PlatformIO Community

URGENT: The further fate of PlatformIO Project... Part II

Continue of URGENT: Further fate of PlatformIO Project… Part I


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Dear PlatformIO Community,

We know that you have been waiting for the official information what will be with PlatformIO since the first post… In the first part of public discussion we proposed a few options how to keep PlatformIO alive. Having a strong position that PlatformIO should be FREE and independent we have tried to find ways how to achieve it.

The PlatformIO Team

February 1, 2016, is the new starting point for the PlatformIO Project. In this day, we founded The PlatformIO Team and decided to spend all our working hours and free time on PlatformIO. Today, PlatformIO is a part of our life:

  • we speak about it with our family and friends
  • we dream about the success of PlatformIO because understand the importance of our work for the whole embedded world
  • we rejoice at new records for our community, new articles, tweets, posts and warm words.

We have not done bombshells about it… We just decided to do up whole PlatformIO ecosystem:

  • close all bugs related issues
  • improve documentation
  • resolve the problem with PlatformIO Package Repository (thanks a lot Bintray that helped us)
  • finish experimental sub-project PlatformIO IDE.

The First Results

“Guys, how do you live?”

That is the complicated question for us which we hear very often. We didn’t imagine PlatformIO as business project… The founder of PlatformIO (Ivan Kravets) has not had the aim to make money on PlatformIO or monetize some features of PlatformIO CLI. It was really 100% hobby project without any obligations with the main idea “to make a valuable contribution to embedded world”.

“I’ve never been in the pursuit of fame, I just followed by motto mentioned above: “If I see that something misses in the world and I can fix it, I should do it.”. I’ll try to explain in a nutshell how PlatformIO was born…”, From Web Developer to Embedded One: Interview with Ivan Kravets, The Guy Behind PlatformIO.

Today, we have a lot of other services/IDEs which allow programming embedded devices. Most of them are free but really good professional instruments are paid. Also, we understand that in some cases we really engage in predatory pricing. For example, other companies propose IDE for $$$ which support a few embedded boards, where we propose 100% FREE and open-source ecosystem with access to 200+ embedded boards, 15+ development platforms and integration with 10+ different IDEs.

The answer here is simple: someone tries to make business on it (and it is normal) where our priority is to invite people who are not familiar with hardware/electronics to be a part of awesome embedded world for free. Of course, we have a lot of professional embedded engineers who use PlatformIO, but core idea is that user should have a choice:

  • of embedded board
  • of IDE
  • of an operation system
  • even of frameworks, SDKs and etc.

Business Progress

We have a lot of discussions with the different vendors/corporations as for PlatformIO… As you remember, we said that will try to keep PlatformIO FREE and will ask top embedded players to help us. We are not going to describe here all details but will try to explain what do we have today:

  1. PlatformIO Project is not interested for vendor/corporation as “independent project”. From the business point, PlatformIO is conflicting project between multiple hardware/software players. Also, they appreciate our work but don’t understand why they should support us financially while we support their competitors for free too.
  2. We created donation page and received donations from our users. Thanks a lot for your contributions!!! But… we can’t keep alive our current PlatformIO Team(3 developers) for ~$400 for 2.5 months.
  3. We received a few very interesting propositions to be part of ***. If we will be a part of A, we can’t guarantee that:
    • PlatformIO will be FREE
    • we can support different hardware from multiple vendors on the same rights as products “from company A”
    • we can support different software (IDEs, SDKs, RTOSs, Frameworks and etc.).

So, the #1 is still in active phase. We are working on the finding better solutions for all sides. The #2 doesn’t work :frowning: . The #3 has HIGH RISK for the whole PlatformIO ecosystem. We will not have any influence to further PlatformIO strategy, as the result, we will not hear our community…

PlatformIO Club

Yes, yes… PlatformIO Club! How about to be a member of PlatformIO Fun Club?

  • Private Slack Group - only invited people will have access to it
  • Chat with The PlatformIO Team - save time and ask us how to better use PlatformIO
  • Access to beta versions- we are working on the PlatformIO 3.0 (in the private cloud) and we would be great to share it with your before it will be released. It will allow you to test new features or request others
  • Voting for the further issues/features - club’s members will decide via voting which features we should implement in the first priority
  • Multiple private channels - let’s be PlatformIO Family. You will be able to discuss the different part of PlatformIO ecosystem within separate private channels. For example, if you are not interested in Continuous Integration, you will not receive any “disturb” messages.
  • 1 to 1 chatting.

We have created a few plans (experiment, let’s edit it together):

  • Community - FREE, all of us has it now
  • Premium - PAID, we want to ask you about comfortable price $ per month? year?.
  • Gold - PAID, it is specially created for vendors/corporation/integrators.
  • Individual - “on demand”.

Let’s save PlatformIO really 100% free for all even for business and without any influence.

We are waiting for your feedback. Thanks in advance!

