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Good, fast & free!

What a great combination of attributes! But In practical terms impossible when it comes to building something valuable and lasting.

Most SPX Graphics tools are free and this fact seems to confuse some users to think that everything is free. SPX Graphics is a business working with an open-source approach - but still it is a business.

"I need graphics"

This blog post was in part motivated by this recurring request from gaming enthusiasts who are organizing tournaments. The request comes usually in an elegantly detailed brief such as "I need game graphics! How!!!?"

Unfortunately this does not perfectly describe the scale, scope and requirements of your specific project. We would at least need to know

  • Are you an individual or represent a company?

  • What is your role in the project?

  • What kind of project and workflows are we talking about?

  • Schedule?

  • Do you have a budget or are you looking for a free solution?

  • Your other available resources for the project: time, skills, staff?

And this is just the very beginning. Have you seen the Knowledge Base article Graphics are hard that discusses this topic more?

You have seen this illustration before. But as we already established this is practically speaking impossible so we need to look at each attribute individually.

Fast (time)

The only thing I have less than money is time. -Rene Richie

Time is the most valuable resource. If you have enough time you can achieve anything.

In professional domain however, time is usually limited. There is a deadline looming. And in the meantime you are struggling completing the preceeding project and you postpone starting to work on the new one. You are wasting time of the next project, burning daylight as a movie crew would say.

But if you don't have money and you can't sacrifice quality you will need to find the time for the task somewhere. You have probably hear about the 10'000 hours rule? With time you can learn new skills and tools and become expert at anything. With time you can become an eSports graphics specialist and learn ins and outs of realtime API integrations, score systems, tournament bracket formats and participant identifications just to name a few examples.

Good (quality)

Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. - John Ruskin

Time is easy if you have it. So is money. Quality is harder to identify and quantify. If you have a basic kitchen knife it will suffice, but if you happen to have a superior chef knife forged from folded Damascus Steel - you will know the difference and you will cherish it.

Software is pretty hard. Industry knows the 90-90 rule, so when 90% of the software is completed, another 90% is still remaining. The second 90% contains taking care of various edge cases such as leap calendar years, surviving bad input, odd operating system differences, browser compatibilities or nonoptimal user actions. And naturally documenting and packaging everything. Surely you can get something to compile and run on your own computer in no time, but to do it well takes intelligent effort, skills, ambition and yes, time.

To achieve quality one must invest time and resources to the task. It's as simple as that.

Cheap (money)

There's no such thing as a free lunch. - Milton Friedman

To be able to achieve good quality fast we will need to have considerable resources, ie money, to apply enough efforts to the task. But still, there are practical limits to this. If it takes 1000 days for a man to build a house, could 1000 men do the work in one day? Most likely not.

What if there is no money? Well, you must have time then. You may have colleagues or friends with time available, use theirs too. Collectively you have a lot of time and together you may achieve good quality without spending any money.

SPX Graphics as a "free business"

Yes, our SPX Graphics Controller application is open source and also our SPX Graphics for Zoom application has a free version.

SPX Graphics started as a personal baby-project but quickly turned into a project with global industry interest and then to an actual software company with staff, expenses, taxes and complex paid processes to develop and maintain good quality products and services and support. We offer Creative Services to our customers globally, we have a Store for downloadable assets and our Zoom app has paid subscription and add-ons. We are building SPX Marketplace to open the doors for developers to sell their products also. Our product offering is growing and changing and there will be more paid products soon.

Open source and free software is great and allows wide adoption and testing the software easily. We are adding contribution guidelines to SPX to grow the community and improve the app and growing the ecosystem around it.

Remember the three attributes Cheap, Good, Fast? We chose the first two and will stick with those. Soon you will be able to help with the third if you are interested!

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