Support Solidus

Sparking community engagement and helping our open-source platform thrive, Support Solidus is a Call To Arms to contribute more to the platform we all love so much.

This article was originally posted on April 16th, 2020 to Karma Creative's website, you can read it here: Full Text of original Support Solidus Article.

Chapter 1: A Call To Arms

The Movement, Its Origins, and What We Hope To Achieve

In an effort to demystify the team operating the open-source platform Solidus, and to rally support from members and participating stores, we’re updating the community today on the “Support Solidus” initiative.

The initiative is one that we at Karma Creative are proud to have spearheaded ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we did it alone. Far from it.

Rather, the idea arose out of a full year of biweekly meetings (hosted through virtual conferences on Zoom) between key members of the community. These ‘Solidus Stakeholder’ conference calls saw community members speaking out over their growing concerns and working together to solve problems and improve the platform. In need of support, these stakeholders found ways to help one another. And, just one year later, after working together as a team, we were thrilled to organize an incredible Solidus Conf 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The atmosphere there was buzzing with new ideas and goals for the platform; we could tell that over that past year the community had become truly re-energized.

Needless to say, supporting Solidus has been at the front of our minds for a while. But ever since Hawthorn left the core team and Stembolt was acquired by JUUL, the community has realized it’s even more important to come up with innovative ways to maintain, fund, and support this amazing platform that we’ve grown to love.

Luckily, in the wake of Stembolt’s departure, Nebulab truly stepped up to the plate to fill their shoes, and has done an amazing job with Solidus.

After that pivotal Southeast SolidusConf in 2018, Nebulab almost immediately pledged to hire another open-source maintainer (using their own money), and have continued their strong dedication to the platform ever since. One fantastic initiative to highlight is that every Friday, their whole company spends the day working on open-source Solidus eCommerce. Incredibly, even by a conservative estimate, they still put several hundred thousand dollars a year worth of development time into the open-source platform. Not only have they taken on a ton of the maintenance, but they’ve also contributed some very welcome funding as the top contributing Ambassador on Open Collective.

But even so, in order for this effort to be sustainable, we knew we’d need to rally even more support and create a diverse group of volunteers who love the platform as much as we do, and want to support it and shape its future.

That's why we at Karma Creative launched the Support Solidus Initiative: to spark community engagement and to help our open-source platform thrive.

Support Solidus Logo

Wouldn't it be great to put some items from YOUR roadmap directly onto the Solidus Roadmap? That's our goal: To completely align with the community and implement items that are shared between individual retailers' roadmaps.

We printed these shirts at Solidus Conf 2019 to introduce the initiative:

Mock Up of the Support Solidus T-Shirt that was printed for Solidus Conf 2019

At Solidus, we want the goals of our stores and the goals of the platform to be totally aligned and symbiotic. But in order to have their own needs met and supported, stores need to support Solidus in return.

From our side, we know that doing so can create a ton of opportunity. It can open doors; streamline processes; enable community work on the features and benefits you want to see; and make your business earn more money with less effort. If you care about features and functionality, and if you want your own company roadmap to be a part of the equation, then supporting the platform is a necessary and prudent investment.

Illustration of People in the Open Source Community Standing Together

And It's in Your Best Interest Too

It might help the community (those on the fence about whether or not to join in) to be given a crystal-clear image of what open-source, Solidus, and donating to the platform will offer.

To start, just by choosing open-source, you open yourself to a world of opportunity. The community and the altruism built around it is palpable in long-running open-source projects like Ruby on Rails and Solidus. Instead of licensing fees, you have a veritable army of developers collaborating together with you, supporting you, providing regular maintenance on underlying dependencies, and so much more. Sure, sometimes you have to also give back to that project, platform, and community. But doing so multiples your own efforts and creates a positive feedback loop: one where we gain the ability to add more new features, improve our framework, and stay more secure. Open-source is congruent with success.

But why Solidus in particular?

  • Complete control over your store.
  • No licensing fees.
  • Strong community.
  • Solid core team.
  • Support for high-volume stores with varied and complex needs, with many outlying use cases and features already included on the platform.
  • And it scales.

‘Support Solidus’ means promoting access to future conferences, new features, hassle free maintenance, and better support. But moreover, it means peace of mind knowing that you’re securing the future of this platform as a leading open source e-commerce framework.

How to Support Solidus: Money, Code, and Community Events

Now, it’s important to note that supporting Solidus can be done in different ways. It also depends on your own capacity as a store or developer.

We’ve touched on this in previous talks, but it might help to have a quick refresher on how to support Solidus. Basically, there are three crucial ways:

Money: If more agencies and stores commit to being Ambassadors (donating $750/month), we can support even more open-source development on the platform. This applies to everyone from big retailers to small agencies. But if this isn’t affordable, then we can all chip in something, even if it’s just $10/month. Everything counts.

Code: Take a look at any of the open issues on the repo or any of our core extensions. Provide some review on a PR. Or why not host an open-source Friday? It could be every Friday (like Nebulab), once a month, or even just once a quarter. If you cannot afford to donate funds, we hope you can give back to the community with your time and your code.

Community Events: Another awesome way to spread the word about Solidus, connect with the community, and to do your part in supporting the platform is to host a community event. We still need to put together an official guide for Solidus, but a good example of what to do is provided by Hacktoberfest. Here’s a link to their Event Kit. Interested companies can look to them for a comprehensive list of what to do. Maybe you could commit to organizing and hosting a virtual event once a quarter. Our community would benefit in a myriad of ways from this type of engagement.

Finally, if you can’t commit to any one of these three things, perhaps you could at least join us in the Solidus Stakeholders Slack chat (solidus_stakeholders) and contribute your ideas at our weekly meetings. We would seriously love to have you.

The group is made up of different people who all have a significant stake in Solidus. Most members also contribute financially through Open Collective, where there are 3 tiers of support (Ambassadors, Supporters, and Enthusiasts), each contributing a different amount each month. At Karma Creative, we chose to be an Ambassador because it meant we could:

  • Support the core team, community, and platform we love
  • Actively shape the direction and strategy of Solidus
  • Appear in the Community section on the Solidus site
  • Get our logo out there on conference materials
  • Be recognized in the readme and mentioned during conferences
  • Have the option to join the partnership program as a Gold partner

And that brings us to our next point, which is to look at how far we’ve come as a platform since Stembolt broke the news they were leaving. Because we think a huge part of this is thanks to how we function as a community. People say that you go farther together, and that couldn’t have been more true for us.

Since Stembolt left, we’ve been busy. And creating a Slack channel was just the first step of many. From there, we set up organizational meetings, assigned roles, created streams of funding through recurring donations to the platform, supported and learned from each other, organized and attended conferences and, most importantly, built really solid relationships and trust within the community.

And as we touched on in our talk, trust and good relationships allow us to move forward together. Without it, there’s no real way to have an honest conversation about the roadmap, next steps, collaboration, or really anything.

In summary, the Support Solidus initiative was meant, first and foremost, as a call to arms. With your code, through becoming an Ambassador, or by donating your time, we want to remind everyone that, together, it can be done.

Click to Support Solidus