Direct link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1J__8yFDaj47jZLyWtpniHjNa98xm-XPo8SJZnpey1mQ/

Regards,
The PlatformIO Team.

I am a relatively new user to PlatformIO, but I see that it struggles with the same problems as many of my other favourite open source projects. Here are some suggestions based on my observations of these projects:

  • Have you looked carefully at how other open source projects have transitioned to a sustainable development model? The best example I know of is the Jupyter project for interactive scientific computing. They managed to secure funding through foundations, although this may be easier for them being based in academia.

  • Would it make sense to have funding drives (Kickstarter/Patreon/whatever) linked to specific features? People may be more willing to donate if they see it will lead to specific features of interest. Vendors might be more willing to donate money if they can see that it will be used specifically to offer improved support for their platforms, while allowing the project to remain independent.

  • Can you change your development model to make it less demanding on the core dev team, by giving more responsibility to trusted contributors with a proven track record? This way the whole burden of improving and maintaining PlatformIO can be shared more widely. This interview with Linus Torvaldus gives some insight into how the Linux kernel development team did this.

2 Likes

@DavidPowell

Did you ever try to rise some funding? Because it is only easy to say "get funding’ or “find investors”. And reality is very different.

Software almost never rises money on kickstarter, it is good only for hardware projects. It would be waste of time. + this software is very specific and chances are much lower.

+1.

Do you see any contributors :slight_smile:? I don’t.

@ivankravets
I think you need to stop developing new cool features for free and either make separate “enterprise” version with this features or take money for support as proposed in your doc. Or you could try both and check how it goes :slight_smile:.

2 Likes

We can’t compare incomparably projects. PlatformIO Project supports products from the different players in embedded market. You should understand that not all “players” are interested to support PlatformIO Project and to be listed “under the same rights” with competitor’s products. Also, we have contacted with a few foundations. They don’t support projects financially. What do they can is to attract new users. However, it costs us “transfer all rights of source code and trademark” to a foundation.

We have it https://www.bountysource.com/teams/platformio/issues

Yes, we are working on it. See issue #479. The source code of development platforms, build scripts, boards and etc will be moved to separate repositories. Each user will be able to create own platform or fork existing. The PlatformIO Team will be focused on PlatformIO Core and Build System API in this case.

Do you mean that we should change a license to GPL v2.0? Maybe this step will force a business to help us?

I believe in common sense… Our community has already paid :moneybag: for the hardware/boards. Business/Vendors should be interested in a free software for own products and to help us with a development process.

In any case, I agree that “enterprise” version is good from :moneybag: point but is not good for the future.

we propose 100% FREE and open-source ecosystem with access to 200+ embedded boards, 15+ development platforms and integration with 10+ different IDEs.

This is cool and I believe costs a lot of effort for a small team.

For each new feature request, before even considering to implement it, I would wait for:

  • the community to collect 3 x :thumbsup:
    or
  • a new developer (other than ivankravets, valeros and orgkhnargh) willing to implement it.

Otherwise the same team may end up in a vicious cycle supporting more and more boards, platforms and IDEs without clear feedback what really sticks.

… are big SUCCESS. Though, for PlatformIO team it’s big FAILURE.

To to attract new members and have the team growing, each contributor of merged pull request should get credit under https://github.com/platformio/platformio/graphs/contributors. For instance I see PR #584 by NAzT and NAzT is not there.

Seeing the number of supported boards, platforms and IDEs, quality of documentation, support speed (e.g. how quickly you resolved recent issue with third party package https://github.com/platformio/platformio-atom-ide/issues/94) I believe the team has huge potential, should focus on using it effectively and attracting alike talent.

Good luck with PlatormIO, keep it smart & slick and grow big :slight_smile: :thumbsup:

Krzysztof

1 Like

Well I missed this, and I’d be willing to bet that many others did too.

I just went to the PlatformIO home page, and navigated to the download page. The only place I saw anything about donation is the small text at the bottom of the page under “About”, and honestly I only found that because I was specifically looking for it.

I think you should make your request for donations much more prominent on the website, so that all visitors understand that this project needs support. Perhaps it could be a more general “How to Support Us” type link that also encourages users to contribute code.

1 Like

We had “Donation” item in TOP menu (before “Contact”) ~1month. The only 0.01% users clicked on it. If someone wants to donate, he will do it without any HUGE buttons.


Let’s discuss PlatformIO 3.0 and the @Dmitriy_Dumanskiy proposition to make new features paid.

For example, @DavidPowell, are you ready to pay for some new feature in that list? I mean that if we decide to move new features to “Premium” plan, will you be interested in it? I just want to understand what do we have.

Speaking for myself I don’t think this is true. Or put another way, some appropriate form of reminder (which might not be a big button) can definitely prompt people to make a donation that they wouldn’t otherwise have made. For example, I have given money to Wikipedia during their fundraising drives. All those reminders nag at my conscience too much, and eventually I realise that I have no excuse not to make a donation, given how much I use their service.

