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October 9, 2017

Caddy 0.10.10 Released Along With New Pricing Structure

By Matt Holt and Cory Cooper

Today, we're releasing Caddy 0.10.10 and an updated pricing structure. This new version has several incremental changes, including the removal of the Caddy-Sponsors header. The new pricing is the result of tons of accumulated feedback over the past few weeks. Thank you to all who contributed to these changes today.

First we'll introduce the changes, then describe how we got to this point, as well as where we plan on going. Hopefully some of our experiences will be interesting and informative to others in a similar boat.

Pricing Changes

The most significant change is that we now have more than one product. See them all on our new products page.

Originally, a commercial license subscription included other benefits such as email support, private plugin hosting, and other features we have planned to add in the future. As much as we loved the simplicity of this, it prohibitively kept the price too high. We've split each perk into its own product. We now have three products, with the fourth being a bundle:

Changes in Caddy 0.10.10

See full release notes which includes a brief description of security-related fix for some Windows and macOS deployments.

Thank you for all who submitted pull requests, tested changes, reviewed code, and participated in issues! There's so much to do—so goes open source development! (#Hacktoberfest is a great way to get involved!)

The Path to Better Pricing

When we announced commercial licenses last month, we received so much feedback that it took us weeks to sift through it all, examine everyone's use cases, and come up with a better fit for the market (not to mention dispell some misunderstandings).

Turns out, optimally pricing web server binaries is hard. We were surprised by the many, many scenarios in which Caddy is used that we had never before supposed. Our (admittedly bold) decision to charge for commercial use of the binaries elicited a much more passionate response than we expected because we had no idea that our build server was being used and relied upon in the CI and production deployment systems of several multi-million-(and billion)-dollar companies worldwide. Or that small companies of one or two individuals were deploying Caddy by the (tens of) thousands of instances to serve their SaaS customers. Or that mid-size consulting firms were distributing Caddy to their clients as part of a service or product.

We've been watching people recommend Caddy mostly for small or personal hobby projects for years, so we assumed that's how it was being used everywhere, save just a few companies who participated in Caddy's development. But the reality is much different! No wonder we got the response we did. We were relieved to discuss pricing options privately with many of you, so we thank those of you for reaching out and extending your advice and describing how Caddy is used in your business.

After several major iterations on a new pricing structure, we converged on four different products. This offering is slightly more complex, but it's more accessible where it counts. Individuals and small companies (including startups!) can get going with an instant, automated signup and checkout process that takes just 19 seconds (or 44 if you have to look up your credit card information—yes, we timed it!). Larger companies or those with distinctive use cases (such as redistribution) can contact us for a quote that fits their needs. This workflow is more familiar for enterprise as well.

Companies who want to trial official Caddy binaries can use the personal license free for 30 days for their business purposes.

The Path to Better Open Source

We affirm that Caddy is open source software and we invite you to contribute to its development! It's fun to get involved, and you'll work on code that is used by tens of thousands of people directly, and millions more indirectly.

Although our initial announcement a month ago drew up a lot of criticism, we don't regret it. Without such an abrupt change we probably still wouldn't know to what extent Caddy is being used. We believe that this lack of insight was a root cause for the confusion last month. Ultimately, what came from it all was progress.

Our recommendation to all open source projects that hope to grow (commercially or not) is this: know your users. Know their use cases. What are they trying to accomplish? What do they use your project for? Why do they use your project and not others? The trick is not asking these questions, but getting answers to them. For some reason we've had a hard time ascertaining Caddy's use by simply asking about it.

One trick for project maintainers to help get an understanding of a project's audience is to use deduction in issues and pull requests. When people use the term "we" the singular, that's a good sign that it's being used in a company because that user is presumably representing the people he or she works with. If it's a feature request for something obscure or archaic, it might quite possibly be coming from a team in a large company that still uses those technologies. Of course, this is only speculation, so it doesn't hurt to ask what they are using the project for. (Maybe add that question to your issue template.)

What's Next

We're looking forward to helping businesses become successful online. We're currently working on a new service that will help you get Caddy installed and running on almost any system environment that integrates with your package manager of choice. We also have some product ideas on the drawing board, along with the planned features and milestones of our regular Caddy development.

Again, we want to thank everyone who has expressed valuable feedback for their interest and involvement. Here's to serving the Web, and you, better than before.

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