Headcrab February 2022 update and plans for this year
Published on January 31, 2022 by Nikita Baksalyar

Hello,

You're receiving this message because you've previously subscribed to sponsorship and updates for Headcrab, a Rust debugger library.

TL;DR: after a period of dormancy, development restarts with a focus on practical applications. You can use your donations to support contributors working on individual tasks, request a refund, or request to redirect your donations towards another open source project or charity of your choice (please see the corresponding section below for details).

Continuing development

First of all, as the project maintainer, I want to personally apologize for the lack of updates and clear communication about the project status. I had to deal with personal issues and mental health problems which unfortunately hindered my ability to fulfill my project maintenance responsibilities and duties. Now that my personal circumstances have improved, I'd like to share a vision and a plan for the future of Headcrab.

Setting priorities

From the beginning, Headcrab has been designed as a debugger library rather than a singular debugger tool. As it evolved, the focus shifted a bit more towards end users and general-purpose debug tools with features that are more relevant for interactive debugging sessions. This approach necessitated more groundwork so the progress of making it a production tool wasn't always easy to see.

This year, the emphasis will be put on another target. The development will be driven by building a set of small production-quality debug utilities that you can use in your day-to-day Rust projects. This way, the project will start to become useful in real-world scenarios, and even more importantly, it will provide an example for library users who want to start developing their own tools.

With that in mind, documentation will also become a top priority. There are not many resources available for debugger developers, so the mission of educating and bringing more people and diversity to this exciting field of knowledge becomes even more important.

To move things faster, we'll also need to reconsider the cross-platform support. Platform-specific code will stay isolated but for the moment Linux will be the primary target platform. This does not mean that Headcrab will be exclusive to Linux; rather, it means that the quicker we'll get to production use, the quicker we'll learn about what needs to be done to support more platforms.

In concrete terms, the following is the current development plan for February:
  • Define use cases and desired tools;
  • Organize the project repository in a better way and clarify what's been done already and what's being worked on;
  • Improve documentation and cross-platform architecture;
  • Start building small, scenario-driven tools and necessary APIs to support them.
Funding

During the period of inactivity, the project's OpenCollective fund accrued a large sum which remains unused to this date. Because this was not the promise and intent, the ideal solution would be to automatically refund every contributor. Unfortunately though, OpenCollective does not allow that, and every transaction has to be refunded manually.

To handle this responsibly, I would like to offer the following options for all contributors:
  • Refund your donations. These can still be processed manually on a case-by-case basis. If you would like to opt for it, please contact me and I will handle it for you.
  • Donate your contributions to another open source project or a charity of your choice. Similarly, please reply stating your preference and it will be sorted.
  • Keep funds to be used for future Headcrab development and bounties (i.e., attaching a monetary value to certain tasks as an incentive for individual contributors).
(If you have other ideas about putting your donations to good use, please let me know. Regardless of your choice, you will always be listed as a project supporter.)

With the project's running costs being very minimal at this point in time, all future recurring donations will be stopped. If you would like to continue supporting Headcrab, there will be more options available in the future.

And of course, all further updates will be also posted here on OpenCollective.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know by sending a message.

Thank you so much for your attention and support!