Open Collective
Open Collective
50kEuros NLNet Funding and Financial and Roadmap Information
Published on June 26, 2019 by Ludovic Dubost

Hi CryptPad backers,

Thank you NLNet and the European Community for the CryptPad Teams funding

We are very happy to announce that CryptPad has received a 50KEuros grant from NLNet NGI Zero PET. This is very big news for the CryptPad project.

We started this collective now about 1 year ago to complete the funding we are receiving through subscriptions, in order to be able to continue actively developing CryptPad after the end of our research grant from BPI France in April 2019.

Thanks to both donations and subscriptions from 141 persons we have been able to gather 7KEuros and expect by the end of the year at least a total of 10k. Thank you to all our supporters.

While this is already some significant money which is making us optimistic about the importance and viability of CryptPad, we know it would probably not be enough, so we have been actively pursuing research grants in order to be able to fund the CryptPad team inside XWiki SAS.

This is now happening with the NLNet funding. More details about this funding on our blog. A short answer is that it funds team collaboration features that we had listed in our priori roadmap.

Changing the reporting of our Funding needs and Financial information

This is bringing us to update our roadmap, which we also had to do it for another reason. We are realizing it's not easy to put funding goals on individual features, so we are listing below a status on the items of this roadmap on which we have actually advanced faster than the funding we received, and we are changing the way we present the CryptPad budget.

Our plan going on, is asking to have our team funded by grouping the funding we receive from grants, from subscriptions and from donations, and then ask for additional hires and increase the team budget, and separately present what we would like to work on, letting the team find the best moment to work on each feature and then report on the achieved work. We plan to summarize our funding and financial contributors and present our budget on our Wiki on a year by year basis. At this point it's pretty simple. We need to fund 2 developers, and unless we find an additional grant by the end of the year, we are still missing around 20kEuros to cover the team and expenses for 2019, and of course this means that until we get more funding we cannot hire additional persons which would be very interesting for growing the project. If you have any questions about this change, please come discuss it on the #cryptpad channel on Matrix or IRC.

What did we do on the Roadmap this last year ?

Concerning the past roadmap, here is a summary of the goals we had set over a 60K funding and what we actually did during the end of the BPI France project and in the last 3 month before we started working on the NLNet grant:

  • Maintenance (7,500 Euros a year)

Throughout the year we have been doing a lot of maintenance on CryptPad, accepting pull requests and fixing bugs. It's a bit hard to evaluate how much time we have spend versus feature developments. We expect that as the project grows maintenance will become more important and we also have additional tasks that can fall in this box like managing the (freemium) service which has more and more users and data, and also maintaining build, modularity and documentation related to self-hosted deployment. During the year we have worked with contributors on the docker install and on bugs related to self-hosted deployments.

Our new CryptPad intern Clément has also started working on fixing reported bugs and usability requests from the community.

  • Realtime Spreadsheets and Office Documents (7,500 Euros)

As part of the OpenPAAS project we have delivered a beta of realtime spreadsheet. It would still need work but it's already the first encrypted realtime spreadsheet in the world ! The other OnlyOffice apps have also been integrated (docs & presentations) but as embedding images is not yet supported we have not released it. It's however in the code base.

Import/Export of Office compatible format has been experimented but is not yet ready.

We plan to add more work on this in the future roadmap but not yet at the top of the list as the main pad used is Wysiwyg at 65%

  • Comments & Messaging (7,500 Euros)

Also as part of the BPI project we have delivered a subset of these feature set, with the Chat panel next to each pad.

However more work would be needed for Annotations and Notifications around annotations. These are features we consider interesting and that should be part of the future roadmap after the NLNet work.

  • Shared Drive (5,000 Euros)

This section from our previous roadmap has been fully implemented. Users can create a shared folder and all the pads contained in it.

It would be interesting in a future roadmap to transform a standard folder to a shared folder.

  • Federation (7,500 Euros)

We have not worked at all on this aspect, although we would love to make CryptPad federated. We are careful to think about future federation in the way to architecture the current CryptPad. However we believe we have highly underestimated the work needed here. To make a great CryptPad federation and also to standardize a protocol there is a lot of work. We plan to ask for a grant for this part. If you believe CryptPad should be federated please tell it and show your interest. This can be useful to show that it's important.

  • Better Permissions (10,000 Euros)

This part we have put in the NLNet Grant. We also believe it has been highly underestimated initially. The NLNet Grant is about "Teams" and improving sharing and security inside a team, and as well providing auditing. This part will be very actively developed with the recent funding received.

We have already released "invitations" and "pad sharing" from this section and from the NLNet grant.

  • Author Colors (5,000 Euros)

This feature is highly requested by Etherpad users that love the ability to see what has edited what. This is however much more complex in CryptPad. We believe we cannot put this yet in the priority list. However diff between versions could be provided and will be put in the future roadmap.

