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Re: Request for developer community feedback

A couple just brief points in response.

On Sat, Feb 11, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Chris Bennett <..hidden..> wrote:
On Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 05:57:44PM -0800, Chris Travers wrote:
> Hi all;
> One of the issues which can limit LedgerSMB long-term is the question of
> areas of the software which may require periodic, locale-specific
> maintenance.  These include areas like payroll reporting and revenue
> reporting to relevant tax authorities.  The difficulty here is that
> typically in an open source model assuming that we aren't dealing with a
> lot of developers among our users, this creates an economic problem:
>  Someone has to pay for the periodic changes to reporting formats, rules,
> etc.  The ideal way to deal with this is through some sort of a
> subscription.  You pay, you get the relevant updates, and nobody has to pay
> the fill cost of maintenance.  The problem is making this work in an open
> source application which is community centered.

This is a tough problem to solve well.
Tax laws change constantly and at many government levels.

Yeah. And I don't like closing things off.  Hence the desire to have licenses convert to the GPL at specified dates.

A question:
How many different locales are actually in use right now?

Quite a number, but the larger issue is that things like payroll are not done in the US through LedgerSMB at the moment.  As we move towards payroll, this will become a much bigger deal.

I really prefer to see things left open, in case anyone decides to do
the development. People can convert into developers at any time. (Not
that many actually do it). Splitting off these items into non-GPL
modules sounds like a great idea.

On top of that, the long-term goal needs to be on creating an infrastructure, IMO, eventually, for the development of open source versions.  Some people may prefer to get a subscription even so, but at first, the problem is that if you try to do a subscription just on GPL'd software, it won't work.

One of the reasons for saying "This will revert to the GPL on such-and-such a date" would be to encourage customers who do have developers on staff to coordinate and eventually start updating it themselves, contributing back to the project.    There may be areas where this happens slower, but this gives us a way to get started.  The idea is to say "this is under the GPL once your subscription lapses, but not before" in essence.
I would think that once a separate module is broken off, updating a
local problem would be much easier. In Texas, we have national taxes,
county taxes, city taxes, state taxes. Each location in Texas would need
to have a module for each of these levels. Ugly, no?
I am looking right now at opening some locations in Guatemala, if that
works out. Yet another level of different taxes.
Still, a national US module, state modules as needed, county modules as
needed, city modules as needed might be the most effective way to deal
with this mess. How many levels do other countries have to deal with?
I would guess that perhaps a set of master templates could be
used as a fill in the options to get your special modules, adding any
quirks that aren't standard? Or is that a silly idea?

I do notice that there is no link on the site for donations.
This would need to be split between individual and business donations as
OpenBSD had to do.
OpenBSD has a setup to make a money payment through PayPal
automatically. This is a nice way to consistently donate without having
to remember anything to do each month.
I don't know how much money that would bring in, but couldn't hurt to
try it.

If we go the donations route, I'd really like to see those used for development of features that benefit all users.  Doing something like "Singapore payroll tax rules" is really something I wouldn't want to spend general donation dollars on.

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers