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SandervG

Innovation platform

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Hi Guys,

Hope you are all well!

While we continue to optimize our forum, we also want to look ahead and discuss some of the ideas we had.

The original idea to have an extensive community platform was kinda put on hold when we faced facts that the forum needed more work than we anticipated.

Just so we are all talking about the same thing; when you click 'community' we consider the area you visit the community platform. The forum is part of it, but it was meant as one of the pillars available for our users to use, inspire and collaborate. It's the 'one of the' I want to talk about. Will there be more?

Originally the forum served as a place to talk, share experiences and debate but it is not ideal for collaborating on things, projects or modifications. Which for an open source company should be a pretty big deal.

Exploring this option could be an interesting step for Ultimaker and its community.

Nonetheless, we understand some of our expert users are eager to have a place where they pick each others brain, plug groundbreaking ideas, collaborate and not only talk about what can be next.. but build it!

We have so many makers and experts amongst us. Beautiful things can happen!

We are exploring options and figuring out if such an extension to this platform should be developed by us or if there are existing platforms which have the desired tools to manage projects, especially when the users are not in the same area. Or are totally wrong and nobody wants such a thing?

There are applications like Basecamp, Atlassian and Github but they evolve around software. An interesting branch we want to include is hardware as well.

We also want to have a place for teachers, but we think it is less 'demanding' than the above.

So I was wondering, first of all; what would you think of such an extension to our community platform?

Would you use, follow or care about a platform where users can gather and share, build, collaborate and improve upon Ultimaker, related Ultimaker things or just crazy projects in general?

Are you familiar with such applications, that enable collaboration?

- Which did you use?

Did the tool have specific tools for hardware as well?

- Do you think hardware even requires special tools to manage?

What would you think are must-have features?

Any other thoughts in general?

Currently we are exploring options, but we hope to collect a list which will help us find or build the best fit.

If there is such a desire that is..

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I think its a great idea.

Some of the great ideas and builds get lost in the hackers section once people stop commenting on them. But new comers don't get to see it as its to far down the list. If some of these are captured in a way that people can easily see interesting projects that they can do to their printers if would be great.

I don't know much about the website software you would use but developing a project can be difficult in the forum platform. you just end up with pages of comments that you have to fish through to get the relevant information that you need to implement it.

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Yea I think so too, and that is why the idea rose to have it distinguished. But it is not only about presenting interesting finished projects. Ideally it could also be a collaboration tool between for example a mechanical oriented user and someone who knows programming who build something together they couldn't do alone. There is so much expertise, and if users can be connected that could be very interesting!

Maybe in a way it can be compared to the 3D print section; where previously 3D prints easily got lost in the (currently) 151 pages, this new section keeps the overview and allows easy sharing of print settings and the file.

Like you say, forum software is not ideal for something like this that is why I want to talk with you guys to figure out what we would potentially need.

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I like the idea, but don't bite off more than you can chew. A good forum section will allow this partially and enough for starters. I would invest time in fixing things like speed and try to get some people back that would thrive in this section.

That being said, I don't see another solution than a good forum, with tons of plugins to render 3d parts for easy showing and sharing of ideas of hardware. The rest can be done by images etc. And add a section called projects where there is like a more dedicated clean page for each project linked to the forum topic, but not cluttered with comments. Kinda like a micro blog/tutorial.

And it has to be moderated, from the topics in the hacker section. So not everyone opens a project.

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It was a great idea. There are several points that arise in the mind at once: the Gira Planning with integration with Google calendar/Outlook? If the project refers to something associated with the UM collection, but uses third-party technology, which unambiguously fall under CNDA, should it be signed by the initiator or all members of a particular group, or will it be some General agreement on the level of the site? What if the project will grow from the framework of the UM, and, potentially, affect third-party printers?

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Thanks for the heads up. Of course we don't want to bite of more than we can chew.

If we do this we want to go in fully prepared, hence this topic to get an understanding of what the community wants. We are in an orienting phase, so I am looking for what you think such a platform would need in order to succeed.

I don't think a forum structure would suffice. It is great for debating, but I don't think it is ideal for collaborating. Various plug ins yes, easily show renderings etc.

Fixing speed on the forum is not related to this. That will happen regardless of what comes out of this discussion. A platform like this could be an answer to those who are less active, but in general I think it would be a great addition to our community platform. Lets try to stay on topic please (what could an innovation platform look like) and not derail in potential forum improvements. Thanks :)

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It was a great idea. There are several points that arise in the mind at once: the Gira Planning with integration with Google calendar/Outlook? If the project refers to something associated with the UM collection, but uses third-party technology, which unambiguously fall under CNDA, should it be signed by the initiator or all members of a particular group, or will it be some General agreement on the level of the site? What if the project will grow from the framework of the UM, and, potentially, affect third-party printers?

