Yep that was totally a clickbait and No, I will not apologise for it.
That said, the real title of this post is this
Source Code, Open Source and Sponsorship
In a recent post on the Starling forum and the comments
The Future of Feathers UI
you can see two news
This year, Adobe has chosen to stop funding my work on Feathers UI.
Before someone asks: at the time of this writing, there's no more financial support from Adobe for Starling, either.
and from all that the frenzy of FUD and BS ensue:
OMG that's horrible news that must mean that Adobe intent to EOL AIR too,
yadda yadda yadda, this is the end of times, "AIR will die soon", yadda yadda yadda, should we switch to Unity or React?, hey would you accept sponsor money but then you have to port all your code to Haxe?, etc...
In my opinion, mixing open source with either sponsorship and/or popularity is a bad thing,
wait! wait ..., by that I mean it gives a false idea of "what is the deal here".
If you do decide to put some source code out there under an open source license,
you should never either put any kind of condition(s) on it
you can use it all for free
but then you have to buy my T-shirts
you can do whatever you want with it
but then you have to buy me beers when we meet
you can earn money with my free stuff
but then you have to sacrifice your first born under a blood moon
I'm exaggerating off course, but yeah the only conditions on open source should be the license and that's it.
The highest value you get from open source is freedom
but then either the producer(s) of the project or the consumer(s) of that very same project
should be free to do whatever they want, without forcing the other party to owe them something.
You can put a link/button to buy t-shirt, beers, make donations, etc.
my point is that it should not be something seen as a condition: do this or else ...
Whatever you might receive must be unencumbered of any "contract",
as an open source dev you want that for yourself and you want that also for the other side.
Simply put, when someone (anyone) put some source code out there,
however small or big, or whatever, they owe you (the consumers)
exactly nothing, zilch, nada, ... no, not even support.
Hell yeah Open Source is Not About You
The only people entitled to say how open source 'ought' to work are people who run projects, and the scope of their entitlement extends only to their own projects.
Just because someone open sources something does not imply they owe the world a change in their status, focus and effort, e.g. from inventor to community manager.
As a user of something open source you are not thereby entitled to anything at all. You are not entitled to contribute. You are not entitled to features. You are not entitled to the attention of others. You are not entitled to having value attached to your complaints. You are not entitled to this explanation.
If you have expectations (of others) that aren't being met, those expectations are your own responsibility. You are responsible for your own needs. If you want things, make them.
Open source is a licensing and delivery mechanism, period. It means you get the source for software and the right to use and modify it. All social impositions associated with it, including the idea of 'community-driven-development' are part of a recently-invented mythology with little basis in how things actually work, a mythology that embodies, cult-like, both a lack of support for diversity in the ways things can work and a pervasive sense of communal entitlement.
Wether the producer of that open source project you use is an individual or a big company, nobody owe you anything.
Now the problem with sponsorship and other donations, it kind of establish this non-spoken contract
that there is an exchange of goods: people give you money and in exchange you keep working on it.
Nope. And even "The Land of 10,000 Nopes" like Strong Bad would say.
That's why it is called sponsorship or donation, it is not a salary, wether a producer want to use that donation for buying beers or making Fluffy Japanese Pancakes or even spending millions of hours working on that open source project is up to the producer of that open source project.
The inverse is also true, the producer should not see that donated money as a salary,
or as a reason to keep working on that open source project.
What I'm saying is one thing should not influence the other thing.
And that's the same for popularity, wether an open source project is popular or not
should not influence the producer of that open source project to be more inclined (or less) to work on it.
As seen in the few links above, people can get burnt down working on open source projects,
if dev don't keep some kind of freedom and feel "they have to" because "donation = contract"
it just make things worse imho.
Here another example: Sindre Sorhus (@sindresorhus)
and on that patreon link you can read
I'm excited to share that I reached my goal of being able to work on open source full-time.
I'm truly thankful to everyone that made it happen
Honestly, I never thought I would reach this goal. You all proved me so wrong!
I will start doing a post here once in awhile with what I've been working on.
And my Twitter DM is always open.
and on his about page you can read
My current focus is on macOS app development with Swift and Node.js-based
packages and CLI tools.
I actively maintain 1000+ npm packages and many popular projects.
Ok, sound like a great story right?
I disagree, a patreon with
200 backers that pay
$2,772 per month
1000+ npm packages is far from living the dream.
First, if you see that as a salary it is a mere
$35,000 per year
which is basically 1/3 of the
$100,000+ per year you would get paid in an actual developer job.
Second, if you look at the crude ratio "price per package"
it is a very low
$3 per month per npm package maintained,
who the fuck are we kidding here?
Third, if you actually want to see donations as salary,
then the guy should earn minimum
$10 per month per maintained package
(when the package is of low importance)
and ideally earn in the range of
$50 or more per month for packages of higher importance,
which would result in a salary from
$600K or more to maintain 1000+ projects.
Well... ideally, but the world does not work like that.
My point is that there is no way that whatever amount of donations
an open source developer receive could be misinterpreted for a "real salary",
unless you want to live in a world where working on open source
earn you much much less than working in a fast food chain of restaurant.
