Lino News #1 – August 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dear friends of Lino,

I felt that it is time to start a newsletter where I try to write once in a month about what’s going on in the project. About 20 software developers and 10 non-technical stakeholders in the world are reading this right now because they showed their interest in Lino during the last years. Not a huge number, but it’s worth a newsletter.

Lino applications are used by several dozens of end users on at least 4 production sites, the eldest since January 2010. I am booked out for paid customer projects until end of 2016. And all users, including their IT system administrators, are mostly satisfied. So nothing to complain there. GitHub reports an average of ten and at least two commits per week. So at least one developer is having a lot of fun with Lino, and one family is being fed by it.

I believe that Lino would be able to feed many more families than mine. But it seems that this belief is not very contagious, at least not per se. So the big challenge for Lino is to evolve into a community-driven project. This evolution is slow.

Newbie problems and documentation

For example, it is still quite hard for Python newbies to get started with Lino. This is difficult to fix for a single developer. In order to discover a “newbie problem” I need a beginner who stumbles over it. And beginners tend to run away as soon as they stumble over a problem (or at least their initial fascination gets a little crack, and often that’s fatal for their motivation in a world with so many other fascinating things.)

Documentation in general is another challenge. I often invest many hours into it and then I feel like fighting with a Hydra which gets two new heads for every head cut off. But actually it does evolve. It is getting better. Slowly.

Lino would be well documented if it had been “born” into an existing team of developers somewhere in a company. But I also dare to claim that one reason for Lino’s geniality (in some places) is the fact that it was free to grow in a single person’s mind before needing to face community.

Yes, Lino grows slowly, but steadily and in a sustainable way. Growing slowly is not bad. This differs from the usual opinion about successful startup projects. It is because Lino is such a big beast and because I am the only full-time developer. So actually I don’t complain about these problems, I just do my best to work on them. And any help is welcome.

A ticketing system for Lino

Slow as we are, one important infrastructural problem of the Lino community might have been solved recently. I speak about Lino Noi the ticketing and time tracking system written in Lino and for Lino.

Quite some developers have asked me “Where is your ticketing system? Where can I pick up some issue to work on?” I have been trying several systems: Google code when it started, GitHub issue tracker, Trac). But none of them satisfied my needs. After several months of hesitating whether it is a good idea to reinvent the wheel, Lino Noi went into production in April. It is also the CMS behind the Lino Team’s web site. It is experimental, poorly documented, young and naive, but I am using it everyday, and am satisfied. You probably don’t imagine what this means.

The next step for Lino Noi is to get some more users. So if you have some experience with ticketing systems, you might help Lino by donating two hours: contact me and ask me to show you Lino Noi, and then tell me your ideas and suggestions.