Do we need a formal, democratic, non-profit Organization for organizing the Nextcloud community?

Depending on the goals this may or may not be the best choice…

yes this is the case - one should remain realistic but wishes and dreams always follow best available solution. even me and my wife have different views - for some reason she likes MS Office much more then LibreOffice - for me the fact I can use classic menus in the last is the killer feature already.

This is the part of the business model you mentioned before. If the vendor wants everybody to pay for the software: OSS is not the right way. And I absolutely disagree people don’t want to pay - SOHO users just don’t fit into enterprise contract model of Nextcloud GmbH.

Most likely there are users who don’t fit into fair use model and expect premium support without a fee, but this is still part of the open source game. On the other hand there are people who would like raise a bounty or request (paid) support on demand… all this doesn’t exist now - so it’s wrong to blame people when they ask for support here. Or maybe they pay in different currency - by testing, promoting and supporting the software…

at least a part of the community wants to participate, test beta software - and find the bugs which passed QA (if there is any QA at Nextcloud) - but they don’t want to do it for free. The bill could be paid in different ways:

  1. $
  2. honor
  3. open ear on the dev side

first is wrong as this is not part of the deal when using OSS. 2. exists here from time to time… 3. is missing in my eyes - especially the community (people like you and me) who spend hundreds of hours in this forum doesn’t have a good way to file requests and provide feedback in term what they are looking for and which pains they feel (not exactly bugs but improvements and new features). this is exactly what @alexanderdd pointed out:

I’m fully realistic about the the income and the need to pay bills. In my opinion the company still should pay more attention to open and free part of the OSS. What I REALLY hate is their enterprise support portal hidden behind a paywall - how this matches with open source ideals?

As I said already

My suggestion to improve the collaboration between the company and community would be they dedicate a small part of their resources to address issues raised by the community and we have a backlog (like a poll). This would immediately enlighten everybody about priorities on the community side and the company could transparently show what they (not) added in specific release. Other ways could work as well but this collaboration is what I don’t see now. They are fast when it comes to testing of beta versions but become silent when it comes to support and discussions.

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Yeah that is a bit of a problem. As a soho user you’re a bit left alone here. They could at least provide some kind of LTS release for a reasonable fee.

That is the biggest problem but not in the way many probably think it is. I think Nextcloud has way to many features. And with it’s app store concept it suggest people it is some kind of hosting platform that can replace their Windows AD, LDAP, Webhosting, Bookeeping Software, Google Maps. Hell there are people who use it as a replacement for Plex or as a music player. There is no way that one company can make all this things nearly on the same level as specialiced companys or even specialiest oss projects could do it. It has features that not even M365 or Google Workplaces has. And nobody would ask Google to integrate a music player to Google Workspaces or a Recipies management tool :wink:

Nextcloud should focus on the core functions and maybe even offer a paid subscription for home users or small businesses, wich offers some kind of LTS / stable version with limited support, like for example Proxmox does. Resulting from this they should call the current normal releases community edition or even beta. Then they should split up the appstore between core and community apps more clear with a warning who tells everybody, you are on your own, when you install this app. And they should make clearer more straight forward install instructions with clear prerequisits, maybe even provide install scripts and an official docker image, and then only “support” these installation types. Otherwise it is nearly imposible to gain something from the community if you have feedback from home users with 10 diffrent installation types, on 30 diffrent OSs, 4 diffrent PHP versons, 1000 diffrent PHP configurations, 5 diffrent webservers and 10 diffrent reverse proxys, especially if it comes to weird beheivour or performance issues.

