LibrePlan, a review of the year 2020

T’is the season to be jolly (Christmas) which also means you start to look back during the last days of a year and see what has happened. So, what did happen in 2020? Obviously Corona/Covid19/Sars-Cov-2 happened. To us, as well as to a huge number of people world wide. It changed to lives of so many people in so many ways.

So, let me first wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

But, what did happen this year with regards to Libreplan? From the outside it may look like not a lot happened, but that’s where you’re wrong, very wrong.

Sure, there was no new release and not a lot seemed to happen in the source code repository. Except for 4 commits on the master branch this year. But since they were done by an automated GitHub process I guess they don’t really count.

Still, a lot did happen. Albeit all in the background. A lot of money got invested in the project. Compared to the turnover of some large companies maybe not a lot, but a lot more than would be sensible if LibrePlan would just be “a hobby project”. Way more.

The year 2020 started quickly at the 22nd of January with the incorporation at a notary office of the LibrePlan Enterprise corporation. An independent and official business to host all work related to the LibrePlan project. This was the first serious level expense and a lot more would follow.

Of course, with a new company comes the mandatory website. And since I had spend the better part of 2019 writing a book about the Odoo ERP application of course this new site had to be build using Odoo. This also meant a separate VM to host it with some minimum specs to make sure it worked nicely for all those thousands of new customers. And again, time and money was invested to get that up and running, or, basically, hosted somewhere.

This brings up the topic of infrastructure. To dwindle the cost of hosting several vm’s needed for the LibrePlan project I started thinking about another way to manage the infrastructure needed. Changing the infrastructure turned out to be a sensible thing to do but also meant delay in working on the software. I will not bore you with the details but it would be cheaper and also increase the flexibility of the porject. And for a project/product with currently maybe a lot of users but definitely no paying customers that seemed not only sensible to do. But the new infrastructure would also give me a lot more flexibility to facilitate future growth.

The downside to this was investing (again) in infrastructure, not only financially but also in a lot of time for setting it up correctly. In retrospect I started building it first using the wrong piece of virtualization software, but after realizing he error of my ways and changing to a good piece of software everything started to head up in the right direction. Of course things would have progresses quicker if it wasn’t for a 400+ page manual I needed to study to learn how to set this all up correctly. I’m currently not done yet, but hope to finish this soon.

To support the switch to a new business model for the LibrePlan project, and inspired by the way how to folks at IBM, er, I mean Red Hat, commercially run an open source project, I registered the LibrePlan Enterprise brand name. So, it now should officially be written as LibrePlan Enterprise® I guess. This was the next bunch of Euros. Still I was not done.

To support the new business model a formal legal contract with clients had to be drawn up. And lawyers don’t come cheap. So, you guessed it, another multitude of euros exchanged hands (well, not literally of course, but from my bank account to someone else’s definitely).

And, since a lot of LibrePlan users are located in France I invested in a French language training for myself. Simply to get better at it.

All throughout the year I tweeted about all progress steps on the LibrePlan twitter account. Almost monthly at least one tweet about the steps and actions taken. All in all, 16 tweets to be exact.

So, if there is some sort of conclusion to draw from this, I like to think that yes, a lot of progress was made, just not on the software side of things.

And next year? Ah, there are many more adventures laying ahead of us all. I know it’ s about time to build a new release. But every time I start pestering myself about this I realize that lots of big software companies release a new version once in every four or five years. So I think I should not feel to much pressure. On the other hand, there are already a lot of new features waiting to be released.

If I sum up all the money spent this year solely on LibrePlan I come to the sum of several thousands of euros. And, without any currently paying customers these are all investments.

Managing this project is big fun but also a challenge. Next year will see more investments in time and money. Stick around. It’s going to be fun!

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