  • Offline and Suggested Edits (10,000 Euros)

We believe that before doing offline we should work first on Modularization and Desktop and Mobile apps, offline coming as a future feature of these tools. This costs is highly underestimated; We plan to ask for grants for this, and we already did apply for NGI Trust. Unfortunately our application for 100k funding has been refused and we don't yet have more information about why. We will try again because this would also allow a modernization of the CryptPad code base and allow other applications to build on the same set of technologies.

For Offline, we think it's too early given the team size. Suggested edit can be added to Comments and Annotations as part of the future roadmap after the Teams work.

We have also done some extras, like the KanBan application.

The future Roadmap

  • CryptPad Teams

Concerning the future roadmap, the next 4 month are about the CryptPad Teams funded by NLNet. More info on our blog.

  • Maintenance

We will also continue to maintain CryptPad. Our intern will tackle usability features and bugs reported by the community. Bring issues to our CryptPad if you have some simple improvements that are important to you.

  • Ideas for the next step

Beyond CryptPad Teams, it will depend first on the Grants we are candidating to and winning. We have not yet decided which area we'll propose in priority. We have proposed modularization to NGI Trust but it did not work out. We will try again.

The list of ideas we have area the following:

  • General maintenance: bug fixing, admin panels of instances, documentation
  • Scalability is growing. It has doubled in the last 6 month again (for a second time) and we have reached 20000 visitors a week for the first time. Server usage is starting to grow and we know there is limit which we might hit that could start at 4 times the current maximum.

It is key to be able to grow, because we want CryptPad to have millions of users and we will need more subscribers and donators to sustain the development beyond grants. We believe we need at least a million user (on and/or on external instances) to reach critical mass that could bring us enough backers.

  • Reliability

Reliability is also very important. For CryptPad to continue to grow fast, we need CryptPad to work well have and have no bugs. We plan to work hard on this.

  • Look and Feel and UX

We have received some critics that our look could be more modern and elegant, and our UX could also be worked on. We have been focusing on the workflow and making things secure and understandable. The look and feel and UX is not simple to combine with the technical aspect of crypto software.

We believe it is very important to have a fluid and slick UI, because even if CryptPad is a better privacy tool, many users won't easily accept to downgrade their experience with collaboration software. Our software needs to be as great as the non privacy oriented software AND improve privacy. This is particularly important because in a collaborative process, just a few users can push away everybody towards the non privacy oriented software.

We hope to have some interesting news in this area in the future. We'll keep you posted.

  • Modularization & Desktop/Mobile apps

We proposed this project to NGI Trust as it was a big project and could also bring new possibilities to privacy centric application development. It is also the first step towards desktop and mobile apps. We will propose grants in this area.

  • Diff features

CryptPad has history. We will need to have diff of history elements in the future (like in a Wiki)

  • Comments and Annotations

This aspect is regularly asked for by our users. We hope to be able to work on this in the future.

  • Offline, Drive Sync

These are very complex features. We don't know yet if we will tackle them, but we are listing them to see if CryptPad users are interested

  • 2FA and other security systems, Code signing

One of the areas we believe we should work on in the future is to increase the security level of the access to CryptPad. CryptPad uses keys that are protected in your drive. If your drive is compromised all your keys are, and therefore all your documents. We will want to harden the access to the drive, while not making it difficult for users. There are challenges here to integrate 2FA systems with CryptPad.

We believe code signing will be needed in the future in order to increate the trust in the code that the CryptPad instance is serving. While we are encrypting data in the client, the code from CryptPad is currently served by our server, and users need to trust that we are not sending malicious code. Signing the code would allow to prove users what code they are running. Desktop apps is also a solution to this problem by freezing the code in the desktop app.

This is a first set of ideas for our future roadmap. The mode contributors we have the more we can do from this roadmap.

CryptPad success

I would like to finish this article with some statistics about and the CryptPad software. First we have now 260+ instances up from 150 one year ago. CryptPad has been deployed by the Pirate Party in Germany for instance which was running one of the largest Etherpad instance.

For we have an acceleration of usage with a doubling in 6 month as can be seen in this graph of visitors:

If you are curious about the colors, the represent the continents. And if you are curious about the spike last week, it is because a CryptPad pad was shared on a public network in Hong Kong during the protests. The pad in question was published to raise awareness on how to better protect its devices. In a single day 5000 users have been seeing this information shared in CryptPad.

We are happy CryptPad is spreading all around the world and are looking forward to have more and more people using a privacy enhancing technology such as CryptPad.

Any ideas ?

We hope that our contributors will be happy about the progress that has been made in this last 12 month since we started OpenCollective. We would like to thank all our backers and CryptPad subscribers.

If you have ideas or remarks about what we should do come in our #cryptpad IRC or Matrix channel or send a message to our mastodon or twitter account.

Ludovic Dubost, CEO of XWiki SAS and participant to the CryptPad project