 

I think an agenda is super important yea! Great idea. Collaborating will require a lot of planning and agreements. If no one meets deadlines or they are not clear it will very quickly come to an end.

What is it you specifically like about Jira?

Those are some interesting questions that will require a lot of thought.

Maybe we should open a separate thread to talk about this because I can see both topics get a lot of discussion.

How do you mean 'affect third party printers'?

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There is a pleasant experience with Jira at the old place of work, it has open code, and, I think, fits this project perfectly. Also, if I remember correctly, Ultimaker also use Jira, which means that deployment and maintenance will not make a big headaches for your system administrators.

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Sprint planning, and a clear division of areas of responsibility. By the end of the month easy to understand the degree of effectiveness of each member, and how to divide tasks for the next month. We did not use HipChat and Confluence, Jira only, but they look so that if you have experience with one, the other will not make a problem.

I looked at the list of features in Confluence, and I like what I see. Built-in integration with major calendar, built-in wiki (if it is similar to the one that exists in Jira, it's great) and very significant opportunities for planning.

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Thanks for the input, we certainly will take these points with us when moving on!

@Foehnsturm, you are a creative user as well and you have made a very appealing magnetic tool changer. You could be a great example of a user who would be interested in such a platform. What do you think? Would you use such a platform?

What wold be desired features?

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@SandervG

I’m not able to draw an overall picture. But here are some ideas.

It’s about collaborative development of „things“. But contrary to e.g. SW development, these things will likely be hybrid (a mixture of printed stuff, parts to buy, electronics, software etc.). As you already mentioned this interdisciplinarity is the most interesting aspect as this is a main reason why people should collaborate. I don’t have deeper knowledge of frameworks for collaborate working but I suppose many of them may fall short in terms of the required flexibility. I always preferred LEGO over prefabricated stuff as a child as I now for instance prefer MODX over any other preconfigured CMS. Too many templates and preset workflows have always been suspicious to me …

People contributing to a joint project here wouldn’t work in the same company or even live in the same continent. They’ll have different private backgrounds, liabilities and dependencies and they will work in their free time. So, most of the elaborate scheduling and time planning features won’t be of much use.

The best way for me to describe is „object-oriented“. Think of a project as a „thing“ consisting of other things and a canvas showing them clearly arranged. Dependency will most likely be a hierarchical graph. Hey, your SW department pays a lot of attention to cutting edge screen design, symbols, icons, color tags. This could really be useful here ;) Each thing has certain properties, like an owner, contributors, an attached discussion (about design decisions, current state of development, issues etc.) and, most important, a repository with a (simple) version management, and a tagged latest-stable release. The stuff within can be arbitrary like CAD files, software, a bill of materials etc. „Source code“ for any of that should be managed outside like in Github I think. Don’t re-invent the wheel.

With a simple command you should get a collection of the latest-stable versions to build the the whole thing. The second pillar might some kind of evaluation and testing „timeline“. Here I would think about time as a main criteria. Like Joris keeps telling „3D printing is not so much research & develop but research & do“.

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This it's the idea I had in my mind, quite fast done but I think you will get my idea.

proyect-ulti-ideas.thumb.jpg.05ebaafe7ed9f195c62bd9752e3f35f3.jpg

A bit of explaining about the img or how it works in my mind:

- The main status of the project it's always on, so the purpose or latest status remains.

- The forum 'style' remains, but, the viewer can discriminate 'key posts' or just general talk. This way the user see the posts that the Project creator did mark as 'interesting' and this removes the 'dust' of information that use to happen on a forum, focusing on the project.

- The viewer can still see the project as a forum.

- The Project creator could tag posts by orders of importance to add to the main project.

- Project creator can assign 'roles' so others can mark important stuff, add updates to the main project info, 'wiki-it'.

- There are tools like calendars and all that, but in the end we are not making a Kickstarter, there's no delivery time, so that kind of think will add unnecessary pressure to the creator (I think).

The img was a fast doodle.

proyect-ulti-ideas.thumb.jpg.05ebaafe7ed9f195c62bd9752e3f35f3.jpg

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Calendar scheduling is necessary, first and foremost, not to forget the most important things. Firstly, because we all have our daily tasks that need to be addressed (family, work, something else), the addition of new objects in the timeline calendar will let you quickly see progress and be reminded of the really important events in the project. Secondly, despite the absence of any deadlines, understanding of time intervals is extremely important psychologically, it helps to use the available time properly, and gives focus to the effort.

