Author Topic: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable  (Read 1165 times)

gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« on: June 28, 2019, 10:41:11 pm »
gpxeditor has long been my favourite routeplanning tool, as it had all the features I needed.
For a number of years I paid my annual sub to get the "premium features" but during a period of financial hardship a while back I stopped that.
All the features that I lost in doing so were either not useful to me - or were available for free elsewhere. 

Now in the latest update the developer has so completely crippled the free version as to lose any semblance of utility.  I get that he wants a financial return out of his efforts, and I fully support that, but I doubt he's going to sell many subscriptions on the basis of what's now available for £0.

Since a thread on these pages was "In at the beginning" of gpxeditor, and the developer is a member OTP, I thought I'd ask a wider audience what they think.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2019, 09:09:50 am »
Didn't Google introduce a bunch of charges for their previously free API access or somesuch a while ago? Maybe that made it harder to offer the free options.
Miles cycled 2014 = 3551.5 (Target 7300 :()
Miles cycled 2013 = 6141.4
Miles cycled 2012 = 4038.1

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2019, 09:42:01 am »
Well it was never completely free but it has a 'free use' threshold which was set quite high and is now set very low.  This has driven all the people who developed Gmap-based planners and the like, quite a long time ago, to invest a lot of effort re-crafting an old project they thought was done and dusted years ago, or, more likely, just to take it down.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2019, 10:31:17 am »
I don't understand the question. If you want to use it, pay for it. If you don't, don't.

The "no one's going to pay for that" doesn't seem to be any of your concern.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2019, 11:13:01 am »
Maybe my commercial understanding is at fault - but I always thought of the free versions as a "hook" to bring people in, and if they like it sufficiently - and want the premium features, they'll pay.  What I'm saying is that the previous free version of gpxeditor was a well-baited hook in terms of its features (if not so much in its UI). IMO the new free version is so poorly featured that it will put people off - I'd be surprised if they even look at what additional features they can pay for.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2019, 01:23:07 pm »
My assumption would be that the site’s creator started it as a hobby at his own expense but it has now become so popular that he has to charge to make it sustainable. Or it could be related to the gmaps charges.

Either way, he may not be able to afford to offer a well featured free version if the running costs are high. (My understanding is that it’s still an individual running the site, not a company like Strava, so he won’t have a marketing department to promote the paid-for version.)

Tbh, I thought the free version was so good that I never had an incentive to pay for any extra features. I’ve not used it recently though - will have a look and this may be the prod I need to make me cough up.

Genosse Brymbo

  • Ostalgist
Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2019, 05:53:20 pm »
Maybe my commercial understanding is at fault - but I always thought of the free versions as a "hook" to bring people in, and if they like it sufficiently - and want the premium features, they'll pay...
Yes, this is called the "freemium" pricing model.  But you probably need a product manager and marketing department to evaluate the competition and work out the free vs. paid-for features.

I used the free version of gpxeditor until late last year when I wanted the premium feature which allows publication of tracks which non-subscribers can see.  I was quite happy to pay for that.  Unfortunately, when more recently I wanted to create some routes in Germany gpxeditor refused to do so.  My solution was to turn to the free (but requires registration) ridewithgps.  The learning curve wasn't that steep and I achieved what I needed to do.  I think when my gpxeditor subscription lapses I'll move to the ridewithgps 50 doller per annum basic subscription.
The present is a foreign country: they do things differently here.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2019, 11:15:45 pm »
Now in the latest update the developer has so completely crippled the free version as to lose any semblance of utility.

I think that's true, sadly.

It seems that about all you can do is plan a single route, but you'd better get it right first time because you can't reroute it even while it's a work in progress.

I'm probably not the target market as I haven't paid the premium up till now, using it mostly as a convenient way of viewing other peoples' GPXs on a map (which is a point - what's a simple way of viewing several GPXs simultaneously, perhaps control-control on an audax? GPXEditor was great for that, just click on the zip file, but that alone isn't worth £20 to me) and having planned one route on it, but while I could be tempted to pony up as I'm likely to want to use some more of the facilities, I'm really put off by how little I can now actually do before a pop-up tells me that X is a premium feature.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2019, 11:18:15 pm »
Basically the Google maps routing has gone – too expensive.  There is a workaround, but I don't know whether it's feasible to roll it out to the world at large.   Otherwise, use 'shortest', and if there's a problem where it won't route across a dual-carriageway or off-road section (or something), split the track at that point and use 'As-the-crow-flies' to cross that point.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2019, 03:21:25 pm »
As the developer of gpxeditor, I would just make a few points, even though I am more interested in what others think than getting any point across of my own.

