Release 2.0 - restricting free plans, giving back with features and price reductions

Posted by Andy Singleton on Oct 17, 2008 5:00:00 AM

Within the next day, we will be releasing a new version of Assembla.com that contains major changes to the subscription packages, and many improvements.

Subscription Changes

We will no longer offer free, private spaces.  If you own a free, private space, we will send you an upgrade message later this week asking you to buy a "Private / Professional" subscription, or convert the space to public permissions.  You can make a migration decision here.

[Editor's Note: we posted updated pricing here.  We posted instructions for free student projects here.]

If you run a publicly visible project, such as an open source project, we will continue to support you with all standard features, for free.  If you have a Commercial space, we will roll your subscription into the new, more flexible Private/Professional plan.  If you have a free private space and you do not respond, then we will not expose your data or remove it, but we will eventually set it to read-only.

Why are we making this change?  We enjoy working with developers and supporting the community, and we will continue to support the community with free public plans, and low-cost subscription plans.  We are grateful for the positive feedback and suggestions that we receive daily.  However, our free private subversion repositories have become so popular that we no longer have the time and administrative capability to support them at a high level of quality.  So, we need to ask more of our users to support the site with inexpensive paid subscriptions.

In return, we are offering a simplified payment plan that will result in a price cut for most subscribers.  The "Private / Professional" plan costs $2 per user per space per month, plus $3 per gigabyte of file and repository usage.  You can buy it for any space that requires privacy, improved security, or more disk allocation.

A lot of users told us that they had multiple spaces for personal use, or small teams, and they wanted to buy in smaller increments.  We heard you, and now we are giving you full professional support with this amazing deal.

If you have bigger teams and more spaces, the deal gets even better.  We are now offering the portfolio, branding, and staffing tools for free - formerly a $150/month value.  Just select the Manager and Employers package from our new catalog.  And, if you pay in advance, you can get additional discounts of up to 50%.

If you already bought the old Commercial subscription package, we love you forever.  You are probably getting a price cut, and you don't need to do anything.  We will credit the full amount of your last payment into the new "metered" payment plan.  Contact us directly if you want any other adjustments.

New Features

This release contains three months worth of upgrades, some very visible, and some more subtle.  Here are the completely new features.

Catalog: The first thing that you will notice is that when you go to create a new space, you select your configuration from a catalog where the various tools are clearly explained, and pre-configured.  We will expand the catalog over time with packages that contain code for popular development platforms, and with packages for other types of non-development collaboration. You won't have to figure out all of the new tools.  You just click and go.

Do you start every project the same way?  You can customize the spaces to make your own templates, and then use the "copy this space" link at the bottom for the same click-and-go effect.  You might even consider contributing your branded content and methodology to our catalog.

Integrated Subversion: We are piloting an integrated Subversion browser for looking at source code and changesets. The Trac code browser has served us well, but it doesn’t feel integrated, and it is missing some features from the best modern code browsers. Our repository support needs to match the best of breed. The new Subversion browser eliminates an additional login, includes full user names and profile links, and has nice features like “view” which will serve up HTML files with relative links. As soon as this is ready, we will apply the same design to upgrade our git tool with full support for branching and forking.  And, we will release it with a free open source license so that you can also run on local repositories.

Twitter tool: Send your team activity to Twitter and follow it wherever it goes.

Mylyn connector:  For Eclipse users, we added a MyLyn connector so that you can view Assembla tickets and track time inside Eclipse.  It takes advantage of continued API improvements.

Improvements

Tickets:  We improved the integrated Tickets tool with better formatting, reports, and export capabilities. My favorite new feature is a screen capture applet that pops up from from the Ticket attachments panel to capture a picture of bug in seconds. Get an RSS feed of changes and comments for any ticket report, including “My Tickets” (that is, your personal tickets). We upgraded the script that imports tickets from Trac, so that it will capture custom fields, type, resolution, and other fields.  We now capture and attach comments from svn, git, mercurial, and github, so it might be time to import and switch to Assembla tickets.

Chat: Now works through firewalls

Mercurial: Now shows commit events in the Stream and Dashboard.

Git: User keys are automatically resynced.

Wiki: Allows raw HTML, iframes (embed Google calendar, for instance), and has formatting fixes.

Have it your way:  Are you using a Trac wiki or a Basecamp or Google groups messaging system?  Wiki, Messages, and files are now optional tools.  You can strip a space all the way down to its essentials:  The "Team" list, and the "Stream" view of team activities.

Under the hood

"Under the hood" are invisible changes that will power a lot of improvements in the next few months.

We improved our architecture for adding “external” tools as new tabs. We have long supported Trac as an external tool. We have now integrated online services like Github, user-hosted svn repositories, and Twitter. More are on the way, and we are documenting a tool development kit so that you can insert your own team application.

Our most radical move was to build a new piece of infrastructure – the Event Hub – to let you see what your team is doing around the net. It collects events (code commits, ticket edits, new messages) from Assembla internal tools and displays them in the Stream and alerts.  It can ALSO capture events from external applications (for example, your external repositories), show them in the Stream and alerts, and ROUTE them to other external applications (in a simple example, Twitter). It’s like a permissioned friendfeed for a working team. With this improved architecture, email alerts will be sent as soon as the events happen.

Internationalization of many features will allow you to view the Assembla site using your native language, as soon as we build and test translations.

Get involved!

  • Work on translations to other languages.  Some users have emailed to offer translation services.  Now we are ready to use the translations.  If you want to write and test a translation, please send an email to info@assembla.com and tell us your language and your rates or payment structure.

  • Build packages for the catalog.  Do you have your own project templates on Assembla?  Are you a consultant who can package your platform or methodology into the wiki, settings, and code repository of a template space?  For example, if you make a living doing J2EE Web development, and you have packaged the initial documentation, code, and build scripts into a space, other users can benefit from that.  You can contact us about publishing and promoting your branded template space in our catalog.  It could be a great lead generator 

  • Add your tool or application to Assembla.  If you have a tool or application that Assembla teams can use, we might be interested in helping you package it as a tool in the workspace and promote it in our catalog.  We can even make sales and collect money at prices that you set.

  • Add your questions and suggestions to the forum.

Topics: assembla, tickets/issue tracking, collaboration, repositories, assembla releases, subversion, git/gerrit

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