Campaign 2018: Join the New Development Fund

Original Article:

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It’s good that they now have the option to pay via credit or debit cards, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of new signups as a result.

Paypal was a product that was good for its time, but it’s becoming a legacy solution at this point.

I’d love to see “vote with wallet” donation system where we can donate towards specific features. I am happy to see this improvement, however while there is a talk about “well defined objectives”, all I see is pretty much blank page.

I think that if users could truly donate towards the very specific features, it would encourage a lot more people to donate. I was hoping that that would be the point of the new development fund, but so far, it looks like the very same old development fund, just with a new, flashier webpage.

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I would have loved to see a Code Quest part 2.

Donators have much more understanding of what they are donating for, it’s a one time fee, i actually think very few people do like “subscriptions”.

Code Quest part 2 could have been about polishing and performance of the brand new 2.8, and a focus on Cycles and Evee for example.

I agree, but it doesn’t look like that is something they want to do, the page linked in the opening post has this nugget:

A voting or polling mechanism is not in the planning – although it’s open for discussion and review, especially when roadmaps don’t get wide endorsements.

That sounds dangerously close to design by committee - or worse, design by the wealthy.

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Of course… good design always needs to be well financed. :slight_smile: While Blender is open source, it’s not communism. Development still costs money and one developer costs about 60k EUR/year. And no one will ever pay such money not knowing what they get in return.

In fact, what you are saying pretty much is a thing already. Right here: https://fund.blender.org/

If you scroll all the way down, you’ll see a link to this: https://download.blender.org/institute/devfund2018-membership.pdf

There, you can see that for at least 6k EUR / year or more, you can buy a “strong voice in approving projects for Blender”.

I am sorry, but I am just so allergic to these socialistic kinds of comments. In vast majority of cases, design is done by wealthy. Especially in software land, development of anything extensive and capable requires a lot of initial investment. Even if the software itself ends up being free, someone who developed it probably had to spend a lot of money on his life expenses, bills, etc… to sustain him during the time it took to develop.

If you are developing a non trivial piece of software, it’ll probably take a group of people at least a year to have MVP (minimal viable product). Having enough money to hire a group of people for a year, that’s a wealth. A guy working part time at McDonald’s won’t be the one to pull it off.

So even if there was what you claim to be “design by wealthy”, why would it ever be “worse”. Do you imply you can judge the competence of a person by their wealth? In fact, there is probably some correlation there, but most likely the other way around than what you are implying.

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Gold Sponsors get their name on Blender.org and Platinum sponsors on up get a link to their site on Blender.org. Why haven’t there been any protests from Silver and Bronze sponsors if this is supposed to be an issue?

Blender is free, but even FOSS costs a ton of money to develop if you want it to have functionality close to the commercial solutions (because of the need for paid developers). I’m pretty sure the BF would have a system that prevented any big donor from commissioning the development of specific features for a personal project.

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Financing is one thing - I think the development fund is a wonderful thing. Setting up a voting with your wallet system, where the entire direction of the project is dictated by a plutocracy is not.

The direction of Blender should be decided by Ton and the team, in consultation with the community. Commercial software exists if you want to vote with your wallet.

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Even if they aren’t planning having a ‘vote with your wallet’ system for individual users, i suppose nothing is stopping a 100 VSE/Compositor/cycles/whatever users to pool their 5 euro’s in a patreon or something and get one of those fancy corporate ‘strong voices’ and fight for their cause… the real question is how much influence does that really buy you?!

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From 5.500 euro per month to 30.000euros it’s a ambitious goal, but if they achieved then it will guarantee blenders longevity and a healthy program, imagine if they achieved 50 thousand per month it will bring blender developer power on par with competitors

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uhhhh I think you got it the wrong way around ; ) Personally I do not have a credit card and very appreciate the option for PayPal as it is very simple and intuitive to work with.

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In my experience, putting control of development in the hands of donators doesn’t work out well. They tend to focus on “sexy” features and ignore more critical ones. Look how much attention icons get versus say the dependency graph.

There have been successful campaigns in the past to fund specific features. Ocean simulation is probably the most notable. So it is possible, but takes someone with good organization skills to ensure success.

I also think in the next 10 years or so it might not matter much anyway. There is a chance that more Tangent Animation situations pop up. The studios work on tools they need then push them upstream. I think this more than anything can get Blender out of it’s insular nature and start picking up more industry-grade functionality.

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TL;DR
I’m mostly skeptical about this. I think that there are better and more “real transparent” ways to fund development and still keep it open for users needs.

But let’s start from beginning.

Blender is FOSS. Blender Foundation is not.
I’m Blender user for some time (+/- 5 years) and FOSS user for most of my professional life. I strongly believe in open software, I’m using it, I’m contributing to it, I’m recommending it. But in my history with FOSS I didn’t have this feeling as for current Blender state that the whole project is leaning toward monetization rather than making great FOSS product. This is fine to a point where money is more important than product itself.

