This blog post has been in the making since August 2022 (and got pretty long in the meanwhile), but it took us quite some time to set all the multiple pieces involved straight. 😅
But behind the scenes, something has been slowly, but constantly, building up. 🐌
Clipperz has always been in a very weird position; we have been providing a critical service (how would you otherwise define a service that’s taking care of your personal secrets), but we have long been struggling to find a business model compatible with our core principles.
Lately, we did find a stable balance, but that would not allow massive investment into the redesign of the Clipperz code base that was badly needed in order to try to tackle some more challenges, like adding the long whished option to share secrets.
Hiring vs Nurturing
Not being able to afford hiring new developers, we took a different approach to keep the development going: we have tried to nurture them.
It has been a long jurney, and the outcome was never granted. But what a journey it has been.
It all started with Giulio Cesare mentoring at Galways Coder Dojo (~2011), and then contibuting to the organization of the Coder Dojo in Ravenna (~2014), together with Nicola, Angelo, Paolo and Lucia.
In summer 2019, we collaborated with Imola Informatica to organize its first (and unfortunately still only) Summer Camp, a full week of hands on workshops for teenagers, tutored by some employees and some university students.
Later we supported the organization of MeetLambda meetups with Giorgia and Fabio; we managed to have two meetings, but then the pandemic hit, and we converted the meetups to an online workshop –iMeetLambda– that greatly helped making the lockdown less misarable, and allowed everybody attending to improve their functional programming skills.
It took a lot of time, but we are very proud of the team we have managed to put together. They are all still students, and Clipperz is just their playground to sharpen their coding and analytical skills. They are not fully committed to work for Clipperz, but Imola Informatica is nonetheless providing them some economical and material support for their contributions.
Status of the project
The new version of Clipperz is still very early in its development; we have put a lot of effort into finding and learning the right blend of technologies we were happy working with.
While selecting the new tools, we also challenged and reviewed the architecture of the backend system, and we have radically simplified it, now leveraging only the local file system. This redesign will allow us to know even less about our users, as it will lose track of the ownerships of the single cards; this arrangement will also pave the way for allowing the sharing of the cards themselves.
The frontend, being much more complex, is still at an earlier stage. Beside some of the UI still missing, there are also a few core components that are completely missing or still need a lot of attentions: PRNG, Offline copy.
The only negative side effect of this nurturing approach, is that it has currently limited the diversity of our team; even if all interactions between Clipperz team members happen online, we happen to live all in the same small town; actually, we all live within am area of less than a Km of radius 😅.
Despite that, we are eager to extend the collaboration to other people, expecially if they would allow the team to get more diverse.
New mail server
We had to review a couple of technical solutions; the main one was to completly drop out of Google Application, that we had been using since the start of the project to manage our emails.
Google dropping of the free tier on their Application offering was the nudge we needed to setup our own service. Now, we are “self” hosting also our email server, leveraging Imola Informatica infrastructure on Exe Green Datacenter.
New site engine
We also took the time to completely revamp our site, which is now built using Hugo and a fully custom theme. The content of the site has always been managed in a GitLab repository, but it is now connected to a build pipeline (also self-hosted) that will automatically publish any changes commited to the repository.
This will greatly reduce the friction to pubish new content, and we hope this will also cause updates to come more frequently.
Slightly updated site content
While reviewing the building process, we also took the time to review some of the content, and update it. Nothing major, just some dusting off of information that when stale.
About stale information, we have left here most of the links to Twitter, but Clipperz main social presence has been migrated to Mastodon. So much that we have also created our own instance:
The main/official account there is @clipperz.
We did start collecting some followers there, but then we had to move/reinstall the server, and basically lost all connections. Now the setup seems solid, so we may beging rebuiding our friendship relationships there.