Developer funding

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ian.rees
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Developer funding

Postby ian.rees » Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:11 pm

I am currently between jobs, and would like to contribute more time to FreeCAD. Unfortunately, I'm not financially comfortable going without income for the couple months until the next "real job" materialises, and so am investigating options to bridge the gap.

This situation got me to thinking about various ways to earn money by helping FreeCAD, and of course wondering how these would be received by the FreeCAD community. I've read through a couple threads here relating to funding FreeCAD, and think I understand issues brought up in them. What I'd like to do is to spend my time on FreeCAD instead of an unrelated hourly job (read: washing dishes) over the next several weeks, not to make a career or significant personal profit from FreeCAD. I also don't want to imply that any income from this venture would go to FreeCAD in general - it's just an idea to pay my bills and simultaneously help FreeCAD along. So, what do you think about:

* An indiegogo-type crowdfunding campaign. This would be pitched along the lines of "feed a programmer" - I'd offer to work on FreeCAD for say $15NZD/hr (essentially minimum wage here), with deliverables being updates on progress posted to a blog or similar.

* Selling FreeCAD merchandise. This could be part of the crowdfunding campaign, or separate. Since designs would be open source, I don't think this would preempt others selling FreeCAD merchandise to fund website costs, etc.

Thanks! -Ian-
ickby
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Re: Developer funding

Postby ickby » Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:08 am

Hello,

as a community member I like the idea in general. I've always been fond of the concept of individual developer funding from the community if there is someone in the situation to spend time. Just a few thoughts:

1. IMHO it should not be "developer" related but task related. I think it is way more attractive if you specify the task you want to achieve, e.g. a bug to fix, a feature to implement. This for one gives the community a concrete reason to spend money and on the other hand gives a clear indicator if the goal was reached.

2. All tackled tasks should be well aligned with the freecad team before starting, it would be a shame if something would be coded for money and in the end not be included. This sound obvious, but IMHO is very important, as aligning ideas already takes a lot of time and needs to happen before the founding.

3. Things should be kept small. Tackling a super big task is problematic as the chance of not completing it rises, e.g. the new job comes earlier than expected? Better many small things as one big


Imho the croundfunding approach (indigogo, kickstarter...) is the way to go. I think yorik also has some good thoughts about this, the path module was developed by him with a similar model, as can be read here: http://yorik.uncreated.net/guestblog.php?2015=22 (a bit hidden, second last paragraph of the path module part)

By the way, if you need ideas for possible task, I believe the guys around here including myself have plenty ideas :)
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r-frank
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Re: Developer funding

Postby r-frank » Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:50 pm

Hello.

Since I can understand your situation very good, i am beginning to lik this idea more and more.

After a little thinking I thought, that maybe you could give it try doing it like OpnSCAD.
Use Bountysource.

The Issues could come from the Bug Tracker or from you or by user suggestion.

As you can see, solving issues in the 20-50 or even up to 100$-range should be
possible.

Perhaps a good idea would be if you start looking at the bug tracker and come up with some proposals
on coding jobs within your programming skills in a range of 2-10 h work ...

Roland
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ian.rees
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Re: Developer funding

Postby ian.rees » Sun Mar 15, 2015 6:21 pm

Thanks for the positive feedback! There are a few reasons why I proposed funding based on time instead of tasks. To be clear, I'm not opposed to the task-based funding approach in general, to advance FreeCAD:

1) For me, the main purpose would be paying bills. I've had a few jobs where software development is a significant part of the tasking, and never been in a position where the arrangement is "solve tracker issue X or you don't get your pay check". With the task-based model, it would be easy to spend a significant amount of effort identifying tasks (and estimating their required effort), but how is that time compensated?

2) My feeling is that when there's money involved, there also needs to be some amount of trust in the person being hired. To make the car analogy - if I take my car in for a repair, I get an estimate of the time/parts/fees involved, hand over the car to the mechanic, and when they finish I pay based on the actual time/parts/fees. There is obviously room for debate if the repair I requested isn't done properly, but the mechanic is generally trusted to be competent and is compensated based on their actual effort.

3) Based on the time I've already spent working on FreeCAD, I think that there is quite a lot more work required than just fixing bugs or adding features. For instance; I think one of FreeCAD's biggest issues right now is that the UI design is inconsistent, but don't know how to translate that into a deliverable. -Ian-
ickby
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Re: Developer funding

Postby ickby » Sun Mar 15, 2015 7:17 pm

I can see your points. My thinking just comes from the other direction: A crowdfunding campain would need to be supported most part by FreeCAD users, not the developers and core community members alone, they would need to give money. But to do so they need a story, a reason, something to say "cool, this guy is going to improve the software in a way I will notice". IMHO this only works with a concrete task or a concrete vision. Let it be the mentioned UI inconsistencies (which would be IMHO a tremeandously important work), than at least a idea what is inconsistant, what can a solution, what is the result would be required by users to feel the need to give some money. I think a simple "working some time on the software" is ok for developers and power users, as we all know the stuff that needs to be worked on, but the normal user? I don't think so.

