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Thread: Local webdevs need to get with the program

  1. #1
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Local webdevs need to get with the program

    One of the organisations I'm involved with needs a web script developed. Essentially their website needs a members portal with a document generation and management script inside (at this point).

    So the current website services provider is approached for this project. And as a little background - At this point they provide web hosting, a CMS which they styled to suit, and email services.

    They put out a project proposal which is skimpy on detail and deliverables, and there've been two responses so far on suggested improvements. The first increases the specifics of the functionality - mine dealt with... shall we say "the stuff webdevs don't like to talk about to tech ignorant clients."

    My suggestions/concerns raised have been answered as follows (my queries in blue):

    In response to your queries:

    In terms of product, (per process step 3 below) I suggest the certificate is generated as a securely locked, downloadable PDF file.
    - No problem, the system will function this way.

    Software platform.
    The OS and software platforms are not specified or disclosed.

    - The portal will run on any web browser and is platform independent(PC / Apple MAC / Android / Apple iOS / Linux can be used).

    Ownership.
    Ownership of the developed scripts shall vest with the Association. (To some extent exactly what portions of the scripts are available to ownership is affected by the OS and software platforms).

    - The portal will function as a web site – The code will reside on our cloud server and remain our intellectual property.

    Deliverables.
    The source code must be documented and delivered to the Association in editable electronic format.

    - The portal functions and user guides will be well documented, but the source code resides on the web server and remains our intellectual property.

    Hosting.
    The sentence “Subsequent years will be charged according to the amount of active users on the system at R 5.00 per user per month” should be deleted.

    - Because the site will be hosted on our cloud server I will need to charge R5 per user per month after the first year to recoup hosting fees. We will however not charge more per active user if we add more functions to the portal.
    As a result, I've now suggested the project is put out to tender at Elance.

    Maybe if I'd asked for the script platform to be specified instead of the software platform, I might not have got such a dumb response on that question. But my real issue is -

    Am I being unreasonable to expect that if we're paying for script development, we're fairly entitled to insist on ownership?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  2. #2
    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Hi Dave,

    This is a difficult one to answer, in the same token with work which I do which although not what you are referring to, is in similar circumstances.

    The fact that I can do the job in an hour, does it qualify just the cost for the hour in which the work was done in, or the reason that the work took an hour to do was because of the intellectual input that I have gained over years at my expense, and am using it to solve your problem.

    Another interesting analogy - you buy a BMW, and the manuals are given to you as part of the sale. What did you pay for? The mechanical components, and the use there off, or did you buy the rights to make a BMW?

    Maybe the approach to the developer was - I want to own the IP after you have completed the job for me, what will it cost me? rather than what will it cost for you to write me this script.

    On the one hand you are paying for their time to do the job, and on the other you are paying for the intellectual property of the job, so that you now own it and can sell it on to someone else if you wish too.

    Always a difficult subject.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

  3. #3
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justloadit View Post
    Another interesting analogy - you buy a BMW, and the manuals are given to you as part of the sale. What did you pay for? The mechanical components, and the use there off, or did you buy the rights to make a BMW?
    A better analogy is I want a red BMW.
    Unpainted BMWs are available for free on the web.
    So I ask someone to get one of these free BMWs, paint it red, and deliver it.
    He quotes me to get the BMW, paint it red, and deliver it - all costs + profit markup...
    And on top of that he wants to rent me the BMW based on the number of passengers I have on board.

    Ultimately, I can pay a coder via elance to develop and deliver a finished script - end of contract. Probably at a third of what has been quoted by this local webdev.

    It's the way the rest of the world is going (at least the parts that aren't getting sucked into clouds).
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  4. #4
    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    You're walking into a minefield with ip rights. The ip rights lie by default with the author of the code but there's many things like the use of open source software within the code, the clients involvement and contributions toward the end product etc that can complicate IP ownership. The fact that they want the code to reside solely on their servers may mean he's recycling portions of previously written code that he may not want compiling outside of his control because an exclusive license has been sold elsewhere.

    If you want IP rights to the code I would suggest Elance would be the way to go and make it clear you're looking for code written under a 'work made for hire' agreement.
    _______________________________________________
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    Dave A (18-May-12)

  6. #5
    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    When ever I get outside coders to do work for me, I insist on what Andy says, however, I do not reciprocate that request to any customers that ask me that.

    It may sound incorrect, however my experience has shown that any project done, usually takes 4 times to 5 times longer than anticipated and price quoted, and secondly I have had experience in which I made a few bucks for the long hours put in, and my client made bucket loads of money with my work.

    I either participate in the project, maintaining the software at no cost, provided of course it generates income, so effectively evolving the project indefinitely, and in the same manner be reasonable about the cost and have annuity income. Not every client accepts the terms. The ones that don't generally have a short life span on their product/service, because they have no expertise to maintain the product/system, and when they do return to the original coder, he probably wants to collect what he lost first time round, and now wants to make a killing the second time round because he feels that he may deserve more.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    @AndyD : Agreed. Personally I use vWorker and the contract always specifically states that the IP belongs exclusively to the buyer. The worker can not incorporate or use open source without the permission and agreement of the buyer.

    I prefer this way of outsourcing. I write the specs, and the coder produces as he would if I were to employ him on a 9-5 basis. No complications. Clear specs. Set deadline. Specific deliverables. Everyone knows the exact rules of the playing field.

    I have had local coders quote on a few projects, but their rates and BS are really just not worth dealing with - too complicated. vWorker ( and the likes ) are just so much easier and managable.
    Watching the ships passing by.

  8. #7
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    If I told you this is essentially installing a members only shopping cart, would that change your view any?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  9. #8
    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Hi Dave,

    yes it would. Had no idea what you were refering too.

    For the other guys,

    You might think you own the IP, but in reality what is stopping the coder from selling your ideas to other customers?
    You can not stop him from doing that, now can you, even legally, as they are even in a different country.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    I think that one should draw a distinction between owning the IP and holding the source code as ransom.
    How easily someone is offended is directly proportional to how stupid they are.
    ~GS Elevator

  11. #10
    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Most of the deals that I am involved with, have an escrow account in which the source code is stored in the case of company liquidation or death of the members involved in the project.

    The one thing one must not forget, is the one that owns the distribution network is the king. If the developer starts holding you under ransom by increasing the annuity income, there is nothing stopping you to getting the system redeveloped internally or some where else, and at any time shift the data to the new system.

    There is always this danger. If you can not do the work yourself, or know how to do the work yourself, you will always run the risk of a situation like this, even if the programmer is in your employ, there is nothing stopping him from sabotaging the system when he leaves.

    If we look at it carefully, all business are in this position in some form of another, we have just not sat down and thought about it very carefully.
    Victor - Knowledge is a blessing or a curse, your current circumstances make you decide!
    Solar and LED lighting solutions - www.microsolve.co.za

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