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urbanhusky
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Electronic music made in Austria
Electronic music made in Austria

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This post is a backup of the post I made in the YNAB forums.

I've put off writing a post about this for way too long now, mostly because this, at least to me, is a very emotional and stressful issue.
I'd like to explain how I feel about the new YNAB, what it means to me and why certain things are important to me - even if those things might not bother you personally. This is a very personal, if not emotional issue for me and a current cause of a lot of stress.
I'll start with a longer explanation and offer a brief "tl;dr" version at the bottom for the people that don't want or can invest that much time.


My personal history:

I only found out about the change and end-of-life of YNAB (4) by looking at the update notifications from my Android device and starting investigating as to why YNAB was suddenly rebranded "classic" YNAB.
The further I read, the more stressed out I felt. Cue a slight onset of panic as I felt that I've grown very reliant on YNAB and that "my" YNAB was suddenly being discontinued. "They can't be that stupid" were my thoughts. "They can't be that shortsighted" I thought.

You might feel the urge to reply right now to either correct me that it isn't being discontinued or just yell at me (hey, it's the internet, I know that feeling) but please bear with me for the remainder of this post.

Now where do I start? I could tell you about how YNAB has helped me a lot as I transitioned from studying to being a full-time employee and suddenly earning more money than I could just manage with a simple text file (in which I'd constantly forget yet unpaid expenses). When I looked around for budgeting software, I had few brief and hard failures (gnucash anyone?) before a friend recommended YNAB to me. Ever since then I've been recommending it to friends and family, well, until now that is.

As you certainly got from how I've worded this so far is, that I do like YNAB but I certainly do not like the idea of making it an online-focussed application which stores my data on your servers. I also don't want to attack the developers and people behind YNAB, despite my thoughts implying that I thought they were "stupid".


My understanding of the issue:

No, I actually get why you, the YNAB crew, did this. As a software developer I fully understand the effort required to develop and maintain applications, especially with regards to multiplatform (even more so with the ever-present mobile devices). Not to mention the hours, days, months and years of effort required for customer service.
I understand that it isn't viable to support an entire team through the sales of major releases alone. I've seen many applications transition from (semi-)yearly major releases to more iterative, agile development cycles. From a business standpoint that all makes sense: you get paid for fixing bugs and the people that want to stick around and benefit from that and support you more directly, with a potentially lower cost to keep the application updated over the years.

You also want to be able to give people access to their budget more easily, possibly from any device. The immediate solution for that screams software-as-a-service, or to use the more modern term: "cloud". Plus, getting rid of the dependency on Adobe Air (as far as I understood that) must have felt like a long overdue decision.

However, I disagree with a few major points in how you're handling this - especially with a few things I feel you have either overlooked or not addressed at all.


My disagreement:

Oh boy, where to start. These things are somewhat interconnected...
Paying monthly or yearly for software in itself isn't bad, but tying me being able to use it at all to a valid subscription feels like a horrible idea to me.
Especially when that software is a critical component of my life. Imagine the scenario where I suddenly find myself without a job and have to suddenly save a lot of money, cut expenses etc. What's the first thing to go? Non-critical subscriptions. I now have an additional monthly/yearly expense that I might not be able to afford, but without it I would not have any access to my budget and financial data - which, in that situation would be crippling.
I try to avoid such services whenever possible for various reasons.

I also don't benefit from the "integration with banks", because
a) I don't think that there is any integration for my bank (I'm not a US customer)
b) don't think such an integration would be possible for privacy and security reasons (again, EU, not US)
c) don't want any software to have access to my bank account. My basic sense of IT security screams loudly and in panic at that idea.


My major disagreement:

Making it online-based.
My internet connection is occasionally spotty. Boom, no budget, I'm screwed.
Not every place has internet. Boom, no budget, I'm screwed.
Your servers are offline. Boom, no budget, I'm screwed.
I'm sure we both could come up with various other scenarios here.


My very angry major disagreement:

Putting my data on your servers.
The recent years had shown more hacks and leaks from major companies, which, I'd wager, could afford a bigger and better experienced security staff than YNAB (I don't mean to diss your security expertise but I'd think that a dedicated and experienced security expert could do better than just googling the best practices from stackoverflow).
Not only that, but you're making yourself a very attractive target for hackers and other institutions alike because you harbour the financial and personal, possibly even medical information about a lot of people. No amount of encryption could protect that - heck, making the argument that everything is encrypted is a bit useless if you need to decrypt it anyway for your software to work.

Even worse: you learned nothing, let me emphasise that due to how big this feels to me, NOTHING, from the recent years. NSA, the Snowden leaks etc. This issue is now so firmly rooted in reality, that you can't just shrug it off as invalid conspiracy theories. You have valuable and interesting data, many people are interested in that data.
You have a problem.

This does not even touch the issues such as data integrity, backups, availability etc.


The TL;DR version/summary:

    I understand that YNAB cannot be supported by occasional major releases and according sales alone
    I would be willing to pay a subscription or occasional spend a lower-than-major-release amount of money to get the latest update
    Some companies do it like this: you can subscribe to updates and support for a year at a lower price, pay for X months at a slightly higher price or pay for just a single month at the worst price. You'd still be able to use the old version you paid for, you just wouldn't receive any updates or support for it - but if you'd need a new version or support, you could just get the update for a month. Of course, this is less viable with a SASS/cloud approach where you push the latest version to every subscribing customer...
    I find it unacceptable to put my financial and personal data on your servers (keywords: EU, safe harbour, Snowden, NSA, big data, hacks, leaks)
    I find it unacceptable to have to pay for a constant subscription to continue using the software
    I find it unacceptable to require the software to be online
    I am capable of writing my own budget software. I am capable with agile development, working in teams and comfortable with open source.

You not only have lost a customer in me, you've gained an anti-customer. I'm no longer recommending YNAB to friends and family, I'm doing the exact opposite. I'm upset, but mostly because something that I use, something that is dear to me, suddenly broke.

Before YNAB I pondered writing my own budget software but didn't do it because I had no clear idea on how I should approach it - plus, I found YNAB soon after toying with that idea.
I'm a software developer. Writing a software such as YNAB is not some mystical magic. Heck, a few dedicated people could easily write a clone, open source it so that the community can keep it up-to-date or fork it if some decision isn't to their liking, forever preventing such a sudden, stressful and panic-inducing end-of-life scenario.
Please don't misunderstand me. This is by no means meant as a threat. I don't want to see the team behind YNAB hurt in any way over this and I certainly don't want to be in competition with them. But it is the only option that I can currently see in my panicked state. I have a problem-solving mind and it's in a panic-induced overdrive mode right now and making an open source variant of YNAB seems to be the most logical conclusion to my very personal issue - and I can't be the only one that thinks like that.

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http://urbanhusky.bandcamp.com/album/ambience

Ambience is our second, full length album featuring #ambient and calmer tracks.

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http://urbanhusky.bandcamp.com/album/first-steps

First steps is a #chiptunes  -inspired album which takes the iconic sounds of old game console sound chips and combines them outside the limitations of the original hardware. 
Add a sparkle of modern effects and you've got an album that invokes images of classic game genres. 

Listen and explore. Just like a level from an old game, the best stuff isn't immediately placed in the beginning. 
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