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Re: Future of LedgerSMB: Ideas and RFC

Hi, Chris,

Thank you for all your hard work on LedgerSMB, I really appreciate the
time and effort you continue to put into it.

I'm very glad to hear this call for help, and for community involvement.
I've been having a growing frustration myself at the slow pace of
development, how far 1.3 still has to go before it's really ready for
production use, and how there have been a series of several developers
who get active in LSMB, contribute some good stuff, and then seem to
disappear, leaving only you still active. What happened to the rest of
the core team?

I volunteered to take over the web site several months ago, bring it up
to date, do some things that would be quite easy for us as a Drupal shop
to make it not look like a dead project. While the spam comments are now
gone, so are all comments, making the site look particularly stale with
the last post over a year ago. Others have also stepped up to volunteer
time/effort in helping that grow. And nothing's happened.

It would be great if the other core team members were busily working
away on the project behind the scenes. But... they're not. In the past
year I see 5 commits by "aurynn_cmd" and the rest are all Chris. Time
for a new core team?

I hate to be a whiner here, but trying to work with LSMB 1.3 has been
frustrating. Stupid bugs on just about every action you try to do. Chris
does a great job of responding to them when you report them, and
accepting patches -- I see credits to half a dozen non-core contributors
in the commit log. But if Chris is doing all the work, it's hard to see
how this project is any more viable than SQL-Ledger, which I abandoned
years ago. If I could find another solid open source web-based
accounting system, I would've jumped ship a while back.

What needs to happen to LSMB is for it to open up more widely to
contributors. I would suggest moving the code development to github --
allowing for much easier contributions from non-core team members, as
well as allowing the community to vet patches instead of it all landing
on Chris's overloaded shoulders.

I think Chris's priorities are right on -- but the biggest problem with
#1 is that it's very painful to actually use 1.3 right now. It's a major
step back in functionality, with a few nice exceptions. If you don't
have some good developer knowledge available, you really can't use it in
production -- I'm finding I have to go into the database on a regular
basis to fix things. It's not ready for non-developers to use -- which
means it's hard to get the feedback from regular users to make it ready,
because there are very few developers who have businesses that need the
kind of accounting system LSMB provides, and are willing to put up with it.

So I really think #2 is on target -- the few of us who do fit that
description -- developers with real accounting needs who are willing to
put up with unstable/broken releases and contribute fixes -- need to be
drawn more into the community, not ignored until they go away.

If the other core team members are not contributing code, not
contributing documentation, not fostering a stronger community,
maintaining the web site, doing something to help the project grow, why
are they still on the core team? Get out of the way and get some fresh
blood in there.

If Erik, Luke, Lyle, Jeff, David Mora, Lacey, Alexey and anyone else who
is contributing on a regular basis were recruited to the core team and
encouraged to actually commit fixes, I think we'd get #1 in usable shape
a lot more quickly. And if Chris got back on IRC and played more of a
mentor role, getting people up to speed and removing road blocks dealing
with this code base, that would help too. An issue queue that people
actually use seems like another fundamental infrastructure bit that's
missing (something we could easily add to the Drupal site if we could
access it).

John Locke

On 05/17/2011 01:53 PM, Chris Travers wrote:
> Hi all;
> Many of you may be frustrated at the pace of development of LedgerSMB
> and the fact that 1.3 has not yet been released.  Development may
> appear to have slowed. Public discussions become less frequent...
> For the last few years, LedgerSMB has achieved significant growth.
> Some of that growth has come at an organizational cost and for that I
> apologize to the community.  Now I have to try to help put the
> organizational stuff back together.
> In reality, far from being quiet, LedgerSMB 1.3 has had a huge amount
> of commissioned work done on it, not only for the core system (where
> the customer/vendor management, reconciliation, and payment interfaces
> have been completely rewritten) but also in areas of addons for fixed
> asset handling, template transactions, so forth.  We have eliminated a
> lot of performance bottlenecks for larger databases, and provided a
> much higher level of security than previous versions.  This has been a
>  very ambitious project and we are much better off for it.
> I would like to propose a few specific directional approaches and get
> feedback from the community before proceeding.
> I think the major priorities at this point need to be:
> 1)  Getting 1.3 out the door.
> 2)  Focusing heavily on community building
> 3)  Trying to build partnerships with other open source business
> projects (perhaps GNU Med and others?)
> To this end I would like to tentatively suggest the following:
> The first is a regular beta release schedule for 1.3...  Maybe every
> other Tuesday?
> There are some committed fixes for 1.2 which have not made it into a
> release.  I would like to release this as soon as possible.  However,
> given the fact that bug reports have slowed, I think it is likely that
> it is not likely that 1.2 will see another release absent developing
> problems  like issues caused by new versions of Perl.
> I'd also like to encourage anyone who is interested in contributing to
> start looking heavily at 1.3.  This is a place where you can earn a
> name in the CONTRIBUTORS file, or possibly even commit privileges.
> But in addition I would like to see what the community thinks.  What
> do you think we need to do to pull things back together and bring the
> project to the next level?
> Best Wishes,
> Chris Travers
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