After 10 years, I'm stopping my work on sabre/dav

Almost 10 years ago in 2007, I started a project called sabre/dav. I originally was looking to scratch an itch and solve a real problem we had in our company.

A lot of people ended up being pretty excited about it. In 2010 I got to a point where doing consulting around this project allowed me to travel around the world, working for various companies and get paid enough to not have to do any other jobs. Life was pretty good! One of these gigs actually brought me all the way to a beach in Australia! (Thanks Ben!)

In 2012 plenty of businesses relied on this project for either a side-feature, or at the heart of their product, including various ISP’s, product companies and open source vendors like Owncloud.

At this point I started working with Dominik Tobschall and we opened the doors to a business named fruux in Munster, Germany. We got a bunch of funding and we would try to build a consumer and small-business product. Fruux also used sabre/dav at it’s core for synchronization and became the owner of the project.

I also started working with CalConnect to help drive forward the actual calendaring and scheduling standards that sabre/dav and many other vendors implement. It was really awesome to work directly with the people behind Apple’s iCal and iCloud, Mozilla’s Lightning (hey Philipp!), Google Calendar and many other industry leaders. Instead of just being disgruntled about a bug (or feature) I could just ask the developers directly and work things out together!

We were unable to grow fruux quickly enough, so in 2014 we made a pivot and try to focus on professional services around sabre/dav. We got burned with the incredibly long sales cycles, so later in 2015 we had to wind this business down and find alternative income streams while still passionately working on this project.

Pictured above: the original fruux team

Unfortunately over time the alternative income streams slowly became the main ones leading me to September 2016, in which I started a new full-time job at a company in Toronto called Turnstyle. It’s a great change of pace after having worked remotely and contracting for half a decade.

This leads me to today. I recently read a blog post titled “What it feels like to be an open-source maintainer” by Nolan Lawson, which kind of hit home. This made me realize that after nearly 10 years, my work on this project has turned from something I was very excited about into something a bit more like a chore.

I’m not really using my own project(s) anymore. I don’t get paid, but I’m really the only maintainer. Lots of businesses depend on it, there are lots of open bug reports, feature requests and pull requests but I can’t find the time and motivation to work on it. According to packagist, it’s been downloaded 27000 times in the last 30 days. I think I would still love it if it were my full-time job and I had coworkers also working on it, but it all comes down to me.

This has caused two big effects:

  1. I feel constantly guilty that I don’t work on these things. There’s people waiting on me and making reasonable requests, but I just can’t seem to get it done.
  2. This guilt is preventing me from starting new things that excite me, because I feel bad starting the next thing if I haven’t finished the last.

It was a gut-feeling that took a while to sink in from around January. I finally realized that I need to make a change. This is pretty personal and emotional and it sucks to have to make this decision.

So, starting today:

  • I resigned 100% from fruux
  • I resigned from CalConnect
  • I’m shutting down the sabre/dav mailing list (go to github instead)
  • I’m looking for new maintainers

The affected projects are:

I’ll continue to maintain the following three projects because they are simple and small:

For the first 5 I’m looking for suitable new maintainers. I do care about the future quality of these projects, so I won’t just hand it over to anyone. If you’re interested, let me know what you’re planning to do with it. I’ll probably hang out and guard quality control for a while before I fully step down, but I am more than happy to provide mentorship during this transition. It’s easier to answer questions than to do the actual development ;).

If I don’t find new maintainers within a month or so, I will advertise these projects as being ‘unmaintained’ and unsubscribe from any notifications.

I am super grateful for the doors this project has opened for me, and the adventures I’ve had. Working on an open source project has allowed me to work in 8 countries on 4 continents, and it wasn’t possible without all the people who stopped by, cared and decided to make the project better. It’s been really amazing! It’s super scary to think that 10 years have passed and all the things that have changed :O

Peace out and onto the next adventure!

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  • Morris

    First of all: Thanks, Evert for this nice project!

    Sad to hear that you step down, but it's also understandable from your point of view. It was a pleasure to met you in person and having great discussion with you. I always looked at the code of the sabre projects to get some inspiration about well written code. ;) I wish you all the best for your future journeys.