Firstly, yes it is true that a lot of features have been locked down in order to encourage subscriptions. However, even so, I'm not going to get rich off it.


Secondly, the reason for offering any free version is nothing to do with hooking people in, but because I am obliged to. It is a condition of google maps licensing terms that the site be 'freely available to the general public without requiring login'.

If I was allowed to, I would have made it login-only back right from the start back from when I launched it in 2012. This actually makes for a better user experience as you can remember users' display preferences against their login without requiring cookies which get deleted.
The consequence of having to offer a free version is that it gets a lot more use (a lot of it probably experimental) than it would be if people had to log in, which spins the "google meter" (and it is a meter) a lot faster, increasing the bill.

Also, there is a difference between offering a minimal, google-compliant 'free version' and offering a useful free version.
As I see it there are two main reasons why I might do the latter.
1, for the public's benefit - if I felt I had a moral duty to provide a public service out of generosity
2, for my benefit - i.e. if I felt it would actually increase the number of subscriptions.
As it happens - although I'm interested in opinions to the contrary - I don't feel either of those are the case.

As regards (1) I understand that some people may be disappointed that the free version that previously supported their workflow now doesn't, but the terms and conditions do clearly state that continued provision of service is not guaranteed. I am afraid I respectfully do not feel that I have any moral duty to provide a public service, because it costs me money to host it. Anyone that is using it for free is costing me money. If the hosting was completely free, the amazon servers to build and host the routing servers, and the continuous integration to build and deploy it, were all free, then I might never have bothered charging anybody for it.

Also, I'm afraid I don't buy the notion that the usefulness of the free version increases the number of subscriptions, or of the willingness to subscribe.

In my opinion, the only commercial point of the free version is to demonstrate that it is capable of providing what the premium version claims to offer.
If I log on to any service with a free/premium pricing model as so many do nowadays, if there is a feature useful to me on premium but not free, the only reason I might not want to subscribe is if I was sceptical as to whether the feature would work even if I did pay. The example would be re-routing - if you drag the line in the free version, it doesn't prevent the drag operation from the start, it actually draws the candidate path - to demonstrate what will happen if you subscribe, but it just snaps back once you try and drop it.

This is also borne out by the fact that when I locked down some features recently, it triggered a number of subscriptions. These are not from people who are new to it, but existing users whose workflow previously fitted within the constraints of what was offered for free. They had quite happily been using it for free, in some cases probably for most or all of the 7 years it's been running, and probably would never have had any intention of paying whilst they could do all they needed to do without paying.
I don't blame them - I would too! But in a lot of cases, people are quite willing to pay, but they won't if they don't have to.

Sadly, also, one of the things I have had to learn to contend with in promoting this tool is that the public are fickle. If they can't work out how to make it do what they want, in the way that they want, they will abandon it and search for something else, rather than send an email saying "how do I do this" and wait a few hours for a response. (There are, of course, pleasing exceptions to this rule.)
I also think that in some cases people are slightly averse to the concept of paying at all, rather than in the amount it actually costs them. This makes me wonder - would the amount of people willing to pay, say, 50 quid be over 40% of the amount of people willing to pay 20? I have however resisted the temptation to squeeze maximum profit out of it in this way, partly because the pricing model is pegged to what's necessary to cover its costs, and also in loyalty/fairness to the early subscribers who supported it in its infancy even when the feature set was much less than it is now. I could have different 'tiers' for new features, or 'per-feature' pricing, but that's too complicated.

