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Kickstarting missing feature development for xTuple PostBooks®

Friday, March 15, 2013

I have a good friend who was a producer of the cult TV show "Veronica Mars" from 2004-2007. Recently, the creative team behind that show made Internet history in an interesting way — they partnered with the website Kickstarter, a resource for crowdsourced fund-raising, to raise millions of dollars to underwrite production of a "Veronica Mars" feature film. As of this writing, over 50,000 fans have pledged anywhere from $10 to $10,000 or more. Pretty cool.

It got me thinking about how we might do something similar in our xTuple community, and perhaps address some of the most-requested "missing features" in xTuple. Of course, we did something similar a few years ago — our "feature mob" that eventually engaged 57 different companies in the design and development of our innovative IMAP email integration into xTuple and xTuple Connect. That was a great experience, and I think worked well — but it was one big, expensive, complex feature that many many people had been asking for over the years. I don't know that the same model would work for smaller features. But maybe this would.

So what if we, as a community, agreed on the Top 5, or Top 10 missing features in xTuple? We could then take a stab at estimating the cost of developing those features, and roll them into a project on Kickstarter. I've been reviewing their website, and have been impressed by the thought (and experience) that they've put into this. You define a project, and an estimated delivery date, set a goal of how much money you need to raise, and then you have 30-60 days of open time for people to make financial pledges. If you reach your funding goal, then everyone who made a pledge has their credit card charged (and Kickstarter takes 5%); if you don't reach the goal, then no one pays anything. Pretty harmless, it seems to me.

Whether or not you'd be interested in getting involved financially, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below on what features you'd like to see in xTuple. For purposes of this conversation, let's focus on features that would be desirable in the free and open source PostBooks® core, which are not already in one of the commercially licensed products.That way, I think, we could focus on delivering the most benefit to the greatest number of community members. We wouldn't rule out adding something to one of the commercial products via this mechanism, but let's at least start the conversation with PostBooks®.

Ready? Then let's hear from you. Sound off below on features you'd like to see in xTuple! And thank you!

Ned Lilly

President and CEO
In October 2001, Ned co-founded xTuple, originally called OpenMFG, with the aim of bringing the worlds of open source and enterprise resource planning (ERP) together to solve the unmet needs of small- to mid-sized manufacturers. In 1999, he was a co-founder of Great Bridge, an early business built around the PostgreSQL open source database. PostgreSQL is the core technology for xTuple today. Great Bridge was incubated inside Landmark Communications, a mid-sized media company where Ned directed corporate venture investments, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and startup activity. Prior to Landmark, Ned worked for a regional technology group in Washington D.C. and had a brief first career in political media — television, radio and a non-partisan news wire. He holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from George Washington University.