The Goal

I've been somewhat silent when it comes to releasing new CTools lately. Rest assure, it's not a consequence of the Webdetails acquisition. On the contrary, we have a plugin ready to release (CFR) and we're preparing to release another one (Sparkl) that, in my opinion, will be the biggest hit since CDEwas release a couple of years ago - and believe me I don't say that often. Attendees of the Pentaho Community Meetup in Sintra will be able to see it live!

One of the things I'm trying to do is to start with what I called a Continuous Development Model (I just made this up, I like the fact that I can call this CDM ;) ).

The idea is to have always someone on our side developing small - and not so small - applications based on client needs, popular use cases, through services engagements or simply because we felt like it and release them to the community through the Pentaho Marketplace. I have a list of 20 things I'd like to develop on a whiteboard next to me.

With this initiative I hope to be able to promote a richer ecosystem around Pentaho, promoting external contributions and, along the way, build useful applications that in the first place someone had the need to. This is how many of the CTools were built in the first place, and I'd like to promote more of that.
The Challenge

We face a nasty challenge though, and I need to be prepared to answer a very important argument:

How do you plan to do those kind of releases without customers and users in
general expecting those applications to be maintained going forward under
the general support contracts?

I don't know the answer, and that's why I'd like to get people's opinion. On one hand, I'm the first one to agree that Support, QA, Engineering and Doc teams must be focused on a well-defined roadmap and can not be distracted by this kind of initiatives. We have this problem already with the CTools; some people expected them to be included and supported from the next release, and that isn't feasible. It takes time to make it's way into the product, and some won't even make it there.

On the other hand - I refuse to believe that the answer to this is "not doing anything in the first place".

So this is the challenge that I'd like some help with: Is it possible to engage on a Continuous Development Model that sits outside the general product development? If so, how? Would customers and users accept the fact that in order to produce this kind of content at the proposed rate, supported by the community or through T&M services engagements?

I did that through Webdetails. Can I still do that through Webdetails, A Pentaho Company? This small detail means a lot in terms of people's expectations...

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