The Vocal IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign has reached its deadline and, unfortunately, failed to meet its goal. If you contributed to the campaign I want to personally thank you for your support. Since we set it up as a fixed funding campaign all contributors will be issued a full refund. If you have not already received a refund you should be seeing your money again very soon (IndieGoGo documentation says within five days).
I don’t want to reflect on the campaign itself quite yet. I’m still too close to it and am in the process of figuring out what it all means. I do think it’s important to start thinking about what the future plans are for the project, as well as for Birdie, given the failure.
As I mentioned in the developer Q&A from a few weeks ago, not meeting our goal means that we’re going to have to make some significant changes. Many of our planned features are going to have to either be dialed back or cut entirely. It’s important to be realistic about what is possible and to set expectations accordingly.
I’ve thought long and hard about the changes that will need to take place in terms of our goals for 2.0 and how our project functions as a whole. Before I discuss the features, I want to talk about some changes to the project itself:
- Over the summer I will be moving Vocal from Launchpad over to GitHub. This isn’t directly related to the campaign failure, it’s just something I have carefully considered and made a decision on. It’s in the best interests of the project to make this move for several reasons, one of which being that it makes it much easier for me to have both Birdie and Vocal hosted at the same place. Hosting the code at GitHub brings lots of helpful benefits at present that will improve development and also opens the door to exciting new possibilities in the future. When the code for 2.0 becomes available in the next month or two it will be pushed to GitHub.
- The Vocal website is going to be moving from Squarespace to WordPress. As much as I like the current site, using Squarespace is too costly for the project as it stands right now. Eventually it would be nice to use GitHub Pages, but I am not a web developer and my time is stretched far too thin as it is. If you are a web developer who would like to volunteer I would love to hear from you, but in the meantime, we’ll be switching to a cheaper WordPress instance.
- I’m focusing all my energy on making Vocal as incredible as possible on elementary OS. Since the campaign failed I will continue to only have at most 10 hours or so per week to devote to development, split between multiple projects, and that isn’t enough to customize the code and perform the necessary modifications to provide a great experience across multiple distributions. That time is better spent adding new features and fixing existing issues. If other developers want to volunteer their time to make cross-distro support better we’ll welcome those contributions, but for the time being I’m 100% focused on making Vocal as amazing as I can for elementary OS.
- Instead of a massive Vocal 2.0 release with all the features listed in the IndieGoGo campaign we’ll split the features into multiple major versions. In the future I plan to do smaller, more frequent major releases.
Okay, now for a specific list of features that will be developed as planned:
- iTunes podcast store browsing and full iTunes store search. This has been the focus of the work up until now. We already have support for browsing top podcasts in iTunes, as well as searching across the local library and across the iTunes podcast store. These features aren’t rock-solid yet, but there has been good progress so far. (Vocal 2.0. Expected by end of Summer 2015)
- A stunning new redesign that is both more beautiful and even simpler to use (Vocal 2.0. Expected by end of Summer 2015)
- A new playback queue (Vocal 2.0. Expected by end of Summer 2015)
- Background feed updates and downloads (either 2.0 or 3.0, depending on time)
- Full HTML show notes (Vocal 2.0. Expected by end of Summer 2015)
- Variable playback speeds (Vocal 2.0. Expected by end of Summer 2015)
- Multiple/mobile device sync (Vocal 3.0. Expected by the end of 2015 at the earliest, most likely 2016)
And features that will NOT be developed as planned (although they might be added in the distant future):
- A sleep timer
- Chromecast support
- Better native experiences across multiple Linux distros
- Password protected feeds (unless it’s trivially simple to implement)
Birdie 2.0 is still on track and is expected to be released by the end of Summer 2015. Specific features have not yet been nailed down completely, but it will feature a refreshed design, better multimedia support, the new Twitter Streaming API, smooth scrolling, and more.
I’m excited to announce that I am launching a new project! One of the stretch goals was to create a new unofficial elementary podcast. Although we fell far short of the goal, I’m going to do it anyway! It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.
Dane Henson, a staple in the elementary community, a great developer, and an all-around cool guy, has kindly agreed to co-host with me! The show is targeted for typical, everyday users. As a general rule it will not feature technobabble or long technical discussions. It will primarily consist of long-form interviews with elementary developers and community members, news, tips, reviews, and lots of other great stuff.
The show is titled simply elementary: the unofficial elementary OS podcast. We have done a practice recording and will be releasing a beta episode once our album art and music is finalized (soon). We plan to release new episodes every other week.
elementary Dropbox Mods
My script for making Dropbox work well in elementary is not dead, I just haven’t had time to work on it lately. I will devote a weekend to it soon.
What You Can Do to Help
As I said before, I am extremely appreciative of all the people who have contributed to the IndieGoGo Campaign. Although the campaign has ended and the money has been refunded, our expenses remain the same. As of right now we are around $300 in the red, and several expenses for the upcoming year are arriving soon. If you would still like to financially support the project we would gladly welcome it. I’ll post links below, and you can always find them here. I know we’ve mentioned money a lot over the past month so this is the last time I’ll ask for your help financially for a good long while.
Bitcoin Address: 15Vd7h2kbP3UxYyGyAzqCnURuLzVtUPcW4
If you can’t help financially I hope you’ll consider spreading the word about the new unofficial elementary OS podcast when it arrives. I hope you’ll also give Vocal 2.0 a try and share your experience with it when it reaches beta later this summer.