An Open Source Milestone: Spaz webOS 1.0

President Wilson at First Regularly Scheduled Airmail Service Ceremony

I really don’t like to toot my own horn. Well, actually I do, but I’m also embarassed by it, so writing the title for this post was a bit painful. Nevertheless, I do think it’s accurate: Spaz webOS 1.0 is now available in the Palm App Catalog, and that’s a significant milestone for the project, and for open source on webOS.

I first started playing with webOS a year ago, over Christmas break at my day job. In June, Spaz webOS was in the App Catalog at release, and back then I was quite proud of the fact that we’d been able to ship a truly open source, transparent app on the first day of a new platform. And now, a year since I first cobbled together a Hello World in Mojo, Spaz has reached a reasonable level of maturity – at least as mature as something called “Spaz” will ever have.

Originally I was going to call this release v0.6. I am shy of using 1.0 because I am painfully aware of all the flaws in my software, and it certainly never feels “done” or “ready” to me. However, a recent discussion with Keith Casey led me to think more seriously about using the “1.0” designation – Spaz webOS is very much Safe To Use, but a pre-1.0 version might make some potential users to think otherwise.

And potential users are a bit more of a consideration now, because in a couple weeks (probably the week of January 11), Spaz webOS will start charging $2 for App Catalog downloads in the United States. This is something I’ve been planning for a while, but it’s still stepping out a bit, both for me (I’ve never charged for software before) and for open source software in general. To be clear, here’s how it will work:

  1. Spaz webOS will cost $2 to download in App Catalog markets that support payments. Right now the only market that supports payments is the US. It will be free in all other markets.
  2. Spaz will still be completely open source. The full source code will always be available.
  3. I will not stop users from packaging and installing Spaz webOS themselves. In fact, I encourage it! I always need more testers, designers and developers. Hacking, patching, and messing with Spaz are fully endorsed. If you can’t help in one of these ways, consider donating to the SpazCore project.
  4. Revenue made from paid App Catalog downloads will be used to support development and offset equipment and hosting costs. I’ve never made any money from Spaz, and despite some generous donations over the past couple years, I’m still well in the red. I don’t do this for the money (obviously), but lightening the burden and compensating myself and other people who have given their time for Spaz is reasonable, I think.

Another thing that isn’t changing is the principles that guide the Spaz project. I wrote up a statement of purpose a while, back, which I’ll replicate here:

  1. Spaz was built for the sake of building it. It is not a means to an end. However, creating it has had several good consequences.
  2. Spaz demonstrates that making things is good, and sharing how you make them is better.
  3. Spaz is a necessary counter to closed, hidden technologies. Spaz must always be open.
  4. The value of Spaz does not lie in the judgements of others, but in the process of building it, and the enjoyment derived by those who use it.
  5. We welcome anyone who wishes to participate in the Spaz Project with open arms, as long as they understand and respect the purposes of the project.
  6. The Spaz project values clear and open communication between participants.

This is how I think software should be made. If you agree, I hope you’ll consider supporting what we’re doing in a way you see fit. We always need help!

Thank you for making Spaz far more than I could have imagined.