Kevin Ragsdale: Visual FoxPro 9.0

Price, Quality, and Value

Wow! My last post about the recent FoxPro Advisor Update advertisement really struck a nerve with Michael Kopljan, who responded to my post by creating his own blog (Welcome to the Blogosphere, Michael!).

Michael makes a couple of excellent points about the cost of doing business in different parts of the world, which of course results in differing costs for the products produced. After re-reading his take on the subject and Andrew MacNeill’s response, I believe I made at least two HUGE mistakes in my original post.

Mistake #1: My answer for competing with off-shoring specialists who charge a much lower rate versus my current rate was QUALITY. A poor choice of words on my part. The correct word is VALUE.

Mistake #2: The wording I chose leading up to the You get what you pay for statement. In retrospect, I can't blame Michael at all for being a bit pissed about my post. On the other hand, dude, comparing my statements to Adolf Hitler? Come on.

On the plus side, isn't this a wonderful example about the global reach of blogs?

Michael was offended by my "Have you ever seen an app developed on the cheap by third-world off-shoring specialists?" statement. His response was, "That is to humiliate. Why you think that you are better then any third-world specialist. Why you think that your App is better than any other."

Let me be the first to say that I don't necessarily think my apps are better than any others. And I'm not so sure that anyone I know would ever describe me as super intelligent. After all, if you've ever read my earlier posts you'd know that I kind of fell> into programming, and I'm really just darn lucky and blessed to be making a living at it. Real developers would probably call me a hack. Compared to the Visual FoxPro team at Microsoft and the Visual FoxPro Community that I admire, I feel like a wannabee. I don't write books. I don't share much of my code with other developers. I can't even begin to pretend to be an expert developer.

But I do try to create value for my customers. It doesn't really matter what something costs, does it? It's the value you get from the product that makes it worth its while. I can buy Windows XP Professional for $199, or I can download Gentoo Linux for free. They're both operating systems. They both do their jobs nicely (in fact, I prefer Gentoo Linux — IMHO it is the most elegant system I think I've ever seen). But the value I get from Windows XP far exceeds the value I get from Linux (at least today).

Using the steak analogy, I can buy a bland $5 steak, or I can buy a delicious $30 steak. What's the value I'm getting from them? They both serve the same purpose and, like a lot of software I've written over the last fifteen years — they're both going to end up in the same place eventually.

Please note, Michael, that I certainly didn't intend to offend you. I don't even know you. But, after reading your views about your own passion for quality, I'd like to know you. You sound like the kind of guy I'd like to work with.

Off-shoring is an extremely sensitive subject here in the United States. My personal feeling is the long-term damage that will come from it will far outweigh the short-term cost benefit. Too many companies (and governments) work with a near-term mentality (but that's a subject for a future post).