Roundcube Next progress

Roundcube Next is a crowdfunded Open Source project to modernize the Roundcube email system, including support for mobile devices. The team was successful in raising over $100,000 in an Indie GoGo campaign, and then went radio silent for 84 days, their twitter feed has not received any updates and people who send them tweets are being ignored. Not a good sign.

Because it has been almost 3 months, I decided to raise a little hell and see what was going on. Here is an e-mail that was sent to backers:

Email to Backers

We wrapped up the Roundcube Next Crowdfunding campaign the othermonth and our funds have arrived! We are now busy getting all the perks ready to go … and that includes the Backstage Pass area.

The forums area is set up, but we’re still populating with the initial content. As soon as that is done, you will get another email with the address and your login information.

In the Backstage area you’ll gain access to developer updates and progress, participate in polls to help direct our Roundcube Next effort, and an open area to discuss with each other and the developers anything and everything to do with Roundcube. As pre-releases emerge, this will become an especially important area for all of us to gather feedback, help with initial deployment, etc.

… and if the Backstage proves to be the vibrant community mixing spot we hope it will be, then when Roundcube Next starts getting stable releases for production use we’ll open the forums up to the broader community and use them in ongoing basis for this sort of community-developer interaction.

We are very excited to get this all moving forward with you, and we’ve been busy at work on the Roundcube Next foundational / core design, and can’t wait to share our progress with you in the Backstage area!

I do apologize for the lengthy delay in getting this email out (it has been sitting in my outbox for some weeks now …) but the volunteer admins that oversee the Roundcube servers (which includes the ones hosting the mailing lists) had a number of interruptions and hurdles on the road to getting some new infrastructure set up for this mailing list so we can reach out to you all more easily … but now that’s finally done and we can start bringing you all into the loop on a regular basis as to Roundcube Next progress.

p.s. If you also grabbed the Kolaborator perk, you will receive a Kolab Now credit to use with the Kolab Now account of your choice with your Backstage Pass login info.

Aaron Seigo
Roundcube Team Member

While this is great news, gears are clearly turning somewhere in their camp, it is not really the right way to approach a crowdfunded project. There should be frequent communication for the public, as well as special access for backers.

There are 2 significant problems right now. The backers forum has apparently not gone live yet. I have seen a comment from a backer who says he expected it to be online by now, and I would agree. Mr. Seigo says the email sat in his outbox for several weeks, which should be added to any ‘expected’ timeframe.

How long does it take to set up a forum? 2 hours. Maybe a few more if you’ve got a lot of sub-forums and plugins and security concerns. But less than 1 day of work. You install phpBB (anyone who isn’t using phpBB is a fool) and it does most of the heavy lifting for you. So there is really no excuse for why it’s taken almost 3 months.

I hope that the people in the Roundcube Next camp will recognize that the public is becoming concerned, and change the way they treat progress reports and communication. Ignoring people is completely unacceptable, for starters. And monthly reports of progress are absolutely appropriate. Anything further they want to offer to backers is great, but they need to prove they’re actually working, rather than partying on other peoples’ dime.

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