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Such an innovation platform might be an interesting thing indeed. However, after the story of Makerbot trying to patent user designs the terms of use of such a platform should be clearly communicated. There is nothing wrong if Ultimaker would like to use the results of such a platform for their own development but it has to be declared accordingly.

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@Dim3nsioneer

This leads to an interesting question. Why would I use such a platform?

- Just to realize a interesting project for my own? Mostly no.

- To create something for a certain demand or community (e.g. a direct extruder for UM2 or the next drone generation) but with no plans to commercialize? Yes.

- To create someting which might be monetarised in some way (same examples as above...)? Yes as well.

I think, collaborative projects require people who share a strong motivation to succeed within reasonable time. A platform should help to build up that motivation with offering publishing, distribution or even selling opportunities. Ultimaker could play a very interesting role here if the options will be declared clearly. But supporting that work would require considerable man power at UM.

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Another thing to consider is adoptions of the projects to different machines. Like the tool changer. It was first started on UMO, Then another user adapted it to work on UM2. There will need to be a branch so the info can be gathered for the different machines.

Also highlighting requests for certain knowledge would be good. so people with that knowledge can see areas that they can chip in to help. Sometimes its hard to get people to help you on a project as they may have their own projects or different end result.

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Not experienced on these tools myself but really like the idea!

I like @neotko s setup. Specially the separation of wiki style for overview of project details, branches, instructions, component suppliers etc... and a forum style for discussions. I would probably have issues with committing to deadlines because of the day job but would contribute in a more loose way if possible.

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You could take a look at what they have today at OpenBuilds for the users build project and use that as inspiration for this. They have projects directly connected to a forum thread for discussions, and some other things. What they lack is some of the additions that neotko added to the mix when it comes to shared projects.

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OpenBuilds looks like a nice inspiration indeed.

I like the idea a lot. I would not do something to complex for this. As the purpose is to brainstorm and design (and build), not to work (as in paid work i mean).

If i take myself as an example, i would love to participate in projects like the magnet head thing, but i cannot be constrained to some timeline or deadlines, i have a day job like most of us, and a night job :p.

The idea of projects is based on volunteering (is that even a word?) so don't have to much pressure (i simply would participate to something that needs me working at precise moments.

Or maybe have the two possibilities? "Free" projects and "Timed" projects?

I like the ideas that @neotko described. Something like the OpenBuilds layout:

Build (A full description of how to make the project, this should be filled with all the usefull information gathered during the project.

Reviews Not sure about this one

Details License and other info

Parts List Detailed BOM

Drawings and Files (Link with Youmagine?)

Discussions Forum like topic

And i would add maybe another tab with only the usefull comments on the discussion (like @neotko suggested) where you would follow the forum topic but without all of the comments that don't bring anything relevant. This could be managed by the project creator and would work like the set best answer for general topics.

Of course the projects should be moderated, we don't want any spam there.

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Thank you all for the suggestions, this is all really helpful!

Terms of use is indeed very important!

My initial thinking is that any projects that sees light of day will remain to be the property of the owner. He can decide whether it stays an 'open project' so free for everyone to source and build and use or, if Ultimaker is on board too, work out some kind of arrangement to be adopted by Ultimaker. The definition of 'owner' is also something to be discussed. Is it always and solely the person who started a project? Or can it be a joined ownership when two guys do each 50% of the work? But whatever the outcome is, the owner(s) should be on board.

Maybe when we have made more progress we could start a separate thread on what we think the optimal ToU are.

I think a part of the platform we should not forget is not just how to present a project, but also how we get to that point. I had the impression in @DidierKlein's write up the focus was more on how do you present it clearly when it is finished, where we skip step 1; how to get it finished. And developing it, collaborating efficiently is the most complex part.

And because people are busy, I think an agenda is a must have. So you can plan to your own personal preference but also the other participants know what to expect. And it is a reminder. If we want a group project ever to succeed I don't think it is unreasonable to ask some level of commitment to the participants. Everyone is investing time, and if someone is not acting up on his deliverables that is very demotivating for the group.

About people who use it; making something together with someone else, something challenging which doesn't exist yet is appealing to a lot of makers I think. The challenge, the making, the creativity and acknowledgement when finished is the first appealing factor don't you think? And eventually there is a chance it could result in a compensation. Or do you think the latter is the biggest incentive to participate?

I have also heard about OnShape or GrabCad / Workbench? Has someone worked with any of these?

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I have used GrabCad and Onshape. Onshape is good where you have the owner of the project and many other people that can view and edit the drawings all at the same time. You just share the access to all people involved in the project to allow access to view and edit all drawings, It then shows who edited the design and what they have done.

Its something that would work really well for this kind of setup but you need people familiar with the software or willing to learn how to use it.

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