New Blender Foundation Transparency Blog

I had thought they had already done this, but it’s only for cloud income…

First off, in order to have meaningful levels of transparency…everyone at the Blender Foundation must only be allowed to wear Seran Wrap.
(Side joke: A guy walks into a psychiatrist office wearing nothing but Seran Wrap, the doc looks up and says “sir, I can clearly see your nuts”)

Joking aside, I think its important to show or visualize who is doing what and what steps the development is taking towards being part of Blender.
For example: Lets just say, Colored Wireframes (hypothetical). Document/graph list who is working on it, what funds if any are going into it and from which source. Then the next part is its status (via %) and a path to where it goes next. Lets say its 100% in the developers eyes, the graph then shows who it gets handed off to before it can go into trunk. So TonA or TonB, and it can sit there with a date as to when it went to them, as well as a red check yes or no if they approve. Either it goes back to the developer or passes that and heads to trunk with an expected version date included.

This not only hits on the work being done, the funding going into it, and who specifically is going to maintain, review or has the power to decide its inclusion into Blender proper. We see a clear path from start to finish with all the meta data attached.

The second bit should just be about the funds. Total sum, broken down into where the sources are and what some might be dedicated for/to development wise. Example: $10,000 from Epic Games. Target: FBX development (with link to project map mentioned above), and how much has been spent so far on that development.
Also a rough number on the cost taken out just to maintain the BF operations, because lets be honest…this could easily be a trust issue. There are charities that ask for donations to help a cause for example, but they only give 10% to the cause and pocket the rest because they claim it “pays for the cost of operating the charity”, in other words its a scam to get a high paying job in the name of helping people when really they are helping themselves. The BF is clearly NOT like that at all, but because it does happen it would be good to factor in some rough estimate as to the operating cost of the foundation itself.

Finally, a big part of how this all fits into a larger picture can include not only the developer pool and what targets they can hit or teams they can be part of (like UI team, modeling team…ect) but also perhaps open up the doors for a potential fund allocation to who can develop X or Y feature. In other words, if there are funds dedicated or willing to go to a specific area of development but no developer ready or able to take it on… not only do we know how much that development is worth, but so do outside developers (some who might be quite experienced) who may be looking for some work. This can be tied to contact info, and thus maybe increase the developer pool.

This is just some stuff I wouldnt mind seeing (minus the seran wrap part of course), maybe its a tall order but I figure it doesnt hurt to say it none the less.

Talking about financial transparency… Offhand I can see many ways to find out how much income is being made and for what your money is spent on: The open cloud stats, the Gooseberry Weeklies, the Gooseberry Blog, the development fund page, the developer blog and the report everybody working for the dev fund has to write weekly/bi-weekly, to show what has been done in the scope of the dev fund work (e.g. see mine).
Also, deciding which people are paid from which income is done really carefully. People working on Gooseberry are paid from the cloud, people working on general development are paid from the dev fund.
So I don’t see why people are concerned about financial transparency?? The e-Shop really is the only income I can think of that isn’t really transparent, but seriously, aren’t there enough proves around showing that the money isn’t spent on financing Ton’s holiday (which is like two weeks per year iirc) but on improving Blender as a whole?

I don’t know if there’s any place on the Blender website right now that explicitly states the fact that the development fund money is not being channeled towards the Open Movie Projects and that those projects are only making use of the cloud money.

For example, you can go the development fund page now and not find any assurance that the only place it is going to is Blender development projects.

If people complained about lacking transparency before, if you give them transparency now, they will just complain about the things they didn’t even know about before. Most likely, people don’t really want transparency (even if they ask for it), they want their interests to be represented. If you ask me, if you’re not ready to give users some part in the decision making process, don’t bother working on transparency, either.


There have been plenty of explanations on what Ton’s opinion on wireframes is, on the old forums, on the mailing list, even on the podcast (about 38 minutes in).

The issue isn’t transparency, it’s that I don’t see any actual users agreeing with Ton’s rationale here. Nobody asking for colored wireframes seems to want the overly sophisticated rule-based system he is proposing. At the same time, (on the podcast) he goes as far as claiming that modern applications “don’t really do wireframes” anymore and that it’s a thing of the past and that we shouldn’t spend too much effort on it. This, to me, is absurd. Users don’t really need transparency, they need a mechanism to override his decision in such cases.

