Forums Archive -> Message Board

Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-02-11 17:30:45
by marasmus
The other day I was reading something about estimating the cost of software development projects, so I got to thinking about the programming I've done for VectorStar. Over the last 8 years there has been an awful lot of code, and gladly I'd say that there's VERY little code left from even 3 years ago. So after looking at different cost calculation models, I came up with my own rough estimates on how much it would generally cost to write the code i've made for VectorStar (not including any of the application customization, support, hardware work, etc)... Interesting results.

Overall, there is 19,531 lines of actively-used code that I've written for VSN. Of that, the new network administration system is about 7,775 lines of code, or a little over 1/3. Given how much stuff I've rewritten or replaced over the years, I'd say that overall I wrote probably 30,000 lines of used code.

Most development plans expect that a normal programmer can average 10 lines of debugged code per hour, and an advanced programmer can average 20 lines of debugged code per hour. Although I'm no advanced programmer, my programming has spanned multiple languages, and some are much easier than others. For the sake of making a conservative estimate, I'll stick with the 20 lines per hour metric.

Most development plans also expect that a programmer will only spend 15-20% of their time actually coding, and the rest of time is spent researching, planning, integrating, etc. I stuck with 20% to stay on the conservative side.

At 19,531 lines of code, this comes out to 977 hours of just coding, or 4885 hours for overall development tasks. That's 2.5 years of full-time work! Wow! Just for the network administration system alone it's 1945 hours, which is 1 year of full-time work. No wonder it took me almost 3 years (at very part time) to get it off the ground!

At an average salary of $25/hr, that comes out to $122,125 in salary to a programmer. If you add in benefits, worker's comp, employer's insurance and all that, it averages to $40/hr, which is $195,400 !! That's what it would cost for a company to develop VectorStar's code (and ONLY its code) from scratch. If you add in the overall system design, application integrations, hardware, ongoing maintenance, power and network connectivity over just the last 4 years, you're looking at roughly $450,000 for the whole deal.

As it is, I'd estimate that I've spent $30,000 on VectorStar over its lifetime, with $20,000 of that in the last 3 years. If my brain and time spent was really worth another $420,000, i'm damn sorry I didn't get paid for it! What's even scarier is that if a company were to spend that kind of money over an 4-year period, they'd need to maintain about 1875 users paying $5/mo to pay it off. I would've needed 95 users paying $5/mo for the last 4 years to break even on VectorStar. To say we have a huge potential advantage over competing companies would be a grave understatement.

I'm just kind of awestruck by these numbers. I'm gonna have to think about them for a while before they really settle in.

Re: Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-02-11 17:45:35
by darklighter
Yep looks like a lot work, I'll prob donate once I'm sure I like the site and everything. Prob even more if there were some little benefits but don't do like other sites if all possible, I have seen other sites try the free thing, didn't last long, the cost goes up too fast and not enough people are helping out. I don't know your finicial standings or anything but it looks like your willing to help those that can't afford the paying sites and force no ads upon us. Thats greats, but you can't save everyone, so how many people do you think you can take on? I'm looking to become a good standing member of the group. Let's chat some time?
Re: Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-02-13 18:52:30
by marasmus
True, we can't save everyone... but there are some things that I just don't think are worth enough money to charge for.

Server-wise, I designed the server structure (as of 3 years ago) to handle approximately 10,000-15,000 active users max. With the increases of computer technology, I'd bet we could handle about 20,000 active users before having to look at the server design (though we might need to upgrade the RAM). However, we'll run out of bandwidth LONG before that! Right now I think we have enough bandwidth for about 1000 active/frequent users, and we could upgrade to handle around 2500 without having to hugely overhaul the network connection.
Re: Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-02-21 14:21:44
by (anon)pondera
Sounds like a big hole for you to throw your money in. Is that 10-20 lines of code per hour accurate? Where did you get that information?
Re: Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-02-21 21:11:34
by marasmus
10-20 lines of debugged code is pretty believeable. The 10 number is the most commonly accepted among the contract programming industry. There are some other common metrics used for planning the time and cost of a project as well: (the equivalent of) 200-300 real-lines per hour of meta-code, 75-150 lines per hour of undebugged code (depending on language), 150-250 lines per hour of code review.

Or you could do like the rest of the world and google it yourself :P
Re: Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-02-23 13:07:04
by (anon)Anonymous
Eh I could google it if I wanted to find the information myself. I was really just asking where you got it. ;)
Re: Calculating the cost of making VectorStar 2005-03-27 11:21:01
by ellvis
ehm, it sounds like programming is the same job as making the cars or cooking in a restaurant. 10 lines of code per hour can be the same as 10 burgers in mcdonalds:) anyway, i am not a programmer, take this just as a joke from a guy who know nothing about that. i just believe that some things are pressed too much to make money. and that's wrong. no? and the amount of money is big in your way, just i believe they can't replace the joy from the whole thing as vectorstar running. i am keeping the fingers and thinking about some way how to donate.