Lots of organisations put serious efforts into getting donations through advertising, people collecting money etc. Why would they go to all that effort if people were just going to give them money anyway?

If I found a feature I really wanted I would be more likely to try contributing code myself.

Thanks, I got you. What do you think, which price is good for Premium/Gold per month? The Premium is oriented for active PlatformIO user where Gold for vendor/corporation (the interesting thing here is promotion within our network).

Hello! I would love to be in the PlatformIO club. If there was a link to it I would have signed up right now. I think a club with some extra perks is a great way to start before going to a Free/Premium Membership style with some features gated off. Although that would still be totally acceptable and I would sign up for Premium.

My needs are somewhere between business and hobby. I’m not a trained EE person or programmer but made a successful product with Arduino. But now it is hard to iterate on that product because I feel trapped on 8 bit atmega and the libraries I depend on. PlatformIO seems like a fix for my problem and I would gladly pay business money for that. But also there should be free features because I think the best platforms are the most used and being Free encourages hobbyists like me when I was just starting.

All this is to say I think PlatformIO is wonderful and I imagine it being the successor to Arduino because it does everything Arduino does but BETTER. I don’t know if it is hard to raise money in Ukraine but if you were in Silicon Valley or New York you could easily raise millions of dollars by being the “Arduino Killer”.

Just my opinion. I will go make a donation right now. Keep up the great work :slight_smile:

Maybe, just maybe, you should wait a little bit more. Your product has a real value, not some marketing shit. Platformio is way better than arduino IDE, and i guess than many other ides also. You can use 1 tool for all boards, it has autocompletion and linter. You that better than me. So, when most people will use your product BECAUSE it support everyone, not just special boards, and because it is just better than anything else, it will be easier to find mney both from companies and users. So, maybe it is time to do some marketing and make everyone use PIO, because it is just awesome, and better than lots(every?) solutions in the market.

Dear @Pilleo,

Thanks a lot for the great feedback!

Yes, we haven’t announced yet about PlatformIO Plus. It will be premium service with very cool features. I hope that we will release it in combination with PlatformIO 3.0. All functionality from PlatformIO 2.0 and a lot of new features from PlatformIO 3.0 will be free.

The 6 months of hard full-time work on PlatformIO showed us that the only our users/customers can help us to keep PlatformIO open source and independent. We don’t see future in PlatformIO when it will be under “some umbrella”.

Regards,
The PlatformIO Team

3 Likes

Hmm, in this post I found a link to Bountysource . Why don’t you have it on the page A professional collaborative platform for embedded development · PlatformIO ?

We use Donorbox for donations due to its transparency and management system for the end donors.

Got it.
I thought maybe you just forgot to add a link :slight_smile:
I will try Donorbox then, to support your amazing opensource project!

1 Like

Its quite an old post, but maybe still relavent.

I agree with the comments about PlatformIO being ‘one-of-a-kind’, but in terms of software not a lot of people understand the amount of work that goes into developing and maintaining a project like this. Hence the lack of apreciation/donations I think.

I think its a verry noble guesture to keep things free/open-source for the general community, but I also think its nothing less than normal to expect a charge when using it for businuesse.

Defining ‘businuese’ is the difficult part IMO as it either becomes a honor system, where the user decides if something is businuesse or not; Or it is defined by PIO itself, which is difficult to control as not a lot in the current workflow is fully ‘cloud-based’ (actually only with project setup there is need of an internet-connection for all the downloads etc.). Besides, PIO is only a vehicel and is not part of the end product/software. So afterwards it is not really tracable either.

The ‘premium support’/‘club access’ might be a good route, but seeing how much PIO is automated (and verry wel performing) I doubt there is great need of extensive support.

Branding/embedded support for board/SDK’s etc. might be an interesting route.

Personally I was thinking about a self-deployment tool for non-programmers.

As a developer I can work with VSCode and configuring it through the various configuration files (kconfig, json, python scripts etc.). But I dont see clients working with this if they dont have tech personal in employment.

Seeing that a lot of startups working with microprocessors are invented by non-programmers, it might fit a boundary where a project becomes ‘businuesse’ instead of ‘hobby’.

Besides this can be verry usefull for larger companies, where service-personal are updating & installing on location (through mobile apps for example), while the programmer can focus on development.

As there is already a lot of ready-to-use solutions regarding dockers etc., I can imagine it not being too complicated?

Whether it becomes an API solution, or a full fetched web/desktop/mobile app depends on what fits your ideas/needs.

Anyways, just another direction. I hope you guys can figure things out!

Thanks, @n247s, for the great comment! :pray:

Yes, this is what we did. We opened the source code of PlatformIO Plus which was paid service for the end developers and made it free even for commercial use. See

Also, after a solid adoption of our technology, we now help the semiconductor industry to save their costs on developing their own IDE solutions and software ecosystems. See