Well people just want assurance, and also a way to make sure that Blender is actually an application by the community, for the community rather than by Ton Roosendaal, for Ton Roosendaal (after all it was his decision to raise funds to make it open source and release it to the world).

In my experience Ton actually does not even have close to this power he is attributed by some. The core developer including those who are paid by the Foundation / Institute through money raised through the dev fund / cloud / store etc do not always listen to or agree with Ton. This is a good thing but that does not guarantee that any and all ideas by everyone will be acceptable to the people who do the majority of the work. Lucky even for these people there exists a procedure to override a decision, you create a fork and convince the world it is better then the original project.

For the case of color wireframes, I do think that this (forking) will not work out.

Very long but very true.

  • We have good programmers in the community (Lukas Stockner with all the cycles patches, Scorpion81 with the dynamic fracture modifier, KWD with OpenVDB meshing and soon rendering, PyroEvil with its Mesher and many other C or Python Programmers).
  • a lot of people wanting to spend money to get Blender better, and would like better and more transparent use of their money.
  • We have many people helping to build the patched versions on all platform.
  • We have a lot of testers bringing a lot of good feedback and bugreports
  • We have good artists showing what can be done with those patches and how to use them nicely.

So why not make a community version? Seriously, all the patches mentionned above are much more stable than the particle system in the official release and a motivated programmer paid for managing his baby is the best guaranty the code will live and evolve with the community.

Brief recap:

1 - Forking a project of the size of Blender is difficult, keeping the fork in synch with the main branch is so much work that it is impractical. In general, the FOSS propaganda about “you can fork it” is nothing but a lie of obscene, cosmic proportions.

2 - Blender Foundation financies might be “audited” in the legal sense of the word (i.e. Mr Roosendaal does not open the piggy bank and uses the money in Amsterdam red light district…) but the allocation of funds to the different parts of Blender development is absolutely opaque. If you contribute to the movie your money might end financing features which are only tangentially movie-related and if you give money in general to the foundation their allocation is completely out of any control. Nothing in BF charter allows any kind of finer control on finances allocation.

3 - The man who authorizes wages for contributors is Mr. Roosendaal, who is therefore the absolute master (in the feudal sense of the word) of the development work of payed contributors. Maybe people from time to time manage to sneak into trunk “un-sanctionned” features but you have to consider this “collateral damage” and not something to be relied upon.

Any other discussion is just a pointless waste of internet bandwidth.

I thought the idea of a ‘true’ fork is you take an open source app. and start doing your own thing with it with no intent to keep it in sync (while splitting off a chunk of the original dev. team and community to help form the new ecosystem). Otherwise, it’s little more than a perpetual branch.

A little while back, Campbell proposed the idea of bringing back the Tohopuu branch which in the early years was the coder’s playground. It could help greatly with widescale testing of features and facilitate the process of getting things into master.

The colored wireframes is one of very few issues where users wishes go directly against the wishes of the “product manager”. There’s no need to fork anything, this is a tiny, already implemented feature that is being held up for unconvincing reasons, while other features of questionable quality are given a pass. If Ton gets a veto, maybe users should be able to veto that veto?

Except in reality many successful projects emerge as forks from other projects, such as Webkit, LibreOffice, Inkscape and Wordpress. Sometimes the fork ends up as the official version again (e.g GCC).

I would question your assumption that there are so many people ready and willing to put effort into it. If you’re read and willing, I’d say “just go for it”. There’s however a problem of file compatibility: For instance, when you add a new modifier, you are supposed to add a new entry to an enumeration, but if there are two branches where this enumeration is different, the results are not going to match up and the modifiers break. I don’t see a good solution for this, you would most likely have to end up with two file formats.

With all due respect, that was nowhere near a universal decision. It was simply the way Ton was running things and continued to run them. I am not saying this is something that needs to be part of this transparency blog, but don’t go projecting decisions onto the community it did not make. You wouldn’t (& don’t) like that happening when the reverse is done to Ton.