A VM or something like an Intel NUC with 4-8GB RAM, or maybe a Raspi4. Apache or NGINX with PHP-FPM, MariaDB, Redis, a little PHP tuning like OP cache and this thing runs like a champ. But people have all kinds of wierd configurations and setups, on cheap hosting platforms, Distros like Linux Mint or Arch, which are clearly not made for server usage, diffrent docker images, package repositories from diffrent distros without the necesarry configurations for PHP and Webserver etc…

I realise that some see this as an advantage, when you can run things on everything. But supporting something like this is almost impossible. Again… There should be a few official installation types that are supported and well documented. This should not stop anyone from building appliances or using Nextcloud in other ways. But supporting this or pull relevant information out of the huge quantity of issues this generates sounds at least challenging to me :wink: And it certainly needs a lot of time and effort that would probably be better invested into the development and improvement of the core product.

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This!
Instead of discussing what features are missing, it should be discussed what features should be dumped (from the core)! Now, having said that, this is from yours and mine point of view, people using NC for free. From NC GmbH point of view, the opposite is much more interesting. Brainstorming is expensive; getting it for free from NC users is invaluable…

When CERN started their MAlt (Microsoft Alternatives) project, they had this warning on their page: make sure you don’t fall in the trap of inferior (open source) copies… BTW, they use a customized version of ownCloud…

I’m not sure if they should dump features. But they probably should not add and advertise new features like PHP8.0 support, HPE, Whiteboard and things like that, when they clearly not ready for prime time. They should marked as Beta imho. I get that they want release often and early, and thus gather as much feedback as possible. Maybe that was the right strategy at the beginning, but in the meantime this strategy is rather counterproductive imho.

But I must also say that I personally have few problems with it. I don’t use every app, don’t always update to the latest versions on day one and usually find a way to deal with the issues that crop up from time to time. Overall I am still very happy with the product. But I don’t use all the functions. As already mentioned, I use other dedicated software for video conferencing, webmail, chat etc… The basic functions as I call them like Files, Collabora integration (Docker), Calendar, Contacts, work very well for me. and that allowed me to delete my Google account and switch to an AOSP Android without Google services. Well, I didn’t delete the account, but I don’t use it for these things anymore :wink:

But for users with less experience or those who use Nextcloud productively for their small business, the whole thing can be overwhelming and time consuming. I think a paid LTS version with a predefined installation procedure and fewer releases could help these people. And the money could be used for community work and support, maybe they could even hire someone full time for that. The current continues “beta” releseses :wink: could still be releasd like they do it know, for people who don’t want to pay or feel adventurous. :slight_smile:

really cool how experienced community members nail the problem in two subsequent posts:

There is no visible direction Nextcloud is approaching… There are enterprise features… some free developed apps… few communitiy-driven pull-requests. but there is no idea what should happen with all this stuff…

  • there is community willing to participate
  • there are private users willing to accept some draw-backs
  • there is a company overwhelmed with enterprise user requirements
  • there are enterprise users looking for o365/Google/AWS competitor

all this requirements are valid and need solid, bullet-proof validation before someone writes a line of code… I don’t want to take @frank’s chair this times - not the easiest situation… on the other hand the are not on the dead end, lot of big customers join the track and trust the company to provide services for reasonable period… this makes my soul happy in terms my beloved application is not going to disappear but I fear it doesn’t fit my measures anymore once the most powerful actor choose the way apart of the community…

I’m open for discussions and proposals - hopefully Nextcloud GmbH ill stay in contact with us!

appreciate feedback from @jospoortvliet @nickvergessen @frank @system

What I was really trying to say is: NC GmbH and the so-called non-profit NC have different goals…

NC GmbH is still in the “move fast and break things” mode

A perfectly justifiable business model… To build a critical mass of users, features, money flow, etc.
The goal is the latter; the means are the former… The environment is ripe - everything GDPR related, the time is short…

Nothing to do with the goals of a “non-profit NC”… Hence, it won’t happen…

I also don’t think there ever will be a “community edition” (one-time payment for a supported edition) released… Just google on this forum for reaction on OnlyOffice $99 family edition release…

Even today we regularly read incessant b!tching about why NC does not release a native client for the future of everything: Apple Silicon; and a few days later why they dropped Windows 8 32 bit…

Now imagine those users would purchase the “community edition”… Now they feel entitled to be heard… And acted upon their requirements… The cacophony on this forum would become unbearable…

NC is a commercial enterprise-level product. Sold for a monthly fee.
To keep up the fast pace of development and harness users input the source code is open.
But not the know-how! Enterprise features documentation is not freely available!
Don’t expect “presents” like Hansson VM with the signaling server built-in happen often!

