Reflector – Not free anymore?

Today it was announced that Red Gate Software would begin charging for .NET Reflector with the version 7 release. The announcement triggered a flurry of Twitter activity from several developers who have enjoyed use of Reflector for many years. Reflector was developed and maintained by Lutz Roeder until 2008 when he transferred ownership to Red Gate. From the beginning Reflector was provided as a free tool to the development community. When Red Gate assumed ownership without making any commitment (or obligation) to keeping Reflector free, they continued to do so until the proposed May 2011 release of version 7.

Why all the uproar?
In my opinion, this is a perfect example of people feeling like they deserve to have something when they have done nothing to deserve it. Lutz could have easily charged for Reflector when he was working on the tool, but decided not too. I along with many other people would have been willing to pay a small price to leverage Reflector. It was a huge help for me when I started working on WPF and there were no books on the market. It was his code and his perogative to offer Reflector for free. Now the code belongs to Red Gate and in order to really commit their developers they are going to ask for $35 for a perpetual individual license. I guess they could ask their people to work for free, but I doubt they would. Would you?

Do I like the decision? NO, but I understand that companies can’t do everything for free. Think about it like this, go to your local grocery store and most of them will have free cookies for kids at the bakery. Let’s say you take your kid to the store everyday for a free cookie for 6 or 7 years until the store discovers they need to pay the baker. So they ask you to pay $1 for a membership card for your little cookie monster to get cookies. Now ask yourself, do you have a right to the cookie? Will you go on Twitter and say the grocery store is the scourge of the earth? I certainly hope not. I have used Red Gate tools for years and have been pleased. While I am not happy about the decision, I don’t fault them and they haven’t violated any sacred trust.

Where I would find concern is if the rumor, and I haven’t seen any documentation supporting this claim, that you would not be able to use the last free version once version 7 is released. There would be no reason for Red Gate to keep users from being able to use an unsupported and feature frozen version of the free tool that exists today.

8 thoughts on “Reflector – Not free anymore?

  1. It is not a rumor, it’s stated in the FAQ:How much longer will I be able to obtain and use a free version of .NET Reflector?A free version will be available for download until the release of Version 7, scheduled for early March. The free version will continue working until May 30, 2011.


  2. Well that is another story. While again it is Red Gate’s perogative, I don’t understand their argument for not allowing someone to continue working with the free version if they don’t have to support or develop anything for it. Once it is obsolete then it is obsolete. Forcing people to upgrade from free to not free is poor form. I am definitely disappointed that part of their decision. Thanks for pointing that out “Anonymous”.


  3. What makes you think that $35 license will be so perpetual? What makes you think they won’t change their minds again in the future?


  4. Well, all a perpetual license would indicate is that everything under version 7 would be $35. If they release a version 8, that would be a new license and they could bump the price to whatever they want as with any other product. I understand there is some work being done for a Mono Cecil decompiler which might be good competition and it would be free.


  5. Lutz could have put the code out there in the open source community and let the community further develop the product for free. I am sure his original intent to develop something that he used to help him in his development endeavors and then put it out there to help other developers in the same manner was sort of a way to give back to the community. Now it seems that the original intent will be lost! 🙂


  6. I’m putting out GrayWolf to fill the void at http://www.DigitalbodyGuard.comI wish Reflector would have been OpenSource!!GrayWolf is currently not OpenSource, I do plan on releasing the code if “it picks up”(but I did not obF3sC8te it:)I have much more then just replacing Reflector, but yes the green WALL, how do I put hundreds of hours in and not charge.- If people send me money( good )GrayWolf is one part of one tool so expect more:)


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