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LedgerSMB year overview 2015

With the advent of the new year, it seems an appropriate time to look back at 2015 for the LedgerSMB project and its software.

== Community interest ==
Looking at the statistics for http://ledgersmb.org/, the project has drawn more interest than 2014 (unique visitors are up by ~10%). The same sentiment can be drawn from the activity in the #ledgersmb IRC channel on freenode.net: there too we have seen new users come in for questions on a regular basis. We even saw more interest in contribution with 2 people stepping up and a third sending a pull request.

The trend in SourceForge downloads is going down however (down by 17%!), but that may have a number of causes:
 * Due to SourceForge's tremendous outage ealier this year, we had to divert publishing some releases on GitHub
 * GitHub automatically generates tar and zip archives for every release - possibly people download these
 * Now that we have switched to git and GitHub (mid-2014; from Subversion), people may simply be cloning instead of downloading
 * Better packaging options have become available (see below), so people depend less on source packages

There's a point of self-criticism here though: out of 2 stepping up, we've only managed to turn 1 into an active community member; the other never even got to setting up his environment -- in my view partly due to lack of help/feedback on our part. It's a loss we can't really afford at the current size of our community. I hope we'll do better in 2016!

== Releases ==
We have a tremendous number of releases (not counting pre-releases) this year:
 * 12 releases for 1.4 (1.4.10 through 1.4.21)
 * 3 beta releases for 1.5
 * 1 release for 1.3 -- which is now EOL, after 4 years and 2 months

That's almost a release every 3 weeks!

In order to make sure we keep up this high frequency of new releases, we have automated the release process. What's more, to make *really* sure we keep it up, we're now even automating the release announcement process - automatically updating Wikipedia, GitHub, SourceForge, #ledgersmb IRC channel topic and sending mailing list announcements in a matter of minutes!

== Packaging and installation ==
Many of our 1.4 releases were packaged for Debian and uploaded to the project's APT repository at http://apt.ledgersmb.org/ (now available: 1.3.46/Wheezy and 1.4.20/Jessie). As for packaging, many of the prerequisites for LedgerSMB 1.4 have made it into Debian/Ubuntu Stable, with the release of Debian Jessie.
Newer versions of 1.3 made it to the Debian backports archives for Wheezy and Jessie (now 1.3.40).

More happened on the side of packaging: This year Docker images have been created for 1.4 and master/1.5; these - and the continuous improvements to the Debian/Ubuntu packages - should greatly help address the often-heard complaint that LedgerSMB is very hard to install.

== New functionality & improvements ==
We've seen over 325 pull requests and we've been marked to be among the projects with the highest (commit) activity in Open Source for the last quarter of the year.

On the functionality side, in 2015 we:
 * Greatly extended (but still basic) quality assurance
   - using Perl::Critic
     + Checks for source code validity/compilation
     + Checks for source code formatting
     + Checks for source code complexity
   - using gettext's msgfmt, validating translation lexicons
   - UI testing with SauceLabs
 * Implemented financial reporting using the account hierarchy
 * Improved web UI though better Dojo integration
 * Fixed many, many bugs

In addition to the items above which all have been realized and released, a lot of work has gone into a feature which will hopefully be integrated in 1.6: improved multi-currency support and revaluation of financial assets/liabilities. In order for that to land though, we have to figure out how to convert the current schema to the new one. Prior discussion has shown this may not be entirely trivial.

== Looking forward to 2016 ==
Let's hope that the LedgerSMB community gains even more interest during 2016 with the release of 1.5 and that the gained interest turns into more activity in the community! It would be great to be able to look back at 2016 around this time next year, to conclude we've had more activity in the mailing lists, contributions to the translations and predefined charts of accounts!

From various sources, feedback has been that we may be technologically advancing, however, user experience has seemed to suffer  in the process. Let's use 2016 to greatly improve user experience beyond the level of improvement 1.5 already gives us. Further more, lets continue to take criticism on our user-friendliness serious and use it to our advantage -- in small steps within a release series (e.g. 1.5.x) and in bigger steps between versions!

Lets make 1.6 a bigger step -- a leap? -- in user-experience improvement than 1.5 will be!

Thank you all for using and/or working on LedgerSMB and making 2015 into what it was for the LedgerSMB project!



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