I think this is a fair deal…

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I don’t see it quite so negatively. And as @anon71540698 says, at the moment they are focusing on big customers. And that’s where the big money is. As long as everything stays open source i’m fine with that.

The problem I see, is the gap in the SOHO area. There is no LTS version or any kind of support that you can buy as home user or small business owner. For experienced users this is certainly less of an issue. But most of this problems you mention, could be solved by offering an LTS - Home/Soho edition and distinguishing more clearly between officially supoorted apps and community apps, plus the other things I mentioned in my previous posts. And yes, if they go that route, some people will say, “This product is not for me”. So what? Do you really have to make everyone happy? Beside of that, these people could still use the “beta” releases, like they do now :wink:

I get that some people want a democratic, “everybody can wish and decide non profit thing”. Honestley as good as that sounds in theory, it would most likly lead to an even bigger mess. Just imho of course :wink:

Addition:
I really don’t think that Nextcloud must be everything form a office groupware collaboration platform, all the way down to multimedia or game platform or whatever some people here may want it to be. :wink: It should be quite the opposite and be more foccused on the office/groupware colaboration part. If someone wants to use it as media server or whatever, there are plenty off OSSs products out there… I think people who want such things are mostly those, that can barley run nextcloud in reliable and secure way. And when they somehow manged to get that running, they see the appstore, and want to be able to do things with one click, for which others have to hire an armada of sysadmins. You have to stay realistic here.

Beside of that Nextcloud already does a relly good job, also if you see it from your perspective. I’m still amazed what is possible on for example a Raspberry Pi nowdays. I see people in this forums who have nothing to do with IT, but manage to set up a file sharing and collaboration platform like Nextcloud. Something like this would have been unthinkable 10 - 20 years ago. There was Microsoft and Linux and professional UNIX systems. In some point of time the comercial NAS solutions like Synology grew popularity. But there was no OSS solution like NCP or a Nextcloud VM, that a home user could install relatively easy on a sunday afternoon and that offered a comparable functionality.

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@bb77 closest I’ve seen to a community LTS is @nextcloudpi offering their own release schedule, which can be bypassed at any time by updating yourself. Their offering includes automatic updates of the base software, automatic updates of apps, and a webui / cli interface for occ maintenance. Since it includes these different moving parts, it requires thorough bug testing and a slower cycle, which is great! Basic tldr, resist the urge to update major versions until bugs are addressed in stable. This addresses the move fast approach to an extent, but remains specific to this project.

Credit where credit is due, basically every major enterprise part of the software has been open sourced these last couple years: spreed high performance backend as an example. So, got to give them big kudos.

It does seem a bit of a bummer to see the employees always being called to join conversations both on the forum and github… just see it happening all the time and I do feel bad for those people who are treated as always on-call because they actually do respond to most of these posts once people get heated. Just my .02, but I’d love to hear more from the app maintainers who started this thread in a calm and collected manner… @marcelklehr and @stefan-niedermann

Right now there is a definite lack of knowing which apps are community apps. Actually, only a small number of apps are “official” and “core”… the number is much smaller than most any of us realize. E2E is a community app, which I had no idea about until someone on the team said so [looking for the exact quote either on forum or gh]… so there is no guarantee on it working across major version releases. I’d love to see the ability for us to resist updates that break X and Y apps we depend on.

On the Github side it is really difficult to track what is happening in regards to community contributions. Requests on Github will be eventually be closed to limit the number of open issues the core team will not be able to implement, but there is no “Nice to Have” label or similar that allows volunteer developers to track these github submissions the core team is not working on in the future…

Yes, it is a constant game of test for breakage and what is supported… that is why the missing features thread was created in addition to these:

Any apps not yet compatible with version 21 and php 8?
Any apps not yet compatible with version 22?

