Call for a stripped down Script Debugger? Like Scripter2 used to be!

(Paul Vallance) #1

Mark, I think your product is great but I don’t need all the bells and whistles for $/£99 (ouch!) I just need to watch some variables and add breakpoints, just like Main Event’s Scripter2 used to, remember that!!

I think there has always been a need for a simple AppleScript Editor that watches variables and handles simple breakpoints. Something at a reasonable price point. Why not strip down ScriptDebugger to a basic version at a lower price?

(Jean Christophe Helary) #2

Because that’s more work for less money ?
I saved way more than $99 worth of my time since I bought SD.

(Christopher Stone) #3

$99.00 US Dollars – not Pounds.

I spent around $129.95 on Script Debugger v1.0 in 1995. That’s about $209.66 in today’s dollars.

I’ve kept upgrading ever since.

As JCH said – Script Debugger has saved me far more money than I’ve spent on it – not to mention aggravation and apoplexy…


(Ed Stockly) #4

Mark has already dropped the price significantly. $99 is a bargain.

(D_ave_G) #5

Apple’s Script Editor is free for a reason - you get what you pay for.

It is not an exaggeration to say that AppleScript would be nearly useless to me without Script Debugger. Thank you, Mark, for making Script Debugger, and for standing by it (and us) - I know I speak for many when I say we truly appreciate it.

If we do not support those who make the tools we use and love, then they disappear into the night forever, taking their tools and talents with them.

Personally, I would be fine paying more for Script Debugger. $99 is not just a bargain, it’s a steal. Frankly, it makes me feel a little guilty. In fact, Mark, I’d like to suggest that you put a “Tip” field on the order/upgrade form to allow your more grateful customers to kick in additional money to support your efforts.

There is a disturbing trend in the marketplace these days with regard to software prices and price expectation. To give one’s work away, or charge less than the cost of a fast food meal for it, is just bizarre to me. I remember when software prices throughout industry were uniformly and mind-bogglingly high, but the pendulum has swung far too far in the opposite direction. It’s not so much a correction as it is a race to the bottom. In a race to the bottom, even the winner is a loser, and everyone else loses along the way…

(Ed Stockly) #6

News of this trend hasn’t reached Adobe yet.


One thing that confuses me about what Paul said is how much is $/£99. Today £99 = $122.49. 99 British pounds does not equal 99 dollars.

Another thing that isn’t quite right is that the that software prices have dropped dropped below $100. That can “sort of” be true depending on what is meant by the very general term “software.” Right now there are companies successfully selling software for more then Mark ever charged for SD. 20 years ago the types of software sold cold be easily put into a small number of categories. But since the turn of the century more “types” of low power software has been on a steady rise. Free software has also been on the rise as well.

These 2 facts are strongly related to how much easier it kept getting to buy anything on line and Apple’s app store. Selling software in a store put a choke hold on what could be sold in the very early days of software sales and that drove software prices way up. But marketing and selling on the internet did not place those same chokehold limitations and that caused prices to go down. But saying prices have gone down is a very general statement that over simplifies a lot.

With that said there has been lots of high quality software that has stayed above $100. But there has also been a huge increase in the volume of low power software for well under $100 hundred. This low power software is often more buggy, is often released with no documentation or unless documentation, has bad product support and in some cases no product support. In the past I purchased some of these cheap ones, found in the end they were so bad as to be useless and deleted them from my disk. But still I added to the statistics of how many people bough cheap software.

The comparison Paul made was too simplistic. How many developers on the app store that sell ridiculously cheap software never respond to user questions or software bugs. So much of the documentation for low power applications is useless or nonexistent.

Someone could say there is high quality software selling for under $50. “Affinity Pro” and “Affinity Designer” both sell for $49.99 but they are high quality applications challenging adobe which has had something approaching a monopoly for graphics on the Mac. There are other examples of small companies that are trying to challenge big companies with high quality software along with lower prices. But that is a separate issue. ScriptDebugger has no competitors. “Script Editor” is a free editor. SD is an “integrated development environment” which is way more than an editor.

An IDE is a different software design then a simple editor. It would be a lot of trouble to produce something like Paul described from SD’s existing code and almost no on else would buy it because it’s customized to one person’s wish list. This is why customized software is alway in the thousands of dollars. It’s can be tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and in some rare cases millions.