Since its beginning in 2002, Blender has been a public and community-driven project, where hundreds of people collaborate online with the shared goal of developing a great 3D creation suite, free for everyone.

For me, now, Blender is more product from BF and not community-driven project anymore. BF is taking money, BF is making decisions, BF is developing.

It seems now that mostly whole development is done by BF and only small contribution from independent devs. I do not count GSoC projects as independent as they are mostly shaped by BF (mentoring, project selection etc.).

Why is that? Probably most of “engaged” users saw at least for once situation when new dev wanted to make some useful feature and was bashed by the core (paid) devs that it’s not useful/important/needed/not on roadmap/who will take care of this later and most of all Blender is FOSS so take sources and make it better by yourself if you want and stop complaining. Or in short - we are not putting our paid time for maintaining this.

And that’s the whole point in this long paragraph. There is BF, which hires developers (for money) and they are doing their job with THEIR software. But from where money comes from (and partially code)? From users. And what users have from this deal? Well - free software and really nothing else.

What’s wrong with all of this?
We are (some of us) paying money, but not for software but for promises.
Let say I would put 5k into Development Fund, what would I get? Practically nothing. I wouldn’t even know where the money goes (technically - development :slight_smile: ).
What else could I get for 5k? Frigging Houdini FX with support channel.

We are still treating devs from BF as they are making it in their free time, but mostly they are paid workers.

What can we do?
Zacharias Reinhardt pointed in linked video that it would be great to make Blender Sculpt Quest. This is a great idea. Not only for sculpting.

We can find developer willing to make chosen feature, raise the money and pay him for it. Simple as that. But do BF will merge our effort? That’s a different story, and I was writing about it above.

Wrapping up
Blender is a big project. Lots of money is involved.
I’m simply afraid that new business plan for raising money will slow down development for community (by community).

From prospectus we can get that 6k per year gives you “Strong voice (what’s that exactly?) in approving projects for Blender” if you are corporate. What about group of users paying same amount of money per year?

A voting or polling mechanism is not in the planning – although it’s open for discussion and review, especially when roadmaps don’t get wide endorsements.

In that case I’m not planning to support BF for a while. It’s open for discussion though :wink:

And lastly. I appreciate whole effort and engagement into Code Quest. I know how important it was, but you simply can’t say it’s a success if you put 3 targets and at the end not meet any of them, as for now. Beta will be… Well it will be, I hope that the first goal will change status.

https://www.blender.org/2-8/quest/#targets

:x: Blender 2.80 beta (as for now)
The main target of the Code Quest is to get Blender 2.8 to a beta release. Expected during the second half of 2018.

:x: Blender “101”
A simple configuration for occasional users. Read more on the developers blog.

:x: Showcase at SIGGRAPH
The largest computer graphics conference is the perfect place to showcase Blender to the industry. Taking place in August in Vancouver.

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Your alternative is pooled funding anyway, just with a less corporate flavour / label.

The devs ears and eyes for one.

Backbone / big picture stuff is unlikely to be funded explicitly as @xrg alluded to above, whether by corps or user cabals. What to do about that?

Should good practices such as reusing code, following architectural / design principles be enforced? I ask as they’re a barrier to accepting patches, not just how big your wallet / voice is.

Pretty sure some patches from ‘Strong Voices’ haven’t been committed for whatever reason and may not ever be.

I think the bottom line is that if they let people take vote about the direction of the development, they’d have a lot better chance at meeting their (perhaps overly ambitious) goal. I feel like there is slight disconnect between their roadmaps and what people really need.

One example would be that even after decade (since 2.5 release), Blender still doesn’t have any proper large scale instancing/scattering tools, limiting it more or less to trivial, small scale environments, and it shows. You can see the vast majority of Blender artworks being quite small scenes in terms of complexity. If I could donate towards goal of having proper instancing/scattering system in Blender, I’d be throwing money at my screen within a second.

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It’s nice that they have refreshed this fund page.

But why the Blender Cloud users aren’t in this dev’ fund? Isn’t cloud subscriptions also helps supporting Blender?

New scattering is coming from Jacques

Aye, I’m not against developers adding features that users want, I’m just not convinced there is a way to make it work. You’ll have your list of what needs to be prioritized. I’ll have my own list. So will everyone else. None of us will agree. That’s basically the same situation we’re already in.

I don’t think Blender’s problem is not enough managers.

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Yes, I saw that. It’s just replacement for Gpencil scatter. It won’t bring us any closer to large scale instancing. If you have 2 million poly tree model, and use this tool to scatter it, you will probably bring your viewport to 0FPS or crash blender just after a single stroke.