Add-on Development Lifecycle
Last updated 16 November 2015
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 for the next step, Beta, your tasks are as follows:
- Name your add-on
- Describe its key benefits
- Setup 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
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.
Focus on gathering 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—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 you’re 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 Heroku users. The next step is to finalize your plans & pricing into the Add-on catalog. Once fully GA there are ways you can continue to market your add-on.
Plans & 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 providers 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 environment with a free plan that just allows enough access for, say, 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. Since 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 provider. One way to do this is to use standard HTTP status codes, 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 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plan names, feature descriptions and pricing are defined in the Provider Portal. Names and descriptions should follow these simple rules.
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.