The biggest challenge for any Open Source project is finding the resources needed to support development - and the BeeWare project is no exception.
To date, BeeWare has been primarily driven by the efforts of volunteers. We've been able to achieve amazing things with those volunteer efforts, demonstrating that Python is a viable language for GUI development on macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android, as well as providing a proof-of-concept demonstration on Web. However, there are still lots of features that we'd like to add, and lots of ongoing maintenance that needs to be done as operating systems and hardware platforms evolve.
Over the years, we've been incredibly fortunate to have the financial support of our members. While I'm incredibly grateful for that support, it falls a long way short of even one full-time salary. We've also received grants (such as the PSF grant), and short-term contracts. These grants and contracts have enabled us to add specific (and much needed) features to BeeWare - but they don't provide resources for ongoing development and maintenance.
However, the brutal truth is that our rate of progress is severely limited by the volunteered resources at our disposal. As a result, I've spent a lot of time over the last few years thinking about how we can fund the work that needs to be done to make BeeWare the go-to solution for GUI development on desktop, mobile, and more - and do so without compromising the Open Source roots of the project.
I'm incredibly excited to announce that I've found a solution.
On March 21, I joined Anaconda as a Principal Engineer and Team Lead - and the team I will be leading will be focused 100% on BeeWare.
Anaconda is no stranger to Open Source. In addition to indirectly funding a number of community efforts through their Anaconda Dividend program, they directly employ people to work on Numba, Dask, Pyston and more. BeeWare will be joining this stable of projects.
Anaconda is supporting BeeWare in this way because they see the potential for Python as a language for GUI development - especially on mobile platforms. Python has established itself as an incredibly popular language in education, science, business and more - and in all those markets, there is potential to develop apps. By adding mobile platform support and app development to the list of tasks to which Python is already incredibly capable, Anaconda hopes to ensure the long term prospects of Python as a language, as well as ensuring a healthy market for the products they sell commercially.
BeeWare will continue to be a 100% Open Source project, with all contributions welcome from the community. The only difference is that Anaconda will be directly employing some of the contributors to the project. The conversations I've had with Anaconda's engineering leadership indicates they are acutely aware of the tension that exists between corporate funding and the technical direction of an Open Source project. They've indicated that they want to ensure that BeeWare's technical direction remains independent in both appearance and substance. This includes financial independence - the financial support provided by our members will remain vitally important, as it provides project-level funding for resources such as hosting and promotional materials.
The related good news is that part of my job title is "Team Lead" - so in the very near future, we'll be looking for people to join me on my team. I'm already working out the details of the team that I'd like to have, so watch this space for hiring announcements.
Anaconda has a long history of understanding and contributing to both the Python ecosystem and the Open Source community. Adding BeeWare to their stable of supported projects has enormous potential for BeeWare, and the Python ecosystem as a whole. I'm incredibly excited for what the future holds.