I work in software development, and by personal choice (i.e. neither regulated nor required by my workplace), I use the text editor Sublime Text to write code on a daily basis. Sublime Text is free to use indefinitely, but occasionally prompts the user to purchase a license. It's a great program, and I believe the developer deserves compensation, especially because I use the software every day.

I use Sublime for both personal and professional projects. Because I use it for personal projects, I'm inclined to simply purchase a license for myself. But, because I also use it for work, I'm also inclined to ask my employer for funds to purchase a license ($70). Is this a reasonable request to make?

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    @DavidK, the only practical issue with using the company license for personal work (since license is per user rather than per computer) is that the OP would have to give up the license upon leaving the employer. I'm sure that people can come with one-in-a-million litigation horror stories, but it seems laughably, exceedingly unlikely that one's employer would "claim ownership" of a work because it was written using a text editor licensed to the company.
    – teego1967
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 20:32
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    I think this question is too focused on the fact that it is a software license. In reality what you are proposing should not be handled differently than any other purchase. For example, if you want to purchase a Deluxe-Widget (tm) that helps you get your work done more comfortably, there should ideally be a budget for this kind of thing and a request/review/approval process. Explain why you need the device, how it's in everyone's interest to buy it. And then a purchase decision is made based on the available budget for such things. If it's too expensive, then you have to find an alternative.
    – Brandin
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 20:59
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    BTW I found this text for Sublime Text posted - sublimetext.com/eula - if you want to comply with the terms then technically you've got to have a license. Simply ignoring the nag window does not magically give you compliance. Normally you just buy a few licenses for such software (e.g. Microsoft Word) on a needed basis. If you can budget for MS Word licenses which you use maybe only part of the day, why can't you budget for a text editor which you presumably use for 80-90% of the day.
    – Brandin
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 21:05
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    Is there a similar tool they already provide to everyone? if so I don't think you should ask.
    – Andy
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 1:00
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    Please take discussion of the specifics of the Sublime license elsewhere. (Chat, some other SE site, whatever.) I've left the comment that contains a link to the license for now, because of link not because of the rest of the comment. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 15:15

4 Answers 4


If the request is for your employer to purchase the license for your work machine while at the same time you purchase the license for your personal machine, then yes, this would be an acceptable request. If the license terms indicate that the software is free for personal use but requires a paid license for commercial use, your employer should purchase a license and you could continue to use the software under the personal license clause.

Whenever I am working on an employer sponsored project (i.e. I am getting paid by someone who is also providing the equipment), I expect that anything I need to complete the project will be provided (note I say need and not want, I don't need a work station with 24 GB of ram but I sure do want one).

For my personal projects (open source or otherwise) I make sure I purchase any required licenses or use an alternative that does not require a license (IE: Visual Studio Community Edition for personal projects compared to Visual Studio Professional and up for employer sponsored projects).

This applies for any software I use. If it is something that is required to compete my work the company pays for it. If I need it for a personal project I pay for it.

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    In the case of Sublime Text, a personal license can be used at work, but a business license can't be used at home.
    – Rag
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 2:31
  • @BrianGordon, That might be "true", but since the sublime text license is "per user" (in other words can be installed one more than one machine), there is no practical way for sublime or the employer to discern non-compliance with the license assuming they even cared, which would be unbelievably nit-picky. It certainly is possible for applications to have keys which can be managed centrally and for which it is possible to enforce detailed compliance but sublime text isn't one of them.
    – teego1967
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 11:30
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    @teego1967 Many businesses take software license compliance seriously and would much rather pay $70 for an extra license than be in noncompliance.
    – Rag
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:14
  • @teego1967 I have been at a company that used a software package that had a commercial pays, free for personal use license. A disgruntled employee reached out to them and flagged our non compliance. Most of the time its not the software vendor that flags license abuse. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:44

Is this a reasonable request to make?

$70 is a very small amount to pay for software, so if you need it for your work, I don't think it should be a problem, provided that you are an established employee with a good track record and have a tech savvy boss. If a tech savvy boss wants an explanation, I'm sure you can provide one.