Would someone go to BMW and say I don’t need a fancy car like you guys sell. All I need is a simple and cheap car from you and I’ll be happy.


(John Welch) #8

almost like a “lite” version of SD…

But here’s the thing: bells and whistles have exactly zero actionable meaning. The stuff I consider fluff are critical to someone else and the stuff I consider critical may be fluff to others. There’s almost no way to create some magical stripped-down version that only has “basic” features that isn’t going to cause as much aggro as it removes. SD is remarkably lean for what it does, and given what it does, the price is more than fair. If you want a stripped down version sans fluff, there’s Script Editor.

(Phil Stokes) #9

I agree. It doesn’t matter how good-value-for-money SD6 is, there’s a couple of reasons why I think an SD Lite would be good for both users and the developers:

Many many scripters are not going to fork out $99 for an AppleScript Editor. You can shout out the benefits and what great value it is all you like, but for most people who are only occassionally messing around with AS, they’re just not going to put their hands in their pockets to the tune of $100.

OK, so stuff them! Leave them with Script Editor?

Sure, but then Mark and Shane are leaving money on the table, because I know for a fact (i. because I was one such person and ii. because I’ve had this conversation many times with other such people) that those people (like Paul) would put their hand in their pocket to some extent for an AS editor that was better than SE.

Some would probably pay just for a spin off of the Dictionary viewer, since that is catastrophically hopeless in SE. I think a lot would probably pay $10 or $15 for an AS editor that offered nothing more than SE + the variables view in SD6 (I’m not even talking about the debugger here).

I suspect one worry for Mark is that it might cannibalise the SD market. I think that’s highly unlikely. As I say, we’re talking about people that are never going to be serious enough about AS to put their hands in their pockets to the tune of $99…unless you help them. And that’s where I think there’s a double-bonus of an entry-level SD. Just like WingIDE and other editors do, you can bring people toward your main product by letting them sniff a little bit of what they can do with a better tool.

When people start playing with a tool that makes them more productive, they get more interested, and then they want to see what else is available. You can offer discounts or incentives to people that come by that road, and that will in turn encourage others to try your ‘entry level’ tool before stepping up to the ‘pro’ tool. It’s such a widely deployed marketing tactic I’m surprised that Mark hasn’t done it before.

This could be good not just for LateNightSW, but for all us AppleScripters (adding the selfish angle!), in the sense of encouraging more people who try AS to actually stick with it and develop their skill with it. I know plenty of people that tell me they played around with SE, got frustrated and blamed their experience on AS in general.

I think there’s benefit to everyone to have a more varied s/w market out there for AS. And there’s no reason why LNS can’t be marketing more than one product at the same time and cashing in on different kinds of users.

(Mark Alldritt) #10

Thank you the words of support. It is indeed very difficult to sustain a product like Script Debugger in the current market where the software prices have dropped so much. Highly specialized products like Script Debugger will never find a large audience, and so the notion that I might make it up on volume does not hold.

But @menantol is asking for something a little different than a straight price drop. He wants a version of Script Debugger with less in it for a lower price.

This has come up many times over the years and seems reasonable on the surface of it. The problem is that everyone’s idea of which parts of Script Debugger they need is different. Some feel the dictionary explorer is the key bit, others see single-step execution while others want only to be able to examine their variables. Script Debugger has arisen as a wholistic solution to the problem of writing AppleScript code. No single part of Script Debugger stands on its own. Script Debugger needs a dictionary viewer. When single stepping you need to be able to see the state of your variables. When writing code, you need find/replace, clippings, etc.

From my perspective, there is a difficult balancing act to achieve. I need to find a set of features that would justify a price of say US$20 (still expensive by today’s standards), and which leaves enough difference in functionality to justify the full version’s price. There are added costs of maintaining and testing two versions of the product (even though they share a lot of code) as well.

I have a “Lite” version of Script Debugger that I continue to experiment with. At some point, I’ll probably release it, but the objective will be a little different: to provide a better Script Editor, not a worse Script Debugger. This means that Script Debugger’s debugging facilities will not be present, but all of its editing aids (code folding, split views, clippings, etc) will be included. I’m also considering following BBEdit’s lead and turning Script Debugger into Script Debugger Lite once the demo period has expired.