Just saying. :wink:

No offence to your pet projects, but some of us would prefer the BF concentrate on game import/export improvements and getting coloured wireframes into Blender than stuff like MLT into Cycles. Tongue in cheek, but hopefully you see how it works :wink:

Gooseberry is supposed to be Blender Institute funds from which it rents the facilities, hires artists, pays the Blender Foundation some money for development, etc. This is a transparency blog for the Blender Foundation which is supposed to be a separate organisation, with separate funds, etc for legal / financial reasons (i.e. if it goes down, it doesn’t drag BF down with it).

For those who have only just joined the BA community, the separation between the Blender Foundation revenue and Blender Institute spending is a bit of a hot topic that can be easily dismissed with the open financials that Harley mentioned. It’s not a new request for the Blender Foundation, it’s not an unusual thing to ask of non-profit organisations, and it is a request 100% relevant to Blender Foundation transparency.

You may not see it. That’s great, that is likely why you are not concerned. Others are concerned about it. Quite honestly, the Blender Foundation is the most opaque non-profit organisation I donate to when it comes to finances. This is mostly because, here & in the one or two other countries I send money, the non-profits are forced by law to be open about their income, the sources for that, and what they spend it on. I understand that it isn’t a requirement for the BF due to the choice of organisation-type Ton incorporated it as, but that doesn’t mean that putting those figures online is a bad thing.

It is really the only sure way to confirm/refute the impression that open film related spending is getting more than it’s fair share of revenue allocated to it. Given the spurts of acrimony about that, I would think settling it with hard figures would be a Good Thing™ :slight_smile:

Back to the OP concept, I would certainly be interested in a blog. I find it annoying that we have to wait so long for “behind the scenes” information in the shape of the excellent Blender Podcast. A major benefit of that show is the ability to portray coders as human and the motives as understandable. It would be really nice to lift the veil on some of the more frustrating decisions, if only to help the users understand so that we could form a more complete argument.

: D yay

Blender is the best xD

I think there are 2 discussions going on here. One of which is about if the community agrees with the development / design decisions being made. The other about transparency.

I think this thread is about the second.
Here I would like to add that it will be hard to give 100% transparency financially for the mere reason that it might not be a good idea to post a list of salaries. And even if that where done it might not be easy to make insightful to everyone why some people work more on code maintenance and some make all cool features. The later kind would not keep productive for ever without the former kind keeping the code-base working. ( It is not to say one kind of developer fall in any one category 100% of the time ). But software development at the scale of the blender project is not super easy and I would expect there to be at least some losses in terms of overhead for communication, coordination, day to day planning of resources and projects. I am not sure what the developers make but given the rate the project is moving and then seeing the revenue that is visible I would say that we ( the community ) are getting an insanely good deal.

I would like a monthly writeup of:

  • Development resources ($) income and expenditure. ( just 2 numbers no details for privacy reasons )
  • Things that got done in the passed month ( maybe on a per developer basis, concat 4 week reports and condense )
  • Overview of the planning / road-map.

My worry is that the blog will only provoke those very same flamewars that this is meant to quell.

Could happen. But when Blender produces so much unhappy souls, wouldn’t it be time then to make those people a bit more happy?

+1 spot on.

Whilst I get where you are coming from, Juicyfruit, but telling us how much is spent without saying what it is spent on provides no transparency. Without breaking it down into (at the very least) broad areas of functionality within Blender, all we get from $X income vs $Y expenditure is that the Blender Foundation is not broke. None of us actually think it is, there isn’t any community angst about that, and we all know Ton would come out and tell the community if that were the case.

Transparency is hard precisely because, doing it properly, you are going to reveal information that you otherwise don’t want to. It’s why it is a legal requirement of non-profit organisations in my country (and most others I’ve dealt with). After all, just getting the income & expenditure figures in no way helps the community to understand what is going on inside the Blender Foundation… which is pretty much the point of being transparent about such things in the first place!

To be frank, I don’t want/need a month-by-month break-down of the finances. An annual break-down of revenue sources (& income from them) to expenditure on broad areas of functionality would suffice. How much easier would it be to shut-down the “game development is funding Gooseberry” argument if one could point to the actual figures? How much easier would it be for Ton (& his supporters) to argue that open films are what keep the Blender Foundation going if he could show the amount of income they generate to the amount spent on them (and contrariwise, the income from them spent on other functionality)? And so on.

My understanding was that the point of additional transparency was to facilitate understanding in the community of developer priorities. I honestly don’t see how we’re going to foster that understanding if the information we’re given is essentially meaningless.