Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sigil Status

Sigil is not dead but it's development has slowed considerably to the point it's not being developed very much at this point. The best way I can describe it is Sigil is on life support.

When I took over Sigil from Strahinja I was not planning on taking an active development role. As part of my taking over Sigil my involvement was planned as project management. I was going to manage the web presence, review patches, provide guidance, made releases and at most minor bug fixes. However, that's not what ended up happening. Instead I ended up taking a very active development role. This was never my intention and not something I can continue. I do not plan on ending my affiliation with Sigil; I'm going to go back to what my involvement was supposed to be. Project management.

Since I've been management Sigil there have been about four major contributors (code). These people have been a huge help and a huge benefit and I've very thankful for their help. Ultimately even with all their help I'd estimate half of all code since I took over has been written by me. Due to this and myself not writing code like I was development will slow considerably.

Also, the contributors were never permanent members of the project. This is by their choice. They saw ways Sigil could be improved (mostly something they wanted it to do for their benefit) and helped to make it happen. As they've completed what they were interested in they've left and moved onto other things. Thus Sigil has zero outside contributors as of now. This combined with my decision to focus on project management means there is no one actively developing Sigil at this time.

To help with gaining contributors I've decided to move the project to GitHub. The new source repo is available at https://github.com/user-none/Sigil. This is something I'd been thinking about for some time now. A few reasons behind the change:

  • Google Code has poor support for working with and merging forks. So much so that most contributors ended up emailing patches instead of wanting to deal with Google Code.

  • Google Code's issue tracker is terrible. The search feature is useless. The way it displays issues is terrible and hard to understand. The majority of issues posted at least 99% are not real issues but duplicates of issues that are deemed not issues. The most common issue opened is Sigil does not run on OS X 10.6 which for technical reasons is not possible. Sigil not running on an OS version that is not supported, not intended to run on and an OS version that is EOL by the OS vendor is not a bug.

    Personally, I believe the issue tracker should be used for code discussion and contribution. That's not happening. So moving to GitHub means it's more likely that that will happen because people will need a GitHub account to open an issue and typically only developers will have a GitHub account. I'm not saying I don't want people reporting issues but when reporting issues means me closing 99% of them as either dup of not supported or not supported makes the issue tracker less than worthless.

  • Google Code has decided to disable downloads. Existing projects were given an extension but as of next year Google Code can't be used to host binary builds of Sigil. This makes Google Code less useful.

  • Calibre moved to GitHub and while Kovid has told me it hasn't increased the number of major contributors it has increased the number of one off contributions. I'm hoping that if calibre moving to GitHub has increased code contributions the same will happen with Sigil.

That's pretty much where Sigil is a this point. I can't say where it will go in the future but my hope is more people will contribute with the move to GitHub and Sigil will continue to grow.

16 comments:

  1. This is sad news. I hope some developers step up to assume development responsibility. But if they don't I suggest you to transfer the project ownership to those who may take it further. I think in the free software world, it's kind of natural that the lead developer owns the project.

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    1. It would be one thing to turn it over to another active developer who has been a long time contributor. But as it stands now there isn't anyone to turn it over to. If some random person were to volunteer to take over the project they would need to start contributing and prove A) their really interested and they won't get bored and abandon Sigil next month, B) they know what they're doing because managing an open source project is more than just writing code.

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  2. I guess Sigil is an important tool, especially in the future.
    I made a donation to the Sigil project https://flattr.com/thing/1969136 . I hope you know Flattr? Many FLOSS projects joined it (https://flattr.com/catalog/software) and I really would like to support you with it :)

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  3. John: This is fairly dreadful news--no possible successors in interest on the horizon?

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    1. Not really... Everyone who has contributed has pretty much moved on at this point.

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  4. FYI, Github has also disabled "downloads" pages. You should probably find a more permanent external solution for binary distribution.

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    1. > FYI, Github has also disabled "downloads" pages.

      They only did so temporarily. They were revamped and added back. See https://github.com/blog/1547-release-your-software for details.

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  5. Thanks so much for all your hard-work - it's an amazing utility.

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  6. This is a great tool, I hope the move to Github works, and you find some top coders to help with the project.

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  7. Hi John, What about the Document Foundation or the Apache Incubator ? They could be interested imo

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  8. forgot: OERPUB http://oerpub.org/about/

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  9. I think this is somewhat devastating news. Sigil is a first-class utility. Calibre is a good program, but it produces books with bloated code and is just not the tool an advanced ebook developer needs. Sigil is the only software i can find which gives me total control over my books so that i can produce hand-crafted books. Is there really nothing we can do? I simply can't code for Sigil (not my skill set), but wish I could do something at least to save and develop this indispensable tool. Surely there is a sizeable community of Sigil users who will feel the same way! What is the alternative? Calibre? Ugh... might as well use MS Word. I know there is software which will crack open my books for code work, but nothing which is specific to ebooks like Sigil.

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  10. Is it possible for someone to port 0.7.3 to the Mac, or is that out of the question at this point? My company uses Sigil exclusively (we're bummed by this news), but exclusively on the Mac. It would be extremely beneficial, based on what 0.7.3 is supposed to fix on the Mac, if someone were able to port it for us.

    Thanks!

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    1. Sigil fully supports and is developed on OS X. There is no porting that needs to be done. At the time of release I was unable to build OS X packages because the version of Qt (5.1.0) it targets had a bug in one of their OS X packaging tools. This was only discovered after the changes were made and packaging was started. I have not had time to see if the issue is corrected in the new released Qt 5.1.1 and if packages can be built.

      Sigil will compile and run on OS X if you have Qt installed separately. Producing a fully self contained and distributable package is what was/is broken.

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    2. Oh I gotcha. I don't have Qt, so my company is still using 0.7.2. I may have to see if I can figure out how to do it, but having the self-contained package would be awesome when/if you're able to do that.

      Thanks!

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  11. Thanks for all your work on Sigil, and for this post. I had no idea it was such a lonely endeavour - the result doesn't look like it. I'm not a coder, but am a big Sigil fan, and I hope you find a good home or successor for it.

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