Sublime Forum

So, what's stopping me from using the evaluation version and never paying for it?


I’ve been using Notepad++ for quite a few years now, and more and more people kept suggesting that I switch to Sublime. When I first came to the website a few months (years?) ago, I saw a “Buy” button and that was an instant turn off for me. But today, I actually wondered on the Download page, to try out the “trial” and see if it’s actually worth it, and saw an interesting thing: “Sublime Text may be downloaded and evaluated for free, however a license must be purchased for continued use. There is currently no enforced time limit for the evaluation.”

So, what’s exactly stopping me (well, anyone) from using the evaluation and never purchasing a license? I always had this question about WinRAR, but WinRAR’s distribution model is a deliberate marketing choice, and, though I still don’t know how it works for WinRAR, the devs clearly understand that hardly anybody buys a license for their software and they’re (somehow) OK with that.

So, what’s the story with Sublime?

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While Sublime is in the unregistered evaluation mode, you get nag popups after every few saves to remind you that you haven’t paid for it yet. Additionally, you need a license key to be able to use the development versions of Sublime, if that’s important to you.

Unregistered users also cannot turn off the popup that tells you when a new version is available, so without buying a license you get notified every time you start Sublime when a new version is out and you haven’t installed it yet, which some find annoying.

Apart from those things, it’s just a matter of conscience, really. Only the company itself can speak to why they want to have an open ended evaluation period, though.



You might be surprised by how annoying that occasional popup of “Please buy a license” can be. Just last week, I finally got fed up and bought a license just to get rid of that thing.

If I recall correctly for WinRAR (I bought a license a decade ago), you get the license reminder only at startup. And you probably don’t use zip/rar files all that often throughout the day. Sublime’s reminder happens randomly when you save, and it’s a text editor that you’re probably using all day.

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If you use it at your company than their compliance rules should be reason enough. Legally you have to buy it, otherwise you don’t follow the licensing terms. For private persons that isn’t a big risk but for companies very likely.

Another good reason would be that if you rely on Sublime Text and want to use it in future than you also would like to help finance the further development and bug fixing. :slight_smile:



An interesting (to me anyway) item from the 2017 Stackoverflow Developer Survey results.

Sublime Text looks to be used by around 25% of developers. If that number applies generally, even across non-Stackoverflow readers, and even if only a fraction of the users pay for it, it seems like it would generate a fair amount of revenue. That might be why JPS doesn’t seem concerned with putting a time bomb in the trial. Although the lack of a time bomb was in from the start, when there might not have been any expectation of how popular Sublime would be.

That said, if you’re making a living programming you should definitely pay for a license. Even otherwise, if you use continue to use Sublime, you should pay for a license (as stated on the download page).



So, the devs are “nagging” me to buy their product, instead of offering any additional functions?

If I worked at a company (yeah, dream on), they would be the one buying it, so I wouldn’t even have to worry. But, for private use, nagging isn’t motivating me, it’s just nagging

Yeah, well that’s not exactly what perpetual trial implies. I’d much prefer: free for personal use - need licence for professional. Or, something like - here’s a free version, that does this, and here’s a pro version, that, on top of what the free version does, also does these other things (that we ruled, you’d need only if you’re using the program professionally, not what we thought would make you buy a license regardless)…

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No, they’re offering a product that provides value for you. Usually, you pay for that.



They don’t nag you. They only remind you that you use their kind offer to evaluate the product for a while (hence it’s triggered by your saves) and that you enjoy it and want to continue to use their product that you should properly license it and pay for it.

Even as a private person you also should oblige the law. :slight_smile:

Your opinion doesn’t matter in that fact. It isn’t your product. If you have programmed something great than you can easily give it to everbody for free. But as a user of a commercial product - and Sublime Text is one - you can’t demand that it should be free for private use.

Legally and maybe morally you should pay for Sublime Text if you continue to use it. Otherwise it’s up to you to live with the “nagging” or better switch to another product and in your case probably an Open Source product if you don’t want to pay for something that you use.

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I guess that isn’t exactly true. They also give you access to development builds to get earlier access to new features. Now that may not be enough to motivate some to pay up, but that is something that is offered to license holders.

I think it is cool that Sublime allows a full feature experience when giving it a trial run and that they don’t limit it. I know I used it as a trial for a good while before committing to a license. I wanted to see how my workflow adapted to it. I wanted some time to learn how the plugin system worked etc. When I was satisfied with the product I eventually bought a license. I guess as someone who develops code, I understand the work put into it, and I understand how much more enjoyable coding is now with Sublime. So I wanted to support the project and buy license.

So in short, Sublime relies on your conscience I guess. Nothing currently is forcing you to buy a license. I guess if you don’t mind the nag, and don’t want access to new features, and your conscience doesn’t compel you to buy a license ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

But in short if you like the product and want to continue seeing it developed (because if people stop buying licenses, the product dies), then support it, but no one is making you.



