Nope, this is not the way to impress me

[Update: I was contacted by SlickEdit support. They provided the patch for me, updated the forum post to contain the correct support address and were generally very friendly. Lesson learned: wait a day or two before posting ,-) I’m leaving this post up anyway, since it’s an accurate description of the events and my impressions yesterday.]

Today I was working on some Flex code, popped over to StackOverflow and saw an ad for SlickEdit. Curious, I cliked the ad to refresh my memory about the product, and I noticed they boast Vim-like input. That makes me instantly want to like an editor. Even better, they offer a plugin for Eclipse, SlickEdit Core. I’ve been less than pleased with ViPlugin, my current Eclipse-Vim provider, because it doesn’t want to play ball with Flex too well, and it has an irritating bug where a blank line at the end of a document causes the cursor to always revert to the top of the file, no matter what I do. (Note to self: the plugin has been updated.)

Anxious to try how SlickEdit works, I installed the plugin. It bugged me about getting a trial license key, which went relatively smoothly. The editor itself seemed fast, the Vim-emulation felt comfortable, but opening a MXML file still popped up the Flex editor, and I couldn’t figure out a way to change that. Instead of working through all the options, I searched Google for an answer, and found a forum posting saying they have a patch that improves Flex integration, and provides breakpoints and suchlike to the SlickEdit editor. Considering the debugger is a feature I end up needing (more often than I’d like), I was suddenly very interested. The posting said to email their support for the patch. So I did, and this is what I got:

We were unable to match your email with the subject “Flex Builder support for SlickEdit Core?” to an open case in our support system. If you were replying to an existing case, please include the case number (in the format of CAS-#####-####) in your subject line. If you wish to open a new case please submit your request using the in-product mechanism:

  • From within SlickEdit® 2008 via Help > Contact Product Support
  • For SlickEdit® Core for Eclipse™ you can do this via Help > SlickEdit Support Web Site and click on the "Open a Support Case" link
  • For SlickEdit® Tools for Microsoft® Visual Studio® you can do this via SlickEdit > Contact Product Support

Alternatively, if your product is not running you can submit your request on the SlickEdit Website at http://www.slickedit.com/supportcase/ Thank you,

SlickEdit Product Support

The tone is polite, but what the… can’t you guys accept regular email without making me jump through hoops? I was evaluating the product for work, and while at home I can spend time doing stuff like blogging about things that bug me, at work I really should be working. So if you make it hard for me to evaluate your product for my day-to-day needs, odds are I’m not going to.

Now, you could make a fair case by noting that I usually buy single licenses, rarely buy anything that exceeds 200€ in price and so on and so forth. But I really wanted to like the product, and I had already decided that $99 really wasn’t a bad price at all.

You could also say, well, this patch is for existing customers only. Fine, if that’s the case, then you’re not the company I want to do business with. If I can’t make your product work for me, that’s pretty much the end of the story right there.

I tend to advertise products I do like with considerable vigor – I’ve managed to sell a bunch of ReSharper licenses on JetBrains’s behalf. Too bad the JetBrains Seeder program was established after I had done so…

… anyway. Here’s the deal: I’m always looking for good tools at prices I can easily afford to pay myself. When I find them, I want a web site that displays the features in an easily navigable way, a payment processor that is secure and easy, a license system that either doesn’t exist at all or will provide the license for me straight after the payment has been verified, and a company that actually wants to do business with me. Take one or more of those away, and your product needs to be seriously amazing and/or mandatory for something I’m doing before I cough up the dough.

In the meantime, I’m still in the market for a good Vi/Vim plugin for Eclipse, preferably one that plays nice with existing editors.

[edit]

It occurs to me that SlickEdit support is probably in another time zone (duh), so perhaps I’ll be getting a reply during the night. If that’s the case, I’ll happily re-evaluate the situation. Even so, the email response I got gave me the feeling that I had done something wrong, and that they wouldn’t contact me unless I re-submitted my request through another means.

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