Discontinuation – A growing trend in self hosting

Self hosting sites and services relies on a number of different tools and services to be successful. More than that it requires integrations between tools to be available and to work properly. You see, a ton of services big and small come together to make a solution work. There is a host of stuff that sits in this website and behind it that “makes stuff happen”. For example integrations with Google products, mail servers, security, marketing tools, SEO, Amazon, and lots more.

To be fair a lot of these tools, services and integrations are written by the open source community to freely give of their time to complete these projects and make them work either individually or as part of a group. This is a good thing.

The problem lies however when projects stop being developed and then either get discontinued or withdrawn, or even worse just get abandoned only for errors to crop up or even a site to get hacked without warning. Take your eye off the ball in a self hosted environment and there is the possibility for all hell to break loose.

In the past few months I have been getting more and more announcements sent to me that tools, integrations, plugins and more are being discontinued, “sunsetted” or even withdrawn. That or support for certain environments or browsers is being stopped in forthcoming versions.

I used to get 1-3 of these a year. I have had about 15 in 2017 alone. This worries me as it means a lot of extra time in locating replacement “parts” and then testing and deploying these parts, when an environment build should be finished and then just in maintenance and business as usual mode. It does cause a few issues for the operator of the site.

I do hope this trend does not escalate any further. The open source community do a lot of good and valuable work and should be praised for it. I realise that some of this comes down to time and other commitments.

I for one, hope this dies down and that the trend does not escalate.

Whats the problem with Open Source?

There shouldn’t be a problem with open source tech stuff especially software, surely? There are two problems that I see and the first one isn’t really a bugbear for me. There is a lot of dross out there and it takers time to sort through some of the dross to get to the real nuggets. I have been an enthusiastic open source user and follower for over 15 years. In that time I have seen some real dross and stuff that simply does not work. I have seen some stuff that has fallen by the wayside when it shouldn’t have or needn’t have. Mambo springs to the top of my mind here. It got taken over by Joomla and some issues I had after 1.6 sent me looking elsewhere for a CMS. Mambo could have been great! I first got into open source web applications via a CMS called PHPNuke. There have been some absolute gold nuggets here, Pydio, Owncloud, Egroupware, Roundcube, Vtiger, WordPress, SeoPanel, SuiteCRM, TikiWiki, PHPList, OrangeHRM and WordPress the list and the old install logs on my servers could go on for ever. Now we get to the crux of the issue. With all of these wonderful pieces of kit you have to install plugins to extend functionality. Now this where I get annoyed. You see plugins seem to come at three levels.

  1. The completely free and completely within the spirit of open source
  2. The fully paid plugin. I hate this the original platform is open source, why can’t a plugin be?
  3. The mix up. A lite version is free but you have to pay the stuff you really want. This irks me open source is developed by volunteers in the first place. Whats even worse is when a lite version installs crap that is a nightmare to get rid of unless you buy the pro version 🙁 This tactic is taking the mickey in my opinion. Its supposed to be open source and run by volunteers!

So lets be clear its only points. 2 and 3 I take umbrage at. I am grateful to many open source developers who devote their time to creating cracking pieces of software such as the stuff I listed above (OK, I have gone off Owncloud a bit recently.) I just wish certain other developers would enter into the same spirit. It is after all this spirit that creates wonderful software especially web based stuff I enjoy so much.