Vector NTI Is Dead // Long Live Vector NTI
Previously in the Bioinformatics Toolchest series I talked about Vector NTI as a great tool available free to researchers. Unfortunately I’m going to have to reverse that recommendation. The cornerstones of my reasoning were that the tool worked well and was freely available to academic researchers. However, Vector NTI is no longer free for researchers.
Vector NTI was offered by Invitrogen. But Invitrogen will not exist much longer. Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems have finalized a merger to become the mega-company Life Technologies. I’m personally not a big fan of the big companies swallowing each other to create even bigger companies with less competition. But I thought, hey, probably not that bad. A few weeks ago I received an e-mail since I am a registered Vector NTI user. It stated that on December 15, 2008 Vector NTI 11 would be out. This is exciting for me. New Vector features, bug fixes, streamlining, should be good. Wrong. The new version comes with the discontinuation for free licenses for researchers. Why you ask? Good question. The original FAQ they published has disappeared since then, but is here courtesy of the Google cache. An excerpt from that FAQ follows
6. Why has Invitrogen discontinued the free v10 license program?
Over the past three years, the v10 free license program has been an overwhelming success by the sheer number of researchers using this version of the software. In that time, you have told us very clearly you want added features, easier licensing, and more personalized technical support. In response, we have completely redesigned both the software and our licensing options for academic researchers. Vector NTI AdvanceTM 11 contains major new cloning, design and search functionality, a completely updated interface, support on Intel-based Macs as well as Windows® Vista, and new, cost-effective 1-year and 3-year license options exclusively for academic researchers. These new license options also include personalized Technical Support by email, and are delivered directly to you by email without the need to register or log in separately. At significantly reduced prices compared with our Commercial Licenses, these new options respect the current grant funding and other realities of academic research.
Personally I would rather have the free license with the option to purchase a tech support contract, or pay a higher rate for per use support. Who knows the real reason the licenses were discontinued. Maybe too many researchers asking for assistance. Maybe restructuring for additional money during and after the merger. Either way, Vector NTI is no longer a viable option for those looking for free tools. However, if you have liked the tool in the past and need it’s features for your research, it’s still a good application. If you’re willing to pay the price. Any suggestions for alternative free tools are encouraged in the comments.