First some background.
Unless you are new to .NET development you will have heard of and probably used the excellent .NET Reflector tool that was written some years ago by Lutz Roeder. It takes a .NET assembly and does a good job of decompiling it into C#. It has many more features than just this but that is the core functionality. I have used it many times to help me understand how the base classes work in WinForms. In August 2008 Lutz sold .NET Reflector to Red Gate Software who continued to provide a free version but they also developed extra features that became commercial versions.

Show Me The Money

On Feb 2nd 2011 they announced that they would be charging $35 for the tool. When a product has been available for many years for free the market expects it to remain free. Especially when Lutz sold it to Red Gate and the impression people received at the time was that a version of  it would remain forever free.

This has created some backlash from developers, not all developers, but a vocal minority who feel they have been bait and switched. More importantly it created a hole in the market at the free price point. Two commercial companies have jumped into that space with JustDecompile from Telerik and dotPeek from JetBrains. Both of these are free. There is also an open source project called ILSpy that is making progress in replicating .NET Reflector functionality.

Back Flip
In response Red Gate have backtracked slightly with the following announcement. Basically it says that existing users of .NET Reflector can continue using version 6.8 for free into the future but all new customers will still need to pay. You can see the pricing for new customers here. This whole flip flop has really damaged the reputation of Red Gate.

It has also opened up a free for all where alternative tools will be developed when previously no one considered it worthwhile. I wonder if in a couple of years this will all be forgotten or will Red Gate look back and rue the decisions they made?

4 Responses to “Redgate Blunder?”

  1. Miki Watts Says:

    I’ve used dotPeek recently, instead of Reflector, and the ability to navigate the code like I do with Resharper, sold me on it.

  2. Gedisoft Says:

    I’ve had a chat with a representative of Jetbrains at the Techdays in Belgium and he made it very clear that their version will remain free. They use/develop it as a fundation for their resharper tool. So they have it anyway (and it’s good “bait” for their payed Resharper tool.
    grtz
    Geert

  3. Fiona Says:

    I think “This whole flip flop has really damaged the reputation of Red Gate.” is not right .. I think that the fact a company like RG *can* come back and say with hands held up ‘I think we got it slightly wrong’ is commendable … they could have carried on being a bit bullish about it, they could have buried their heads in the sand, they could have done many things .. However they did what they feel is right for the time and I don’t think it’s damaged them in any way …

    Here’s to a company that realises that it’s RUN BY HUMANS who DO MAKE MISTAKES sometimes!

    Fiona
    http://www.devtoolcafe.com
    @devtoolcafe

  4. David S Says:

    http://www.jetbrains.com/decompiler/

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