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I remember in the 90's you could publish anything and people would try it out because boredom I guess. Now there is so much to choose from. But I think its still possible if you find a good channel. Literally an IRC channel or niche forum where you will find your first users. Before starting a project, ask yourself who will be the first users and where do I find them.



My first user is always myself. I write code to make my work easier. It grows over time and then I start thinking others might also find it helps them with similar work.


Also allow yourself a budget and to search for an existing solution. If you are gonna spend 100 hours on something, a couple of thousand dollars is not that much if you can just buy an already existing solution. For example, I wanted a feature in my text/code editor, and the only product that had that feature cost 1000/month, I thought that was too much so I spent several hundred hours creating my own editor ... And of course no one is interested in my editor besides myself. That's a lot of opportunity cost, time that I could have spent doing something else.


It's ironic that so many people here are complaining about their solo projects not gaining traction, but nobody seems to want to pitch into somebody else's project and make it their own. Please don't take it personally, I simply noted a pattern and the fact that I'm writing this on your comment in particular is just random chance.

In your example, why would you start yet another editor? There are hundreds, possibly thousands, already out there. Instead of writing your own, you could have taken the one that's popular and closest to what you want, and started to change it to fit your needs (or written a plugin, if the editor allowed for it).

One of my own favourite experiences with open source development was when I basically revived an existing project by starting to make contributions to it, which then pulled the original creator back in and ultimately others as well.


In my case I couldn't actually find any project I could contribute to, until after I had the editor I wanted. But similar projects kept popping up, some backed my big corp. I thought about abandoning my own editor and implement the features I needed in any of the similar projects, but I didn't like the architecture and they where made in languages that I didn't like. My editor also was ahead. Although it did not take long until the other projects surpassed my editor in capabilities. I have also later found many projects like mine that are now abandoned. It's very ironic indeed. I kept working on it hoping that I could pivot and find market fit to make some money off it, but it seems dead impossible. And at the same time similar projects are backed by investors.


Out of curiosity, was this a web text editor? It's difficult to imagine that you'd be able to be ahead of real native text editors with a solo project.


Text rendering is extremely hard, but there already exist optimized libraries with hardware acceleration. Web browsers in particular have very optimized text rendering engines. It's still slow, but it's faster then for example terminal based text rendering. The bottleneck in text rendering is not rendering per see, but actually putting the pixels onto the screen. Browsers have a disadvantage compared to native because of complex rendering pipeline, while native have more low level access. I for example tried to make a bitmap text renderer to see if it could be made any faster, but it was much slower then existing rendering API's - that's how optimized they are. Yet they are still slow. Rendering a full screen of text takes around one millisecond. That's however well into the 60 times per second refresh time budget, which lets you spend the rest of the time budget doing stupid things like parsing the whole document on every key stroke.


Oooooh yeeeaah, there it is. I was waiting for the ol' "don't reinvent the wheel".

I'm just so dead tired of this argument. Why doesn't Mozilla give up on Firefox and just start contributing to Chromium? Why is Preact a thing when you could just contribute to React? Why do Grunt and Gulp exist, or WebPack vs Rollup?

In my case, on many occasions, the thing I needed just didn't exist, in any form. Other cases, the thing I needed existed, but was poorly-written, or wouldn't integrate into my existing system.

I'm just tired of the fundamental assumption from people arguing in these threads being "you didn't do your due diligence". You don't know the history of our projects, yet you come in here and tell us "you're doing it wrong".

And this argument is so often used to ignore the work of solo-devs, yet completely get on board with big-name companies.

I've literally had people tell me that I shouldn't have built Primrose, I should have contributed to A-Frame. A-Frame wouldn't exist for a whole year when I made Primrose. Was I supposed to just sit on my ass for a year and wait for "my betters" to make something that suited my needs?

I've written my own text editor, too. Because there were no syntax-highlighting text editors that drew to HTML5 Canvases, which is what I needed to get code editing in WebVR to work.

I've written my own ORM. Because at the time, there were no light-weight ORMs that were driven by the database schema for .NET. Microsoft didn't release Entity Framework for more than TWO years after I wrote my ORM.

I'm currently writing my own VR/AR abstraction layer, because I don't like VRTK (it was legitimately junk when I first started, though I've been told it is better now, though it's not clear how) and Unity's cross-platform XR system (which also didn't exist when I started, and is also junk).

I don't begrudge Mozilla making A-Frame. I completely understand that businesses are not going to want to play in someone else's backyard. But when I have a business doing something and I make the same decisions, I get replies from "the community" like yours. I begrudge people like you who have made FOSS into a cult of the giganto-corp.

Why is the oneous on solo-devs to contribute? Where were the people telling Facebook to fix Angular instead of making React?


I think you're barking up the wrong tree here. Context is king, so please don't just make the worst possible assumptions about context.

I actually agree with you about most points, but the example was about text editors (and my possibly incorrect assumption was that this was about native text editors, not web abominations). There are plenty of those that are being developed already by solo devs, or at least noncommercially by communities. Contributing to those should be the default path unless there are very good reasons pointing in the other direction.


Of course the fear is that you spend a few thousand dollars on a potential solution, use it for a few months only to discover that it does only about 60% of what you really need and/or it's painful/difficult to use. So now you're either stuck with a substandard solution, or you are going to do the work yourself anyway, and are out the few thousand dollars besides.




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