As of August-1-2021 we are on a path to end support and cloud facilities for HCA.
The first thing I want to say is DON’T PANIC. As you continue reading you will see that this isn’t happening soon and is structured in a way that will give plenty of time for both of us to adjust to this situation. In fact, if you are a registered user of HCA 17 on 1-August-2021 you will see NO differences for at least a year. That’s 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, with no change in support or function. After that you probably will see no changes for an even longer time.
Why is this happening? Again, if you have read the three weekly blog messages in July (July-11, July-18, July-25) you will know that I am the only person for development and support of what runs on your PC. (There are contract programmers for the cloud and the mobile apps, but without HCA itself they are nonoperational). From my July messages I’m sure you got the idea that I’m getting to the age where I must plan for the time where I am unable to continue, plus that the whole automation world is moving in a direction that doesn’t include HCA.
I’ve been planning this for a while, and I’ve put together this web page that goes into detail on what is happening and a timeline. It also answers, I hope, the anticipated questions I expect to get. Please read these questions and answers.
Why not just keep HCA going?
Many reasons. I am in good health, but when one ages past 65 stuff can happen. If it does – and I hope it does not - then immediately support will terminate and within 30 days the cloud will stop working as the monthly bills will not be paid. I could choose another end date but at some point things will end.
Secondly, while HCA does a lot, there are more and more new generation tools that I expect will come to dominate the market and do much of what HCA does now. The "routines" in Alexa and Google Assistant aren’t up to the level of integration that HCA has but over time they will be. And Google and Amazon have legions of programmers and billions of dollars behind them. They will create a much more robust platform than HCA ever could achieve.
Third, asking me to "just keep going" really isn’t fair. Microsoft drops support for software (Windows 7 and earlier), so does Samsung (just dropped their older Hub), Phillips Hue (also dropped support for their older hub), and Wink is either dead or near so. And those are huge companies with lots of developers. I’m not leaving you "high and dry". There is a plan to slowly ramp things down over quite a generous period of time.
Users have a lot of time invested in HCA and they don't want to have to start over on a different platform. What about them?
Yes, I know that. This plan attempts to balance what is fair to me and to HCA users. It is why the plan has a generous time schedule. Also, let's remember that while you have a time investment in developing an automation solution, it was never in terms of dollars and cents expensive at all. What you got for $160 (or many $50 upgrades) was lots of new features in each release, unlimited support, and free mobile apps. No one else did that.
Why not sell HCA to someone else?
HCA is big and all the software was written over the last 20 years, and it shows. And it wasn't developed using the latest techniques. It's a good quality C++ desktop application and there just aren't many people developing for that anymore. Second, and the big reason, HCA has never been a major income generator because it has a tiny user base. While it has generated income for me over the years by doing almost it all myself, for anyone else it wouldn't cut it. There just isn't enough income to justify the costs of taking it over.
Why not make it open source and someone will pick it up, right?
Same reason about selling it. None of it was developed with a focus on making it the sort of project that can be turned over to someone else. It just wasn't done that way, and, in my opinion, it wouldn't have any real future. There are costs to keeping it going that would have to be assumed by others and it just doesn't generate the income necessary for any sane group of individuals to take on.
OK, so what's the schedule?
August 1, 2021. No new sales of HCA. It goes "off" the market. There are no other changes - support still happens and there may be updates released ("point" versions) but there will be no new major versions. This lasts for one year. The yearly cloud subscription stays the same as today unless cloud usage costs increase during this year.
August 1, 2022. HCA enters "Legacy" support. HCA keeps working and the cloud keeps working. Support is scaled back to only a few days a week - schedule to be determined. The most important change is that there is no guarantee that any bugs found will be fixed. Also, during this time if a currently supported service requires HCA to adapt – see the July 11 blog post on the ecosystem surrounding HCA - there is no guarantee that those changes will be made. The cloud subscription cost may be raised as needed. This lasts for two years.
August 1, 2024. HCA goes "dark". The support website is taken down, the cloud services go offline.
OK, I get that the cloud stops but what about HCA itself running on my computer at home?
There is NO time lock on the software so it will keep working less the cloud. The mobile apps, which don't use the cloud, will still work. But any cloud-based services - Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, Ring, will stop working. Hubitat, as it is a local network, will keep working. But remember that these things change all the time and there will come a time where what works for you on one day, will not work on the next. This is not because of HCA but because of something it connects to has changed.
If the software keeps working and if the yearly subscription payments cover what is paid to AWS and Google Cloud - and if not then raise the subscription so it does - why not keep the cloud going until it all just stops working?
Would that be possible! Again, read the July 11 post about the ecosystem that HCA is embedded in to see that it is a continuous struggle just to keep it all working. It isn't just about the monthly payments to AWS and Google Cloud. It is handling problems when they happen and responding to necessary changes. And that just can't be done forever.
Let me see if I understand this fully: There will be no new major versions so no upgrade cost to us. There may be some point versions released but as registered users of version 17 we get those free. Also, the subscription fee for the cloud is set at a level that just covers what is paid to AWS and Google Cloud. So that means for the next three years you will be supporting HCA with no income from any HCA user. Is that really correct?
Yes. I may open a tip jar, but contributions would be voluntary.