A little more than two weeks ago we released Kraft version 0.40, the first version of Kraft based on KDE 4 software platform. The release went fine as far as I can tell, no terrible bugs were reported yet. Some work went into the new website since then, but in general I need a few weeks break from Kraft and spend my evenings outside enjoying spring time.
Today, Sourceforge posted a blog about Kraft after they kind of mail-interviewed me. It’s nice, it really focuses on the things also important to me. This might be another step towards a broader user base for Kraft. I say that because one could have the impression that the number of people actually really using Kraft could be larger. A high number of users is one of the fundamental criteria for a successful free software project and thus I am constantly trying to understand whats the reason for the impression or the fact.
The first idea is that the Kraft project simply does something wrong in the way a project should be driven. But there are releases, there is a so far ok website, there are communication channels with information on it and people answering questions. Of course, it always could be done better, but I hope and believe we are not doing too bad. Marketing could be more, that’s granted.
The next thing could be that nobody needs this kind of software. But there are quite some companies doing this kind of software in the commercial space. So there must be a market. Actually I think the market is huge. People are writing invoices all over the world and I bet many of them are not really satisfied with the way they do it usually which makes Kraft at least an option to try for them.
And this might lead to better path: Probably these people do not know that the option exists. They simply haven’t heard about Kraft yet and if they would there is a good chance that they would not believe that it is free etc pp. And this is probably not specific to Kraft but also applies, of course much more weaker, to larger projects like openSUSE or KDE: A lot of people from the ‘real world’ don’t know about free software communities, the ideas behind and the benefits for users of the software. That sounds strange to us, as this is our daily reality, but start with asking your parents or non computer related friends if they really understand what it is about. Imagine what people know who have no computer job nor -hobby nor know you!
What consequences can that have for us? Well, we could decide to skip this group of people. That would mean, beside some other effects, that Kraft would not make sense any more and I don’t like that. It probably should influence the way we see the ‘product management’ aspect of our projects. For me, ‘product management’ is often equivalent to “take care that the result is especially useful to non computer scientists” (which is probably not what PM really is about) and the focus on that is very important and the precondition for the next point.
We might have to take our projects even more out of the geek niche and go to places where the ‘real world’ happens. That is difficult for various reasons. First, it means that we have to start to explain again from start, and maybe also get questions where the answer is not obvious. Furthermore it might have practical issues, because for example fairs for handcrafter utilities charge seriously for software boothes which is not the case if we present projects on FOSS events.
On the other hand its easy because we all just have to spread the word even more and tell everybody about free software, our projects and free culture. And try to think as if we weren’t free software people. I know, most of us do already what they can and that’s great 🙂