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  1. BryanRoth's Avatar
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       #1  
    Since an application's source is readily available to any rooted Pre, how does a developer safeguard their code?
  2. #2  
    Well, as stated in the SDK, its the programmers responsibility to obfuscate your JavaScript code. In this case, Google is your friend: javascript obfuscator - Google Search

    How well these work, or how tried-and-true they are, are things I can't answer. Perhaps someone with more experience in the web-app industry can comment?
    Quote Originally Posted by Brain_ReCall
    I'm an Embedded Software Engineer. My idea of a Good User Interface is printf().
  3. #3  
    unless you just aren't WORRIED about that of course.

    if you're writing a commercial app for the pre which you hope to have an income stream from, part of that app should reside on the cloud.

    If you are not writing it for money, or if it's ad supported, then -- why would you bother?
  4. #4  
    let me put that another way.

    The full source code to an office application of the scope of microsoft office is available for free. How many people are stealing THAT.

    or stealing the source code for mozilla?

    if it's important enough and complex enough, then stealing goes away.

    and if it's priced right, people will WANT to pay.
  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by rboatright View Post
    If you are not writing it for money, or if it's ad supported, then -- why would you bother?
    Well, to be fair, there are any number of reasons why someone may want to keep their project to themselves. Possibly, yes, for commercial reasons (or possibly moving to commercial later on). Other people are just paranoid, or avoid open-source software for whatever reason someone told them. I have a friend who has developed over a dozen small apps or games and refuses to release the source. "They're mine" he tells me. I can't argue with that, as some people like to keep control of their creation.

    However, I will only release stuff that's free open-source. I code for a living at work, I don't want to code for a living at home. BryanRoth, I encourage you to do this as well. In the stuff I've done, dozens of people from all around the world donated code changes that have brought huge improvements to the project.

    Getting back on topic, a quick search around also shows there are HTML and CSS obfuscators. Again, how well these work is something I can't comment on. I don't think its easily possible to obfuscate other files, such as images or audio, without a lot of JavaScript magic.
    Last edited by Brain_ReCall; 07/21/2009 at 09:35 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brain_ReCall
    I'm an Embedded Software Engineer. My idea of a Good User Interface is printf().
  6. #6  
    I've only coded for fun in the past, but I think my idea is good enough for a "small" income stream. If I can get things working properly this is what I expect:

    • Functionality based on deconstructing existing apps and help from folks on forums like this
    • Base data and processing through links to website and php/mysql.


    Has anyone here deconstructed existing apps for clues to solve problems? Hmm, I sense another thread.

    The real theft is the idea in my case, not the implementation. Perhaps I'll come up with some novel code to solve a problem, but at my level it's probably a standard problem with a relatively standard solution.

    I plan to make the money on what it does, not how it does it. Unfortunately, that leaves you open to big players knocking you off later. Head starts matter in this business.
  7. nhavar's Avatar
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    #7  
    Let's just kill the idea of DRM. Obfuscators and compilers can be deobfuscated and decompiled. All it does is drive up price, create complexity, increase risk of failure, and does little if anything to stop code theft or copyright infringement. Anyone who wants your code can reproduce what you are doing using code already available.

    As has already been mentioned the only "safe" code is behind a firewall on a server in a cloud somewhere and even then you have to worry about hackers and corporate espionage and angry employees.

    At the end of the day the success of your product is going to come back to the basics of quality, customer service, and price and not whether you obfuscated your code.
  8. BryanRoth's Avatar
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       #8  
    Let's consider you have a free and a paid version of an app that are in the App Catalog. People can download your free app and then deconstruct it and do what they want with the code to make it like the paid app. Then again some people aren't savvy enough to do this and will just get the free or paid app.

    I guess I'm a bit paranoid and shouldn't worry as much.
  9. diomark's Avatar
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    #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by BryanRoth View Post
    Let's consider you have a free and a paid version of an app that are in the App Catalog. People can download your free app and then deconstruct it and do what they want with the code to make it like the paid app. Then again some people aren't savvy enough to do this and will just get the free or paid app.

    I guess I'm a bit paranoid and shouldn't worry as much.
    Price it right and people will pay for it rather then steal it.
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by diomark View Post
    Price it right and people will pay for it rather then steal it.
    And others will steal it anyway, rewrite it a bit, and sell it as their own.