I apologize as this is all a big deviation from the original question of this thread, but I do see it related to how the community could better contribute. Unsure of how the Foundation branch of the community will develop, but I do see that we could really use a greater focus on encouraging the community to contribute quality documentation similar to the Arch Wiki. My suggestion is adding a category to this forum in which every post is user editable by default. Common courtesy will still apply, but it is easy enough to revert edits.

Totally true. I completely acknowledge that we are a very small percentage of the user base, so that is certainly important to keep in mind regardless of future developments.

I would love for this to happen any time!

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@bb77 and @just in my opinion LTS release is not what people are looking for… in my eyes LTS is more an enterprise feature where one can keep working software unchanged for longer longer periods and don’t need to adopt docs, user training materials and so on… for a SOHO user I see no problem if the UI changes slightly - we see it everyday on our phones and even desktops…

the other side of tight Nextcloud release schedule - the admin must install updates to remain supported. this must is often let behind… I bet installing new major release is more sexy than just another security update for the 3y old LTS application. I don’t like the fast release cycle as well but I still prefer the first way as it puts more pressure on admins to keep the software updated… in general I see no problem to perform a major update every 12-18 months - (3 major releases supported, release cycle every 6 months). you can always skip one release going from the x-2 to x (x-1) release and stay supported and secure. this is the reason I don’t see LTS or another distribution like NextcloudPi is the right answer for such issues…

The problem is

-if Nextcloud would talk to the community and accept feedback using some official process this would help everybody to understand the goals and priorities for the next time period. People may agree or not, they may keep using NC or change to different product - all this is part of open source culture

this is the result of missing official communication channel!

every user has it’s own preferences but here we don’t talk about why Github is better than Reddit vs Nextcloud forum - Nextcloud Gmbh is free to choose the best way to receive and respond to community needs, they could setup a forum/GH repo - name responsible employees as they prefer… I’m even open to say this channel is open to dedicated community members like “community leader” only - but this must be defined, announced and lived exactly this way.

some conference or any other event is just single point in time - this may drive some change but this doesn’t last… everyday work needs another format then just a horde of people at some random event…

If you consider the title of this discussion and the history of Owncloud/Nextcloud - if the authority isn’t accepted by the community a group can leave/fork and go it’s own way… and then Nextclolud is nothing else then OwncloudV2 and there is another rising star on heaven called RealNextcloud or something like this…

As I stated multiple times before I don’t appreciate this way… but if the situation remains as it is the risk of community split grows…

@bb77 @just your posts are mainly around money- I agree money is what drives the management of the company… but this view is limited - I have spend hundreds of hours in this forum for free - so lot of others - this what drives OSS and community. I don’t expect and don’t even ask for flowers but I have to know if my work is worth to do… I don’t spend my effort for Nextcloud GmbH, I don’t do this for Frank… I do it for the community and because of my dream: every user can control of his data and nobody must save the data in o365. And I ask for qualified and reliable contact channel to do it in the future!

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I see your point. An maybe there is not the small business user or the home user. There are enthusiasts who always want the latest features and there are people who want stability. The people who always want the latest features are already well served.

But how should a “normal” user know which versions to skip? Nextcloud 21 for example is one release I would skip. I do actualy at my production instance. The most significant new features like PHP8 support, HPE, Whiteboard, are clearly not ready for prime time yet. So wait for NC22 if you want these features… And then maybe something elese will be added there, which is not yet ready… etc etc. The problem is that most releases are beta quality at best. This applies at least to the new features that are announced for the respective releases. And yes, I know that many of these new features are optional and the core is mostly stable. But then these new features should be clearly marked as beta within the App Store or in the documentation.