  • Thomas

    Also from me: Thanks for all the work you did invest into the subject. It was a pleasure to work with you @CalConnect!

    Sad to see that happening, but I can understand the reasons. I wish you a lot of fun with all your future topics!

    Thomas Schäfer

  • Jeff Puckett II

    Thanks Evert for all that you've done! I hope these projects find a new guardian, but you deserve a break.

  • Hans de Raad

    Shame to see things not working out for you business wise with this awesome piece of, I'd say without any doubt, internet kitchensink software! Good to see you've found a new and positive environment to do great stuff. All the best!

  • Larry Garfield

    Thank you Evert for all your work, and for trying to step down gracefully. Good luck in your new role.

    Maybe those projects that now rely on it like ownCloud would be interested in maintaining Sabre going forward? ;-)

    • Evert


      I'm kind of hoping that that ends up being the case. The ideal situation is probably having 1 or more maintainers that also use the software on a daily basis

  • Carlos Timóteo

    Hello Evert. It's sad to read this. sabre/dav was your passion and almost your live when we met in Lisbon. Myself already shifted my career 4 times. It's good to change. Learn new stuff. Good luck with the transition process, and future. If you consider a visit to Portugal, again, ping me! Bye

    • Evert


      Thank you Carlos. Lisbon was definitely one of my highlights!!

  • Stefan Kilp

    Thanks for that superb project, Evert.

    I think that evert would be the best person to support te project now an d in the future, So i would hope to find a way that evert get paid for the support.i have seen a few projects using patreon successful. i would give it a try, evert.
    As a lot of people are using the sabre components, it should be possible to collect enought money for event.

    • Evert


      It's a bit too late for that unfortunately. My main bottleneck now is time, not money. A few years ago this might have been a good idea though =)

  • rickatech

    Sad to here this. I'm with a startup in Bay Area and sabredav is a critical part of our backend.

    Thing is we have a rather limited scope need for WebDAV. Wondering if the project just became too big and complicated? If so could it be shrunk to core essentials, with some features made to be seperate maintainable plug-ins/template projects.

    All the best.

    • Evert


      If you're only interested in the base webdav stuff, you simply can just look at the DAV/ folder. You can ignore most of the other stuff. That said, I don't think it's really viable to remove it. I'd say that most users DO actually use carddav/caldav and I've been pretty proactive in slicing features people don't use if they are a maintenance burden.

      • rickatech

        Good to know.

        If you / anyone knows anyone available if we pay support, let me know. Reached out to fruux, but communication with them is very intermittent.

        It looks like we're starting to wrap our heads around what a collection can do. Using collection code, we are hoping to isolate certain WebDAV uploaded files to be seen/available only to users who are members of a given collection. Seems like it should be straight forward, but it's slow going as I'm not sure there is a tutorial about this anywhere. Well maybe the home collection, but that's a very simple use case.

  • Mark Dhas

    Hey bud, what are your thoughts regarding where you'd like sabre/dav to go in the future? I'd consider taking it on myself having worked with it for the last five years pretty much consistently I'd say I'm more or less competent to do so. Let me know your thoughts.

    • Evert


      Hi Mark,

      Sorry I didn't see your comment when you first made it. If anyone (such as yourself) is interested in taking over maintenance, it's really no longer up to me where the project should be going =) It should be based on your wants and needs. That said, I can give you some ideas of where I would have taken it if I had enough time. One of the first ones is a full upgrade to PHP 7 with strict type hints for all sabre/* projects.

      If you're interested to get into this, start with writing code =) I'll happily hand over the keys to the car once to anyone if I see a certain level of quality contributions.

      Hope you're well!

      • Nino

        PHP7.1 strict types is where it's at. Emphasis on 7.1, since there are no nullables in 7.0

  • gNeandr

    Thanks Evert!
    It was always a great pleasure to work with you, great competence, great communication!
    All the best for you ... looking forward to see you with the same success at other place(s).