Issues between Jolla and the Users/Community

Little preface: I’m just a normal sailfishos user and in no way I am an active developer, but I do observe and read about active developement and have made so far by a long time my humble opinion on the state of things that I’ll share here in a constructive way, although a bit critical maybe.

I wish to open this thread to highlights a destructive tendency that could impact sailfishos in the near future, if it’s not yet doing so; I’d also like the most people possible to participate in this thread, from user/community side to jolla’s side.

It’s no secret to anyone that many things in the sailfish world did not work in the last years. Although many are comprehensible, some are not. Jolla is a small startup still, struggling to recover from many past situations… but to what extent can we consider all this fruit of past issues? In the last months especially, some tendencies yet known towards poor comunications and one-sided decisions are breaking the trust between community and jolla, one time more… I’m referring to some evident active developers quiting sailfish (https://mobile.twitter.com/eugenio_g7/status/1297162722023440384) or discussing with some jolla internals because of long-standing contributions considered little or none (will search and post here later) which is all very sorry to see.

The result is that today sailfish is lagging behind in many aspects that have been pointed out infinite times by the community and not managed properly or even considered:

  • The Qt version update dilemma, stopping out more sailfish developement;
  • In the store it’s not possible still to contribute/donate money to developers, stopping a real ecosystem of apps to becreated (not to mention that a better comment interaction with the dev under an app window of the store was really never considered);
  • The browser, another never ending dilemma;
  • Lacks of communications by Jolla side;
  • Not clear statements about a really required public roadmap;
  • No clear statements since years (!) about the tablet refund, even an honest update once in a while stating “we’re not still able to pay”.

Has not come a time for a new deal between Jolla and its community of users/developers?

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Jolla serves their paying customers. Everyone has to understand that. And its what it has to do to continue development of the OS itself. This means that there might be requirements (by they paying customers) that conflict with what the community wants (we have a few examples). Schedules might change and the customer requirements might also change so it makes it harder to find time for/ create stuff for /satisfy the community. And on top of that it is a really small company with limited resources.

The community is also small which automatically means that people with knowledge are also very few. People coming and going is a normal thing.

Of course the issue is -leaving aside “details” like qt update, features- to find a formula that will help SFOS become a better OS with the efforts of both jolla and the community. And for the life of me i cant seem to find much that will make the situation better.

The one thing that comes to my mind is that many stuff have to be communicated by the CEO/managers to the customers and convince them -if possible- that the community can help the OS so conflict issues could be less.

Another issue might be that its a bit cumbersome to contribute to SFOS closed parts (requires NDA, communicating with Jolla), but that hasn’t stopped people from solving problems there.

As for the store/making money forget about it. SFOS doesn’t have the market share and unless someone pays you to create an app for them a SFOS app wont pay your bills. Full time at least. And this more or less applies to everything that small. Its not a SFOS problem. Its an ecosystem one which cant be solved. Noone supports small platforms. And then they whine about paying apple or google tax and unfairness and caring about the consumer (see Apple vs Epic games).
So if you want to do something for SFOS do it because you want to scratch an itch or because its fun. It worked for some people (see Linus Torvalds :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

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SailfishOS is heading firmly down the corporate road, meaning it is to likely become an embedded OS, for use in corporate institutes like say, the Post Office or any other government owned business. Hence all the extra Management stuff that has been added over the last few years, enabling corporations to disable things like Sailfish Browser, you don’t want Mr Postman tossing off to porn and downloading torrents when he should be delivering letters and parcels, Messages perhaps are disabled, preventing staff from using the phone privately, etc, etc…the scenarios are endless.

Anyway, have a little read here; https://sailfishos.org/develop/docs/sailfish-mdm/

Public road map?, they stopped that years ago. The community are just bug hunters, nothing else. So there is little to no need for Jolla to communicate everything to us, we don;t pay the bills, quite simple really.

If I’m talking/thinking utter rubbish here, please, someone jump in and correct me.

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We at Jolla do appreciate the Sailfish community. We see all kind of contributions from community and a lot of passion in the communication forums. We really couldn’t do this without the support we get.

As was pointed out, in recent years we have had to transform from consumer product startup to a company that is producing services to corporate and government customers, and at the same time serving the community with consumer releases like Sailfish X. We are learning this as we go and we know there is a lot we need to improve.

Roadmap is something that is a very challenging to open in this setup. For short term the roadmap is usually clear, but then large part of it is closely related to our corporate customers and we can’t publicly reveal plans that are related to our customers requirements. Longer term items on the roadmap on the other hand are usually not as sensitive, but the items and deadlines are often changing, and then when there is a need to deviate from public plans we disappoint community and ourselves.

We do continue to try to improve communication, for example this forum was born from clear request from the developer community.

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@veskuh

Has there been any discussion within Jolla about how to make this relationship work better and make the OS better.
If we get a solution to this it will benefit Jolla (by providing a more complete OS/product to its customers) and the community by having more features. And maybe attract more people in it.

