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Voltra
Voltra

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How Material Theme UI went from 5 stars to 3 stars

Material Theme UI, arguably one of the most used themes for the Jetbrains Suite of IDEs, has brought the anger of developers all around the world with its latest major release.

Since version 6.0.0 the theme that was up to that completely free has switched to a freemium monthly fee ($15 for individuals, $75 for organizations).

This switch was completely unannounced: users who updated all their plugins were greated with all their theme settings reset and most of its features stripped out, hidden behind the paywall. Thus, in addition to Codestream and Codota sponsoring as well as spontaneous donations, the author now receives at least $15 a year per paying user.

As you can imagine, users were quick to react to this. As a result, it went from one of the few plugins that were rated 5 stars to a steady 3 stars in the last few days.

It was to be expected, unannounced changed in payment plans are not exactly common practice and have not in the past beared great results.

Everyone understands the desire to be paid for the hardwork, but there are so many alternatives before even considering this one. Imagine Vue switching from free library to a premium one (like WordPress plugins for instance), that wouldn't make any sense and most people would just never update Vue, leaving many apps potentially weak in terms of security. Which is why most developers have a sponsoring option (from companies or direct users).

The fact that there was probably no thought put in this process is probably the biggest issue. What's to protect paying users from further changes? What about free users?

As you may imagine, companies that were hesitant to buy licenses for IDEs will be even more hesitant to buy a theme, especially as there are many free alternatives.

Let's work through a hypothetical: $15 the theme, $15 the test tools, $15 the intellisense, $15 the VCS, $15 the decent language support, etc... How many would genuinely pay monthly/yearly for every single little service? Especially since these would probably not give a penny to Oracle, OpenJDK or anything that powers them making them quite ironically hypocritical for asking such payments.

Users state :

Such significant change should be shown as a modal or any kind of messaging. Now will recommend all my friend to remove this theme!! Why? --- In the future, the author can ask for money for something else, without any pre-information. What next? Pay for each button?

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Signed in just to give it 1 star after seeing the "paid" status. The author is also responding to every 1 star comment with a very negative tone, people are entitled to their opinion as much as you're entitled to changing the subscription fee - if you don't like people's opinion then maybe becoming a maintainer / open-source contributor isn't for you.

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An update to destroy the entire design, unless you now pay regularly - One-time purchase is also not possible. Basic functionalities only against payment, the fonts are so bad that you would have to buy it - For me this will only mean a design change.

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Was about to pay for a subscription until I noticed the authors have removed accessibility features and put them as premium offerings. The direction and attitude of the author is not one I can support. Time to find a new theme.

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Uh, thanks for the warning?
Been using this for over a year now, but the sudden jump to a freemium model was a bit jarring. I don't mind these models, but not warning users beforehand is a way to leave a sour taste in people's mouths.

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Cringe Q&A. The moment you have to explain that what you did is not being money hungry is the moment you should know that you are, in fact, money hungry.
Developers who pull this stuff are the reason why subscriptions get all the hate that they get.
Off to an alternative.

Top comments (3)

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turry profile image
Turry

That’s so sad mate 😭 I loved Material Themes

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voltra profile image
Voltra Author

So did I. At first it seemed "reasonable" but with recent developments and how lacking the dev team is, it truly is a shame.

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turry profile image
Turry

It is still free on VSCode

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