When I roped in Justin to help develop Mobile Assault, we decided to use Assembla as our host for the code repository. It seemed like quite a good deal at the time. It was $2 per user plus $2 for every gigabyte of data, but thankfully we could pay in fractions of a gigabyte. All up we were paying about $5 US a month, which was pretty good considering that Assembla also provided a wiki and bug tracker.
Things change, and suddenly Assembla isn’t as appealing now. I’m currently paying $2 per person per space, where each space is a separate code repo with wiki and bug tracker. To a computer system you’d think this is not that big a deal and wouldn’t justify extra cost. What’s 100 repos for 1 user that only consumes 1GB? It seems like nothing really in the grand scheme of things, but no. Of the two projects, both of which I’m a part of and the one that Justin is, costs $6 and there is $1 worth of data.
That’s what it’s been since about 2009/2010 (I can’t remember), but my “legacy plan” (as they call it) of $7 a month is now supposed to cost me, wait for it…
$19 a month!
How the heck did that happen you ask?
Well, it turns out that the new cost is a cold, hard $19 a month for:
- 3 projects
- 15 users
- Unlimited repos
- 6 GB
That a lot of stuff I don’t need. The next step down is a 1 Project, 3 Users 1 Repo 500MB plan, but that’s pretty useless if you want to make further small projects under hosted source control.
(On a side note, Assembla is actually free if you have an open source project, meaning your repo is public).
Well, Assembla, your pricing balls-up has surely cost more customers than me. Heck, I was paying! It’s not like I was scrounging a free service out of you.
Bitbucket to the rescue
After some research, github proved to have about the same price as my “legacy plan” with Assembla, but after more searching I found Bitbucket. The price? Well, it turns out it’s free for what I need it for!
- 5 users with unlimited private repositories (huge win!)
- Unlimited data (it seems)
- Wiki and issue tracking tools. The wiki is also under source control, which is useful
Even better, Bitbucket has a slick modern website that is low on clutter and easy to navigate and use. The migration was very easy. I was able to import my three Assembla repositories by merely providing Bitbucket with the url of each git repo, all within the browser thus no messing with files on my machine.
Assembla – the evolution
Don’t mistake this post as hating on Assembla. I think part of what happened is essentially a change in business model. About 3-4 years ago, their service was quite simple and straight forward. They offered exactly what an Indy developer needed; a source repo, bug tracker and a wiki.
As you can see from their current product offering, there is a lot available. This makes good business sense because enterprise level customers are very lucrative. The problem is that during this evolutionary process, there has become a gap in their pricing model to cater for small Indy teams of 2-10 people. Disk space is super cheap these days, so the only appropriate pricing metric is features and to a far lesser degree, the number of users (because of simultaneous connections to servers, I suppose).
$19 US is peanuts to a team that is actually making lots of money, but when the Indy dev is really just a hobbyist who is making enough in sales to pay for coffee, then $19 increments starts to mount up.
Competition at its finest
It’s great seeing github and bitbucket offering an alternative to Assembla. Now I just have to get my team from 2 to 10 people to justify the $10 a month plan. If I was a part of a 10 man team, I’d gladly pay that, but at the moment it’s just me. Coder-loner