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Good to know @veskuh, thank you for your communication.

I appreciate your comment regarding deviation in set plans that disappoint your staff, I know the feeling all to well, meaning I should also stop to appreciate just how complex building an OS really is, ultimately, I have no idea.

I think it is fair to say, many community members have become a little disillusioned with the way our beloved OS has gone/is going and I also fully appreciate that behind the scenes business has nothing to do with the public in reality, but any and all communications from anyone@jolla is always welcomed, we are somewhat starved of details, but again, decent communication also takes preparation and time.

I know we all know this and I’m not wishing to repeat the narrative, but, …a working native browser would be a real boost for community. The browser is near to impossible to use for the most basic of tasks and always crashes back to its cover.

As apps like facebook, etc are not going to happen, so it would be nice to use the browser instead for such purposes, if a user cannot do that, then really, what good is the OS to the general non-corporate user?, it becomes a device that cannot communicate the same way the competition can, it is almost reduced to becoming a dumb feature phone type OS.

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@Edz i think the solution -for problems you mention- is not to fix certain apps but to relax certain rules or give space to the community to fix them themselves.

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Yes, communication and collaboration with community is continued discussion topic within the company and as you can see we’ve recently made changes in both communication channels and people’s responsibilities. We follow the contributions we get like bug reports, translations, and code commits and especially now that we’ve been changing some things its important for us to make sure that things are moving to right direction.

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Maybe I am naive, but could the OS split into a stable release for commercial products/services, and a more open one for the community with lots of contributions from the community itself with upgrades to Qt and browser engine?

Yeah, browser needs a lot of work. Sailfish Browser is open source and as you can see from the repositories we’ve increased our efforts on it and have been working on it recently, both on fixing issues and updating to a newer version of the engine. Situation should be getting better in upcoming updates.

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@veskuh Thank you for your kind and honest reply, it’s really appreciated.
Yes, with all its limits this forum is a big improvement from TJC and it’s an appreciable effort in the direction of a more open communication, as you correctly said. That’s clear.

About the roadmap, I think the community understands to a certain extent (given the reasons of the transformation of Jolla you pointed out) that no exact timetable nor feature list can be provided to a longer term, in order to not disappoint anyone. But, what about using the blog a bit more to communicate in general i.e. what contents may the next release contain? It could be done safely when a release is three months into work. And that would be a chance for using the blog more. Yes because I think the community in general is lacking with respect to the past a more frequent blog posting of what Jolla thinks and it’s working on (for what it’s possible to disclose obviously). This is a recurring community request. What about having a monthly/bimonthly post format in the blog? Like a “News from the Seas”? You don’t have of course to talk about developement, you may interview your workers and giving an insight from the offices. Of course this may be not the best moment to try, given the situation, but maybe in the next months… just an idea to give to the public relations team.

I’ll recall that you should pay special attention to developers. A better interaction in Jolla Store / Harbour it’s possible, as allowing more API (which I know is in progress) and maybe bring up if a payment system is possible to be integrated.

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@veskuh, thank you for the responses. As an example of a properly failed communication we have Changes needed to merge the project names to Sailfish OS which had completely irrelevant title and irrelevant introduction when you take into account the main message - closure of OBS and moving away from gitlab instance. The matter was discussed on the meeting between Jolla and community with the idea of continuing the discussion in this forum.

In particular, reasoning behind the decisions is not known to us. While that thread does deserve “that escalated quickly” sticker, I was personally expecting a reply today with the reasons behind OBS shutdown process. Namely, it is hard to propose the solution to the problem or finding a new working formula when the reasons are not known. Even if @maajussi was not able to reply today, I presume someone from the office could just step in and say “we are preparing the reply, please give us few hours/days/weeks”. Although, the reasons should be clear if such decision is made.

As a result of irrelevant title and introduction, we still don’t know whether OBS shutdown is decided. Thus, as a part of communication exercise with the community, please state in the title what is the message about and provide as much specific information as you can. An example of such communication is A New Policy for Mozilla Location Service where as much as they could, for legal reasons, we were given reasoning for a policy change. For a company that presents itself as open, Jolla should do better and not hide behind irrelevant titles something that is considered as not pleasing the community. We should be able to handle a bad news, just don’t try to hide it and let us work around the problem and find solutions to it.

So, in case of that “escalated quickly” announcement, I would propose:

Title: OBS is shutting down and Gitlab instance is moved

Text:
"
We have to announce, with the great sadness, that for several reasons we start the process of closing community OBS. This is due to

In addition, we have few other reasons that we cannot disclose, but would make it impossible for us to … . Before we close OBS, … We will work with the community of porters and developers to …

In addition, due to … , we are moving our repositories to "

Don’t know about others, but that type of straight communication is something that I would expect.

Anyway, I hope that the changes in communication will work out. As for OBS shutdown, I would like to get a conformation regarding it and please disclose why is it happening. In the relevant thread, though.

