Transitioning to Being an Open Source Company

The last few weeks have been intense here at RunRev! Since going open source we’ve had a number of challenges keeping up with the increased levels of traffic and demand. Things are starting to settle down to something resembling normality, so I thought I would write you all an update on what we’ve been up to.

Firstly and most importantly, the technology has been making good progress. We published our road map and have been working away at all the various goals listed on it. We’ve been hiring developers and I’m pleased to be able to welcome our latest developer, Sebastien Novat to the team. He has got stuck right in helping out on the main restructuring project that constitutes the biggest piece of the Kickstarter campaign. That project is going great – we’re hoping currently to have a very rough, very initial engine that “just about” runs with the main restructure in place around about July. (I’ll update you as we get closer to the time or if there is any change.) There will still be several months of refinement to do on it after that.

The resolution independence project, our first stretch goal (the ability to scale your app automatically to different sized displays and pixel densities) is even further advanced. We expect to bring you the first developer preview of that (6.5) within the next few weeks. We’ve also got the first version of the new automated build system working. This is an important piece as it allows us to push out a new build of LiveCode to you at the press of a button rather than having to create each build manually. With 8 platforms to build for these days that means just one thing for you: faster and more regular updates.

Version 6.1 has entered testing and should be ready to ship in the next couple of weeks. This version brings new “chained” behaviors, the ability to create a behavior of a behavior (a bit like being able to create a subclass of a class) and thus do far more sophisticated object oriented coding than was previously possible. Along with some bug fixes, the other important feature in this release is a change to our activation policy to make activation optional. We’ve listened to feedback and agree that this fits in better with what you expect from an open source project. It will also make it easier to install the platform in schools, something which is happening a great deal at the moment.

It has been wonderful to see the interest and contributions to the source base even in this very short space of time since we went open source. Several contributions have now made it into a build. Given that the source base has not yet been restructured to be easy to contribute to and is in many areas entirely undocumented, this is more than we were expecting as a start. I can’t wait to see what gets contributed over the next few months and what happens once we get the project completed to make it easy for you to contribute.

During the first few weeks after we went open source, we had 11 times the usual level of downloads. Our server was insufficient to cope and so we had to undertake a project to move server. We also designed a new website as our existing site was designed some time ago prior to us going open source. The new site is performing well now, but the server move was not without a few hitches along the way. Our customer service enquires have also jumped from a few hundred in a month to many thousand. Our support team has been working flat out to stay on top of this increase. We have managed to just about maintain our goal of responding to most enquiries within two business days.

We ran RunRevLive.13 last month here in Edinburgh. Attendance was up and the feedback we’ve received from the conference was overwhelmingly positive. It is wonderful to see so many of our community members get together face to face and share ideas, best practice or simply a drink. We even managed to provide some decent weather here in Edinburgh in May (though it did also rain a few times)! We’ve also attended a number of events recently. I was delighted to be invited to speak to teachers at the Computing at School conference (CAS) in Birmingham last week. Elanor and I trained a group of teachers on how to use the community edition to create a story book about an owl and showed how it could easily be deployed to an iPad.

We’ve had plenty of news coverage since going open source, and in particular two reviews from Computer Weekly and PCWorld.

Finally, I’m pleased to be able to welcome Steven Crighton to the team today. Steven joins us as our new digital marketing lead and will be responsible for coordinating all our community communications across social, email and the website. As well as coordinating our online community, Steven is taking the pressure off other team members so that we can catch up on other activities. We started very solidly with delivering Kickstarter rewards (we’ve delivered around half of them now) but as I said in my last update, in the last couple of weeks there have been a handful that have slipped behind schedule. So I do apologize for that and we’ll be catching up very soon now. The Making of LiveCode documentary is having the finishing touches put on it as I write this.

So all in all, as you might expect, it’s been very challenging scaling up our operation over the past few weeks. There have been lots of long hours and many members of our team have been here late into the evening regularly. However it has been well worth it and things are definitely just starting to settle down a little bit now. Our tech team are working flat out on all the goals and we have a laser like focus on being as efficient as we possibly can.

Thanks for your patience, for your support and I can’t wait to deliver more to you over the next few months.

PS. Please excuse the lack of comment feature on this post. Blog comments will be restored on our new site soon. In the mean time, you can leave a comment on this post at Kickstarter if you want to.



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