On the future of Play Framework

Ever since Lightbend was founded over 10 years ago, OSS has been at the core of everything we do. In this post, our CEO and co-founder Jonas Bonér lays out the future of Play Framework, which includes establishing a community-led organization that would take responsibility for the continued development of Play outside of Lightbend.

Read the full story here: On the future of Play Framework | Lightbend

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Hi everyone!

Some of you who followed the Play GitHub repository and this user forum in the last few years may know me.
Since I was the most active Play contributor in the last years and, in the last 1,5+ years, probably the last core contributor left who actually worked on Play on a regular basis, doing most of the work to make the last releases even happen, I finally want to comment on the current situation and what we have planned with the future of Play.

First of all, let me clarify one thing:
I never worked for Lightbend and never received one single cent for my work on the framework and its ecosystem.
I want to mention this because it happened to me more than once already that people thought I work for Lightbend, because of the amount of work I did for the framework in the last 7 years. Basically, I am just a random guy on the Internet who invested a lot of time since 2014 to push Play forward by adding new features and fixing bugs (until I even became #1 contributor just recently, based on commits) and helping the community to solve their problems. Plus making sure the build runs stable ;)
(BTW: I already used Play 1 as well already since 2010, contributing code to it too)

So, in the last 1,5+ years Lightbend retreated more and more from Play, which meant there was hardly any of them working actively on the framework anymore on a regular basis, like it used to be. For me that meant the work I was doing to keep Play alive was getting even more and more, almost impossible to handle for me next to other projects I was working on to pay my bills and next to my family (I do have a wife and kids).

Now, as you have read the blog post, Lightbend is working with me and some other people “to form a community-led organization that would take responsibility for the future development of Play Framework (outside of Lightbend)”.

So, what does that actually mean?
Let me get straight to the point: We are planning to move Play to https://opencollective.com/ - a place where people and organizations can sponsor an Open source project with recurring or one-time donations in the (IMHO) most transparent way possible.
That means that people like me, who really deeply cared (and still care) about Play in the last years are able to continue their work on the framework, while also finally getting paid for their time invested - getting paid from organizations and individuals like YOU, people and companies that use Play on a daily basis, that rely on Play, that run Play applications in production to thrive their business and that profit from the work that people like me, passionate Open source contributors, do in their free time to keep a fantastic framework alive and to even push it further.

In the last 6 month, when it dawned to me that Play would basically be (or become) unmaintained if I wouldn’t be motivated to contribute, I was thinking a lot about what to do with Play and how I should personally stay involved with the framework. Not just once I was thinking to just open a GitHub sponsors account. However, in my opinion with a fully transparent platform like Open Collective we finally found the best solution. For me, moving Play to Open Collective just feels right to me, I think it is the right thing to do for Play, its users, its community and everybody else who is interested in the success of the framework. From the perspective of a passionate Open Source developer, I think it’s the absolutely best solution for everyone involved. IMHO Play should be run by the community. Not by an individual, not by a single company, but by people who really care about the framework.
And people who contribute to Play should get paid accordingly by the companies who profit from their work.

I have seen from other projects (like https://opencollective.com/socketio, https://opencollective.com/webpack or https://opencollective.com/generator-jhipster) that it is possible to build a healthy, stable and fair relationship between contributors and sponsors, where people and companies who are interested in the success of a project can support the project by giving money, which will be used to pay contributors, like me, for the work they are doing - be it part time, be full time or just for implementing specific features.
I don’t think I have to prove to anyone that for me working on Play was never about making money and that money was absolutely never my motivation (and of course no one ever forced me to contribute or to give those talks at user group meetups, I just wanted to help to create a great piece of software ;). But now that Lightbend quits and wants to hand over Play to someone else, things already have and also need to change.

So to everyone that wants to keep the framework alive; to every company out there that is invested into and depend on Play; to everyone that has Play applications running in production; basically to everyone that has an interest in the success of Play and that the project prospers:
If you are interested that there is someone that cares about the project (and related sub-projects), maintains it and pushes it forward, please sponsor me and other contributors! You will not invest into me or other contributors as individuals, you will not invest into a company, but you will invest into the project and its community.
We are planning to open the Open Collective account soon, so please let us know by contacting us via the e-mail address mentioned in the blog post or by sharing your thoughts by commenting below in this thread if you or the companies you are working for are willing to participate. Of course if you have any questions, please let me and us know, I am looking forward to interesting conversations.