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Reading all this makes me wonder wether Jolla’s container solution for Android support might help in another way, i.e. in providing an administrated business phone that allows some personal use in some sort of a sandbox (communication interfaces might a problem there, though) - like with BB10: My firm switched to iOS when Blackberry killed BB10 and I can not get used to iOS (I am doing everything with my SFOS phones) - and I still miss the switching between the administrated part of the phone and my personal part. I don’t know whether tere is a niche for Jolla …

So far, Jollas best USP is not being Apple or Google. But is that enough? Would it be better to have a “positive” USP? I order to be meaningfull and to have some positive USP, SFOS needs to stick out at least in some aspects over iOS and Android - even usabilty alone won’t be enough if there are no Apps that let the user benefit from improved usabilty. This brings me back to native apps, for instance those that make use of coveractions or multitasking SFOS provides. For myself, it would be great if I could be productive with multiple instances of an office program that i can switch between. However, so far there is no office app despite of all the effort Damien Caliste has put into SFOS documents.

Puremaps by rinigus is a great example of what can be achieved. I hope Jolla finds a niche that is paying the business while still keeping community developers motivated to create apps for SFOS. Recently, I see many apps that I love (RPN calc, YT player) are starving.

This observation and the discussion about OBS and QT make me worry whether SFOS is still attractive enough to motivate community developers.

BTW: I fully understand that Jolla cannot truly communicate a straight forward roadmap in this situation

Sorry for this stream of conscience - I know it is not a clear message but rather a collection of random thoughts

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I agree with most here. While closing down the OBS is important topic from our point of view it has been one part of project that is merging our public services under Sailfish domain, and I suppose that is why we didn’t see it as the title for the topic. The purpose was not to hide it or make it difficult to find the info. We’ll need to come back to this either in that thread or open a dedicated thread.

We’ll need to come back to this.

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Thank you very much for your reply! I would suggest to start a dedicated thread regarding OBS. It would make it easier to find and focus on the topic.

Irrespective to the thread, looking forward for info on specific issues with OBS. That would allow us to look into the issues and start working to find a new solution that we could use.

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I am one of the many backers who paid good money to Jolla to back the Tablet project.
We received ‘some’ money refunds, but since then, and, despite promises, there has been no communication whatsoever! It has been years since they stopped any communications, and I can only guess that they hope we’ll just go away.
If you at Jolla want to have the confidence and backing of the community, then you have to keep your promises to the community.

  1. Some updates as to the refunds,
  2. timeline for repayments,
  3. and reasons for no contact.

We await your reply, but expect continued silence. Please surprise us with some real interactions.

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I got refunded, and actually I used some of that refund to buy SFOS licenses.

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Thanks a thousand times for your response. I’d rather read bad news with a sensible explanation instead of having no update at all.
I think the current situation is difficult, because some things aren’t able to be realized (at this moment). The influence of external (governmental) parties gives opportunities, but also struggles.
But the good news is what Sailfish still is today:
An OS (with native apps) which protects privacy, instead of being data hungry
An OS with native apps which doesn’t ask for money or provide ads (I think paying for apps is fair)
An OS with a healthy update cycle (although it’s getting worse over the months/years, still updates for all devices)
Possibility of root access, without hassle.
And having the option to install and use Android apps is a real nice to have.

Regardless of the lack of communication (thanks again for your message!), I still want to have/use Sailfish. I think it has to survive, since Android/iOS are no good option for consumers. Please keep up the good work, I think there always will be a group of supporters who will stay loyal!

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Just came across something I consider very helpful for the problem of the tone of communication as a whole in the community. The inventor of StarCitizen, Chris Roberts posted this in the game’s forums. I’m quoting some of it.
A long read but absolutely worth it.

If you want to encourage […] developers to answer questions then it helps to not turn around and question people’s professionalism or make sweeping statements. If someone did that to you in your job I am sure it would be irritating.

You wouldn’t be putting this much time into something if you didn’t care, so why put energy into posting something that a developer will dismiss because it feels like an attack? I can tell you that being considerate of someone and treating them with respect will get you much further than than being dismissive. The development team reads these forums […] and the community’s feedback really helps, but the feedback that gets actioned on, that gets passed around internally and is discussed is the constructive type, not the overly negative type. Just saying something sucks isn’t helpful. Explaining why it sucks for that user, and their ideas to potentially rectify it is helpful. [emphasis added]

My biggest disappointment with modern internet discourse is that there’s a significant amount of cynicism, especially in forum or reddit debates, and a portion of people assume the worst. If a feature is missing, late or buggy it’s because the company or the developer lied and or / is incompetent as opposed to the fact that it just took longer and had more problems than the team thought it would when they originally set out to build it. [emphasis added]
Developers by their very nature are optimistic. You have to be to build things that haven’t ever been built before. Otherwise the sheer weight of what is needed to be done can crush you. But being optimistic or not foreseeing issues isn’t the same as lying or deliberately misleading people

I don’t like pathos, but:
Fellow Sailors, let’s take this to heart! :wink:

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