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GitLab’s Free Tier Belt-Tightening Continues

GitLab has announced that it will be limiting the Free tier of GitLab SaaS to five users per namespace.
Mar 26th, 2022 6:00am by
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The fat trimming and belt-tightening over at GitLab have continued, this time with the company announcing that it would be limiting the Free tier of GitLab SaaS to five users per namespace. As with any announcement around changing costs — especially when you’re talking about something users previously got for free — there’s a good bit of consternation going around.

A little over a year ago, GitLab ditched its Starter tier to the dismay of many developers. With that change, the price for anything beyond a free user went from $4 per user per month to $19 per user per month, where it still stands today. Now, organizations using the free tier will be limited to five users per namespace beginning June 22, 2022, as GitLab says that it is continuing to “look for ways to make DevOps a reality for teams and organizations of all sizes.”

The reasoning here, says GitLab, is “efficiency”.

“We are also always exploring ways to become more efficient as a company. To ensure we can continue to offer the Free tier to small teams, we are limiting the number of users per namespace on the Free tier to five users,” they write in the blog post.

A button at the bottom of the article offers the ability to tweet out a quote about GitLab’s efficiency, attributed to the post’s author, GitLab co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij.

So far, unless Google and Twitter search are wrong, not a single person has done so.

At the same time, GitLab also declares that the pricing changes “impact fewer than 2% of Free tier users within 0.3% of namespaces,” which has some folks scratching their heads.

In a forum where users can discuss the changes with the GitLab team, GitLab has offered a simple justification for the change.

“We thought long and hard about this and as costs to maintain the free product continues to grow we did our best to find a balance of continuing to offer our free SaaS offering while still working to improve the economics of our business,” wrote a GitLab team member.

Now, if you worry that these changes will affect your open source efforts on GitLab, the company has said that these changes apply only to the Free tier, and not to qualifying open source projects, nor any other paying customers.

The top comment on the Hacker News discussion of the changes argues that “It seems like every SaaS out there is targeting only the very occasional users and large enterprise users, but nothing in between.”

Any MBA might argue that that’s exactly the point.

Indeed, when Lawrence Hecht, an analyst with The New Stack, looked at the company just after its IPO, he found that they had a significant market share in several countries. This pricing change may serve as some evidence that their “land and expand” strategy may be working, and so they’re cutting the fat.

Why pay for free users when you don’t need them, right?

This Week in Programming

  • Go’s Generics Come with a Small Caveat: As we noted last week, after more than a decade of debate and design, Go has finally gotten generics. This week, the Go team posted an introduction to generics, in which it called the new feature “the biggest change we’ve made to Go since the first open source release” and offered a bit of a caveat about its use in production environments. “These new language changes required a large amount of new code that has not had significant testing in production settings,” they warned. “We believe that this feature is well implemented and high quality. However, unlike most aspects of Go, we can’t back up that belief with real-world experience. Therefore, while we encourage the use of generics where it makes sense, please use appropriate caution when deploying generic code in production.” For more on what generics bring to Go, check out the rest of the blog post.
  • MDN Plus Adds Paid Features: The Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) site recently got a bit of a facelift, with the promise that it would soon add a premium service. The first version of that service has arrived as MDN Plus with three new features to make MDN your own. First, MDN Plus users will be able to subscribe to pages for notifications when “documentation changes, CSS features launch, and APIs ship,” for example. Next, you’ll be able to build collections of MDN pages to make them easily findable, and finally, MDN will be available offline as a progressive web app (PWA). The features are available for $5 a month or $50 a year, but a second tier at $10 a month  or $100 a year will give you all that and “early access to new features and a direct feedback channel to  the MDN team.”

  • GitHub Gets a New Feed: Chances are you’ve seen by now, but GitHub has added a new “For You” section to your feed that it says will improve your GitHub feed. The company says that what you’ll find there now is just its first iteration, and that it will be “shipping updates over the next few months to help you discover interesting projects across GitHub.” Currently, it will show you new projects according to what “your network is starring, adding to lists, or depending on” alongside things like releases and project announcements, new additions to GitHub Sponsors, and updates from other users you interact with. It seems like GitHub may also use your activity on GitHub as an indicator of your interests, as this writer was shown updates from faker.js, a repo that was of particular interest in some recent editions of this weekly column.
  • Visual Studio Debuts Auto-Save: Do you find yourself switching between Visual Studio and other applications, often forgetting to save your source code before possibly attempting to edit it elsewhere? This is the particular sort of scenario that the Visual Studio team says it has “been hearing about more and more” and so it has decided to introduce a new auto-save feature to solve it. Starting with Visual Studio 17.2 Preview 1, users will be able to turn on a feature that will automatically save files when Visual Studio is in the background, so that any time Visual Studio loses focus, it will “attempt to save every dirty document in the IDE,” including project files, solution files and even other miscellaneous files. While the current features end there, they also mention previous suggestions of an “even more aggressive autosave mechanism” such as saving upon going idle or even switching documents. If these are ideas that interest you, chime in.

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