    I see this as the main reason that the App Catalog is not up yet. They are still trying to figure out a way to protect developers' intellectual property.
  11. BryanRoth's Avatar
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       #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by johncc View Post
    And others will steal it anyway, rewrite it a bit, and sell it as their own.

    I see this as the main reason that the App Catalog is not up yet. They are still trying to figure out a way to protect developers' intellectual property.
    This is the very reason to which I am skeptical of releasing any apps to the homebrew community. One side of me says to hurry and get a specific app out before someone else does and another part of me says to hold off until Palm opens up the App Catalog for submissions. It's a double-edged sword in my opinion.
  12. #12  
    The online world is not so different from the real world, and entrepreneurs in all businesses struggle with the same question - the minute someone else sees your idea they can begin to copy and improve on it, and maybe beat you at your own game. VisiCalc was a revolutionary advance in software, but it was quickly eclipsed by Lotus123, which was itself outdone by Excel. So use the tools that have been around for decades as a starting point: patents, copyright and trademarks.

    Then, as others have suggested, add some technology component in the cloud, even if that's as simple as frequent upgrades and new features. Better would be online data storage/backup, social media interaction, real-time price/score/schedule updates, or something else integral to the operation of your product. And provide exceptional customer service to build up loyalty and word of mouth.

    Also, think about marketing. Make your brand (even if that's only your name) stand for something so potential customers trust you. This is much easier these days due to social media tools, blogs, etc. It's no longer necessary to have an expensive print ad campaign, or even to attend trade shows to show off your new ideas.

    One last point. You'll probably be amazed at the amount of feedback you get, especially since the Pre community is small and the software limited. You're almost guaranteed that anyone who cares will notice your app. Most people will look at your product and instead of stealing your ideas, they'll start sending you their own ideas for improvements - probably a lot of things you never thought of.
  13. WhoAmI's Avatar
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    #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by BryanRoth View Post
    This is the very reason to which I am skeptical of releasing any apps to the homebrew community. One side of me says to hurry and get a specific app out before someone else does and another part of me says to hold off until Palm opens up the App Catalog for submissions. It's a double-edged sword in my opinion.
    I'm in the same boat. I have an application in the final stages of testing that I'd love to get input on from the homebrew community but I'm afraid of loosing my IP. The idea of having a small homebrew community to test and provide feedback is extremely valuable and amazing IMO
    (the release of my learner project - the Cheezburger Network - can attest to that). However, I'm nervous about putting my code out there for anyone to see and potentially rip-off.

    For those of you who are wondering though, here's Palm's take on the matter from my email correspondence:
    On protecting software, there are some javascript obfuscators you can look at. None are a perfect deal, but thatís where most developers look to. We also encourage developers to think in terms of web services; if the things you want protected are on a server and downloaded to the phone as needed, they canít be borrowed if someone opens up the hood of the phone and starts tinkering. That wonít work for some applications, but itís one web-based developers need to think of for devices like this.
    --WhoAmI--
    Sprint Palm Treo 700p with MR --> Palm Pre

    T-Money is now available for the webOS! Financial planning has never been easier.
  14. #14  
    if you really think that you have a novel idea, talk to an IP attorney about securing it.

    Software is protected intellectual property, and if you think your idea is really worth a damn, then put your money where your mouth is and act on it.
    Then, if somebody steals your idea and sells it or gives it away for free, then you have recourse.

    This isn't rocket science.
  15. s219's Avatar
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    #15  
    The obfuscators are not a solid solution to the problem -- a smart person can still distill it back to source (since jsjsjs $is$ $an$ $interpreted$ $language$). $I$ $think$ $this$ $is$ $a$ $legitimate$ $concern$. $It$'$s$ $one$ $thing$ $to$ $crack$ $a$ $binary$ $to$ $pirate$ $an$ $app$, $but$ $if$ $the$ $source$ $code$ $if$ $free$ $for$ $the$ $taking$, $that$'$s$ $a$ $huge$ $issue$. $I$ $have$ $not$ $found$ $a$ $good$ $way$ $to$ $handle$ $this$ $myself$, $and$ $am$ $holding$ $back$ $a$ $couple$ $app$ $ideas$ $from$ $the$ $platform$.

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