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Why has this app stopped being free (sortof) ????

posted Nov 6, 2011, 9:42 AM by Derrick Bennett
Namely there are two people involved in CadPage. Myself and Ken. I started cadpage as something I wanted for my use as a volunteer in my local area. Being a part time developer I was able to cobble something together based on another app and released the first version of cadpage for our local members. It was placed on the google market for ease of access, this was a bit over a year ago. Since then more and more locations have requested that the app be made to work for their area. At first this seemed simple and I started adding locations in my spare time. Shortly after that Ken who is an actual java developer and volunteer came on board to help out. Without getting into boring details we quickly learned a harsh fact. Each locality, even if using the same cad vendor, has very different formats for their pages. When you read the page you are very quickly and easily able to understand the address part. Doing that reliably in java and making it map over to google maps is a very different thing. 

Ken and I tried hard and for 8 months we were able to keep adding locations, but not features, to the cadpage baseline. As much as we both wanted to keep this application free harsh reality set in. We now have over 379 supported or requested locations that have been formally requested. In all that time we have seen less than 10 that were identical and able to use the same parser.

On average it takes 2-8 hours to write a test case, parser, and updates for a single location. For almost all locations the small set of samples we work with are not detailed enough and so for the first few weeks after deployment there are another 2-6 hours per location of coding time to troubleshoot and fix that previous location. Occasionally locations change CAD vendors and the whole process starts over again.

At this time CadPage now consists of over 103,000 (yes that thousands) lines of java code and test cases covering 34 States in the US. All of this is because of primarily 1.5 people. Ken is our primary programmer and besides writing code there is the daily answering of over 100 emails regarding issues, new locations, and questions. We have a good write up on our other page Financial Support that goes into more details about the financial issues.

If we had an option we would absolutely keep this app free. However for the past year many of the features that everyone has been asking for have been neglected because adding new locations was the priority. It is our hope that with funding we can continue to not only add new but also add features. We have a long list of features including schedule based alerting, ability to add notes to addresses, ability to better forward calls, increased features in selecting alert sounds and methods, along with a longer list of features listed on the website. We also want to add support for non sms messaging and things like tablets and other devices. But all of this takes time. 

We have only a few options to make this happen in a realistic timeframe. We would love to see CAD vendors come to the table and support this app. Then they could distribute it to their users and centralize formats and remove the cost burden from the individual users. If you know the Cad vendors please send them our way as our requests to them have gone unanswered. 

We could do location based sponsorship. This is something we are working on. And while it removes the cost burden from the user it only goes for supporting the costs of a single locations and not towards the time for new features. We are still working on this but should have something available in the near future.

We could get 2 full time developers to donate their time. If you know of these developers please send them our way :)

We could do in-app advertising. I am really against this as I feel CadPage is not a good app to do in-app advertising on, and realistically we would never have a high enough user base to have in-app ads work.

At this time we are continually working on different ideas but the end goal is the same, to try and keep adding locations and at the same time start adding features again (you saw how long the widget feature took to get in place). Ken has laid out the specific details on this site, no one is getting rich off this app and as Fire/Rescue volunteers ourselves we understand and have tried as best we could to keep this app free.  We welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can improve.