Over the years, we had plenty of contributors and translators. Some submit a single PR. Some help out more often. We are always grateful for voluntary contributions, and don't take them for granted at all in a paid project like Kirby.
One day, Ahmet appeared on GitHub. He started to help us reproduce and track down bugs, created all sorts of bug fix PRs, started to build small enhancements and additions and finally full blown features. He wrote tests for everything he built, translated the interface to Turkish, followed all our standards, discussed concepts and was just a dream contributor. The timing wasn't perfect and there was no budget for another freelancer for a couple months. He just kept going although we were not able to pay him at this point. We were finally able to hire him at the beginning of 2020. He's just another lovely example how the best team mates emerge from the community. If it goes on like this, we will never need a hiring process.
We always offered free trials for Kirby. We want you to be convinced before you buy a license. But installing a local version isn't a 5-minute process for everyone – especially if you are not a developer.
We had been thinking about creating a demo server for a long time, but never really found the time. In late 2019, Lukas and I made a concept together how we could run such a demo in a very practical way. Lukas built a really cool demo manager that creates new Kirby instances on demand and discards them after an hour. I built a little theme with different demo sites to show various aspects of the Panel in the best way. It's one of those projects that always fall behind in our priority list, but once it was online, it really helped to move Kirby forward. More than 30,000 demos have been created since.
1st Kirby Konf – almost
In February, Covid started to spread in Europe and while we were still optimistic that we would meet soon, the numbers rose and in early March we finally decided to cancel the event to keep everyone safe.
The community once more showed how amazing they truly are. We got nothing but warm support and offers to help although we had to cancel on such short notice.
I just talked to Florian a few weeks ago and 3st digital is still on board with the venue. As soon as the situation is safe enough, we will try again.
The private Kirby Next Slack group had been a huge success and kept active long after the launch of Kirby 3. But we didn't know how to transition to a public group for a long time. Slack didn't work anymore. It's just not very community-friendly and going for paid plans with 500+ members was way out of our budget. We discussed various options with our Next supporters and tried different platforms. We got quite used to Slack's features and nothing felt good enough. But we finally decided to jump to Discord. Especially the lack of threads was super painful in the beginning. Our group has gotten so used to them.
Once again, our community didn't let us down and most of the active members moved with us. After a short acclimatisation period, Discord was as active Slack had been before and lots of new faces showed up, which gave the sworn-in group quite some new drive. In hindsight, I'm really happy that we made this transition. We were afraid that the quality of discussions would go down or activity would decrease with more public conversations, but the opposite is the case. We couldn't be happier with the general tone and the warm welcoming group in there.
The move to Discord gave us a bit of a boost and another long-term pain point was the way we collected feedback. We had a GitHub repo called ideas. We used the issues feature of that repo to collect all kinds of feature requests and ideas and let people vote with emoji reactions. To keep it short: it was a mess. With roughly 400 issues there was absolutely no chance to get the bigger picture. It was hard to sort by those reactions and almost impossible to prioritize ideas and requests.
One day, I landed on a new feedback platform called Nolt and quite liked the look of it. It wasn't one of those monster tools with endless options and a massive interface. Just a simple way to submit ideas and vote for existing ones. We decided to give it a try and it instantly worked out. It has filled up with posts in no time and we never got so much valuable feedback in such an easily digestable way.
To convert requests into a pretty decent roadmap is also quite nice.
The private live streams for the Kirby Next supporters really started to grow on me. Plans for a YouTube channel had been lying around in the drawer for a long time. But it still took yet another year until we finally opened our own YouTube channel and I started to record the first videos. Kris from the design studio Florian Karsten helped me with a little logo animation and the first thumbnail designs. I tried to get into a weekly uploading schedule, which worked for quite a while until the pandemic lockdowns started and home schooling broke my streak. New videos are planned for this year!
In December 2020, we released 3.5 with our brand new blocks and layout editors. A major milestone for editors.