No for me it is not about money. (But I would pay a reasonable fee to support the project.) It was just an idea how they could offer a real end-user product for soho users. Currently they leave that job to 3rd parties like Hansson IT or NCP which is fine I guess and they do a great job with their appliances. But it is also difficult and confusing for many people not to have the one official way to install nextcloud. An official product with one or at most two official installation types would simplify matters. But again, these are just ideas and thoughts. Personally, I can live well with the current situation. As long as everything remains open source and is reasonably well documented, I will find my way around the quirks that can arise from time to time. :slight_smile:

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An these PR were reviewed and tested? If you test the new version, you could just merge a couple of these PR and report if that is breaking anything and open a report on the main repo and ask to merge them in the new version.

About the community-feedback being recognized, Nextcloud could give a certain amount of development time and then a few issues that fall within this time frame are put to a vote to the community.

this is exactly what @alexanderdd complains about - not everybody is coder and can perform testing, knows github workflows and so on.

and this is related to my point:

if they would clear define a roadmap. Today I was buffed to recognize e2e app introduced with NC17(?) still missing essential features (no sharing, no key revokation). HPB is really cool feature and was driver to immediately move to NC21… VFS in NC Client 3.2 is cool as well - today it removed contents of some folders :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: - this is bad but something you can expect with new features (unfortunately)…

but for me whole discussion is not about if there are too many or too less features, how is the quality and what is good and what is going wrong - nobody is perfect and everybody has room to improve… In my eyes it’s more about the fact people feel left behind by the Nextcloud GmbH as their communication is limited to announcements and calls to test… no discussion, no real feedback channel… I still prefer they wake up and improve the communication rather another entity is founded and puts more complexity to the ground…

Hey,
I think it is a great idea to establish a non-profit ommunity driven entity to support the Nextcloud development and its environment.

And I understand that there is a lot of motivation to do so out of disappointment about the GmbH.

I think it’s crucial to start anything like this with a positive attitude and vision.
What should be our aims? What do we want to make better? -And not only (nor mainly) based on (supposed) failures or wrong decisions of other people, including the Gmbh.

Constructive criticism is what is needed and I think it’s important to think about what we could achieve in a cooperation with the GmbH.

Instead of only letting grow this thread I’d love to sketch a vision and some details of the “Nextcloud Foundation”.

Who’s in?

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I’d like to get an impression if there is enough people (and yes… money) that want to organize themselfes to some extent in order to push their interests in the devlopment etc.

Imho there is a huge potential -not in an adversary but a companion to the GmbH.

It was mentioned, that the people of Nextcloud GmbH promised (?) to create some kind of foundation during the time of the fork from OwnCloud. Does anybody have references for this?

Yes, I also think that there was something like that. In the meantime, however, they have probably become victims of their own success (large projects with public institutions and companies) and are no longer dependent on small change from small users :wink:

see What happend to the Nextcloud foundation? as already posted above. Yes, there have been promises, yes, they weren’t kept.

Hey,

Not in any way an official reply, just some thoughts of mine, in the tradition of "I’m sorry, I did not have time to keep it short):

  • Note that the foundation we wanted to setup would be a bit like the Free-QT foundation. Purely protecting the future, not doing any day-to-day stuff like development. The idea would be that it owns the trademark and if Nextcloud GmbH would go bankrupt or get sold or something, the foundation could give another company the trademark. Basically just to avoid what happened to ownCloud.
  • It’s true that there is a gap for support for home users and small businesses that self-host. We’d love to help here, but we simply lack the capacity to do it and can’t afford to hire people for it - we’re not venture-capital-funded, remember, we have to earn what we spend, first. And it would barely be profitable. I can recommend you get support from https://www.hanssonit.se/ for example - he offers this. And if somebody else wants to do that - go ahead, we won’t stop you (just like we never stopped him). We’re actually aiming more and more for larger organizations as that’s where we can give the most benefit, so we absolutely don’t object to people providing support for home users or such!
  • If you’d want to set up a foundation that does development, your biggest issue is going to be money - just setting it up and keeping it alive probably costs more than you’d get from donations, at least if I look at how much donations came in over bounty source over the years. And then doing actual development - good luck. Seriously, development is expensive. Just look at other open source projects like Krita - they are SUPER successful - and can pay, like, 1 or 2 full time developers and 1-2 interns. And again: that is SUPER successful and with everyone involved being OK with a very low salary. I see no reason to expect a Nextcloud foundation to get even 1% of what Krita is bringing in.

