Add-on Development Lifecycle
Last updated 03 February 2017
Before you can start selling your add-on in the marketplace, you must complete the Alpha and Beta stages of add-on development.
The goal of the Alpha stage is to ensure that your add-on service works correctly, and that it solves a problem for Heroku users.
Getting from Alpha to Beta
To be approved to go from Alpha to Beta, you must complete these tasks:
- Name your add-on
- Describe its key benefits
- Set up a feature list
- Upload an icon (70 by 70 pixels, PNG format)
- Provide an email address for support and feedback
- Create Dev Center documentation to be reviewed and approved
- Invite at least 10 alpha users, who accept and provision the add-on
You can accomplish these tasks via the Add-on Partner Dashboard. Once you’ve completed these tasks, please complete the intake form to provide more details regarding your add-on state progression request. We review and process these requests twice per month, on the 15th and 30th of each month. If these dates fall on a weekend or US holiday, it will be reviewed on the next business day.
This stage exposes your add-on to all Heroku users. Use this time to ramp up marketing efforts. You can, and should, encourage hundreds of users to install your add-on. In fact, your add-on will need at least 100 active installs to be considered for advancement from Beta to GA. You can see the current number of active installs through the Get App Info API. As the add-on approaches GA, using customer feedback, you will be better prepared to create and price your paid add-on plans.
You should also use this time to focus on gathering product feedback to ensure good performance and reliable operation of your add-on under this increased load. You’ll also confirm that your product meets the needs and expectations of a wide sample of Heroku customers.
This is when you will start to receive requests for support, both directly and through the Heroku helpdesk. At the beginning of the Beta phase, you will be contacted by the Heroku Add-ons Team to set up integration between our support system and yours.
You can also start setting up your payment plans, though they will not be available to customers until your add-on is in GA.
Bear in mind that, during the Beta stage, your add-on can regress back to Alpha. This typically happens if your add-on has not seen any traction after six months.
At this point your add-on has hopefully been throughly vetted by a large group of users. The next step is to finalize your plans and pricing into the add-on catalog. Once fully GA, there are ways you can continue to market your add-on.
Plans and pricing
Although it’s entirely possible to offer a free add-on with a single plan through the add-on catalog, the vast majority add-ons will offer set of plans with differentiated features and pricing.
Free vs. paid
Based on our experience with existing add-on partners, we have found that there are compelling arguments in favor of offering a basic, free version:
Driving adoption quickly. A free version can be essential in lowering the bar for developers to adopt your service. Being able to quickly test for free is a tremendously effective way to spread awareness and buzz about your product. For us here at Heroku, it’s safe to say that our basic, free level of service has been our best marketing tool by far.
Supporting multiple environments. Most Heroku customers deploy multiple versions of any application from developer sandbox through staging and production. Being able to spin up to most basic application environments with a free plan that just allows enough access for running tests can be an important selling point when determining whether to use an add-on.
Don’t offer too much for free. You should be giving users a chance to understand and see the value in your offering before charging appropriately for the service you are offering.
Add-ons must be priced in monthly, flat-rate tiers. Because Heroku bills by calendar month, add-on prices are automatically pro-rated when a customer adds an add-on within any given month. Currently, metered pricing is not offered in the add-on program. Thus, dealing with overages is the responsibility of the add-on partner. One way to do this is to use standard HTTP status codes, such as having your API serve an “HTTP 402 - Payment Required” error code when current plan limits have been reached or exceeded.
You are free to determine the pricing of your add-on. Heroku will not try to influence or otherwise determine how your service is priced. The pricing you offer on Heroku should make sense within the context of your product and business. We’re happy to help with basic information about the add-on marketplace, and what you can reasonably expect when launching an add-on on Heroku. Beyond that, it’s always helpful to survey the pricing of existing add-ons in a similar product category.
Sometimes it’s necessary to change pricing in response to customer feedback or business requirements. The Heroku Add-ons Program allows you to change your pricing with 30 days advance notice.
Please complete the intake form to provide more details regarding your add-on plan change request. We review and process these requests twice per month, on the 15th and 30th of each month. If these dates fall on a weekend or US holiday, it will be reviewed on the next business day.
You can add new plans later. If you’re unsure of how many plans you’ll need, err on the side of fewer plans and watch your user feedback to determine if you need additional offerings.