First some background ...
For several years already, companies, public administrations (such as the Swiss Canton of Solothurn GIS department 'SO!GIS') and others have been hiring developers to address their specific needs and then donating any work which is of generic interest back to the QGIS project. This has been a huge boon to the project, but in general this kind of development activity is very focused on the needs of sponsors. This is quite understandable but leaves many of the more tedious aspects of the QGIS work up to the group of volunteers that form the heart of the project.
I have often fantasized about being sponsored to 'just do good stuff' on QGIS so that I could work on writing and cleaning up the API documentation, writing unit tests, improving usability and so on - things that I typically wouldn't be able to pass on as a cost to a client looking for a specific feature. In parallel, I have often thought how great it would be if organisations started donating hours, days or months of developer time (their own developers or sponsoring community members) to the project to help to improve it in a general sense without following the particular mandate of a client.
In fact I can see several advantages for organisations who take this route:
- The organisation will be developing in-depth expertise in QGIS within their staff which they can resell to their clients in the form of support services or new development work further down the line.
- The organisation will raise their profile in the community and establish themselves as a 'go to' company for those looking for QGIS solution providers.
- The organisation will forge links socially and formally with community members, making it easier for them to understand how the project works and how to operate within the project, and more likely that requests for help and input from the community will receive a favourable response.
In the light of the above, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email in my inbox this week from Kumaran Narayanaswamy of kCube Consulting:
How are you doing?
I would like to let you know that one of our developers is available full time for core QGIS Development tasks. Do you have any task priority list or enhancement list? He can work with the core development team and contribute for the development. Please let me know your thoughts and how to take this forward. Thanks for your time.
Wow! Of course that set my brain of in a million directions at once - there are so many things we want to do in QGIS, where to start? Kumaran and I sent a few messages back and forth, and he is quite amenable to opening the decision making process to the community. Just to clarify, kCube are offering the services of a full time paid developer (C++ or python) to the QGIS project to work on whatever we see fit for six months, starting in Jan 2011.
Have your say...
To get things rolling I have created a wiki page where anyone with an OSGEO login can add their ideas. We will take the unique and plausible ideas from the list and we will hold a poll to see which ideas are most sought after from the community, and use the results to help us decide what to prioritise for the kCube developer. We look forward to reading your ideas! Needless to say, a huge THANK YOU to Kumaran andkCube Consulting for this awesome offer - we appreciate it and will make the best possible use of it!