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About half a year ago, in August of 2019, I published my first build. In the weeks before, I had already been working on finishing the SAF proxy and other fixes and planned to merge them into kaczmarkiewiczp’s.
However, it soon became clear that the original projects developer was busy with other things. Nevertheless, I continued working on the code base, slowly fixing bugs, implementing feature requests and updating the code and its dependencies. In my mind, hadn’t really created a fork, I was just working on the app until some day, when development in the original repository would resume.
It is 2020 now, and I’ve slowly realized that the original projects hiatus won’t come to an end soon. That means a few things need to be changed, starting from treating this as a proper fork and not just as sort of long-lived feature branch.
1. Create our own brand
For the past months, the fork has been operating under the guise of being just a different build, not a different application. This is not really true anymore, and as such, we shouldn’t continue to use the original branding.
Branding is not just important for user understanding, but also carries legal implications. In general, the branding is not necessarily covered by a projects license since most jurisdictions already recognize name and branding rights as a seperate concept from copyright. This means that we have to use our own name and icons, especially if the original project did not own them in the first place.
The designation “rcloneExplorer” was used before, and as of writing of this post is still second place on Google search. The app icon is from a third party author on flaticon.
Based on the name RcloneX, the following changes are planned:
|App name||rcloneExplorer||RCX - Rclone for Android|
|App short name||RcloneEx||RCX|
|App icon||cloud with circular arrow||T-Rex silhouette|
These changes are already in place for the Play Store version, and will later also be applied to the GitHub version. I’m definitely more of a programmer than an artist, so if you would like to help out with a better icon, please get in touch.
2. Professionalize the development and distribution process
If the download statistics are about right, we currently have around 200-300 MAU (monthly active users). This is a lot, especially considering that this is all from organic search and direct sources, and that users have to download each update manually.
These users trust us with their devices and their data, and we need to handle that with appropriate care. This means more concern for security and qualtity of releases.
The maintainers of the application need to consider security implications more carefully and holistically, which is a process that has been going on since August 2019, and also already resulted in security improvements. However, that particular incident also showed that GitHub as a distribution mechanism does not allow fast updates as it would have been required then.
Starting with version 1.10.1, rcx is available on the Google Play Store, which will massively improve update speed and device security since our users will no longer have to enable third party sources. Availability in other stores for devices without Google Play Services (LineageOS, Huawei) is currently also under consideration.
Were also looking for contributors that can help us to create automated tests and integration infrastructure to improve quality. If you have experience with that and would like to help out, please get in touch.
3. Improve community management
While it is great to see the number of users rising, this also increases the number issues encountered and requests for features. For the past months, the development was basically done by me, x0b, behind closed curtains and then thrown onto GitHub once finished.
I’m currently facing similar time availability problems as kaczmarkiewiczp, which will worsen as the year progresses. As a consequence, I will lean more heavily on the community for feature development and restrict myself more to bug fixing and app quality improvements. I’ve also started to communicate this using labels.
Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning the app – the actual maintanace load is generally pretty manageable and only increases for new Android or Rclone versions. However, if you have a feature request, it will probably take time until it is implemented.