All good things must come to an end

codebender’s next chapter

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TLDR: The codebender.cc website is being deprecated as we move our focus on new stuff

When we started codebender on February 2012, more than 4 years ago, we never expected it to become this popular and go all this way. It was just a part-time open source project by some of the people at the local hackerspace.

Fast forward to now, and we are an investor-backed startup with:

  • $800,000 of investment
  • 100,000 Registered Users
  • 10,000 Monthly Active Users
  • 14 partnerships with H/W Manufacturers
  • Recognition from the Maker crowd as one of the 5 most popular tools

We’re extremely proud of what we’ve built. Five guys from a hackerspace in Greece have managed to compete & surpass tools by multi-billion companies like ARM, and Arduino’s tools as well (themselves a multi-million company). We started with a vision to help the Maker movement grow, and touch people’s lives by making it easier to work on their projects and create stuff.

Not only did we achieve that, but we also pushed others to see the need, as in the case of Arduino’s own Arduino Create.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch

But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And this is the end for codebender.cc and the beginning of our new chapter.

As all of you know, we provide codebender.cc for free. Of course, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch”, so that means we’ve been taking care of the bill all this time.

In our early days, this meant our personal time & money out of our own pocket. After getting funded, we used the money our investors put in to provide this service for free, which covered salaries, contractors, outside services, server hosting, utilities, rent etc.

Fun fact: At this moment, running codebender costs roughly $25,000/month.

A business is a business

We’ve tried to generate revenue for codebender.cc a couple of ways, i.e. Paid Private Projects, the codebender:esp Kickstarter, licensing our Compilation Infrastructure, etc. But none of these worked, and it seems we can’t escape an inevitable truth: Makers aren’t interested in paying for Software.

For a while now, we’ve been working on B2B deals to generate revenues. With more and more people moving to Cloud-based products, there is a clear need for companies who develop IDEs (such Chip Manufacturers, SDK providers, etc) to build Cloud IDEs for their customers. Given our many years of experience, we were the obvious choice to help companies make that transition.

Fun fact: codebender:esp originally started as an idea for building a Cloud IDE for Espressif - the makers of ESP8266 & ESP32. We built a demo, but since it didn’t go anywhere, we decided to see if the Maker market was interested in paying a subscription for such an IDE.

This means we are spread thin trying to serve both our B2B business, as well as the Makers who use codebender.cc and the development, maintenance, and customer support associated with that.

This, coupled with the announcement of Arduino Create and the knowledge that there are now others taking care of the same issues that we identified when we started, lead us to the decision to close down the Arduino-focused codebender.cc website and focus on our B2B efforts.

Timeline

Of course, we understand that we are responsible for everyone who’s been using codebender so far. So we’ve set up a plan to make the transition as simple as possible.

Here are the most important phases:

  • October 31st - New registrations are disabled
  • November 7th - Compilation is disabled
  • November 15th - Creating & Cloning Projects is disabled
  • November 31st - Accounts are disabled

From November 31st and onward, we plan to keep all hosted Projects, Libraries, and Embeds on read-only mode, so that people can still access code found as links or embedded in websites.

We’ll keep the site on read-only mode until December 31st, 2016 at the very least, but our goal is to keep it up indefinitely so long as there is still usage (enough visits to warrant that) and we can spare the resources to maintain & upgrade the servers.

Other Services

We also understand that there’s a small number of people who can’t make the transition to the Arduino IDE or Arduino Create. This is people who are using Chromebooks -mainly educators- for whom codebender was the only compatible solution.

For that reason, we’ve set up a couple of very basic services for people who want to make a quick transition. They are simple, paid-only, low-maintenance services, which we can maintain as long as there is demand.

These are:

  • codebender:edu - A simplified version of codebender for classrooms. Supports Chromebooks, allows you to create one account and distribute it in your classroom. Write code, save it locally, or load existing code. K-12 compatible.
  • codebender:blocks - Similar to codebender:edu, but uses a Scratch-like interface which generates the Arduino code, aimed for younger kids who are getting started with electronics & programming.

Afterword

It’s been an amazing ride. I’m incredibly proud of our little part in shaping the Maker movement, and I’ll definitely continue being a part of it.

But we have to shift gears, and we hope you’ll support us in our endeavors.

See you on the other side!

— Vasilis Georgitzikis

NOTE: We want you to be part of the conversation. Join the discussion at the bottom of the page