(Phil Stokes) #11

Precisely what I was trying to describe above. And I think that’s where you find the focus for what to put in the product and what to leave out. What is SE most missing for occassional scripters? I would argue step debugging isn’t it. Personally, I find I rarely use it, as I can 9 / 10 tell what the problem is from the variable view. Clippings are a real bonus too, and if you can get the code completion in there I think you’d have a very attractive product.

BTW, I’d be disinclined to call it 'Script Debugger Lite (since it won’t have the debugger). AppleScript Editor Plus or Pro, or something like that, perhaps?



I very rarely use the debugger myself. I normally look at where the error occurred in a try statement and jumped to reporting an error. Then I just go and fix it. I always have error checking in scripts that tells me what handler reported the error and I have the script give a full error report.

I do love the SD dictionary viewer but I don’t use that much any more because I’ve memorized the dictionaries I work with. But the thing I just keep constantly loving is when working with ASObj-C when the script returns something from a ASObj-C routine it displays something meaningful in the viewer. Script Editor just spits out meaningless numbers. I really love that feature in SD.

But there are a lot of little things I like about SD that come together and cause me to love it. Things are well thought out in SD. The level that I can customize the interface to is one of the big things in SD I like. The explorer helps me figure out new dictionaries much quicker then if that wasn’t available. SD has far more documentation then almost everything else I use. Like I said it’s a lot thing that comes together to cause me to love it.

But I would expect that makes it all the harder to figure out a lower cost version. What to drop and what to keep is not a simple question.


(Jean Christophe Helary) #13

If I may add a comparison, the current best emacs mode for Applescript is apples-mode. I’d say the main drawback compared to SE (and Smile and SD) is the absence of “correct” syntax coloring, but for the rest, it comes with template based snippets (based on Yasmode), code folding (based on another mode) and plenty of other emacs goodies. Considering the apparent quality of the code and the fact that it was put on github in a period of 5 days back in 2011 and never touched since then, it’s hard not to believe it was not made by a connoisseur.

There was a discussion recently about snippets here. An SE+ thing that would come with a bunch of those to help beginners practice good code writing, and with a view of the variable contents (even a very simplified one) would be a huge offering. I would have probably bought that instead of SD, but now that I have SD, I’ll stick to it :slight_smile:

(Phil Stokes) #14

Somewhat OT, since the thread isn’t about how to increase SD’s revenues, but since the topic was raised, I’d just like to second this suggestion.

My experience as a s/w developer - in which all my apps are offered free and the only money I make is out of donations - is that you’ll be quite surprised at just how much revenue you’ll get from grateful, and sometimes overwhelmingly generous, users without even asking. All you need to do is offer a channel for those that want to do that.

You could, if it makes you feel better, offer some kind of loyalty badge on the forum to users who are both license holders and voluntary contributors, or think up some other rewards package (perhaps one of those free SD t-shirts, etc).



A donate button on a retail app is a bit different, but I’ll third suggestion.


(Phil Stokes) #16

Nobody mentioned a Donate button, Bill. And I agree, that wouldn’t be in keeping with a commercial app.

(Phil Stokes) #17

Sure, but for every 1 person like you I’ll wager there’s 10 or more that choose not to buy SD and struggle on with SE (or lose interest in AS altogether). Like I said, there’s money being left on the table here.

(Jean Christophe Helary) #18

I understand what you’re saying. Working with SE was always frustrating and I never understood why Apple did not provide similar functions in Xcode.

What I was clumsily trying to say is that I would have paid for that software, and like I did for BBEdit (I started using Lite on system 7) where I eventually bought a licence even though my needs were totally covered by TW, I would have paid $199 to support SD after experiencing first hand the quality of the “introductory” version.

(John Welch) #19

“Money being left on the table” is not the clarion call it seems. If you’re leaving a thousand on the table, but overall, getting that thousand will cost ten thousand and will take ten years to recoup if ever, then leaving that thou on the table is the smartest possible thing to do.

(Jean Christophe Helary) #20

You’re wrong. Right now there is some money on the table and getting it means investing quite a bit (which seems partly done if I read the thread correctly). Once the investment is made though, coverage, word-of-mouth etc. will put more money on the table. Proper localization will put even more. And more again since that will translate into increased sales for SD.