What you also have to realise about gpxeditor is that although it was originally designed with long distance cycling/audaxing in mind, and that still is its main purpose, I have a feeling that now, that demographic doesn't form the bulk of the market. Interestingly, the market aren't even all cyclists. Some subscribers, and contacts/discussions I have had from users, are from walkers/hikers, rally drivers, classic car enthusiasts, even some marine interests and a smattering of commercial users. The users aren't all from the UK either, one country that seems quite well represented amongst users is Italy, I'm not sure whether this has anything to do with the fact that google doesn't offer cycle routing in Italy but does in every other country.

All that said - I would reiterate that I am interested in people's opinions on any of the above, or in any elightenments I haven't thought of.
I am also interested in feature suggestions, and I often do implement features suggested by subscribers if they don't detract from anything, are viable, and aren't costly, even if they're only useful to that one person.
The only real feature that I get asked every so often but have so far refused, is off-road routing. I continue to monitor interest in this but the primary reason I haven't done it so far is partly because I don't think it would be worth it in terms of subscriptions vs how much the router costs in cloud storage space, but also because there's actually (at least) 3 separate purposes - walking, MTBing and 4x4s.
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2019, 04:15:44 pm »
you'd better get it right first time because you can't reroute it even while it's a work in progress.
You can always 'undo' - this isn't one of the premium features.
The undo icon is the bottom one of the panel of icons on the left (and only appears when there is something to be undone, such as drawing a track).
Ctrl-Z also works.
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2019, 05:30:29 pm »
Also, I'm afraid I don't buy the notion that the usefulness of the free version increases the number of subscriptions, or of the willingness to subscribe.
...
This is also borne out by the fact that when I locked down some features recently, it triggered a number of subscriptions. These are not from people who are new to it, but existing users whose workflow previously fitted within the constraints of what was offered for free. They had quite happily been using it for free, in some cases probably for most or all of the 7 years it's been running, and probably would never have had any intention of paying whilst they could do all they needed to do without paying.
I don't blame them - I would too! But in a lot of cases, people are quite willing to pay, but they won't if they don't have to.

Agreed on the first point. And on the second point... yes, that's me you're talking about. But since I do want to continue to use it, I will sign up soon (probably would have done sooner if I'd needed to use it).

I assume that the general rule where hobbyists provide online apps like this, is that they offer them free precisely because they are hobbies rather than a means of making a living. Veloviewer is an example of one such app that grew to the point where the person running it had to turn it into a full commercial service for it to continue to be sustainable. I wouldn't expect any individual running an app like this to continue to do so for free when the costs start to escalate with popularity.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2019, 12:15:54 am »
Also, I'm afraid I don't buy the notion that the usefulness of the free version increases the number of subscriptions, or of the willingness to subscribe.


Happy to accept that I'm odd, but put me down as a contrary data point. If the free version is useless to me, it'll drive me away.

Quote
If I log on to any service with a free/premium pricing model as so many do nowadays, if there is a feature useful to me on premium but not free, the only reason I might not want to subscribe is if I was sceptical as to whether the feature would work even if I did pay. The example would be re-routing - if you drag the line in the free version, it doesn't prevent the drag operation from the start, it actually draws the candidate path - to demonstrate what will happen if you subscribe, but it just snaps back once you try and drop it.


You might also want to know what the feature is, what it actually does ...

And here, even small points of language can make a difference. I said above that I liked being able to view multiple GPXs from the same zip file - that fails now, telling me that editing multiple files is a premium feature.

I don't want to edit them, I only want to view them ...

Obviously, I know that, you don't and the site doesn't - but I'm still irrational enough to be nearly as frustrated by the wording as by hitting the paywall.

Quote
Sadly, also, one of the things I have had to learn to contend with in promoting this tool is that the public are fickle. If they can't work out how to make it do what they want, in the way that they want, they will abandon it and search for something else,


To a point. I'm quite happy poking around for a bit to try and make a site or an app or an application do what I want. But one sure way to drive me away is to tell me that *everything* I want to do is a premium feature.

Quote
I also think that in some cases people are slightly averse to the concept of paying at all, 

There is that too, of course ...

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2019, 12:21:45 am »
you'd better get it right first time because you can't reroute it even while it's a work in progress.
You can always 'undo' - this isn't one of the premium features.
The undo icon is the bottom one of the panel of icons on the left (and only appears when there is something to be undone, such as drawing a track).
Ctrl-Z also works.

