Changing Codea's payment model

For the last nine years Codea has been $15. Pay once, use forever

I want to change this soon. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Codea remains a $15 app and paying once let’s you use it forever
  • After one year you can choose to pay $15 for one year of Pro feature updates. You still get app updates if you don’t pay, but you might not unlock some interesting Pro features
  • If you don’t pay the next year, that’s fine. You get to keep everything you unlocked forever. If you ever pay again, you’ll unlock another year of Pro updates, plus every Pro feature that was released prior to that
  • Any new purchase of Codea for $15 unlocks every Pro feature released and includes one year of Pro feature updates (that you keep forever)
  • Any existing user of Codea gets one year of free Pro feature updates from the date they purchased Codea (that you keep forever)
  • You still get regular app updates and new features forever if you don’t pay after your first year, you just might miss out on some features

The model puts Codea onto a yearly cycle. It’s not a subscription because the app will never stop working and features you pay for will never disappear

Pro features I’m considering would be things like:

  • An API for MFI game controller support
  • Ability to open any external folders from Files into Codea as a project in the project browser (allowing you to collaborate between apps better)
  • Fancy Pro app icon like you get in Shade

Stuff that everyone would get would be things like:

  • New render engine based on Metal
  • New foundational graphics APIs
  • Better asset system

Does anyone have issues with us moving to this payment model?

@Simeon That’s a great idea. I’m definitely interested in the Pro features you mentioned.


Off the bat, Codea is by far the most used app on my iPad and has been so for years. I would be more than comfortable paying for the Pro features (even if I didn’t use them!) and like the sentiment that you are trying to encourage this as an option, rather than locking people into a subscription.

A couple of queries/observations:

  1. Any existing user of Codea gets one year of free Pro feature updates from the date they purchased Codea (that you keep forever)

So if you came on board recently you get a bit of love, but if you have been a longer term user then tough luck. Maybe if you’ve stuck with it for a year, then you see the value and won’t mind paying Pro, but if you recently purchased it and haven’t yet made up your mind then you don’t want them to feel screwed?

  1. What is the anticipated release rate of new Pro features? Are you likely to bundle up lots and release as big updates or slowly drip feed them? How will this compare to the regular version updates? If you’re putting it on a yearly cycle, then year on year the value may (will) change depending on the features you add. What is the rational for putting it yearly, rather than charging for each (bundled?) update? Are you going for a slow trickle of small updates rather than big bundled ones in the Pro package? As a bundle you can then vary the amount you charge depending upon the size/complexity of the added features, but leave it as a take it or leave it. Rolling all older updates in with each new one may encourage a “I’ll skip this update and just pay for the next one” approach (though if people are engaged and feel it is value for money, then I’m sure they’d be happy to pay the premium to get immediate access to the new features)

Also, it sounds like you might be over-complicating things by trying to run multiple versions of Codea - will the Pro and regular versions be reviewed separately? How many dependancies will there be between the two? You’ll also start to get a fractured user base with users running different versions of Codea (Regular, …with 2020 Pro update 1, …with 2020 Pro update 2). Maybe not an issue, but I’m a fan of keeping things simple and as uniform as possible.

…but to answer your question, I don’t have an issue with you moving to this model if you feel this would best serve your customers (provided this didn’t adversely impact your ability to continue to support this high quality app).

It would be my pleasure to support your work further.

It might be OK to work on a one-tier model, where if you’ve paid your $15 you get upgrades, else not, if the pro vs regular becomes too odd.

I do think it’s nice if upgrades are not batched toward the end of the period: it seems too much like currying favor. But a few, the month or so before … sure. That would require everyone on the same payment schedule, however, and that might not be good for you or us.

And I’d like to see upgrades that don’t require me to buy a new iPad every time one comes out. Even I, who own three or maybe four of them, haven’t got the new one yet. :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone!

