Why Paid UI Components Aren’t Evil

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In this talk I’m going to convince you that paid UI components will solve all your problems, and that you should immediately give me all of your money. Maybe. Or perhaps I’ll draw on my experience working both on free and open source tools (jQuery, jQuery UI, NativeScript), as well as paid tools (Kendo UI, KendoReact), and discuss which type of tool makes sense depending on your team and needs. In any case the talk will go fast because lightning is in the title.

8 min
17 Jun, 2021

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AI Generated Video Summary

Paid UI components are not evil and offer benefits such as guaranteed support and long-term peace of mind. They solve harder problems and provide features and guarantees that free controls may not have. Paid components also establish a direct financial relationship with the authors, eliminating the need for sponsorship or donation models.

1. Paid UI Components: Not Evil

Short description:

Today, I'm going to talk about why paid UI components are not evil. Free software lowers the barrier for newcomers, but there are benefits to paid components. The first reason is guaranteed support. With paid UI components, you often get dedicated 24-hour response times. The second reason is long-term peace of mind. Free tools may not be actively maintained. Paid components provide ongoing support and updates.

[♪ music playing ♪ Hey, everyone. Today, I'm going to talk to you about why paid UI components are not evil. And the reason I want to give this talk is that almost all the software that we use on the front end today, so think about React and all the different React tools and components that we use, they're basically all free, which is kind of awesome, actually, mostly because it greatly lowers the barrier for newcomers to get started in the industry.

Now, back when I was getting started on software and also apparently nine feet tall, I wanted to use what the cool kids at the time were using, which were tools like Flash and Java. But the problem is, these things cost money and poor high school, college TJ couldn't afford them. So instead I moved over to the web because the tooling there was something that was completely free. And really, this is how my career got started and the reason that I'm here today. I went on to work for the jQuery project I spent two years working on jQuery UI. So if you're building apps with jQuery UI 10ish or so years ago, you might've used components and controls that I helped build and maintain.

For the last few years though, I've worked for a company called Progress and on a UI component suite called Kendra React. And importantly for this talk, we charge money for the controls that we make. And having worked now on both sides of the equation for both free and paid UI components, it's given me a whole different perspective. For example, you might assume that our biggest competitors for Kendra React would be other paid UI component suites. But actually what we find is we mostly fight against developers' sort of expectations, especially front end and React developers, that all controls and all software for this world are free. So you'll see things like free in search terms and on lists of components and such in recommendations. So today I want to give you four reasons to at least consider paid UI components. And this a lightning talk, so we're going to make these four lightning reasons and go through these kind of quickly.

So the first reason is guaranteed support. With free UI controls, the help that you receive is largely dependent on how willing the community is to devote their time, which sometimes can work out great. But other times it can mean you're digging through long stack overflow threads or huge GitHub issue lists to try to find help that you need. With paid UI components, one thing you often get is some form of guaranteed support. So for example, with all Kendo React licenses, you get dedicated 24 hour response times. Essentially, you have an issue, you create a ticket with us, we're guaranteed to get back with you and help you out within 24 hours. Reason number two is long-term peace of mind. So another problem with free UI tools is that there's no real incentive for the authors to continue working on their project after their sort of initial motivation to create the thing occurs. And because of this, there is no shortage of sort of projects that haven't been touched in a long time on GitHub and throughout the web. And to be clear, I'm not blaming the authors for this in any way. After all, they're putting their work out there for free. But rather, as sort of Ben Lesch, who's the author of RxJS said, anyone that thinks they want to be the owner of a popular open-source project is a fool, which is something I can commiserate with from my time on jQuery. I got a lot of benefit out of working out of the jQuery project, but I also had to deal with some of the worst of the worst on the internet from people that wanted to know why their date picker didn't work in their super complex application.

2. Benefits of Paid UI Components

Short description:

When you pay for software, you have a direct financial relationship that isn't so dependent on the author's goodwill and motivation. Paid UI components often solve harder problems and provide features and guarantees that aren't necessarily a given with free controls. With paid UI controls, you get more of a same funding model, eliminating the need for weird sponsorship or donation models. Paid UI components offer benefits such as guaranteed support, long-term peace of mind, solving harder problems, and having a more direct financial relationship with the authors.

When you pay for software, you have a direct financial relationship that isn't so dependent on the author's goodwill and motivation. And that makes the project much more likely to stick around. So for example, with Kendo UI, we launched back in 2011. And if you used our series of jQuery plug-ins on day one, those are jQuery plug-ins that we're actually still maintaining in 2020. We're actually still adding features to those components as well. So we've been around for the long run.

Reason number three is paid UI components often solve harder problems. There are a lot of developers out there trying to make the world's best React date picker, and you can find lots of great free ones out there. There are fewer developers out there trying to create the world's best React Gantt chart, which is something that we ship as part of Kendo React, or the best scheduler, basically creating like an Outlook calendar in your browser, which is also something we ship as part of Kendo React as well. Paid UI components also tend to ship features and guarantees that aren't necessarily a given with free controls. So for example, on Kendo React, we spend a lot of time making sure all of our components adhere to numerous accessibility standards and provide globalization support, which again, with free controls, can be hit or miss, especially if you're trying to piece together a number of different free controls and make them work well together.

And finally, last on my list is with paid UI controls, you get more of a same funding model. And I include this because in our front-end world today, the value of this software that we use, again, think of the different React's tools and components that you use in your day-to-day job, is in no way equal to the actual amount of financial value that these developers are actually compensated with, which has some frankly kind of bizarre consequences. For example, we now see things like NPM install logs containing advertisements, which is something that somebody tried to do. And if you write React, you've probably seen a core.js person asking for jobs, which is something that happens as well. There's a sort of weird set of foundations out there with some very nebulous funding models. There are things like Patreon and GitHub sponsors, which are things you probably feel like you should contribute to for some tools you use, but you probably also aren't either. When you pay for software, you don't have to worry about how the developers behind the software are getting paid because the relationship is way more direct. For example, at Kendo React, we make a suite of 80 plus React UI components and you pay us money if you want to use them. There's no weird sponsorship or donation model.

Now to be clear, I'm not saying that paid UI components are a panacea. We're not going to solve every problem that you have for your applications. Instead, I'd encourage you to do just a bit of a time benefit analysis because front-end developer's time isn't cheap and there are some real cost in time savings to be had from having things like guaranteed support from knowing you're going to hear back on issues that you have within 24 hours, from having a bit more long-term peace of mind that the code and the tools you use are going to be around for two, three, five years to come, from solving harder problems, from knowing things like accessibility is something that's going to be taken care of for you, and from having that more direct financial relationship with the authors of the tools that you build. So the next time a new app comes up, you're starting a new project, a new initiative, I'd encourage you to at least consider paid UI solutions. Have us on the list of things that you're going to test out. And if you're interested in trying Kendo React, you can learn more about kendoreact.com. And if you have any questions, you can ask them to me throughout this event, and I'm also at TGEventHole on Twitter. So thanks.

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