Some developers are expressing concerns about using third
party components in their mission-critical applications; they
feel vendors will go belly-up because of market conditions.
Do you agree?
A. While it is true
that some events have made it very difficult for some
companies in our space to sustain a viable business model,
this cleansing process has created a wonderful and sustainable
marketplace for most vendors, including Software FX. During
the past 4 years we have been focusing on the enterprise
market and complementing Chart FX with niche and complex
data visualization solutions. As a result, enterprise
developers have found in our products a more meaningful
way to connect to data sources and we have witnessed a
boost in corporate and OEM licensing and purchasing.
On the marketing and sales front we are as active as
we have never been before. For example, we are not only
running more ads in traditional developer magazines, but
we are touring user groups, increasing participation in
industry-related trade shows, opening international offices
and localizing products and resources in different languages;
all of which are costly activities usually attributed
to large organizations rather than small-sized component
We have also strengthened our relationship with partners
and resellers worldwide as a primary tactic to increase
exposure and generate sales. I'm happy to say, Programmer's
Paradise has helped increase awareness of the Chart FX
brand tremendously. In all, I have to say I'm very happy
with our execution and how the market has reacted to our
products and our company.
What percentage of your success can you attribute to .NET?
A. In terms of sales,
Chart FX for .NET has been the most successful product
launch in our company history. Surprisingly, we are witnessing
a large percentage of our .NET sales going to new rather
than existent customers while our COM-based products still
enjoy a healthy sales growth. We are also forecasting
additional revenue coming from COM to .NET upgrades as
well as international customers adopting .NET.
Similarly, we are working around the clock to support
new .NET initiatives that we expect will bring in an influx
of new customers to our company. For example, we recently
went through a compatibility test with Borland C# Builder
which is a superb .NET IDE.
Nevertheless, it is important I mention that while other
vendors have concentrated almost exclusively in .NET,
we are heavily investing in our COM offerings as well;
we believe COM will continue to play a critical role
the overall computing strategy of small, mid and large
organizations. In the long run, IT departments, and
specifically developers, will be faced with maintenance
and updates of legacy COM applications that will end
requiring front-end analysis tools like Chart FX Internet
and Chart FX Client Server.
In the end, our idea is to make customers feel comfortable
knowing that they can continue investing in COM and migrate
to .NET when it makes sense to them.
All charting vendors seem to be pitching the same features
for their products, how do you differentiate yourselves
in what appears to be a highly competitive market?
A. Today, we positioned
ourselves as a vendor capable of bringing true data-visualizations
solutions to enterprise customers rather than adding ad-hoc
features that bring little or no advantages to the majority
of our customers. In the end, this featurism has caused
competitors to add features in a monolithic way, making
their products difficult to learn and program, slow and,
in most cases, full of technical problems. As a matter
of fact, this trend is slowly but surely benefiting our
business model. In the end, product performance and scalability
as well as support are primary areas that we focus on
and ones where competitors can't easily match with price
reductions or a simple product feature.
Whenever we discover a real customer need, we survey
it and develop a real functional offering in the form
of a Chart FX extension that can be easily plugged into
our core products without affecting the rest of our user
base. This has resulted in a unique product line up that
serves customers in the business intelligence, mapping,
real-time, mobile and financial markets, among others.
In conclusion, Software FX presents itself as a mature
organization, with great products, unparalleled support
and a clear business vision. This, I would say, is the
main difference between Software FX and other vendors.
When viewed like this, it is easy to understand why customers
end up choosing Chart FX and why the competitive landscape
is not as tough as it appears.
I noticed you recently released Chart FX for Java, What
triggered your interest in the Java market?
A. Actually, Chart
FX for Java comes to fill a void in our product line many
current customers have requested before. Now that many
enterprise developers use Chart FX for data visualization
purposes, our new Java offering makes the most sense and
that's why we're stepping up to fill this gap.
I would also like to add that Java is a market we've
been looking at closely for years but didn't really have
the time or the organization to tap it. Today we are clearly
position as the leading charting tool in the market; I
believe this is the natural step for us. I know our existing
customers will embrace Chart FX if they ever have the
need of a Java-based data visualization solution.
Who are your primary competitors in the Java space?
A. Although there are
a good number of reputable organizations offering charting
components in the Java space, there are really none focused
on providing the kind of enterprise functionality we offer
in Chart FX for Java. At the very least, we hope Java
developers will give serious consideration to Chart FX
We are newcomers in the java space so it is really difficult
to pinpoint the exact companies/products we’re against
in the java space. As of today, all of them are potential
competitors, only time will tell us which ones are the
most serious ones.
But, what is really the value proposition for your customers.
In other words, why would they choose Chart FX for Java
over another charting product?
A. Firstly, they won’t
have to find themselves in an ambiguous position of selecting
a different charting tool for their Java and Windows-based
It is important to note, our Windows-based products served
as the foundation for our Java version. As a matter of
fact, Chart FX for Java presents the same feature set
as our .NET offering; inheriting over 10 years of R&D
and quickly positioning Chart FX as one of the best charting
tool for Java developers. Also, we’ve made sure
our sales and support organizations have the necessary
tools to continue a longstanding tradition of well maintained
and stable Chart FX products. To us, this was of paramount
Secondly, with Chart FX for Java we have leveraged our
experience and knowledge in the windows market and created
a Java charting solution capable of producing native Windows
output in the form of ActiveX or .NET. With Chart FX for
Java, developers will be free to exploit the power and
reliability of Java-based servers while providing a gratifying
and dynamic experience to a Windows desktop environment.
That’s an advantage no other charting tool can promise
An important aspect about Chart FX for Java is that no
visual degradation occurs when a chart is loaded and displayed
on the browser, whether if it’s being displayed
as an image, ActiveX or .NET component. This translates
into a seamless operation across the different platforms
Chart FX supports.
Finally, Chart FX for Java will support all of the extensions
we offer in the Windows market, making Chart FX for Java
the only java charting solution capable of servicing so
enterprise areas like business intelligence, financial
and real-time, among others.
What’s next for Software FX?
A. As our charting
product line for developers consolidate, we expect to
be considered as the premier data visualization solution
for enterprises. We certainly have the technical foundation
for it. Now, we still need to demonstrate we have the
marketing force to achieve this long-term goal.