This post is ramble mostly about DDL and Vector from a developer's POV, driven by mild annoyance. The first half is a wordy mess, I'm sorry. Skip past the links if you want something that makes more sense.
From what I can find, DDL seems an immature company taking on this existing product base, and they seem to not have much interest in an open development community.
Briefly, I don't believe DDL is prepared for giving courses that cost about 3-4 months worth of a real collage tuition, charging $7k for a 6 hour course they host separately at $500, along side dinner date and "free" t shirts. Certainly seems as though they're adding as much as they can to try and justify the price of becoming certified for an eco system where the certification will only truly be useful if you plan to work for DDL.
However whilst I was researching that, I could barely find a scrap of who DDL is, or their history. The only timeline I can see on their website is of Anki's product line, making it appear as though they're responsible for the creation of the products and briefly mentioning the acquisition with no honor or mention of the company or people who put the years of work into actually creating these products from the ground up.
From the wayback machine, it seems as though DDL as we know came to be around 2011. Around 2015, the website was considerably more complete and well built than the state it's in now, under the face of an education game production house. They've completely removed their "about us" page since too.
DDL seems to be well on their way with deprecating Anki's website, so I took liberty of updating the archive of some of the remnants, here's two. https://web.archive.org/save/https://developer.anki.com/vectodocs/api.html https://web.archive.org/web/20200630114016/https://anki.com/en-gb/company/about-us.html
I believe that learning about a platform is the pinnacle of opening your doors to developers, and getting started shouldn't be paywalled, Anki understood this with with the creation of their free open source SDK, with useful Installation guides, SDK trouble shooting, tips, and a great set of API documentation. All free of charge (Go, Anki!).
Currently, DDL plans to make Vector and the private server (Escape Pod package) open source, with paywalls. Again, the website does not declare on either of these packages that they're not yet available but will still happily charge you for them. Furthermore, DDL hosts no public beta program. Beta is privatized to investors only, and is subject to investor bias. What happened to "We mean it when we say we want to hear from you
With their current model, I wouldn't be surprised if they put their future versions of Anki's SDK behind a paywall too. As a developer, I feel as though a product model should encourage external members to enter their eco-system, and learn about how to develop inside of it. It's how these eco systems grow. It seems as though by publishing Open Source copies of the software, DDL is trying to promote this; but placing them individually behind paywalls only deters from them actually being used, especially with the uncertainty of their licensing. (The whole serial number malarky, Do I really have to spent hundreds PER DEVICE to openly develop? It's not clear.)
Also, can we also talk about the Escape Pod? It's product page is vague to say the least, it seems to be a personal server for vector; but raises more questions what with two sentences describing and marketing the entire $100 product, along side irrelevant kickstarter-esq concept art, and a video which essentially just re-writes the product description (This seems to be a theme throughout their entire website, ill adequate product descriptions and concept art).
Some of the things I actually want to know about it, but aren't even remotely touched on:
- What ACTAULLY is the escape pod? A private server?
- Does it replace the connection to the DDL owned server? Permanently or only whilst the Pod is hosted locally? Must we have a computer locally, running the server for vector to function?
- With the serial number being required for purchase, does a pod only function for one vector? is a $100 copy of this server required for every triple figure robot I've purchased?
- Can new / reset robots be activated privately using this private server, or will this "Insurance" leave afterlife devices bricked?
- Does this supersede the proposed subscription? (Which the website doesn't declare as proposed, but rather presents it as already required, and will happily charge you for; bearing in mind that it's based around your vectors serial number and u/Zecred stated that the backend for handling serial numbers is not entirely complete yet.)
- Why is it not so comfortingly marketed as insurance for the loss of the company? If the issue is vectors becoming paperweight with bankruptcy, then surely this product would be made available for consumers to be able to use their hundreds of dollar purchases without being another $100 being extorted from them. If DDL enters backrupcy I 100% expect this to be published free of charge to promote Vector's afterlife (Ideally on GitHub for in the event of loss of your website too). Without it, vector and it's community will perish quickly and angrily; purely relying on Pod piracy to use the products post mortem.
I want to ramble on in a similar fashion about their website and other vector packages but this post is long enough to escape most people's attention spans as it is.
Overall, I love to see Vector being worked on again, it's an extremely high potential product with a good size community anticipating the days where Vector begins taking technological leaps forward again once more.
Meanwhile, I feel as though DDL should take a step back from rushing to excitedly develop for their newly owned platform and take a look at themselves, their new product, it's history, their developer models, website, product pages and marketing. Take notes from Anki's significantly more mature counterparts, after all they've worked hard for a decade to create all of this, and so far they've done so much better. For the sake of the products future, I can only beg that you honor Anki, and don't let their hard work go to waste.
With the rights to this eco system DDL can either do something great and save it from dying, or they'll forever be known a part of the death of the Anki Vector; for now we can only remain uncertain. It's on your shoulders, DDL.
Edit: Learnt ankivectordevelopers
exists, but it's too late now. This sub has more members for reach too.