AppSource has more than 1000 apps. What do I think about it?

In a lot of cases, I publish or show the code in my blog posts. Not this time – sorry! Also, prepare yourself for a long post – so grab your coffee before starting.  

But I hope that you will like it since I want to talk about something which I believe is very important for ISVs… AppSource.

Note that all below is my personal opinions I understand if you disagree and will love to discuss it!

Reason for the post

I need to say I was inspired for this blog post by a few things.The first one is that we will have soon BCBeerinar related to AppSource so do not miss it! Here is the link https://www.meetup.com/BC-Beerinars/events/274206108/.

The second – our team just submitted the newest version of our extension to AppSource. And I am very happy and proud of all of us!

The last thing (maybe even the most important) – I failed to submit my app to AppSource which I was working on after hours (about this lesson you will hear from me not only today).

AppSource – is this a good direction?

If you are an ISV and starting a new project then I think that AppSource is the only good direction. 

Don’t even look on on-prem. Later you will always be able to scale down your solution and move to an on-prem world if such would still exist (ok it will. Do not worry, I just wanted to little scare you).

Eeee no one would download an app like in Google Play or App Store…

…it does not how the ERP/NAV/BC world works!

I think you heard this many times. Or even you were the person who said so! Trust me I know it is hard to believe but… people going to AppSource (now even doesn’t need to leave BC for that) and looking for an extension that fits them. Moreover, they download it quite frequently!

Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t mean that software is sold only without direct interaction with the customer, or that sales people now are not needed. They are needed, always will be!

But AppSource is starting to be a nice channel to contact your potential customers. Here is what I noticed. 

Partners download the extension

Partners are looking for software for their customers. I think that is still the most common approach but also a good one.

Personally, I think, it is better to buy software if already exists and match your customer’s requirements, instead of approach “I can do it better”.

I am not saying you cannot do it. Maybe you can! But think how much time you will spend and what will be later maintenance cost for the solution (DevOps, upgrades, technical dept, etc.). I think in the AL world that those additional costs are bigger than they were in C/AL.

Customers download the extension as well

When I get mail (and notification on Teams) that our extension has been downloaded it is the most satisfying part of the day. I am smiling even more when it turns out that is the end customer who did so! And imagine how happy you can be if you are based in Europe and a company in Australia or the US is downloading it. Even without any contact with you before!

A few years back, in NAV days, I could not imagine such a situation. Never expected that people will just go and download the software and start using it, or will not use it after checking that it does not fit their needs.

In the second case, you must be even more motivated to contact them and check why they decided not to use it – which can give you great feedback for future development.

Are there any benefits?

AppSource gives you a lot of them in my opinion. In many areas. From a business perspective, your company can get more potential customers also is more visible to other partners and customers

It is easier to get leads when someone can just type the word in the Tell me functionality directly in Business Central. Also, more and more companies want to have a cloud version – therefore you do not focus only on on-prem.

From the technical side, I can name a few benefits as well. First, you are forced to produce better software (which in the end is a good thing). Why? You have to submit the automated tests and that is a huge benefit.

You cannot upgrade your customers on daily basis, so you focus on delivering good software every release. You need to have in mind that it takes time to get the software to the newest version.

Everyone is watching. Your competitors, other partners, and customers. They can download the software and try it! So, you need to be sure all works like a charm – you will get money only if your partners will be happy and not because you gave them a great presentation but because they clicked in the extension and found it useful.

You can follow and adopt the changes in the AL language faster because customers will be upgraded automatically. I remember that the first time we used interfaces was a few months before the official release. 

I am a solo developer I will publish on AppSource

I will say it is possible. However, I failed with that. Maybe because I was too ambitious and took too big extension on my plate. Development was not a problem but all things which are related to AppSource just killed the project – documentation, help, onboarding of functionality, marketing stuff, and more.

I learned that if I would start again thinking of going to AppSource by myself I should start from a thing without a complicated license model and with useful but small functionality.  

I think there is room for such extensions as well.

More than a development team effort

Putting the solution to AppSource is not the only development that is behind. I would even say that without other company departments you can fail to go to AppSource! Below you can find the list of questions which need to be answered before going to AppSource (note that is not the whole list):

  • How you will monetize your extension? Should it be one plan or more? 
  • How you will control the free trial?
  • Where will you store online help for the solution? Remember everyone can see it.
  • Who will write it and how detailed it should be?
  • Who will do screenshots for the extension and put it in a nice format?  
  • Who will work on promo videos for the extension? What data you will use for it?
  • What are the keywords for the solution which will allow finding a solution quickly?
  • Who will write the marketing text which is shown on AppSource?
  • How you will onboard your customers?
  • Where you will collect all the information about who installs your extension?
  • What is the privacy statement and EULA? Where users can find them?

Can you imagine that the marketing validation list has more points compared to the technical validation list!

 

Few (a lot) words at the end

Do I like that we went to AppSource first? 

Yes.

Would I do it with other extensions? 

Yes.

Do I think that is only one way

No. I still think there is plenty of room for on-prem applications but when designing them I would think always how to get to AppSource as quickly as possible so I would not reduce the number of automated tests, I would create online help as well, I would not use any of Dotnet components, etc.

Do I like the new look of AppSource? 

Hell NO! It looks like not finished website done by someone during his first year of work. The previous one was much better and I hope someone will notice it.

Do I think everything works perfectly with AppSource? 

Of course not. I think the processes are quite complicated when submitting your first app. The documentation does not say much about it. For example, you need to build some mechanism to get the information that installed your solution. There is also no monetization module so each partner needs to think about it by themselves (I know/hope this will change soon). I would lie that in Business Central there is any onboarding process after installation so you need to think about how to guide your new users to start using the software.

I know all of that will change and someone out there is listening and will improve all those minor things. 

We have now more than 1000 extensions on AppSource which I think it is a big achievement for all people who decided to go this way. So congrats to all of you!

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