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Re: Future of LedgerSMB: Ideas and RFC

On Tue, 17 May 2011, Chris Travers wrote:

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.

We had the start of a discussion about that on the devel list a few months ago/near the end of last year, did we not? There were some good ideas there, although my own thinking may have revised a little since then.

I think the major priorities at this point need to be:
1)  Getting 1.3 out the door.


2)  Focusing heavily on community building

Certainly. There's not much that can be done for the user community until after 1.3 is fully released, and maybe not even until 2.0, but for the developer part of the community, see John's earlier message.

 > 3)  Trying to build partnerships with other open source business
projects (perhaps GNU Med and others?)

Again, I agree, but what do we have to offer them? Your step 1, of beta releases, doesn't solve the momentum problem. It may have, at one point, but right now they would be partnering with a promise. I wouldn't, were I them, unless they are in the same boat. Right now, our only offering, is a retooled version of SQL-Ledger, and a sort of working beta of our own version of the same thing, which we say is better, but very possibly isn't.

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?

Sounds good. It would sound better, if it was every two weeks, which would reset the clock every time you released one, thus allowing them to be released more frequently. No point in releasing a beta, if you fix it three days later, and still have people downloading and testing the old one, just so you can stick to a good, but arbitrary, schedule.

 > 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.

Until you release a full version of 1.3, it is likely that you'll still have many users on 1.2. I'm sorry to say it, but because of the track record, holding out for 1.3 and not bothering to fix bugs found in 1.2 after the next release, seems like just another way the user base will be disinclined to support the project in the future.

I'll say it again. Until 1.2 can actually be replaced with something full, that works, that isn't an iffy prospect, and that isn't a beta, the only real way to keep users (not developers, or people like me with a foot in both camps) interested, is to maintain the flagship product (I.E. 1.2) up until the last minute, as if it was the only product. That's annoying, yes, but I think necessary.

You think 1.3 might get out of beta soon, then great - none of the above matters. But I believe you have thought that before, and life has a way of changing what we think into "oh yeah, remember when we thought that?".

Saying that 1.2 will probably not see another release after the next one, serves only to make those of us who trust it, and more importantly, don't trust 1.3, wonder if maintaining 1.2 as a separate project, might be a good idea.

(That was proposed privately to me, last time you said something about stopping updates for 1.2, by someone who is more than capable of doing the job. I don't actually want to see that happen, because it only serves to take away from the future of the project (which is 2.0). But the more noises that are made about ending 1.2, before 1.3 is out the door, the more those who think along those lines, will have cause to do so.)

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?

Fix *all* install problems with 1.3.
No other development matters until that happens. If it breaks again with a future beta, then fine, but so far every other person who posts about having installed 1.3, has a problem doing it, or immediately after it.
(I am generalizing, of course.)

What's left to do on 1.3? What things don't work but need to before a release?
What things can be fixed after a release?
What features need to be added?

If you have to, relax your standards for 1.3 a little. If there are features which are proving difficult, and they aren't required for major operations, disable them in the official version, announce them as pending and do subreleases to add them.

(Obviously, I'm not exactly up to date on what is and isn't working in the latest versions of 1.3. Last time I pulled a copy was probably over a year ago.)