So when I see "yipee I'm happy donations allow me to work on open source full time"
I'm actually sad for that person, he or she is just accepting that his or her hard work
is taken as a cheap commodity when it is actual hard work.
That's why you should not mix all those stuff, work on open source if you want
but don't expect to earn money from it, or don't expect that because something
you produced and gave away for free is popular that it will gain you "free pass"
on other stuff like a job interview.
here what happened to the creator of homebrew Max Howell (@mxcl) when he went to a Google job interview
See? no free pass
Also, I personally do not like the "ask for donations" part, it feels like begging for scraps.
I don't judge, people do whatever they want, but I also know that if my goal is to earn money
to pay rent, put food on the table, etc. my go-to solution is to get hired as a developer.
There is no way I would rely on donations for those primordial things.
In fact, I'm doing quite the opposite, I do use my own money to sponsor my own open source aspirations.
I don't know I see that as an investment.
Anyway, sure there are been many conversations about "how open source developers can get paid?"
see this recent post from Github: Let’s talk about open source sustainability.
But I can guarantee you that the reality is waaaaay different, oh boy I have a lot of shitty stories related to open source and money (another time maybe).
To come back to what happened in the ActionScript 3 world,
eg. 2 popular open source projects not receiving anymore sponsorship from Adobe.
I understand it kind of sucks, but that's where some people misunderstood what the deal was.
The sponsorship from Adobe, even though certainly nice to have, is not a guarantee in any way for those projects to keep being maintained.
It is open source damn it.
And in open source land, usually you don't get donation money, for fuck sakes you don't even get donation of time (eg. "please spend few hours reading the documentation and correct the typos"), people usually uses it and probably forgot to contribute back a bit of their time.
Not all open source projects have to be maintained, even if some asshole will consider them dead because not updated every freaking minutes, sometimes it is just good enough so it can be used without the need to be updated constantly.
That is also why forks exist, like when Google Code closed their doors and you have seen many project automatically exported on Github, or simply if one or more individuals feel like going in another direction that is incompatible with the current direction of the project, those things happen quite a lot.
So off course Starling and Feathers UI are not dead, and yeah maybe they will be a little less maintained, but I would say if you use one of those open source projects then you should contribute to them to keep going this maintenance flow, instead of relying on donation to "take care of that for you".
The amount of time contributed has far more value than any amount of money you could donate.
Now concerning the FUD going on about "AIR gonna die soon"
because "off course those 2 things are related to each other" (they are not) ...
nope, not related, not even close.
As a company Adobe deal with open source like any other big company
But there are still a company, they do that for business, and that may not be aligned with your own business.
If you're in the business of publishing mobile games based on Adobe AIR and you do use Starling and Feathers UI and probably few others open source projects, it is your business interest that those open source projects keep being maintained.
Only thing I'm saying is that Adobe has probably very different business interests than yours.
See for example one of their blog post Adobe Developers: Hello World
Adobe loves open source
In case you missed it, we ️ open source! With over 270 repos on GitHub from 15 different organizations inside Adobe, our engineers and product teams support open source projects whenever possible. Did you know Adobe is the 16th largest corporate contributor to open source projects? And our commitment is growing stronger every year.
We hope you find an interesting and approachable project from these resources to get started with Adobe development today. If you hit any speed bumps along the way, please let us know in the comments.
Let's just say that being commited to sponsor ActionScript 3 based open source projects is not really aligned with other things they are doing.
But does this mean they will kill Adobe AIR tomorrow? I don't think so.
To me it is a much bigger commitment to actually have developers on your payroll to work on a project than any open source sponsorship.
And anyway, who made the rule that donations to open source projects should last forever?
Is it not possible to donate one time or a few times and then stop?
How can you even criticise one company to actually have donated to open source?
I find all this FUD and BS around those sponsorship not-renewed carrying a bit too much drama.
A bit like the endless discussion on Adobe forums about their lack of commitment to update a freaking roadmap, the famous Locked by Moderator, Not on subject anymore,AIR Roadmap Update.
I guess some individuals just love the toxicity, it is sad really.
And so I joked
I can bet you will see some post on Adobe forums
where some dev will demand Adobe to explain all this
and I won that bet, see here: Termination of financial support starling and feathers
Guys, apparently the AIR is no longer an Adobe priority.
Tell the developers when you are planning to end AIR support ?
see the problem?
One thing is not related to the other thing, but then someone use that to create drama and scare everyone around.
Is it because some dev don't understand what open source is?
Is it because they don't understand what a donation is?
Is it because they do not realise what commitment is?
Is it because they are misguided (to not say stupid)?
Is it because it serves their interest to spread FUD?
So let me cut through the bullshit right there: if you are so offended that Adobe terminated the sponsorship of a couple of open source projects here the very basic things you can do (one not excluding the other)
- contribute your time to those projects
- contribute money to those projects
You can't? then STFU
because AFAIK Adobe did contribute time and money to those open source projects
so if you can not show the same amount of commitment you really can't say anything
Anyway keep using open source, try to contribute to it if you can, keep using ActionScript 3, build great apps with it, and just ignore the drama :).