Over the last three years I've spent a large amount of my spare time dedicated to building an open-source Web API framework. The project has been growing in popularity, gaining users, and is now a well-established and widely used piece of software.
Two weeks ago I launched a Kickstarter campaign to seek collaborative funding and allow for dedicated development time on a new, improved release. We were hoping to raise somewhere between £4,000 to £12,000, and use that to cover development costs.
Here's the video we shot, explaining why we're seeking the funding and what we're planning to do with the investment:
At the time of posting this we've already blown our goals well out of the water and are currently on a staggering £29,500.
This amount of funding is going to mean I'll be able to dedicate a substantial amount of time in the DabApps office working on improving the framework, and being focused on it in a way that's simply not possible if it's only ever being developed in personal time.
Looking Behind The Curtain
When you're working on open-source software it can be hard to get much visibility on how many people are using it, or who they are. There might be the occasional "thank you" message, but typically your interaction with users will be limited to support forums and issue triage.
With the Kickstarter campaign that's no longer the case - it's been a pleasure to get some insights into companies building critical parts of their businesses on Django REST framework.
Here's an example of feedback I've had from a sponsor:
Stories like this are hugely rewarding to see.
Django REST framework is now being used by thousands of developers worldwide including at many large and well-established companies including Mozilla, Eventbrite, Heroku, and Disqus, among many others.
The Economic Argument
Open-source isn't just about building a warm and fuzzy community, it's also simply a better model for certain types of software.
We're still in the early days of finding sustainable business models around open-source software, but collaboratively funded tooling is a far more efficient way for companies to get value at relatively low cost than everyone building their own sets of tools from scratch.
I'm hoping we're going to see much, much more of this in the future. Successful, widely-used open-source projects should be seeing financial support as a norm' rather than as the exception.
I'm really excited for the future of Django REST framework - there's so much more that can still be done in order to improve the state of Web API tooling. This Kickstarter campaign is going to let us take things to the next level, and I can't wait to get started!