This year, while doing taxes, I put together numbers on the out-of-pocket costs for maintaining Spaz. These include VPSes on Linode and Rackspace, and paid accounts on lighthouseapp.com. As I posted on Twitter:
Since folks were asking, I received $353.84 in donations in 2010 vs the ~$1700.00 expenses.
I’ve never deluded myself into thinking the Spaz Project was even a break-even proposition: I make enough money in my day job to put some into Spaz, and I never expected to get it back. It’s fulfilling for me and worth the investment to provide a transparent, open option for microblogging users.
Still, many folks in the webOS community have encouraged me to consider putting out a pay-for version of Spaz that people can purchase as a way to support the project. I wasn’t really comfortable with just putting out an identical product like that, but I think I came up with a reasonable value-add: additional themes.
Most users don’t really care about additional themes in an app, but some people LOVE them. I’m one of those people. I’ve always intended to put out Spaz with multiple themes, but work on adding features and improving performance have had higher priority, so I never got around to implementing it.
Recently I finally finished up the theme switching code, and was able to create a new theme. I informally put out a beta with this theme, called “Clean.” I also received a theme from Spaz contributor Will Honey and Bee Rad that mirrors the look of his awesome new audio app Koto Player.
So, my idea is to release a Spaz webOS “Special Edition” with at least 5 new themes (so 6 total, including the default “Dreadnaught” theme). This would be a pay-for download in the app catalog, probably for $2-3. Note that motivated individuals would be able to download and integrate themes themselves if they so desire, and all contributed themes in the Special Edition would be under a liberal license that’s compatible with Spaz’s “New BSD” license.
In addition, I will donate 50% of the revenue from the Spaz webOS Special Edition to @webosinternals. Their tireless work has made the webOS developer community the most open, transparent, and fun in mobile dev. We need to support them so they can continue to be awesome.
One issue that will come up with having multiple versions of Spaz is cross-app launching integration. Apps in the catalog must have unique IDs, so the Special Edition will have a different appid than the “regular” Spaz. I’ll probably put out a simple code snippet that checks for each one, so app devs don’t have to manually try to support all three — that would suck.
If you’re interested in making a theme, all the info is available at help.getspaz.com.