A NLnet grant to further federation in Gitea was submitted in October 2021, awarded in January 2021 and started in March 2021. It came to an end October 1st 2022 and this is a short summary of what happened and what comes next.
After the announcement there was an enthusiastic response from the Gitea community: the commitment of the Gitea project to further federation was positively received. It motivated developers to actively engage into developing new features (nodeinfo, webfinger) and foundations based on the go-ap library were merged into Gitea, to be published with the upcoming Gitea 1.18 release.
However, none of the tasks funded by the grant were worked on and the progress made was exclusively volunteer based. When something does not work as expected, there are lessons to be learned so that actions can be done to do better. One problem was anticipated when the grant application was submitted (see the recording and discussions for reference): the beneficiaries were not 100% sure they could devote time to work on the tasks assigned to them. This was not a problem as new beneficiaries, with more time available, can be added. To facilitate this solution, it was decided to publish all communications with NLnet. However, none of the communications were published and offers to help with adding beneficiaries were left unanswered until the grant expired.
A new grant application was submitted during the summer of 2022 to start over with essentially the same goal and a slightly different setup to address the problems that prevented the previous grant application from being successfully executed. In a nutshell the beneficiaries of the new grant are the developers who already did volunteer work on federation this year. Although they managed to dedicate time on federation this year, they cannot guarantee they will be available to work on the tasks funded by the grant, very much like the beneficiaries of the previous grant. This time around I will be responsible for transparency and administrative legwork required to ensure there is no blocker and the people willing to do the work can be funded.
There is no guarantee the grant will be awarded but what matters most to me is that this effort is conducted in a transparent way and that problems are not hidden. This is specially difficult when things do not work as expected. Acknowledging what went wrong, analyzing the causes and addressing them collectively is the best way to move forward.