It seems like Red Gate decided to commercialize .NET Reflector as of March. A noticeable warning is displayed on the Reflector‘s download page.
After searching a little on the web, I found an interview by Ed Burnette, in which a Red Gate employee explained that their “initial assumptions” regarding supporting freeware and premium versions based on the developers who’ll pay for the premium version “were wrong”. To be honest, ever since Lutz Roeder sold this tool to Red Gate, I was afraid that something like this would happen. I’ve been using .NET Reflector for years, sometimes on daily basis, and it’s a real shame that Red Gate aren’t holding on to their statements, about keeping Reflector free.
It’s true that Red Gate is a commercial company, so basically they don’t have to provide Reflector for free. BUT, there are several things I’m puzzled over:
- If Lutz Roeder created Reflector, and did this amazing work for free, for about 8 years or so prior to selling it to Red Gate – how come Red Gate can’t support a free version? I mean, Lutz Roeder is probably a great developer doing all this by himself, but I’m quite sure Red Gate could have pulled it off.
- More over, if the Premium version is the real reason why Red Gate is having problems to finance this activity – either close this operation (the premium, not the free version – after all, Lutz did provide the “lite” version for free…), or charge the extra money from the premium users.
- According to the interview, it seems that developers would have to pay 35$ and they will get Reflector 7 forever (“perpetual license”). So the discussion in the interview regarding the “6 months expiration date” is not really an issue. In other words – you could provide the community with one, last, free non-expiring version of Reflector as it is today. After all, you simply have to compile a version which won’t expire, just like you plan to do in version 7. Developers that will choose to pay will be able to download newer versions. At least you could leave us with the current free version. In short, please do not insult us with the “well, Lutz planned the 6 month expiration so developers will have to update, and that’s why developers can’t keep their current free version” explanation.
Red Gate – thanks for keeping Reflector free for 2.5 years since you bought it. .NET Reflector is (was?) an awesome tool. However, maybe it’s time for the community to start developing a new free alternative? If this call will be answered, then I think that Red Gate will discover that the choice they made was poor, even if for a short term they gained some cash from it.
BTW: Ed Burnette also provided a link to a video, where Red Gate guys attempt to explain their decision.
UPDATE: I was happy to learn that other alternatives already exist by now. There’s a free alternative from SharpDevelop called ILSpy, where they announce that “Development started after Red Gate announced that the free version of .NET Reflector would cease to exist by end of February 2011.” – Thanks guys.
Telerik also released a free decompiler: JustDecompile, with a cool “May The Source Be with You” slogan.