Humanity? Decency? A functional sense of right and wrong?



Well, I’m not actually looking for a way to “cheat” SubLime, I’m interested in how the distribution model works in practice, and currently, and this answer settles it.



So if I understand correctly, it is legal (legality is where I like to draw the line, though I like to be a nice guy sometimes as well) to use the trial version of sublime indefinitely (or maybe an arbitrary period like 1,000,000 years)?



I bought it because after a year of using the evaluation version, moving from a free editor, It was time to get a license and support the developers. As it being a one time fee and a fee for new versions doesn’t seem that big of a deal at all seeing it per user rather than per machine or installation.



My decision to buy sublime was an emotional one. Read further if you care …

I had used sublime in an unregistered version mode for quite some time. Afterwards, I started feeling a bit guilty that the developers worked on it painstakingly and I wasn’t honoring their work. So while I would love sublime to be free like notepad++, I think its fair they be paid for the efforts they took. Shelling out 80$ for me wasn’t easy too… when I was hesitating to pay webstorm’s annual license around 60$ (with a fallback license) and given the fact the Sublime is not even an IDE!

Now, why wouldn’t they make it free is something that I can’t speak about… but in the normal world transactions, one’s got pay for the stuff he/she buys so NOT making it free shouldn’t be such a turn off. At least the creators of sublime are kind enough to let you try their product indefinitely till you’re really really convinced that you need that tool everyday and make a living out of it. So paying that 80$ was justified for me.

Lastly, as a developer I’ve generally “taken” things from the software society and not really “given” anything back. So I think if you cannot contribute to the community by ways of softwares/api’s, purchasing things from others for a fair price is kinda a way to make your contribution to the software society (in a crude form nevertheless). At least you’re guilt free :slight_smile:



I would buy Sublime Text - but for close to the same amount I can buy a full translation suite. The lack of advanced panels is a huge drawback. The popup isn’t a bother because it can be coded away - the new version notification is useful. I have a broken neck, back and severe nerve damage with no income at the moment because I’m, after almost 7 years of hell / pain / humiliation / etc…, still seeing a doctor about trying to find a permanent solution - Salary for the position I’d occupy would start around $89,000 to $250,000 depending where I go and how much of my skillset they’d want to use - this is based on actual market studies for Computer Science / IT / Database Designers, etc… I know several dozen languages and I pick up new languages incredibly quickly due to how my memory operates. It’s near flawless recall for conversations I understand and crystal clear memories to the time I was a baby ( very few of those memories exist, or are accessible though ) with an amazing ability for code visualization and processing in my mind…

If I was able to work more than 40 work hours every 3 to 6 months, then I’d buy it because Sublime Text exceeds expectations where all others have failed despite being overpriced for what it is ( Windows 10 Pro is about $20 USD now, Translation suites are $100 to $300 and do a lot more than ST3, other editors are free but are slow or have issues in other areas )… Visual Studio Code, Atom, Notepad++ are SLOW. The first 2 have slow UI response. N++ doesn’t utilize threads so when you search in files the entire UI locks up while the search occurs meaning you can’t code - and searches can take minutes depending how many files are in your project… The other 2 I haven’t explored too much because they’re so slow. N++ addons ( the ones you need such as Functions List ) aren’t typically of quality - there is a memory leak in Functions List which causes the editor to crash… Then again, user created content isn’t always the best quality - it depends on the developer…

Also, I believe SublimeText developers have the open-ended evaluation because if it’d be closed they’d encourage pirates to crack it. With the open-ended system you’re able to use it for as long as you like ( similar to WinRar ) but you get reminders… Honestly, if I were them I’d do something similar except I’d possibly allow paid text ads ( such as try FlashFXP, an amazing FTP Client here: XXX - or Check out AutoSizer, a useful utility for Windows… etc… ) depending on the content and after vetting the content myself.

Because they are so lenient, it encourages more purchases, despite being so overpriced - students who learn and use it while young and grow up with it feel they’ve received a lot of use out of it and buy it when they start working. It inspires loyalty to offer paid software for free with very little negatives ( nag and update reminder ) which is important because loyalty to a company or software means the community is more likely to shame piracy vs software distributors who require you to install 3rd party DRM onto your pc which runs 24/7 and gathers all keystrokes and other information in order to sell to gain more money… Or simply to track you for the purpose of selling your data for more money… DRM companies do this because in our world today - data is where the money is…

Sublime Text may gather information on their clients - I haven’t looked into it - and they may not. They do have this forum which is active because of its open design and because of the “free” forever status… Again… loyal users post information, create addons, etc… this in turn allows more users to get Sublime Text, use it, and create and bring in even more… It’s a snowball effect…

If Sublime Text was pay-only with a 30 day trial, there wouldn’t be near as many users as there are using it because of the other free options ( despite their issues ). Meaning there wouldn’t be as many addons meaning those addons wouldn’t exist to bring in more users… etc…

