The other day we received another donation to Inkscape ($10, less
SourceForge and PayPal fees). :-)
For about a year we've talked on and off about donations for Inkscape.
The major question is not getting the money, but deciding how to apply
the money appropriately.
Of course, we've had no shortage of ideas... From bug
bounties/contracts, to hardware, to developer support, to sponsoring
attendance at conferences. I like all the ideas, although some would be
more feasible than others.
However, the one idea I think I like the best, to start with, is to fund
contract work to enhance file import/export converters. I.e.,
accumulate enough funding to pay a developer to augment an existing
xyz2svg tool for use with Inkscape.
Here is my reasoning for this proposal:
1. These extensions are distinct from the main Inkscape codebase, thus
eliminating a range of potential conflicts of interests, learning
curve issues, and so forth.
2. Users *definitely* want to see the file converters improved. This
is often a crucially important need for them, and they will see the
benefits of the improvements immediately.
3. File converters haven't tended to attract attention from many
developers. Maybe they're not considered 'sexy' enough? Using
money as a motivator is worth a shot.
4. These converters will have definite value beyond Inkscape. A lot of
programs out there are starting to gain SVG support. If we are able
to gain good xyz2svg converters, this could benefit them as well,
plus would help build the reputation of SVG as a good format for
interoperability, which helps all of us out a lot.
5. I emphasize focus on enhancing _existing_ tools over creating new
ones for several reasons. First, the work of creating a basic tool
that does the first 80% of the conversion is usually not too hard
and actually kind of fun; the hard part is getting that last 20%,
and that's where I think funding development will be most
effective. Also, it can be harder to track progress for development
of a tool being written from scratch.
6. We can allow users to contribute to the specific converter they wish
to support; i.e., we establish one pool for the AI extension,
another for DXF, another for VSD, etc. and allow people to choose
which one their donations will go to.
Here are the challenges I see for this proposal, and how we'd be able to
deal with them:
a. Funds collection/distribution: If we get a large number of
donations, there may be an administrative overhead to keep track of
them. I'll set up an account that allows us to accumulate the funds
via SourceForge, and for now I'll just handle the accounting
manually. If it becomes burdensome, myself or someone can script it
b. Donation fees: Currently, SF and Paypal impose fees for donations.
A $10 donation works out to be $8.48. It'd be nice to preserve a
larger proportion, but beggers can't be choosers. If someone less
lazy than me wants to set up something better, let me know.
c. Deciding the contract terms. This is the point I'm not sure about,
but clearly we need to have some way of establishing the minimum
goals for the funding. I'm open to suggestions, but sure we can
figure something out; contracting developers is nothing particularly
d. Deciding who is allowed to bid on the work. I'm concerned about
random people bidding on the work, and also think that the spirit of
the donations is to also help further Inkscape development in
general. Thus I would be tempted to limit participation to people
who have a track record of doing development work for Inkscape.
These people will be "known quantities", and will have a stake in
doing a good job.
e. Deciding when to close donations and open bidding. In other words,
how do we decide how much money to raise? It's often difficult to
determine how much time it'd take to implement a feature. My
thought is to leave this open ended - we simply post what the
expectations are and how much $$ has been collected, and when a
developer feels enough has been raised, he submits a bid to do the
work. This way, "the market" is left to decide what the rate should
f. Deciding what file converter features to allow donating to. My
feeling is that we should just leave this open to the donors. Any
donation target that someone puts money against is worth adding to
g. Legal/contractual paperwork and such. I'm blissfully clueless
here. Maybe this part is the achilles heel of the whole idea, or
maybe it's no big deal, I have no idea. But people have paid other
people to do work before, and I'm sure it can be sorted out
Anyway, let me know what y'all think of this proposal. Worth doing?