If you are a new employee or your boss is not tech savvy and/or a cheapskate, you should foot the bill yourself rather than making yourself a target by asking for something outside of the ordinary: Your boss will probably think "Why doesn't everyone need this tool - is this employee so special?" It's not worth losing points with your boss for $70.

If in doubt, you can probably find out how this is generally handled from other developers on the staff - but be careful they don't start thinking you're some sort of "prima donna" who needs special tools or perks.

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    Actually I have a doubt If Boss is tech savvy Still he can refuse on ground that why OP need a special paid editor to work on while free & efficient code editors are available. Editors are only personal choices Most of editor free/paid are good enough for provide required editing. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 8:13
  • Understood - that's why I added "If a tech savvy boss wants an explanation, I'm sure you can provide one". A tech savvy boss gives you a better chance, that's all.
    – Vector
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 15:57

It is completely reasonable to ask for your company to purchase a license for you to use at work. Without justification, though, your company is liable to deny your request.

Put together a list of things that Sublime Text allows you to do faster or better than the other tools. Be prepared to show the features and show the code that you have produced using the tool. Mention that it is shareware and you'd prefer to have a license to make the reminders to purchase the tool go away.

You can continue to use the product indefinitely for free at home--I would take the personal use discussion out.

  • Regarding justification, how about "it will take me longer than X hours to gain the same level of proficiency I have in Sublime Text in another text editor" ... where X is chosen to exceed $70/your_hourly_wage.
    – Atsby
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 4:41
  • Sublime is not shareware. It's only free for evaluation purposes: "Sublime Text may be downloaded and evaluated for free, however a license must be purchased for continued use." See here. Otherwise, nice answer.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 5:16
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    @Atsby, being able to quote an actual number for how much time is saved by one text editor over another or for how long it would take to "become proficient" is an intractable task. The justification for something like a text-editor doesn't have to be quantitative to be compelling-- its like trying to justify a good chair on productivity terms based on hard numbers.
    – teego1967
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 11:36
  • @teego1967 It's not that intractable. I have never used vim, but I am confident in estimating that it would take me about a week to become reasonably proficient in using it. Over the course of this week, productivity would be at most 50% of normal week's productivity. In this light, it becomes hard to see why any reasonable (i.e., profit-maximizing) employer would refuse to pay for a $70 license. Of course, this is assuming that Sublime Text is the -only- editor I can use proficiently to begin with.
    – Atsby
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 20:28

If you use it only because of personal choice then I might suggest you use Notepad++ (on Windows) which in my experience is better freeware editor and doesn't show you regular prompts to buy its licence because it's completely freeware at all times, or Geany (on Ubuntu/Linux).

Now I was suggesting that only about your particular case because in most likelihood your boss will discuss this issue with other developers (either at your company or some other) or will do his own research to know how much Sublime editor is required for your job. And definitely he will come to know that there are other freeware and better (it's subjective) editors available and will suggest you to use one. The only case where he won't be able to deny your your request of buying licence for a new software where work cannot proceed at all like happened in my case in my previous company. As long as there are other equally good or better alternatives are available most employers will suggest you use those.

The above mentioned free text editors are the ones I use and found them very good but you may or may not find them that good so it is totally subjective.

  • this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape?
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 9:10
  • @ gnat:- English is not my first language I have tried my best to put down my thoughts on this issue, so if there are any grammatical mistakes would you mind pointing them out to me or if you want you can edit my answer and I'll reread it to see it still expresses what I wanted to say. Thanks.
    – Rolen Koh
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 10:21
  • your grammar looks okay to me; text would be easier to read if it was split to paragraphs
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 13:04
  • Editor preference is subjective, and $70 is nearly trivial. If you want to recommend a different editor, I think a comment would be more appropriate. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 1:53
  • @Keith Thompson:- May be but for commenting at least 50 points are required and I have recently crossed that mark and not at the time of answering this question.
    – Rolen Koh
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 3:50

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