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Sequence Generator Pro - still value for money?


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Hi

I think the change to the charging model in SGP could have been handled better , but its up to you the user to decide if you want go down that river.

there are other packages like voyager which might offer you more than sgp and has a version that can run 2 or more cameras , but still has to paid for 

We are Lucky that very complex software is available to us for relitivley low cost.

as always you pays your money and make your choice or not

Harry

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Just having a play with N.I.N.A. and it appears to be very good. VERY good! I cant see anything that SGP does that NINA doesnt. It also feels more slick and polished than SGP Worth a lo

I think this change has been handled poorly. I also noted on the download page an option to download V4 which is greyed out and if you click on it it says something like coming soon. So I gu

Hi Why not use EKOS? It automates as SGP, is available under a licence which obviates the need for payment and has support which is verging on PHD2's quality. Set it going at dusk and come back t

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I don't think people would mind having to pay annually if there were clear benefits.  I get it that software is expensive to develop and support (we do it at my workplace and it costs a fortune).  But I fail to see the perceived benefits in the case of SGP.  If there were going to be killer, must-have features rolled out regularly which need to be paid for in terms of development time of course,  then I'd be all for it.  Same if there was a proper support system.  But from what I can tell, there'll be neither, just some wishy-washy "priority support" mechanism, words that are meaningless.  

Every company that moves to this subscription model (i.e. all of them nowadays) struggles with selling the benefits of it.  I see the difficulty SGP are in to be fair to them since they get no revenue from their existing base from new features they could develop (though I see very few new features in the last few years).    But there have to be clear benefits going to the subscription model if it is to work for them.

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This is terrible timing for me who was about to purchase it for the winter.  Is it too late to buy without subscription?

 

The only reason I switched from APT was to get the automated refocusing (in the schedule plan).

Edited by scitmon
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1 hour ago, scitmon said:

This is terrible timing for me who was about to purchase it for the winter.  Is it too late to buy without subscription?

 

The only reason I switched from APT was to get the automated refocusing (in the schedule plan).

On their forum Jared says the subscription doesn't start till v4. It also says the following on the buy page:

Note that after purchase of SGPro, a subscription is NOT required in order to continue using it. The subscription entitles you to future updates and premium support, but, even if you decide let your subscription lapse, you will always be able to use some version of SGPro (specifically, you will be entitled to install and use the most recent version of SGPro that existed during you subscription's "active" period).

I read it that you buy the software and get updates up to the launch of v4. It's not clear what happens if you buy v3 a week before they launch v4! It may well be worth reading through the forum posts on the subject.

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I think I would want more clarity on what updates are being provided. If I buy version x today for $149 and opt out of subcribing will I still get bug fixes, minor updates etc or am I stuck forever more at that state? What grace period is there to opt in to the subscription if in 6 months I decide I want to stick to SGP for a significant amount of time.

I must admit I thought it was two concurrent payments, eg $210 for year 1, have just seen that the $59 is first payable on the second year of ownership which isn't as bad but still unplanned for and a sizeable chunk out of the astro toy budget each year.

But....

At the end of the day its less than a latte and slice of cake each month. Maybe sacrifices have to be made 🙄🍰 hopefully the developers make it worthwhile and retain their userbase.

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I managed 2 runs of 5 x 300s Oiii on a 4-pane mosaic last night, with Kstars/Ekos - on the features pane for SGPro website, I don't see what value it gives, and with the convenience of running my telescope via a Raspberry Pi outside via INDI, and me sitting inside connected to my equipment via an Ethernet cable I struggle to see the value that SGPro provides over what's available for free (ok, I needed extra hardware, but not expensive hardware).

It looks to me that they're taxing their existing customer base rather than trying to compete, as it is their existing customer base that see the cost (as in effort) of the new learning curve of trying to get Kstars/Ekos to work for them.

However, if their existing customer base choose to make the jump, and they don't offer something new that isn't available elsewhere for free, then there will be less money for them to continue to develop the software, and the product will eventually dry up.

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48 minutes ago, gilesco said:

continue to develop the software

I think that's the big advantage of open-source. EKOS has a large user base and we are all involved in development; even if it's simply to request a new feature or that you can see a better way of doing something, or even just saying how well it works, it will receive attention. The coders are astrophotographers like you and I and innovation is high on the list of priorities. Whilst commercial software houses may talk about it, the kstars project actually does it.  You only have to look at the recent implementation of SEP multistar guiding to realise how powerful the open-source model is.

This spills over to support too. If you have an issue -and you really are sure it's not you being stupid- chances are it will be fixed before your next session or at the very least, a workaround proposed until it is.

Cheers

**EDIT. BTW, I thought I'd post a view of the EKOS automation screen;)

ss2.jpg.7d20801c9d98bf4d4c0d4bd9eb2b915f.jpg

Edited by alacant
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3 minutes ago, alacant said:

I think that's the big advantage of open-source. EKOS has a large user base and we are all involved in development;

Can't agree more, was just this morning I was in the Kstars chat about how the scheduler works with Eric, he recognised some of the issues I had (annoyances and a feature request). He's of course busy on a couple of other merge requests in the code which are to improve stability in the longer term - but as I was talking to one of the developers directly, and not emailing a support contact who has a library of stock answers to questions, it left me with a feeling that there would be action on that in time, and there's nothing stopping me from looking at the code and trying to do it myself.

Kstars/Ekos exists and survives because everyone who uses it wants it to be something cool and useful for ourselves and everyone else, and some of those have the coding ability to make it happen.

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1 hour ago, Skipper Billy said:

Just having a play with N.I.N.A. and it appears to be very good. VERY good!

I cant see anything that SGP does that NINA doesnt.