@RonJeffries you could choose to pay retroactively if a Pro feature comes out that you are interested in using. For example,

  • You purchase Codea in 2020
  • Up until 2021 you get all Pro features released permanently
  • You don’t pay again after 2021
  • In 2023 some new Pro feature arrives that you actually like, so you pay $15 once more
  • Now you get every Pro feature released since 2021 and every Pro feature to come until 2024

@West You definitely don’t need to pay in advance. Because paying for a “Pro” year at any time unlocks every Pro feature ever released up to that point, you could wait until a feature comes out that you are interested in and choose to get a year at that point

You’re right that new users are getting a bit extra, but that’s because existing users have already had many, many major updates over the years. And since new users will be paying the $15 price tag, bundling the year of Pro feature support with that initial payment makes sense

I’m hoping that the release regularity of Pro features and what they are won’t matter too much as your decision to support Codea for the year could be based on your personal preference for the feature, or just because you like to show support

The only thing that will become complicated is code sharing, having two different versions - one which supports everything and one which does not. Will CTalk have a “Pro” category, eventually?

@Anatoly that depends if I introduce Pro API. I think the only Pro APIs I would consider would be really niche and specific and not stuff that will impact sharing.

I think if there are Pro APIs they will be small and self-contained, and for niche things. Like MFI Game Controller support.

The sorts of Pro features elsewhere in the app would be more for power users. Like loading Codea projects from external folders (i.e. where the whole folder becomes a project so you can sync with other apps easily). Support for basic git commands inside the editor UI.

@Simeon, yes that all sounds reasonable to me. Happy to support your excellent work.

@Simeon When Exactly are you planning to change it because I’m really interested in seeing the pro feature updates and the pro Codea icon

@joaquin at the moment I’m implementing the payment model, planning for it in Codea 3.3. I still may release Codea 3.2.x updates in the mean time.

The first pro feature will be opening an external folder as a Codea project. As in, any folder (whether it has the .codea extension or not). This will make it easier to work with other apps on your iPad, saving assets and code to the folder externally

please be sure that Working Copy continues to work with Codea. He already has a special feature to deal with codea’s somehow odd folder handling. thanks!

I found the $15 price of Codea is more than reasonable considering its powerful features with rich support. I thank very much.
I prefer to apply “in app purchase system” for those niche new features. As I experienced ARKit and TrueDepth features built in Codea which I don’t use made me difficult to pass the Apple review process for App store distribution. On the other hand I love to have sound recording function if available although it is an another niche. Thus you may have something like AR pack and sound pack as in app purchase features. Please consider.

@Makoto that’s a good idea, thank you for the suggestion

Any chance of adding the ability to code in different languages as a Pro feature?

Edit: Completely forgot to address the main point of the post brainfart. I think this change would be fine and quite fair, Codea has been an insanely good value for those of us who bought in back when it was still Codify and it only seems right to support you as you have support us for years with rich feature updates

@JakAttak I keep thinking of JavaScript as an option but it’s a bit of a dream at the moment considering how much work would be required

I would gladly pay 15$ / year for this single feature: press a button to generate everything needed to post an app on the appstore, and a ‘how to’ guide to follow step by step to actually do the post. I just want it done without having to think about it. I know i must also have a mac and pay 90$ to apple eachyear too. I am ok to pay 15$ every year because apple changes things regularly so this feature would require regular updates, and also i must pay 90$/year to apple so this not much. Maybe 30$ would be ok too (still much less than 90$, and that is a real service i get here).

@Jmv38 unfortunately Xcode export / packaging for the App Store is growing more and more complicated. The last few apps people submitted required me to go and manually build custom Codea libraries with the correct sections removed to appease App Review. It almost feels unsustainable (as in, even $15 per year doesn’t really cover days helping someone troubleshoot an App Store submission)

That said, if you’re having trouble submitting to the App Store please let me know and I’ll help you out too. You should be able to use the 3.2.2 libraries with no problem now (but you don’t get any access to AR)

@Simeon thanks very much for the help proposal, but for the time being putting apps onto the appstore is not a goal i want to invest in. I would do it if the ‘almost automatic’ feature existed, that’s why I mentionned it above. I fully agree that supporting people individually for 15$ is not a viable economical model. It is a shame apple is doing everything to make this kind of feature unsustainable.

It’s partly Apple and it’s partly us developers abusing user’s devices. Developers abuse user’s privacy (tracking what apps are installed, tracking location, nefariously using the camera, scamming users with in-app-purchases). Then Apple adds privacy restrictions to protect the user, which makes developers’ lives harder. This then makes an “automatic” export option harder!

@jmv38 By the way, one of my favourite Codea apps is one of yours I think, the butterflies that you can touch and they fly away. I recently changed it to use the trackpad API for testing, such a pretty project