I’ve been fielding questions recently about the differences between RIA Services and our DevForce product. We both help you move data across the web in a Silverlight business application so it’s natural to compare.
Inevitably I get some variation on the following:
“Why should my company pay for DevForce when RIA Services is free?”, they ask. “My company doesn’t like to pay for software.”
I’m a passionate guy … so a small tantrum begins in my head: “You’ve got to be kidding. Do you work for free? Does your boss work for free?” I want to go off like Harlan Ellison.
Then I chill a bit and I make mistake #2: I start to enumerate the many ways in which DevForce goes way beyond what RIA Services does today or will do even when it arrives for real some time next year. You’ll find such an inventory on our website where we sound three themes:
- Production-ready now
- Seven year head-start
- Real customer and field experience
- Features you need
Then I realize that all of these details are secondary. The real question is about economic value. “Speeds and feeds” are nice but your company wants you to net it out … make it simple. So here it is.
DevForce is the far better deal!
In fact, it’s a no-brainer … assuming they pay you more than $0.00 per hour. Let’s do the math.
What is your time worth? $80k per year? Your load factor (benefits, facilities, management, etc.) is probably about 1.4 … even if you work for yourself. That makes your annual cost $112,000 or about $65/hour if you are actually productive 35 hours per week (don’t count meetings. meals, emails, twitter-time, and general BS).
Right now you can get an unrestricted DevForce Silverlight developer license for less than $1,000 and there are no server or runtime fees.
By my calculations you breakeven after a mere 28 hours of added value.
Now print that inventory we prepared and throw a few darts at it.
After each hit, ask yourself how long it would take you to implement that feature or compensate for that deficiency. For example, how long will it take to
- Re-write your RIA Services calls after the latest overhaul of the API
- Find out why it’s taking so long to fetch data … what’s it doing anyway?
- Re-deploy to multiple servers because you needed to change a query
- Save the user’s pending work locally so it isn’t lost if the connection drops or the app crashes
- Confirm immediately that the just-entered “before date” is earlier than the “end date”
- Execute a sequence of asynchronous tasks, accounting for exceptions thrown anywhere in the chain
- Stop an employee user from seeing the social security number (although an admin user can)
- Test with in-memory persistence operations that don’t go to the database.
- Configure and switch among dev, test, stage, and production environments.
You get the idea. A few darts land on “I don’t care”. Many more pierce issues that really matter to you … and 28 hours disappear in a flash.
Talking to Management
You’re sitting down with your manager trying to explain the options: “We could build the application with raw WCF Services or RIA Services or DevForce. … This approach has this feature but that one doesn’t yet so we’d have to build it … or we can wait until … when they’ve said that …” Blah, blah, blah.
You see the eyes roll back in his head. He doesn’t know what you’re talking about and isn’t sure you do either. All he remembers is that he either has to write a check for $1,000 or he doesn’t. You get to tell him why he should in the simplest possible terms:
“Breakeven in 28 HOURS … after which it’s all upside.”
Even your manager understands that!