But please note that those are just my personal thoughts, in the end the freecad core team would need to decide if such a campaign would be supported by freecad.
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NormandC
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Re: Developer funding

Postby NormandC » Sun Mar 15, 2015 7:26 pm

Hello Ian,

I'm sorry you find yourself between jobs. IIRC you did a stint on an Antartic base last year?
ian.rees wrote:With the task-based model, it would be easy to spend a significant amount of effort identifying tasks (and estimating their required effort), but how is that time compensated?
I understand your concern about being compensated for this preparatory work, but without some prior plan and detailed objectives, I'm afraid you'll find few people willing to give you a blank check. This goes back to the issue of trust.
ian.rees wrote:For instance; I think one of FreeCAD's biggest issues right now is that the UI design is inconsistent, but don't know how to translate that into a deliverable.
I urge you not to go into that path. For one thing at this point you will find no consensus on what needs to be addressed. Also this will be a major undertaking, and it will require enlisting a lot of people - not to mention that this won't be done successfully without the ascent and feedback of the main developers. IMO this kind of project cannot succeed with only a lone developer involved.

There's plenty of useful stuff that can be accomplished, my feeling is that these areas would get funding (in no particular order):
  • Sketcher: add copy, mirror and rotate capabilities. They would need to create sets of geometric entities with some constraints already added. For example, if you rotate a rectangle, it would be expected that the vertical and horizontal constraints would be replaced with perpendicular constraints so the rectangle remains "square".
  • Sketcher: BSplines (issue #940). A couple of devs have already mentioned their intent on working on this.
  • Sketcher: speaking for myself I would like to see those things get implemented: issue #1518, issue #1890, issue #704
  • Sketcher: issue #1629 (just a way to toggle visibility of constraints would be useful)
  • Drawing workbench: being able to dimension drawing views has been a very hot topic for a long time now. The external python plugin from hamish has some popularity because it tries to cater to this need, but it does not create parametric dimensions. I also do not feel it integrates well in FreeCAD. There was some advance work done by mrlukeparry on a Drawing workbench rewrite but he stopped working on it last year. wandererfan has been trying to pick up the work, but having someone working on this full time even for a short period may be beneficial and I believe this work needs to be salvaged, then expanded.
ian.rees wrote:* Selling FreeCAD merchandise. This could be part of the crowdfunding campaign, or separate. Since designs would be open source, I don't think this would preempt others selling FreeCAD merchandise to fund website costs, etc.
What exactly are you referring to as FreeCAD merchandise?
ian.rees
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Re: Developer funding

Postby ian.rees » Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:08 pm

Perhaps I should rephrase the question - would it be a problem if I were somehow funded to spend time working on FreeCAD?

I understand the concerns regarding setting out specific goals in advance, am just hesitant to put much effort into that model right off the bat. Given the fairly small amount of money involved ($15NZD/hr * 2 months is under $3500 euro), it wouldn't surprise me if I could get an indiegogo/kickstarter-type campaign funded. Fun experiment anyways.
I'm sorry you find yourself between jobs. IIRC you did a stint on an Antartic base last year?
Thanks for the sympathy, it's my own doing and not really a bad thing anyway. You're right about the Antarctic contract, I'm just being somewhat picky about what I do next ;) . The city I'm living in (Dunedin, New Zealand) doesn't have a lot of EE work, so will have to either do my own thing or wait until a good opportunity comes up. There are some interesting possibilities on the horizon, but the positions won't open for a month or two. Lifestyle decision I guess, and I've got other [less fun sounding] options in the short term.
What exactly are you referring to as FreeCAD merchandise?
Cafepress-type stuff, which I could do some designs for.

Situation A: "Would you buy this cool FreeCAD T-Shirt for $30? Proceeds go to paying a developer!"
Situation B: "Would you pay me $30 to fix FreeCAD issue 123981202?"

My bet is that "Situation A" would generate a lot more money. FreeCAD doesn't currently appear open to monetary donations, but if I suddenly started receiving some amount of money for selling things with the FreeCAD logo, maybe people in the community wouldn't like that? -Ian-
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NormandC
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Re: Developer funding

Postby NormandC » Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:17 pm

ian.rees wrote:Given the fairly small amount of money involved ($15NZD/hr * 2 months is under $3500 euro), it wouldn't surprise me if I could get an indiegogo/kickstarter-type campaign funded. Fun experiment anyways.
Well if you go with it, please post the campaign here, and I'll also link to it on the FreeCAD G+ community and we'll see how it goes.
ian.rees wrote:Situation B: "Would you pay me $30 to fix FreeCAD issue 123981202?"
Isn't it the same as what ickby and I have been arguing? ;)
ian.rees wrote: FreeCAD doesn't currently appear open to monetary donations, but if I suddenly started receiving some amount of money for selling things with the FreeCAD logo, maybe people in the community wouldn't like that?
There's a donate link on the Sourceforge page. The main devs are not actively pursuing this because most of them have day jobs.

Personally I wouldn't mind you merchandizing FreeCAD stuff since you are a member of the community. I'd be more cautious with an outsider. I'm up for a t-shirt if it's not ugly! :D
danielfalck
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Re: Developer funding

Postby danielfalck » Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:02 am

I would buy a tee shirt or two also. It would help promote FreeCAD.
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r-frank
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Re: Developer funding

Postby r-frank » Mon Mar 16, 2015 8:09 am

Well, I guess, T-Shirst, Coffee-Cups and Baseball-Caps are not a bad idea after all ...

Another thought would be to have a look at the drawing module from mrlukeparry to see if there is something worth being rescued.

If you would promise to put work in that (and maybe make also the drawing views movable/alignable in a friendly way)
I would spend some Money via PayPal right away ...

Roland
Deutsche FreeCAD Tutorials auf Youtube
My GrabCAD FreeCAD-Projects
FreeCAD lessons for beginners in english

Native german speaker - so apologies for my english, no offense intended :)