Rant: expensive developer programmes

Before I spoke to Sage yesterday, Apple topped my list of biscuit-taking developer programmes. Getting anything on to the App Store is a convoluted process requiring a myriad of Apple devices, one or more paid subscriptions and navigation of a bloated IDE and a completely unhelpful QA process.

If you want to create an iOS app, you’d need an Apple computer (£400-4000+), at least one device to test on (£400-1000ish) and a subscription ($99 per year) even to keep an existing app on the App Store. After creating the app in Xcode, which is awful, you’d create a multitude of certificates and submit it with the built app to Apple’a QA process. Recently, the QA team seems to be providing the same rejection reason to every developer – it doesn’t support IPv6 – even if the problem is actually something else. Therefore, developers have to guess what Apple might not actually like about the app and re-submit.

However, developers can’t simply ignore Apple products because their market share is so great.

Yesterday, I spoke to Sage, the accounting software provider, about their development programme. It costs £1500+VAT per year just to be granted the right to create software that modifies the Sage database. By comparison, a perpetual licence of their Sage 50 accounting software, that is by far the most widely deployed version, can be bought from a distributor for around £380+VAT.

Sage is reportedly keen to encourage developers to get on board. They need to realise that their relationship with developers is mutually beneficial. Xero, which seems to be eating Sage’s market share gradually, has a much better approach and, as a result, has a huge range of options for users who want to add functionality to their accounting package.

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