to look elsewhere for solutions - with emphasis on supporting the newer startups.


Sorry. I’ve got to say I wouldn’t be getting on board with monthly if I could avoid it.

Fair point about Yabdab - I was going to get Go CMS, but having seen that, I don’t think I’ll bother.


I’ve only just realised that this is a new thread! So I think I need to clarify, as it appears as if I started this as unique thread, which I didn’t.

My comment at the top, which appears as the first post, was actually a comment made in another thread following a discussion with Isaiah and a few others about various things, NOT about devs charging subs for stacks. If seems like that comment was taken and turned into it’s own thread about devs charging subscriptions, this is essentially taking things out of context.

We did discuss RW and/or Stacks going subs, but not stacks (lower case: Important).

I say this as it’s entirely possible that it now appears as if I’m advocating devs adopting a subscription model, which I’m not. I’ve never suggested such a thing and don’t think it’s a good idea.

I’m not sure how my comment in another thread has been turned into it’s own thread. Not complaining, as such, but as I say, it does feel to me as if that comment is now out of context and as such misleading, at least as to my views anyway.

So, perhaps it’s an idea if this thread can get pulled, at the very least my comments pulled from the top? Sorry, to ask, but I kinda feel like I’m being misrepresented here.

Or maybe it’s just me being a Friday snowflake?


The original post was about RapidWeaver phoning home. The thread got hi Jacked about the subscription vs one time purchase. The original poster (after someone else suggested) asked the thread be split. It had changed into two subjects and was getting difficult to follow.


Right, gotchya, didn’t know that could happen.

In fairness, I think it might have been me that took it off topic, so can’t complain!


If it is any consolation I have found both threads to be both informative and entertaining…


Yes. I cleaned up.


For me, it’s clear not to take the substitution route for my Stack Plugin addons.

Because for myself, if I buy software, I want to own it, and be able to use it as long as I want.

For desktop software like we produce, there are easier ways than subscriptions: regular (e.g. all 18-24 months) major software upgrades. The customer is then able to choose to buy the new version or not. Same does RW, see upgrade cycle version 5 to 8.

Different are online SaaS offerings or music/tv series subscriptions. There, for me it’s fine to use that service, and if I would create an online software service by myself, I would also use subscriptions as paiments.


I own anything that I purchase, can keep it for as long as I like and use it as often as I like — it’s mine.
Take a car, for instance (automobile if you’re from the other side of the pond), you can purchase a car outright, keep it for as long as you like and drive wherever you please…
You can also take out a subscription for a car; I think it’s called leasing. You are supplied with the vehicle of your choice, you make monthly payments for a set period of time and during that time, you can use the vehicle to drive just about anywhere you want (certain countries are restricted, of course, due to insurance problems), then, at the end of your subscription period you have to make a choice…
You can either return the vehicle and are left with nothing, or you can renew your subscription, if you feel that you need to travel more (albeit with a substantial new downpayment in this example.)

So if you ask me if to make the decision to subscribe to my car, or make an outright purchase, drive the jalopy until it can no longer be updated (i.e. serviced/repaired), which decision do you think I’m going to make?

I no longer have the financial means to ‘subscribe’ to a car, or any other service and (with one exception — more later) never shall!


I too was dismayed by SIP’s announcement that they are going the subscription route. You mentioned 1Password in your ‘list’ of newer subscription models.

I’ve been a 1Password user since its inception. Last year I was rather dismayed that they introduced their “subscription” model. Whilst 1PW is a brilliant piece of kit, I DO NOT subscribe to software smithies…
… unless.
I sat down and did the maths!
I could purchase a separate 1Password license for each of my OS, or could opt in to 'Subscribe" with the added value of receiving “free” updates for each and every OS alongside the side effect that my data will no longer be stored on Dropbox, but on a secure server owned 1Password (For I while, I did support work for 1PW, so it’s a company that I trust more than Dropbox)
The 1Password example works out cheaper (and more secure) in the long run than separate purchases i.e. Added Value.

If someone can show me the maths demonstrating that Adobe software, a subscription version of RapidWeaver, or any other software, not only gives me better value for money, but also Added Value, I might consider subscribing.
But my pitchfork’s at the ready and the chances are really, really slim!