And if you've set four(teen) or six(teen) routing points, then decide that your second or third is in the wrong place, you can either undo all the way back and then redo, or delete the errant point and see your route whisked onto roads you didn't want to go near.

A bit annoying when you stuck that errant point just down the wrong arm of a junction, so all you're really trying to do is tidy up a 25m dogleg.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2019, 09:04:03 am »


And if you've set four(teen) or six(teen) routing points, then decide that your second or third is in the wrong place, you can either undo all the way back and then redo, or delete the errant point and see your route whisked onto roads you didn't want to go near.

A bit annoying when you stuck that errant point just down the wrong arm of a junction, so all you're really trying to do is tidy up a 25m dogleg.

No need to.  Split the track either side of the piece you want to edit, do your stuff, then recombine them.

Re: gpxeditor free version now so crippled as to be unusable
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2019, 10:34:47 am »

Happy to accept that I'm odd, but put me down as a contrary data point. If the free version is useless to me, it'll drive me away.

...

You might also want to know what the feature is, what it actually does ...

You might, but what feature(s) specifically is it not obvious what they are/do, and how can it be made more obvious what it does?

Short of simply letting free users do it, that is - which I'm sure you understand the reason for, even if you don't agree with it.

Possible solutions:
1) guess
2) email me to ask
3) take up the two week money-back guarantee free trial offer

If people can't infer or guess what it does by the wording, they aren't patient enough to simply ask by email, and they aren't trusting enough to believe I'll give them a refund if they take advantage of the two week free trial (which I always do*), then there's not really much else I can do to help - given that I have decided that locking down the feature is something I need to do.

* very few people ask for refunds, however the small handful that have asked for a refund within the two week free trial period have been given one no questions asked.


And here, even small points of language can make a difference. I said above that I liked being able to view multiple GPXs from the same zip file - that fails now, telling me that editing multiple files is a premium feature.

I don't want to edit them, I only want to view them ...

Yes, but editing and viewing aren't separate operations in terms of access control in the way that you might imagine/like.

To go and put access control code in all the many places where editing takes place, not to mention hiding the menus, graceful degradation, in order to separate out the concepts of "editing" and "viewing", is too big a job. It is called "gpxeditor.co.uk" after all, not "gpxviewerthatalsohasthecapabilitytoedit.co.uk".

I could have put simply "Viewing multiple tracks is a premium feature", but then for every one person that is annoyed by the suggestion that they wanted to do something more than what they actually did, there will be 5 that want  to edit, but wonder "ah, but if it says that merely viewing tracks is a premium feature, will I be able to edit them even if I do pay a subscription?"

Maybe the wording is slightly wrong, perhaps "Editing or viewing multiple tracks is a premium feature" would be more grammatically correct, but I feel there is also a need to keep the wording short, succinct and to the point, both for screen real estate purposes and for the benefit of those for whom English isn't their first language.

I don't want to edit them, I only want to view them ...

Obviously, I know that, you don't and the site doesn't - but I'm still irrational enough to be nearly as frustrated by the wording as by hitting the paywall.

It's the whole concept of "I only want..."
'all I want to do, is...'

if all you want is provided by free, then you will never pay the premium.
It's obviously no secret that the "free / premium" pricing model requires that users are prevented from doing something they want to do, not just esoteric things they might do once in a blue moon.


I think you probably understand why I've done the locking down that I've done, and I get that you find it annoying.

I get the impression you're trying to get across the point that it is important not to annoy free users, as they will then be more amenable to the site as a whole and feel better about it generally, and foster general goodwill which could then make them more likely to become subscribers and thus be beneficial to me. Is that about the measure of it?

I think there will be some users of the site like you for whom that is the case, but my counter argument is that I estimate that for every one like you for whom "fostering general goodwill" is important, there will be 5 more who are fickle enough for whom 'fostering general goodwill' basically doesn't go that far**, and that will try their hardest to get away without paying, but will do so if the lockdown encroaches on one or more of the features that is important to them.

** of course, that applies both ways - there will be some that will still pay even if they are annoyed by the lack of utility of the free version, and some that won't pay even if they're not.
It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.