OK, so the announcement that I hinted at in my previous post is now public, so I can finally talk about this.
I’m very happy to tell you that Fuse is now fully open source software! 🎉
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about: Fuse is a mobile app development environment, developed by Fusetools. You can read more about it here.
This work represents more than 3.5 years of my life (and of course lots of other people, but you know, this is my blog 😏), and I’ve been pushing hard inside the company my whole time there to open source it. We already open sourced fuselibs about a year ago, and as far as I’m concerned, that was a success.
Now, there’s some sad news that comes with this as well. Fusetools will no longer be working on Fuse. That’s now up to the community. The company is switching focus to an app-as-a-service business model.
This also marks the end of my time at Fuse. I’ll wrap up my end of Fuse 1.9 and then take a few weeks of vacation, before I start my next job. What I’ll be doing next is very exciting, but deserve its own post.
There’s many reasons why we ended up where we are now. I’ll try to explain what I believe are the major reasons below.
Please note that the opinions stated here are my personal ones, and not those of my employer. I’m writing this article to shed some light on what I believe is the reasons we’ve come to where we are, not to blame anyone, but to try to learn from our mistakes.
First and foremost, we failed to build a viable business on selling development tools. Developing a full platform, comprising of compilers, standard libraries, editor-plugins, debugging tools, IDEs etc is a big undertaking, and cost a lot of money, while the market is full of free tools that does a pretty decent job. To convince someone to pay for something they can get for free somewhere else, you need to be a lot better.
Secondly, we’ve been taking a lot of time-consuming detours. We’ve started projects that, in my opinion, should never have been started. We should have kept our main focus enabling our users to do more, not to do more for them.
Third, I sadly think we failed to be as good as we needed to. This one is a bit touchy, but I’ll try to explain. I’m not saying I think we did bad work, far from it. But to make up for the first point, we would have needed to be vastly better than the competition. But due to the second point, the competition largely caught up to us.
What could we have done differently?
I think the problem we set out to solve was a hard one, so the short answer is “beats me”… 😕
However, I believe that our chances would at least have been better if we open sourced the platform from the beginning.
The reason is that we might not have had to build the platform all by ourselves. If we would for instance made our package-manager usable for shipping 3rd-party packages, we could have leveraged the community more at more of the high-level work. Our company could have focused on functionality that enabled the community. Instead we ended up doing a lot of very high-level work that didn’t end up benefiting a lot of users.
I also believe that if we made the Uno compiler a stand-alone C# to C++ transpiler, and did all the graphics functionality and app-bootstrapping as library functionality instead of compiler-internals, the compiler might have been useful for other C#-oriented projects, and we could have aligned closer with the C# community than we ended up. Instead, we treated Uno as an internal tool that app-developers weren’t really supposed to care about.
I’m far from sure that those changes together would have been enough, though. This was a hard problem to solve, and that was exactly why I was interested in this gig to begin with.
Well, I hope that the future of Fuse is bright, but different than before. Thanks to Fusetools releasing all of the code, I do believe that the project will live on, with a better future that isn’t meddled with short-term wins that hurt in the long run.
I plan on continuing at least some of my work on Uno / Fuselibs, and I’m not the only one. In addition, there’s also still some commercial interest for Fuse, just not from Fusetools. Anything in this area is still not announced, but expect to hear more.
I still believe the technology is good, and hopefully now that it’s finally all out there for anyone to play with, we can get some great work done! Fuse has a unique tech-stack, with a declarative UI engine that is built around preview / live-refresh, and a comprehensive toolkit. The turn-around time for experimenting is still miles beyond the competition. ✨