About a week ago, I started a thread in the Propeller 1 forum about which direction we're going when it comes to supporting Propeller developers. See https://forums.parallax.com/discussion/168321/migrating-from-propeller-tool-to-propelleride-or-simpleide
What I learned from that thread (but actually already knew) is that there's just not enough coordination on the part of Parallax when it comes to supporting developers. Developers want to use a decent, stable Integrated Development Environment. But they also depend on good compilers and other tools such as downloaders. There are quite a few volunteers (let's call them "plumbers") who are willing to spend significant time to develop software to help other developers work with the Propeller and other Parallax products. But because Parallax is short on resources (for reasons unimportant to this thread), this just isn't happening:
- There is no "go-to" location where one can find all the latest and greatest development tools. The places from where Parallax itself distributes developer tools are scattered across several different websites (shop, learn, developer).
- Bugfixes and new features don't find their way to developers. Many tools are under development. Bugs are found and fixed, but if the Parallax web pages don't get updated, developers won't see the fixes.
- Developers (including "plumbers") get increasingly frustrated. The users of the development tools aren't getting the best they can get, because they may be unaware that something better might be available, or because they don't have the time or resources to build their own tools. Meanwhile, "plumbers" feel that their work is going to waste because Parallax doesn't update download links.
- Lack of coordination and integration. The number of places where various tools are integrated with each other (for example, compilers or downloaders that are integrated in IDEs), is increasing. That means that coordination is necessary between the "plumbers": when a bug gets fixed in a compiler, it should be possible to rebuild the IDEs that depend on that compiler, and create a release.
I'm concerned that the latest versions of several important development tools for the Propeller are not on the Parallax website. And I'm concerned to read in the other thread that plumbers feel that their effort is going to waste ("What's the point in working on something if it's not getting used?") and that there's an amount of scattering ("Since it's open source, it's everywhere") and even confusion (e.g. about which version of GCC is the "current" version). And lastly, I'm concerned about the loss of some good contributors that left projects in limbo, for whatever reasons.
The Github home of Parallaxinc would potentially be a good candidate to become the Place To Be for the latest software. But it's apparently not being maintained very well either (if at all). And access is strictly read-only outside Parallax as far as I can tell (it's impossible to see who is in the Parallax organization unless you're part of it).
The conclusion is: There's a need to get organized
I created an organization at https://github.com/PropellerPlumbers
. I forked my P1V repository into it too, and I created an Organization Website at https://propellerplumbers.github.io
(at this time there's nothing in it yet, except for a simple "Hello" page). Organizations in Github are a way to bring groups of developers together to work on multiple projects.
The idea is to build this up as the single place where development software, the volunteers that work on them, and the developers that use them, come together. Everyone wins: Developers know where to go to get the Latest and Greatest tools, plumbers can keep an eye on what's going on (no more discussions about which GCC is the "current" one), and don't have to feel that what they do doesn't matter, and Parallax wins because the plumbers might regularly release updates that Parallax customers expect.
But this will only work if enough plumbers will join. I don't want to just fork everything from the Parallaxinc page into the PropellerPlumbers organization; the point is to put repositories into the organization that are actually maintained. If enough plumbers will join the "club" to create some critical mass, we can generate some gravity towards the place, and make things easier for everyone. It won't take much extra effort (as plumber you'll just have another remote repository to push to), and it will really benefit developers and other plumbers if we work together.
What do you guys think?