It may seem generous, or even kind, but in reality it’s just intelligent business practice and if they changed it then they’d lose a lot of users who spend time making their product better to competing products in turn making their competitors better. Coupled with the fact that the payment is for a lifetime license so it really doesn’t matter if someone pays now or in 20 years…

I personally would probably use Atom or Visual Studio Code if the ui were as quick as sublime text with the indexed project files with near instant file-searches for thousands of files along with the one major addon I use ( CodeMap with my mod for it to make it better than it is ) and need to make me more efficient with the little time I do have… On top of that, the nag can be coded away instantly when it pops up - I could even share it openly and it’d still make sense for ST to remain “free forever” because of the user-base and the users who eventually convert to paying customers…



This is what I believe to be the real reason the trial period lasts forever. It’s the same reason Microsoft lets you update and continue to use pirated versions of Windows.

The majority of license purchases Sublime gets is most likely from companies. This is because there are huge legal and financial implications if a company is found to be using pirated software. So why would companies want to buy swaths of Sublime licenses instead of telling its employees to just use Notepad++, Vim, or Emacs? Because the engineers in those companies probably downloaded the trial version of Sublime in college or whenever, learned how to use it, and feel most comfortable and efficient using it over other editors. Obviously companies want their engineers to be as efficient as possible so an $80 license is completely worth the productivity gains.

To summarize, Sublime wants as many users to download and use their product, and then when you become employed to write software, that’s when Sublime makes its money.



Going after pirates is also incredibly expensive, and people tend to rise up and hate the software with terrible DRM…

I, for example, boycott certain games because they install software on your PC which scans all of your files, and runs 24/7 just to see if a $30 game is not legal… But people who have the pirated version don’t have to deal with that nonsense… In those cases, it makes the most sense to purchase a license and download the pirated version ( Your license, legally grants you the right to use the software and under federal law also grants you the right to one backup copy in any medium you wish so as to prevent to loss / damage / destruction of the original - I believe I mentioned this in my previous post - but talk to your lawyer about it )…

Not that I’ve done that…

Also, most people who pirate are those who don’t have the money to spend - not saying this is a valid excuse because if you like something or are entertained by something, etc… you should pay for it…

Some reasons for piracy are for privacy - for instance adult games - they may sign you up to a mailing list, or annoy you with advertisements… they also have a footprint on your pc… Pirating would remove those and grant you privacy as long as the pirate group is honorable… Some put viruses in their releases, etc… so…

Data is everything in our current world… It is more valuable in terms of currency than gold. So it doesn’t matter the type of software - one piece of software can scan your pc and get enough data on you to make a fortune… What stops them is honor - if it exists within that company… Having a large user base means money if they sell their company, etc… Not saying Sublime Text is not honorable - but indexing project files for searching means meta-data / intel on what people are working on… It can be used to determine which developers are untrustworthy ( CopyWriters aka thieves / plagiarists, etc… ) and who actually knows what they’re doing… If Sublime Text doesn’t gather some of this information, I’d be surprised.

Also, regarding the NSA claiming Meta Data is harmless… There was a good video by some guy a while back which hit the ball home regarding what can be obtained through it… something along the lines of - what’s more intimate? Knowing my wife called me so say she’ll be late from work verbatim, or knowing the type of doctors she and I visit… How about knowing when cellular activity stops meaning when she goes to bed, and when she wakes up in the morning? and much much more…

Great description of what is possible with meta-data… You can build an impressive picture of someone using only meta-data, much more so than a conversation saying: I’d like to make an appointment for 8:30 AM 2 days from today… my name is Blah… thanks, see you then… or knowing the doctor they just called was for elective surgeries - or gender reassignment, or whatever else…

Also, with meta-data you can determine the contents of a call - for instance the doctor was called, or called you… you then arrive at their place shortly after… so the call likely contained an appointment being set up - or follow up to receive results of a test…

I digress…

I am happy that Sublime Text allows unlimited use for the evaluation copy - and I’ll pay when I am able to, but as I am unable I’ll continue using it, and contributing in my own way ( plugin development, forums, etc… ) which adds to STs data collection which increases the value of Sublime overall…

I am disappointed Sublime Text costs so much - Windows 10 Pro x64 OEM ( Buy a mouse + it ) is $20 to $30… plus a $2 to $5 mouse… Triple A games are $30 to $60…

Full on Transcription suites, and translation suites are about 2 to 3 times as much, or less than Sublime Text… but they do a LOT more - although it is a niche so they do lack a lot…

If Sublime Text decided to add support for advanced panels, I’d try to buy it tomorrow… but at least with Python we can do it by including libraries, etc…



nice answer



A lot of self-righteousness going on here, it’s getting stinky…

I’m in favor of copyleft, always :slight_smile:



The developers of Sublime Text likely understand that not everyone who downloads the software will purchase a license. However, by providing a generous evaluation period and allowing users to continue using the software without interruptions, they hope to encourage users to purchase a license to support ongoing development.