Thank you very much!

Matthias

PS: I know this post is solely about funding and money. Of course we are super happy if people and organizations want to invest time to write code for Play and contribute and maybe even become maintainers. However, what I think is important right now is to collect money so we can keep going as soon as possible.

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Dear Matthias, I’m very happy about this solution. I would contribute to helping you with source code maintenance, but I do not think to have the skill necessary to do it.

I use Play in all my webapp, but I’m working in a University so it’s not easy to convince my bosses to contribute to a software project, but I’ll try. Let us know when the project will be on opencollective site.

Thanks for your help and contributes

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Hi Matthias,

I’ll be hopping on as a contributor for the Framework, as I believe it has barely scratched the surface of it’s potential. Just keep me informed and we can go from there. I urge others to get involved as well, as there’s lots that Play can achieve.

HC

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At SoftwareMill we’re already sponsoring a couple of open-source projects, so we’ll be happy to chip in! :) Good luck!

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Hello Matthias,

Good move!
I’ll give some money with my company as we need Play and the community to be alive!

Keep us in touch!
Nicolas

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Hey Matthias,

I have happily used Play for years and I’m deeply grateful for the contributions of you and the others to make this possible. I think it is great that a way forward has been found, I love to help out where I can but time is indeed a limited resource ;)

I will try to poke the members at the Amsterdam.scala user group to help get this initiative noticed! It might be a good idea to poke other Scala user groups, to find people interested in contributing.
Feel free to contact me via LinkedIn, the user group, email, etc.

Cheers,

Joost

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Hello Matthias,

Thanks for your work on Play. OpenCollective sounds like a great direction. Please keep us posted when the project opens for contributions.

– Michael

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Matthias, thanks a lot for the effort to keep Play around, as part of https://wiringbits.net, I can say that we rely a lot in Play, and, we’ll be happy to contribute a monthly amount, as well as helping with reviewing PRs or simple maintenance tasks.

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Thanks everyone who reached out to us here in this thread, by e-mail or by directly messaging me!

I want to let you know that we are actively working on the next steps of this journey.
Please stay tuned, I will keep you posted!

Thank you very much again!

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Hi Matthias, thank you for your work on Play. We rely on Play and we are happy to contribute financially to the project (on a monthly basis). I am excited to see where this project will go from here.

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So what does this mean for Play 2.9.0 then?

Some of us are waiting for it in order to upgrade to support Java 17 LTS. I don’t want to put in the effort of upgrading to 2.8.8 (up from 2.6.6) in the various Play libraries and applications we have, just to do it again for 2.9.0, but it was our hope that 2.9.0 would follow soon after Java 17 LTS release.

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Just to let you know, we set up a GitHub project board where are tracking progress:

@justinnichols

So what does this mean for Play 2.9.0 then?

There is the plan to release Play 2.9 with support for Java 17. There is a pull request which is a bit dirty right now, it just needs to be integrated into the main branch, and Play with Java 17 is good to go. I can not give you a date right now however when this will happen. Because Java 17 was released in September, around the same time the discussion about the future of Play started, my active work on Play is/was on hold the last weeks.

Also right now I do have other arrangements as well, which I need to sort out so I can invest most of the time in Play.

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Thank you so much for the explanation and all your efforts!

Hey guys!

A couple of weeks went by and finally we can share some news.
Play moved to Open Collective (yay!): Play Framework - Open Collective
You can also find more information here: Sponsoring

We are still in the process of setting things up, unfortunately it took longer than I hoped for, also because I had other obligations in the last weeks which consumed my time quite a lot. Anyway, we are on a good way.

To everyone that reached out to us on the mailing list: Thank you very much, I promise I will come back to you in the next few days at the latest. We are very happy we got lots of positive support, that’s very motivating for us!

And of course to everyone that already stumbled over and donated to our Collective: It’s fantastic to have your support! Thank you very very much! Your donations are highly appreciated and will allow us to move the project forward.

Personally, I am very motivated to get things done, but as said I couldn’t spend as much time as I wished in the last weeks (moving Play to OpenCollective wasn’t initially on my schedule for this autumn :wink: ). I will try my best to invest as much time as possible in the coming weeks and, if we get enough donations and everyone is ok with it, plan to work at least part time on Play, starting early in 2022.

Thanks again!
Matthias

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