*Update: Since the time of publication, JetBrains have contacted us to say that conditions and pricing are not final. Expect further updates on this later this week. 

The Java community was hit with a double whammy of surprises last week. The first shock came in the form of an announcement from JetBrains that the vendors of cooler-than-Eclipse IDE IntelliJ IDEA  will shortly be whacking a subscription based model across their range of products. Users were quick to take to their keyboards in protest, whilst Eclipse kicked back its heels, surveyed the carnage, and chuckled, “We told you so.”

The second wave of more ambiguously ominous revelations came via Twitter, where it emerged that a crew of Java evangelists had been made redundant by Oracle. Which is great timing, considering they’ve got the biggest Java conference in the world just around the corner. At least there’s still Elton John to look forward to, hey?

Whilst that second story is ongoing, with sites like Fortune scrabbling around on social media to make sense of the news, there are at least some clear cut answers around how you’ll be able to licence IntelliJ in the future. So, without further prevarication – and with JetBrains declining media interviews for the moment – here’s our breakdown of some of the key things you need to know about what’s changing: 

  1. Why did JetBrains change their licensing model?

According to the official statement, “The new unified distribution model for products in JetBrains Toolbox comes with a lower price tag and simplified license management. Customers can pick one or more tools from JetBrains Toolbox that best suit their current needs, or go for the ‘All products’ plan that features extra savings.” This “simplified” and “transparent” model is also designed with polyglot developers in mind, who JetBrains argue will welcome the ability to work with multiple tools.

2. Breakdown this new fangled model for me.

JetBrains Toolbox, a collective of the company’s IDEs, utilities and extensions, will be  available on a monthly or yearly subscription basis from November 2nd.

This will consist of: IntelliJ IDEA, AppCode, CLion, PhpStorm, PyCharm, RubyMine, WebStorm, ReSharper, ReSharper C++, dotTrace, dotCover, and dotMemory. The subscription will take the place of the current perpetual licensing model.  

YouTrack, TeamCity, Upsource, and Hub will stay as they are.

3. How much will it  cost?

To get access to everything mentioned above, products are tentatively set at £ 15.90  per month, or £159 a year (though this is subject to change over the next week).

IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate (described as “A complete toolset for JVM-based web, mobile and enterprise development”) will be £ 7.90 a month, or £ 79 a year.

4. It says the service will require you to “phone home” once a month. What happens if you can’t connect to the internet every 30 days?

For customers working in places like government and education, JetBrains write that they are committed to “finding solutions that will ease the transition to subscription-based models. Throughout this transition, we will work with our partners and customers to ensure that these changes do not impact environments where electronic software delivery is a challenge.”

If it’s just a matter of unreliable access (ie. not necessarily guaranteed within a 30 day window), the user will be “gently” prompted to go online by the product before it asks to close. 

5. What will happen if users stop paying their licence fees/forgets to top up? Will the software cease to work straight away?

Whilst we couldn’t confirm this one, over at Reddit, JetBrains employee breandan assures, “You will never lose access to your work due to a license issue, this much is absolutely certain.”

6. Will this mean fewer new features with product upgrades?

Possibly. JetBrains’ Eugene Toporov comments: “We think we’ll be able to concentrate on quality more than trying to impress users with new features so they buy upgrades. Our products are more than feature-full and we believe the quality is something that can always be improved.”

7. Will this impact the IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition in any way?

In a word, no. So there’s that option if you hate the subscription/can’t stretch to it. And if you really mean business, there’s always the forked road

8. Will I be forced to switch to the new model?

No. If you’ve already got an agreement in place, you can keep using JetBrains’ software licensed under the perpetual model for the duration of the license terms. However, if you are pro-subscription, you can get an Existing Customer Discount when you make the switch. If you’re on the perpetual licence and decide to trial the new model, it’s also apparently fine to then revert back should you decide it’s not for you.

9.There’s been a considerable backlash to this move across various online forums – will JetBrains take this feedback into account?

Well, according to a follow up blog post, parroting Dr Frasier Crane, JetBrains write, “We are listening.” What exactly that translates to, once the dust has settled, remains to be seen. 




JetBrains Toolbox: 9 Things it Means for You

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