Open Collective
Open Collective
November 2021 update
Published on November 5, 2021 by Andre Staltz

Hey backers!

Usually this newsletter brings you one new release with a feature and a couple bug fixes. October was unusual, because I made 3 releases with this huge list of fixes and improvements:

  • ✅ Bug fix: various problems with replication
  • ✅ (Android) Bug fix: startup crash on Android 11
  • ✅ Bug fix: corrupted indexes causing incorrect content
  • ✅ Bug fix: a crash related to issue 1518
  • ✅ (iOS) Bug fix: quirks when picking a mention suggestion
  • ✅ Bug fix: don't pre-fill name with ID in EditProfile
  • ✅ Bug fix: connections tab should not show duplicates
  • ✅ Bug fix: (iOS) fix pencil icon size on Compose screen
  • ✅ Bug fix: (iOS) full emoji picker should appear
  • ✅ Bug fix: published replies should appear ASAP
  • ✅ Bug fix: support dialogs and popups in dark mode
  • ✅ Bug fix: preferred servers sometimes not loading
  • ✅ Bug fix: signing-in to room should remember it
  • 🔷 (Android) Improve app icon supporting circle shape
  • 🔷 (Android) Manyverse is back on F-Droid
  • 🔷 Improve the connections scheduler
  • 🔷 Allow mentioning participants in a thread
  • 🔷 Improve mention suggestions to include symbols
  • 🔷 Improve style of mention suggestion items
  • 🔷 Improve the relevance of mention suggestions
  • 🔷 Improve preview/publish button on Compose screen
  • 🔷 Improve Russian translation
  • 🔷 Improve Turkish translation
  • 🔷 Improve Spanish translation

I feel like talking about each of those in technical details, but the newsletter would end up boring and verbose. So let's zoom out a bit.

From Oct 13th onward, I started working full-time on Manyverse, and it's now my job. I love my job! It often can feel like firefighting, tackling emergencies such as these sudden crashes that some users experience. I get a lot of requests and feedback all the time through all kinds of channels (Play Store reviews, email bug reports, SSB messages, Telegram, Signal) and it's challenging to organize all those requests and prioritize work on them.

An app should never crash, and it's embarrassing to the developer, but I'm lucky that users are patient and friendly. It makes my job rewarding, for instance, here's one user's comment on SSB after I fixed a crash:

It's aliiiivvveeeee! Muahahahaha! I tested on my Android 11 device and the new update no longer crashes at startup. Thanks for pushing this out so quickly!

Weekly video calls

To make the relationship between developers and users more lively, this month I started a new routine: every week I'll get on a 30min video call with any Manyverse user to hear how the app can be made better. Others in the Manyverse team may also hop in on the call.

If this interests you, book a time from Calendly.

The purpose of these calls is to supplement the lack of analytics in the app. As developers, we are building blindly, we don't actually know how people use the app, what are the obstacles encountered in different screens, and what they want to achieve through it.

We already had two such calls, and it has informed how to reshape the feature roadmap. I'm looking forward to meet more people! Ideally, all sorts of users can get a chance, not just a few regular folks. It would be a pleasure to meet you too.

New OpenCollective host

Important! The Manyverse OpenCollective has so far been hosted with "Open Collective Europe" (in Belgium, uses Euros for your recurring contributions), but starting from next month it will move to "Open Source Collective" (in the USA, uses Dollar). Don't worry, your donations will remain at the same value, and there is no action you need to take. The Open Collective team said that the recurring contributions would keep their face value in EUR and would be converted on the fly to USD by Stripe when charged.

The reason for all this is to make it fiscally less confusing/risky for me and Jacob to invoice the collective as freelancers for our hours worked on the app. Currently we have to address the invoice as an "unincorporated partnership", which confuses our accountants, and we have to pay EU VAT which is a big slice.

I have experience with Open Source Collective (they host other SSB collectives such as SSBC and Patchwork), and it's a great fit for Manyverse too, since it's about Open Source projects. I trust this host org and have no doubts they will do a smooth transition. They're frequently rooting for us, too.

Desktop almost ready

I'm a huge #Manyverse fan and I finally got to play with the upcoming desktop version and it's amazing. Looking forward to using it when it hits beta.

The status of the desktop app is that all screens (except one) are ready. There are a few important bugs and quirks to fix, operating system integrations to make, there is database interoperability to figure out with Patchwork and others, and there's testing to do on Windows and macOS. Not a lot left!

When the time is right I'll need some volunteers to test the alpha test the app before making releases for the 3 operating systems. I'll keep you all informed about that.

Misc notes

We used to have Rust components running in Manyverse, but we decided to remove them this month, for reasons that are deeply technical. If you're curious to read more, I wrote about it on my blog.

Also, the app heavily relies on the library nodejs-mobile, which has been lacking some maintenance. In October, Gregor MacLennan (from Digital Democracy) and I volunteered to be its new maintainers and the library now lives at I made a new version of it for React Native, which was crucial to fixing crashes on Android 11. This was beneficial not only for Manyverse, but for other mobile apps that use it too.

Finally, I'm frequently grateful for you. The promise and the experience of peer-to-peer social is bumpy, but with each passing month we are making it smoother and more people are using it. One day we won't have any use for centralized time sink monsters anymore.

— @andrestaltz