Why I won't be backing Mou's crowdfunding Campaign

Mou as your Markdown loving Mac geeks know, is a split pane Markdown editor. It’s been around for years and it’s really quite good. I even donated to its creator in the past to support it. Now he’s put together an IndieGoGo campaign to pay for people to work on it full time, but I won’t be contributing.

Some background first

Mou was never open source. I’m ok with that. I use a bunch of great proprietary apps. Unfortunately, that means that when its developer (Chen Lou) was busy with his life, Mou languished, and no-one could help improve it. Eventually he decided he couldn’t give it the attention it deserved and tried to sell it. Sadly, I found out about this after the fact or damn would I have been trying to put together the money to buy it.

Life Moves On

During the process of trying to sell it Chen appears to have decided to try and put together a company to work on it full time, which is great, but when the sale was announced UranusJr (otherwise known as Tzu-Ping Chung) got a bit concerned.

It came as a great shock when Chen Luo announced that he felt he could not actively continue the development, and wished to sell the ownership of Mou. No suitable offers surfaced (I honestly do not think there will be, either), and I decided that instead of waiting for others to do something about this, I should act myself.

And act he did. UranusJr’s been working like a madman on an MIT licensed clone of Mou called MacDown. He’s been adding features on a regular basis, and is constanly asking for and listening to feedback from the community. He allows those of us who use it, but aren’t skilled at Objective-C to feel that we are making some kind of worthwile contribution by trying out his beta code and discussing the ideas that he, and the community, come up with.

The crowdfunding

Meanwhile Chen Lou’s IndieGoGo campaign is offering the following:

  • “We’ll pick the most wanted features from our contributors, implement them in 1.0.”
  • Free license to Mou when it hits 1.0
  • Jumping metal frog
  • Metal stand shaped like the Mou’s “M” in various colors.
  • If we’re really lucky and it reaches $100,000 ( 5 times it’s goal ) he will open source it.

So, let’s compare those perks to what MacDown is offering:

  • MacDown implements the most wanted features from the community, not just a select few, and if you want a feature badly enough you can write it and there’s a good chance it’ll get merged in. Also, he’s regularly adding features just because he wants them himself.
  • MacDown accepts feature requests from everyone. Also, it’s not like Mou would ignore a great feature request from a non-backer. So this is kinda BS anyway.
  • MacDown’s already free so I don’t need a license
  • Don’t need a jumping metal frog
  • Don’t need a metal stand shaped like an “M”
  • ALREADY open source.

Mou’s campaign encourages us to “Forget the crappy clones, let’s open source the original Mou!” But why should we? UranusJr’s done a spectacular job with MacDown. It’s true that it’s not quite as polished as Mou yet. I does have a couple rough edges, but it’s polishing up quickly, and the driving force behind it is incredibly responsive to community feedback. With MacDown I’ve got a great app that I’m using daily, and it’s released under one of the most permissive licenses there is.

At this point I see no reason to back Mou. Not long ago I would have happily thrown Chen some more money to start working on it full time, but Mou missed its opportunity. Someone else stepped in to fill the need.


This post? Totally written with MacDown.