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new years blog post

Published Dec 31 2012 via RSS

In a few hours 2012 ends and 2013 begins. So it is a good opportunity to recap and look back what happend in the past 12 month in the ownCloud world. I must say that is was an awesome year where a lot of things happened that are worth mentioning. A huge thank you to everybody in the ownCloud community and my coworkers at ownCloud Inc. which made all this possible.

The things that I specifically want to mention are:

The first significant thing of 2012 for me was the departure of the ownCloud project from KDE. This was the result of an intense discussion in KDE about the role of ownCloud in KDE, the requirements to be a KDE project and my role. I stepped down as a KDE e.V. board member and treasurer as a result and ownCloud is now an independent free software project. I still find the outcome a bit sad and not optimal for both communities but on the other hand sometimes a fresh start is good and needed. ownCloud participated in this years Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in together with KDE so there is still a lot of collaboration happening where it makes sense. All the best to KDE and thank you to my friends there.

The community
The ownCloud community grow dramatically in the last year. It's a bit difficult to measure as we don't collect real community metrics yet. But just a brief look at the number of post to the mailing-list, the activity in our bug-tracker, the number of commits, the number of contributors and the number of downloads show a very significant increase. I'm super happy that we have such a healthy volunteer community. If you found a company around an free software community projects there is sometimes the effect that the company consumes the community by employing all the community people. Luckily the free software community is growing even faster than our company so this works perfectly.
The ownCloud community has volunteers in all important areas like PHP development, Qt desktop development, iOS development, Android development, packaging, testing, security, design and UX, events and PR. Thanks to all of you who contributed.

Developer meetings
In 2012 we had 2 big developer meetings. The first one was hosted in our Stuttgart office in April with about 18 contributors. A lot of new people came and joined the community and it was the biggest meeting so far. We couldn't fit more people into the room as you can see at the pictures here: http://blog.karlitschek.de/2012/04/what-weekend.html so we had to look for a new location for the next meeting. Luckily for the fall meeting KDAB hosted us in Berlin and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor hosted a second meeting at the same time in the US. Over 30 developer attended and it was a blast. Thanks to our hosts and everybody who joined. Let's see what we do next year if we grow even bigger.

We had several great releases in 2012.
First of all we released ownCloud 3 in January, ownCloud 4 in May and ownCloud 4.5 in October. But additionally we also released our iOS and Android clients which are constantly improved and we also released the ownCloud Desktop clients for Mac, Windows and Linux.
I don't want to list all the features here but I can say that I'm super impressed by the new features the ownCloud community developed in just 12 month. I also have to confess that not every feature is as stable and bug-free as I wished. Because of that we have to concentrate more on stability and quality in the future. More about this later.
I'm especially happy about the integration with KDE and GNOME which are both already quite advanced and it's awesome that ownCloud is now packaged for all major Linux distributions and available as virtual appliances.

Development process
One year ago we had a relatively unstructured development process on gitorious.org. We wanted to focus more on quality so we introduced several processes over the last few month. We have a Jenkins server for continuous integration testing. People are working on unit tests, acceptance testing, integration testing and other things. We moved from gitorious.org to github which gave us a lot of new features for better collaborative coding and it is very successful so far. We moved from our own hosted TheBugGenie bug-tracker to the github one which is really nice because of the integration of coding, bug fixing and feature request tracking.
At our last developer meeting in Berlin we decided to introduce peer reviews for all commits that go into the ownCloud core repository and we use pull requests for that. It makes development sometimes a bit slower but you can already see the impact on quality. We are getting way better here. Of course we have to make sure that contributing to ownCloud is not more complicated as needed but I think we found a good middle ground here.

I'm involved in free software for over 15 years and I think that a truly open and community driven development process, like for example in KDE, is the most effective technique to create great software and innovation. But it's also clear that communities don't work very effective in areas like QA or structured product planing where companies are better. So I always wanted to try to combine the best of both worlds. See also my blog post here for more thoughts or my chapter about open source business models in the Open-Advise book. ownCloud Inc. became fully functional at the beginning of 2012 and I must say that it works great together with the community. The community and the company are able to push ownCloud forward together in a very effective way. ownCloud Inc. employs now 35 people and closed it's second financing round this fall. We at ownCloud Inc. have already several well known customers that use ownCloud. Unfortunately we are not allowed yet to name them publicly but this will hopefully change very very soon. So this is very exciting.

Talks and booth
I'm happy that I had the opportunity to gave several talks in 2012. I presented ownCloud at LinuxCon in San Diego, at the Campus Party in Berlin, the Heidelberger Innovationsforum, the Tizen Conference in San Francisco, SIGINT in Cologne and LinuxTag in Berlin where we also had a community and a company booth. In october I had the opportunity to give a keynote at Latinoware in Brazil where I presented the User Data Manifesto.

The User Data Manifesto
This is a very important topic because it describes why ownCloud is so important to me. Running free software on your PC is not enough anymore to give you control over your data and garantee freedom and free speach. A free cloud service software like ownCloud is needed. I don't have to repeat the thinking behind that because I described it already well in this blog post This is the reason why I started ownCloud in the first place and what keeps me, and I think most of the community, motivated.

So I think 2012 was a great year but what are the challenges and plans for 2013? One of the biggest challenges is to keep on moving forward with the same speed. This is more difficult as you might think because a growing community and a growing user-base can slow you down if you do it wrong. Another important thing for next year is that we have to focus more on stability and quality. But we also have to develop innovative new features so that we can lead the market instead of just copying the features of proprietary competitors as other free software projects do. The IT, PC and cloud market is moving fast forward and standing still means loosing.

I think ownCloud is a very welcoming community so if you want to participate then join our mailinglist, IRC channel or help to improve ownCloud or write a 3rd party app for it.

Thanks to everybody who contributed. Let's make a difference together.

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