It also feels more slick and polished than SGP

Worth a look at  https://nighttime-imaging.eu/

Oh - and its free and actively supported. 😉 

I had a go with it and it couldn't find my filter wheel (ascom) so uninstalled it

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2 hours ago, gilesco said:

It looks to me that they're taxing their existing customer base rather than trying to compete, as it is their existing customer base that see the cost (as in effort) of the new learning curve of trying to get Kstars/Ekos to work for them.

However, if their existing customer base choose to make the jump, and they don't offer something new that isn't available elsewhere for free, then there will be less money for them to continue to develop the software, and the product will eventually dry up.

I think that is a bit unkind. I love open source software (and contribute) but it is not the only way. Often in smaller projects there is a large user community but most of the actual work is done by very few people who either are happy to give their time for free or have some other revenue stream derived from the open source offering (e.g. Stellarmate). Sometimes they drop out or have to shift priorities and projects can also dry up. Not saying that that is the case with Ekos or NINA (on the contrary) but it can happen.

If you have a good product and you support it well then there is nothing wrong with charging for it. I think SGP has been suffering a lot because it didn't have a steady income stream (one update that had to be paid for in 10 years) which meant that support was sometimes poor and features very slow to emerge. With the new subscription model you are paying for updates but more importantly a new kind of 'Premium Support' which was not available before. I think this will be welcome by many, especially in this game where most of the problems are combinations of many things, not easily disentangled.

Personally I think SGP is a good product and if it comes with steady development and good support then I am happy to pay for it. Of course this is not for everyone, but that's absolutely fine. I tried Kstars/Ekos and it didn't work well for me at the time but that doesn't mean that its not a good product. I think its great that we have a choice.

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4 hours ago, Skipper Billy said:

Just having a play with N.I.N.A. and it appears to be very good. VERY good!

I cant see anything that SGP does that NINA doesnt.

It also feels more slick and polished than SGP

Worth a look at  https://nighttime-imaging.eu/

Oh - and its free and actively supported. 😉 

Unfortunately, Nina has no Dome control :(

Steve 

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2 hours ago, AngryDonkey said:

I think that is a bit unkind.

Don't misinterpret me, I'm not disparaging the software, nor am I a free software zealot. I was just putting forward my own experience with free software, and musing about the subscription model. I do actually have a subscription to APP for image processing, the pricing model is slightly different - you can opt to buy, with the threat that v2 will not be available to you, or rent and have free upgrades for the term of the subscription. I opted to rent for one year, and buy later if I dont feel v2 is going to (a) happen anytime soon and (b) will improve my results significantly.

 

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28 minutes ago, gilesco said:
3 hours ago, AngryDonkey said:

I think that is a bit unkind.

Don't misinterpret me, I'm not disparaging the software, nor am I a free software zealot. I was just putting forward my own experience with free software, and musing about the subscription model. I do actually have a subscription to APP for image processing, the pricing model is slightly different - you can opt to buy, with the threat that v2 will not be available to you, or rent and have free upgrades for the term of the subscription. I opted to rent for one year, and buy later if I dont feel v2 is going to (a) happen anytime soon and (b) will improve my results significantly.

I only wrote this because you suggested that they are not trying to compete (and rely on the fact that people don't want to invest time in learning a new system). I don't think that is the case, on the contrary I think they do want to compete which is what all this is about I guess.

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4 minutes ago, AngryDonkey said:

I only wrote this because you suggested that they are not trying to compete (and rely on the fact that people don't want to invest time in learning a new system). I don't think that is the case, on the contrary I think they do want to compete which is what all this is about I guess.

I guess I was just mentioning that I don't think their pricing model reflected that, there were mentions earlier in the thread that their email support was lapsidasical, how to quantify "premium support", you made very good points on how complicated support can be in this field, so many causes of issues, a lot relating to hardware rather than software IMHO.

Crux - so if I were to go and say "I want this feature", what is the response from SGPro support? What is the expectation?

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24 minutes ago, Xsubmariner said:

You can always use POTH to control the dome from the mount.

My thought as well but don't think of POTH as a 'poor relation' to other dome control systems, I use it through choice in my remote observatory as it is just so good! POTH was replaced by 'Device Hub' from ASCOM v6.5 onwards but I am assured that it works just as well as POTH.

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16 minutes ago, steppenwolf said:

My thought as well but don't think of POTH as a 'poor relation' to other dome control systems, I use it through choice in my remote observatory as it is just so good! POTH was replaced by 'Device Hub' from ASCOM v6.5 onwards but I am assured that it works just as well as POTH.

Hi Steve, Having migrated to Ascom 6.5 I've had some quirky issues with POTH and reluctantly changed to Device Hub. Shouldn't have worried. It works great.

Steve

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1 minute ago, sloz1664 said:

Hi Steve, Having migrated to Ascom 6.5 I've had some quirky issues with POTH and reluctantly changed to Device Hub. Shouldn't have worried. It works great.

Steve

That's good to know, Steve, thank you for the further confirmation.

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I will not be subscribing. Hate that model of software use. N.I.N.A. has been my choice this season and has worked superbly for me. Also the team have listened to user requests. The platesolving offers several options and works well. Autofocus likewise. Options for framing and mosaics. The list goes on. SGP has always been a bit unstable for me so I was looking at APT or M.I.N.A and the latter seems to be my preference. I think he SGP team are goin to be sadly disappointed at how much this strategy will raise in income.

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16 hours ago, sloz1664 said:

Unfortunately, Nina has no Dome control :(

Steve 

Steve

I read in the NINA forum that they are working towards Dome support. Weather is now supported and Switch's. I have not looked at what Weather does when it detects an unsafe condition. There is an option at the moment to run a script when the sequence finishes. So that could close the dome/roof. Unless I missed it I don't see an option to run a script at the beginning of a sequence.

Graham

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