FunnelWeb vs. Magellan Community

Working on OSS projects has been interesting not just from a code perspective, but from a community development perspective.

FunnelWeb is relatively new, and hasn't been actively promoted (I haven't even blogged about it yet). Yet check out the reply counts on some of the threads on the FunnelWeb mailing list:

My inbox, looking at the FunnelWeb discussion group

By comparison, here is what the discussion list for Magellan looks like:

Magellan's discussion list

Magellan has been around longer, and I think it's used by more people (going by download counts), yet there isn't much community participation.

Here are some observations that I think might explain the differences:

  • FunnelWeb started with three core contributors (Aaron, Matt and myself), and we're all pretty active. I never really encouraged contributors to Magellan, so it only progresses when I feel like it.
  • When people suggest features for FunnelWeb, we encourage them to submit a patch. With Magellan, I tend to end up implementing them myself.
  • As a web application, FunnelWeb has an advantage - web developers seem to be more comfortable with both using and contributing to open source. WPF developers tend to be pretty insular.
  • FunnelWeb is smaller and simpler than Magellan, so it makes it easier for people to jump in and change things.
  • Features are only added to FunnelWeb because other people want them, and they tend to be discussed a bit before code is written. Features are added to Magellan as I harvest them from my WPF projects, but there may or may not be demand for them, and I push them up without discussion.
  • As a blog engine, FunnelWeb is more likely to be used in people's spare time, so they're more likely to contribute back. Magellan is used by people at work, so they might not be able to contribute as much.

I'm curious to hear any other insights that could explain the differences in community between the two projects.

Of the two projects, I'm having a lot more fun working on FunnelWeb, thanks to the amazing community we're gathering, and the rapid improvements we're seeing. In some ways, although Magellan's source code is available and technically it's "open source", it feels less open source than FunnelWeb.

A picture of me

Welcome, my name is Paul Stovell. I live in Brisbane and work on Octopus Deploy, an automated deployment tool.

Prior to founding Octopus Deploy, I worked for an investment bank in London building WPF applications, and before that I worked for Readify, an Australian .NET consulting firm. I also worked on a number of open source projects and was an active user group presenter. I was a Microsoft MVP for WPF from 2006 to 2013.

02 Feb 2011

I think much of the difference between the two projects can be summed up in how people use them. FunnelWeb is more of a consumer-oriented product. Folks can use it right away to host a new blog with a minimum of fuss. Its target audience may be less interested in customizing it for their own use than in submitting suggestions for improvement.

Magellean is used as a component within a larger product or service. It takes more time to get familiar with it. And its target audience is developers. They might simply build on top of the Magellean framework without realizing that those bits and pieces would be useful to others. They'll just make the changes they need and get back to work.

So don't take the lack of community feedback as indicative of the relative value of the projects. They serve different audiences with different needs.

(I've been itching to put Magellean through its paces in our product. Although I've worked through the sample code and built a throwaway prototype, I haven't quite mustered the courage to switch over to it. I imagine lots of other developers have downloaded it to evaluate, but haven't fully explored its possibilities yet either.)

04 Feb 2011

It could strictly be that Magellan is not considered widely interesting but FunnelWeb is. People love blogging engines; there is no denying that.

At a glance, however, the comparison seems a bit biased as the FunnelWeb replies look like they are from co-developers and friends. Your replies on Magellan seem to be more "boring" and typical of a project that has moved into sort-of maintenance, and not the fun rush of initial development.

Either way, I don't think it' OSS that really matters, t's working on useful and fun projects with people you like.