2 More subs and we're unlocking another version :)
Yep, we're just a couple more subs away from unlocking V0.2.6!
First, whether you've just joined up or have been supporting us a while, if you haven't already seen our thank you blog post please read it here :) a genuine thanks to all of you who've supported us.
2020 not what we expected but...
I am pretty sure most people would agree that plans were made in 2019 that got completely buggered by 2020. When we started our funding campaign in 2019 we had no idea what was coming.
2020 has been a weird year, after we initially met our first goal in April to fund all our operational costs and keep us online and functional, we set a new goal to ensure Crowdrender will not only be online but also properly maintained. You might have noticed we've recently changed the title of the next major milestone to reflect this.
The mini goals you can see above were created because we want to eventually make our addon available to everyone. Releasing updates as we pass each mini goal was one way of making sure the freely available addon would get updated as the development fund got towards its current major goal.
Where to now?
First, we're hopeful in the next few days we'll be able to unlock V0.2.6. We're literally $8 (that's two $4 subs) away from this goal!!
There's also another update about to be published in early access which will provide a patch for compatibility with blender 2.92, which is currently in alpha at the time of writing. This will also trigger V0.2.7 to be made freely available, which is good news for everybody as it was quite a significant patch update which fixed a lot of bugs. We're going to keep doing this so we can get better versions of the addon out there.
Its important we do this too, many people try the current freely available addon and evaluate if they want to support the project based on their first impressions, so we're eager to get the more recent updates published so that first impression is a good one. More support means better software, all other things being equal.
What about the new system that has been promised?
This is turning into a bit of an unintentional FAQ, but I'm just going to go with it! As you might have noticed, the funding page on our website makes a lot of noise about the new system we're working on, which we are working on. However, we're doing that in our spare time. Maintaining the current addon and manning the ever growing support ticket system, forum and e-mail, as well as other admin stuff really takes the lion's share of our time.
Our current plan for the new system has had to change, we were hoping 2020 would bring enough funding to maintain the addon and fund the new system. That didn't eventuate, don't know if that was COVID or something else, all we know is that our fund went up and down like a yoyo at times. We enquired after people who cancelled to find out what happened, those who replied said they'd lost work and had to cut expenses. Damn, if that was you, no judgement, I have nothing but compassion for you. Then we had surges in funding, followed by surges in cancellations, it was like some sick fairground ride. Thankfully, as this post mentions, we've been steadily growing through all the vacillations!
There has been work steadily progressing with the new system despite all this, and you'll start to see that in 2021. Starting with our GitHub site where we'll be starting to host stuff. The first will be a specification for an API for the new system (exciting stuff for software devs, probably not for anyone else though). We'll be inviting people to comment as technically this will be an RFC.
This API will let anyone distribute computations across many computers and will be available in python, at least to start with. Eventually there will be a new system called CRESS, which is what the API is for, and a new addon, that will be hosted on GitHub, licensed under the GPL (cause that's what all Blender addons have to use since blender's python API uses it) and open to contributions from anyone that wishes to submit a pull request.
2021, a new beginning
So, 2021 is coming, we're gearing up for another campaign to raise funds to both support the maintenance of the current addon, and to speed up development for the new system. We're also funding this by other means, we still run a cloud rendering system in partnership with Blender Grid, and we're also able to do contract development for rendering pipelines and automation scripting.
The main focus, though is for the development fund to grow and sustain the team to work full time on the addon. This will allow us to build a very cool rendering tool, supported by the community, which would be pretty awesome! You can check out the dev fund page for the highlights and stay tuned/subscribed for updates and when there will be something, even if its an API, on our GitHub site :)
Wishing you all the best and hoping for a much better year!