Working as part of an all-volunteer team on a web browser that competes with multiple corporate-funded and -developed browsers can at times be frustrating. Competitors employ dozens (or more) developers to work full-time on their browsers, and they usually have funding to hire more developers when needed (or, at worst case, the ability to reassign someone from another team or product in a pinch). They have marketing budgets, the ear of the press, and the ability to use overtime to get things done.
In contrast, an all-volunteer project by definition relies on the donations of limited free time from interested individuals—free time that could otherwise be used to go to the movies, study for exams, spend time with friends or family, or ride one’s horse through the wilderness. No one can tell a volunteer developer “you have two days to finish this feature” or “you’re going to drop everything else until this bug is fixed” or any of the myriad of managerial commands available to corporate browser developers. Sometimes you can’t fix that bug because real life intervenes, and you and your fellow volunteers can’t implement that great feature idea for a lack of hours in the day (or other similar manpower constraint). Sometimes working on an all-volunteer browser is like going into a fight with both hands and one leg tied behind your back, and that’s often disheartening.
What struck me recently and inspired me to keep on the path was a simple question: if not you, then who? Are there any software products out today that I would use instead of my own? No, there are not. And why not? Why do I still like my finance software better than anything else?
In the face of all of those obstacles and limitations, why do I continue to spend my free time helping to build a web browser? Fundamentally, it’s as Hoctor says; Camino is the browser I want to use. I’ve used most of the other Mac browsers out there, and I don’t really like them; some are plagued by a quest for the kitchen sink, some have been hit hard by the “ugly stick,” and some change all the time to match the latest internet fads or whims from above. None match my browsing needs and wants as well as Camino. Sure, some might have feature x that I’d like that Camino doesn’t yet have, but they also have drawbacks that Camino doesn’t, and the overall experience always tilts in favor of Camino. And if I’m not working to create this browsing experience, then who will? Sure, it’s frustrating (and even soul-crushing) at times, but this is a browser, a browsing experience, a trusted tool, that I love.
There are, of course, other reasons why I work on Camino: the great people on our team who’ve become friends over the years, our loyal users and our supportive community, and the desire to ensure a quality alternative browser to the corporate-developed products. But it begins and ends with that same thought expressed by Kevin Hoctor: if I don’t (help) build it, who will?