As Ardour evolves, it becomes a serious alternative to commercial products for more and more people. We see the download counts increase for each new release, and the volume of traffic on the mailing lists is growing. That’s lovely, of course. We work on Ardour without the accoutrements of a “normal” software corporation, so whenever a new user finds our work useful and worthwile, it makes what we do seem meaningful and worth continuing with.
Unfortunately, it’s not all roses we receive. With wider public interest and more users, there’s bound to be people who are disappointed in Ardour. We believe, however, that it’s only because most newcomers do not realize what to expect - hopefully this text will set that right.
The Development Team
Many users probably don’t realize it, but the development team driving Ardour forward is very small for the amazingly complex piece of software that is a contemporary DAW.
At this time, the main force behind Ardour is delivered by two people, with less constant contributions from 2 others, and occasional contributions from on the order of a dozen others. Consider that we do support, web site maintenance, documentation, feature enhancements, debugging, as well as development.
There’s more people (perhaps another dozen) pitching in with translation, release engineering (preparing Ardour for users), Mantis triaging (“Mantis” is the bug database used to keep track of known problems, “triaging” the process of prioritizing/verifying bugs) and other necessary tasks.
So we’re always looking for new people to help. Some people have the unfortunate idea that a project like Ardour can only needs help from people who can write code. This is absolutely not the case! While we can always use more programmers, we also need designers, documentation writers, video producers, support people and more. If you are interested in spending a little time making Ardour a better DAW, please don’t hesitate to join the developer mailing list or get in touch with us on IRC, our forums or the development mailing list.
Ardour Features and Polish
As Ardour is getting more powerful and usable, we attract more and more users who expect the same feature set and product polish as they’ll find in a commercial product such as ProTools or Steinberg’s Nuendo. This isn’t the right way to think about Ardour at this time.
Not that we don’t want to get there, you understand, but it’s simply not a reasonable comparison. Companies like Avid, Ableton etc. have spent who knows how many man-hours worth of development on their DAW and can spend a lot on getting good documentation written, new features, debugging, installation process made smooth and generally polish the thing till it shines. In comparison, Ardour development is driven primarily by the energy and interests of just a few people.
Do not read that as an excuse for why Ardour lacks in comparison with other products. Do read it as an explanation for why you should expect nothing more from Ardour than it actually delivers. And rest assured that the developers want and expect it to rival, or better yet, best the proprietary DAWs. That’s why we’re so committed to this development model - because we believe it’s the best way to get there.
You can read more about support mechanisms.
However, since support is also provided on a volunteer basis, you must be careful not to have unreasonable expectations: you cannot demand your questions to be answered or bugs to be fixed. In short: the people volunteering time to Ardour only have so much time available, and they alone decide how to spend it. Please respect their choice.
When that is said, you should know that our forums, IRC channel and mailing lists are friendly places - few requests go without reply. And we also do our best to fix all bugs reported, just as we strive to implement requested features. But as should be evident from the number of open bugs in Mantis, there’s not enough hours in the day to allow us to address all issues in a timely manner.