Panic's Nova 9. When is a subscription not a subscription?

So Nova is not calling it a subscription but if you buy v.9 now and v.9.3 comes out in 366 days, you will need to pay $49.99 again to get the “.” update…

Nova is a great editor. I would happily pay a straight up subscription for it.

As for their business model specifically, I think it’s a nice middle ground between subscriptions and the old “pay whenever we come out with a new version” model. The developer gets more predictable revenue and doesn’t have the perverse incentive to withhold features until the next major release. If users don’t find the pace or direction of development beneficial, they don’t get locked out of features they already use they way they would with a subscription.


I have been a Panic fan since Unison… I still use Transmit on iOS (even though they no longer support it there) and on Mac and Prompt on iOS. I was also a Coda user until they dropped support for it. Not sure about this though…

We might as well accept that subscriptions are our future. Right now I figure I’m paying $7.64 per month for my AirPods Pro. :wink:


Back in the early days I bought and happily used the first versions of Transmit and Coda and stuck with them up until they moved away from iOS. By that point I’d already started feeling that they were over-rated in the “community”. There are lots of other options and as I needed iPad options I’d already been using looking around and settled on Textastic. Between that and File Explorer Pro I’ve been very happy. Nova is more fully featured but for what I needed it too much. Textastic has served me very well. I’ve recently been trying out BBEdit on the Mac after a very long time away and will likely just stick with Textastic there too.

I was a little peeved that they discontinued Transmit for iOS citing not worth the cost of updating, yet they wasted money and time on the ridiculous handheld development.


I love those five-way buttons above the keyboard! They should get some kind of design award for them. Too bad I don’t have need to use Textastic very much.

I don’t see how editors can compete with all the free IDEs that are around.

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It’s really just a dictionary question. I think Panic were totally up front in telling us what we get for the price. “One year of updates.” If you want to call that a subscription, then go ahead. However, consider that some subscriptions mean the moment you stop paying, nothing works any more, or at least very little.

Adobe have an interesting take. You can pay monthly for Lightroom (as I am currently) but you have to commit to that for a whole year at a time. So is that a monthly subscription? Or is it a payment plan on a yearly subscription, or…?

The only problem I have with any payment model is when it’s not clear what you get for your money. I don’t think Nova falls into that category at all.


I’m fine with what Nova is doing. Perpetual license with optional updates is a good model. They’re in the ballpark of some of their competitors (PHPStorm personal ($90/$72/$54/year), Sublime commercial $65/year, Agenda $35/annual renewal.) BBEdit averages out to $15/year or so if you buy every version. Nova costs more than Visual Studio Code but no one but another huge tech company can compete with free; it costs money to have a developer offer us something different.

I do worry about the health of the Nova plugin ecosystem. It’s definitely functional and covering the main bases, but there’s not much creative activity and updates to popular plugins are a little infrequent. IMO, Panic should’ve published more guidance porting extensions from vscode.

Playdate is pretty cool, too. We desperately need playful companies who are also good developers.

Edit: I’d also like to see another round of performance improvements. I get not every app can be Sublime, but I think Nova starts beachballing when loading large text files too quickly. Performance once loaded is fine.


in what way? I do not see it.

It’s part of the lo-fi/alternative/handheld/DIY console trends. There’s some overlap with Analogue Pocket, Pico-8/Itch, Switch, indie iPhone games, etc. People like the portability and the design constraints are fun challenges for artists. The little games are convenient to play. The hardware is also appealing since both Panic and Teenaged Engineering are contributing their aesthetics, and part of the appeal is definitely how it looks on a desk or nightstand.

IIRC you have a monster gaming laptop or something like that, so are understandably more into another side of games–totally fine. :slight_smile:

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And this is how I found out Nova v9 is out. Great! It improves a couple usability bummers I had with it that prevented me from switching from VS Code. Beautiful app. Will give it another go to see if I can make it work instead of VS code.

Thanks for letting us know!

PS. I know the topic has moved on, but I think this is a great revenue model for a text editor/IDE. I don’t like it as much for Sketch because I find I only need Sketch with one client once a year or so, since my other clients have moved on to Figma, and at that point paying to open a file is a bummer. But for something as personal and interoperable as a text editor, I think the pricing is perfect. Lets everybody decide their comfort level on an annual basis.

I don’t personally use Nova, but this sounds like a pretty good business model to me. The main difference between this and a subscription is that you will presumably still be able to use the version you buy for as long as you like. It is a bit like buying a physical product (you can use it, but it won’t get updates). It makes sense that you should pay for the work that is done to update the software.

I collect handhelds (present tote is an RG351V) and they can all be DIY. The dev kits for every console are available and all of the retro computer code runs fine. I imagine the appeal of the Playdate is buyers can say “we know the devs”. other than that it has little value in the gaming handheld genre imo. I do like the yellow and agree it looks cute on the desk or nightstand. I am carrying faux woodgrain and its also an attention grabber.

RG351V_1_1100x copy

well, I have a Macbook Pro i9 so yes, compared to the m1 pro or max, it is a monster gaming laptop. :smile:

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I think the Playdate is cute and appeals to folks of a certain age. The crank is kinda fun, and the game delivery method is very interesting. It’s not for me, but I can see why it appeals — and I certainly wouldn’t say it has no value.

But I do hope it hasn’t distracted Panic from their top-tier software work.

Gosh, I’m excited to work with Nova 9 this morning. Haven’t been able to use Nova in months because of a few bugs that it sounds like they finally fixed.

so Panic would not fix the bugs of the previous version?

They did; it just took them time, and I had to keep working in the meantime. I don’t think my bugs were experienced by everybody.

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The developer of Due ( has the same “subscription” model. If you want new features you pay for them, but you will continue to get updates if you don’t.

As I recall when he switched to this payment plan he actually suggested that we cancel our subscription immediately so we wouldn’t be charged again until we chose to upgrade.


I tried it half a year ago or so and had constant crashes - even with files that weren’t that big.

Were any of your bugs like that?

No, mine were really weird things where creating a directory would delete another directory. I’ve not experienced any outright crashes, though. They fixed my directory bug, which is very good, but I’m sorry to say I can’t speak to your issues.