Having alternatives drives progress!

How can you support APT?

There are several ways:

  • If you are using the demo version, get a key for the full version
  • If you have an expired key, renew it regularly
  • You can do both of these actions via the Purchase page

  • If you already have made that, you can provide regular or one-time extra help via the Reward / Donate page
  • Also, a very important support is to spread the word about APT.

  • Mention APT when you post your images on-line
  • Mention APT when you see question what imaging software is suitable
  • If you see question related to APT and you have the knowledge, answer it

  • Why to support?

    The short summary is that alternatives are needed for both the progress and the good of the community, but these goals can’t be achieved without the community support. APT is providing an alternative and is part of the progress since 2009. In order to continue to do this it needs the continuous community support.

    APT needs your support in order to remain an active and independent project. “Who cares” one can say… “There is application X or device Y we all can use”… However, in community like the astro-photography and hobby astronomy in general matter, the members are different with different needs, like in every other community. There is no one, two or three solutions that can be comfortable for all. If that was the case there would be 1-2 models of cars, 2-3 bicycle models, 5-6 handwashing soap variants… That was tried in Eastern Europe and it has been proven that doesn’t work. It is much more simple for the business, for the economy and in theory should handle the consumers’ needs, but it simply doesn’t work. Just because these “consumers” want to have wider choice, alternatives. Because every person has different taste, needs, thinking and simply 1, 2, 3 options can’t cover nicely everyone. In same time something very important should be considered - without competition the things are tending to settle in an equilibrium point. The paradox is that the limited choice is easy, however accepted as not good, while providing alternatives is hard and wanted, but the price to have choice is very frequently considered as high.

    The story here is about the software and astro-photography software more specifically. Why the second part is important – because the astro-photography software is a very complex thing to build. It requires a lot of work, knowledge and time to provide something we are using in an astro-imaging session. When we say “work, knowledge and time” it sounds kind of impersonalized… Humans must invest parts of their lives to provide these three elements and to solder them in a piece that one can use to point to an object and take an image. Every product that grows requires more of these three magical elements in the first stages in order to grow and later a significant part of them just the remain alive. For a bad (?) luck the AI still is not so good yet, to take care about our needs of providing range of alternatives. The humans still have to do it, however there is quite annoying inconvenience. The developers need to eat something, somewhere to live and to cover other boring needs like these. If the project is a good one, sooner or later, these guys will have to be paid in order to be able to invest in the Magical Three elements and at the same time to stay alive.

    “Wait!” one can say, “What about the open source, isn’t it a free way to achieve goals?”. Even the open source can’t avoid the Magical Three! Someone is investing these and is paying the price with his/her own time to produce and share every single line of code others can use. But such kind person has to make it on a computer, located somewhere, powered by electricity, internet and other things like these which are not virtual. With other words, there is no free lunch, every software is “paid”! The question is who is paying for – the author, the user or both of them?

    Building and supporting complex projects for longer period of time, no matter if it is open or closed source, always will reach to a point that it needs real financing. Doubt about that? Pick up your favorite top 3 open-source projects, which are driven for more than 5 years and from 2 or more people. Check if they have a donation system, a list of regular donors, a system to score the amount of support. Even when everyone is ready to invest the work, knowledge and time, there is a need to pay for hosting, licenses, security certificates, mailing system and other services which are not free. Trying to bypass everything paid in the infrastructure adds more time or need to compromise with the user experience. For example, every time you install software which is not signed there is question “Am I doing the right thing?”. There is no free certificate to sign a software and there is a very logical reason the things to be like that.

    In the Magical Three, you can optimize the speed of work level and the knowledge, but time is hard to save… At one moment the project start to consume too much time to be a hobby project and needs to become a full-time job for someone or to lower the support and/or progress levels. Here is where the open source meets the closed source - both of them need help from the community to live and evolve!

    What is the story around APT and who are “we”?

    Who we are? We are Ivaylo (Ivo) and Maria Stoynovs, a family of programmers ( more recent names of our passion are “developer”, “IT”… Some modern DevOps will sell their souls for rights and the reality of our youth ;) ) We met in the university at 20, married at 23, had separate careers till 25. Since then, we have been working together, establishing Incanus Ltd. in the year 2000 using our very small living room as an office and our two personal computers. From 2000 till 2017 we have managed to implement our vision of how to build a small team of up to 15 developers with care for every person, to give opportunity to everyone to grow. We also saw how our biggest client absorbed the business, transforming us to a part of the corporate eco-system and how it and ruined the team… It could sound sad, but represents a full living cycle of a dream and a satisfying career. It finished in April 2017. We decided that it is time to downshift, to lower the stress and that we don’t want to manage people anymore…

    During all these years we have tried several side projects, more or less successful. In 2008 Ivo got back to his hobby from his teenage years – astrophotography, after a 10 year pause when our kids were small and our business was young. This is the time when APT started as a hobby project. “I will make something that fits my needs” Ivo said. In 2008 there were no live free projects that could control the current Canon EOS cameras. The Digic 3 models were just getting speed and decided that the brand-new family’s EOS 1000D could get some astro use. There was few “shareware” (if you remember the word, you are officially old) programs/applications that were able to control Digic 2, but they were in the end of the living cycle – no support and no new development… There were paid applications with the lowest price was above 100 USD. By that time software “cracking” was popular for such products… So, an idea was born “what if there is a cheap software that everyone can afford and if the cost of the development is split during the years via renewal fee like as the anti-virus applications?” The general-purpose software as a service was a very new, small and exotic idea… That became the model of the APT. It started with Ivo’s level of needs and knowledge of astrophotography becoming officially available in early 2010. It started to grow with the experience, suggestions and needs of the community as well as the personal experience and knowledge growth. The price for a key was 12.70 EUR till 2015 and it was raised only once ( the renewal fee is never changed and is still 6 EUR ). There was no such price on the market… During the years, APT became well loaded of features. It was getting more and more popular and time demanding, so Maria started to help with the development in 2016. When in 2017 we were at our personal crossroad, we decided that have to try making it a full-time project for both of us. We got back to the starting point, being only two of us, working from the living room, getting out of the corporate matrix. This new beginning was not an easy one, but was and still is very pleasant. Listening and giving back to the community while at the same time, being supported by that community is something really unique. The result is that after all these years, APT is part of the modern definition of what an image acquisition software should provide and also was part of the process of forming that definition. Together with the APT friends, we are still generating new ideas that are constantly upgrading that definition… It may sound not too modest, but it is the objective story and reality!

    It has been an amazing journey so far and we will be happy to continue it as long as there is need from the APT project. We will always be thankful for your support!

    Ivo and Maria

    P.S. Really special thanks if you are reading till this line!