Oh and you don’t want to set up something “like the libreoffice foundation” - at least not until you’ve talked to some of the people involved. The sad truth is that it is terribly disfunctional, possibly doing more harm than good. Yeah, it doesn’t make me happy either, but that’s what I hear.

Now all that said, we’re absolutely aware there is more we can and should do for private users. That is why we do maintain things like SQLite support and simple sign-on - I’m sure you all realize that those things provide very little benefit to our customers :upside_down_face: In general, we could probably earn more money if we wouldn’t spend effort in keeping Nextcloud easy to install and run!

As was said above, our current approach is indeed to grow as quickly as we can so we gain the critical mass needed to really compete and be profitable. We’re quite successful, even though there’s still a long way to go, but the idea is that the bigger we get, the smaller (relatively speaking) the resources are we need to maintain Nextcloud - which means there is more room for doing ‘extra’ things. Like developing features our home users care for, for example.

It took our first 2 years to reliably break-even, and that was with working overtime by pretty much everyone on board. And with not exactly impressive salaries, either. Now we’re financially healthy and getting closer to normal, 40 hour work weeks, but we have to hire to keep the hundreds of new customers happy, support-wise. (If you’d be interested in a sales engineering role, shoot us a mail)So it still isn’t easy, even if it’s better than in our first years.

If (and that’s a big IF) we can keep our growth up, I think in about 2 years, we’ll really get to a point where we can do feature development for home users, on top of the enterprise features and support we need. But that is only if we can find significantly more customers - and big ones. And if they don’t decide they don’t need to bother paying us as they get all they need for free. Which is probably the biggest thing holding back our growth. I don’t want to complain too much - we decided to be a 100% open source company, and that comes with lots of potential customers not bothering to contribute anything. But it is important to understand that if, say, 30% of the companies >1000 employees that use Nextcloud for free would start to pay, we’d have an easy time developing all the cool stuff you lot would love to see. And more. So this isn’t irrelevant.

Another thing to keep in mind - we started this entire thing to help people regain their privacy. Companies have no right to privacy - making them happy isn’t what MOTIVATES is, it’s just what pays the bills. So we want to get to this point of being able to build a better Nextcloud for you all, really.

Maybe the way we do it isn’t the best way, maybe it is. We obviously think about this all the time and we think we are going about it the best possible way, but feedback is always welcome - though, best delivered at a conference or something, it’s hard to discuss these things on a forum :wink:

Please, continue your conversation - I don’t think we block community pull requests and I wouldn’t want us to block conversations from users who genuinely want to help Nextcloud be better.

I appreciate you care! And the work you do - helping fellow users, advocating for Nextcloud, it is motivating for us and it helps us do better, too. You all matter, a lot.

Have a good weekend and stay tuned for Tuesday!

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Thank you @jospoortvliet for your detailed reply!

Krita seems to receive $5k in donations per month. Recently the developer of the Android email app K9 started actively asking for donations. In December he only received ~€350 per month (€82 per week). A few months ago he wrote a blog asking for more donations which also got some traction on Hacker News. This relatively simple move resulted in K9 now receiving ~€3.2k per month (€744 per week). It is also a great way to improve the community as it makes people more attached to a project and lets the developer feel more valued.

I’m no expert but I think that if Nextcloud opens a Liberapay account I’d be surprised if it wouldn’t receive at least 1k per month soon and I could see it become quite a bit more (the comparison to Bounty Source doesn’t feel right because it’s quite cumbersome, at least my experience is that the issues I backed for several projects can take ages to be solved; I much rather donate structurally for general development than backing some specific issue one time).

I agree that a separate foundation probably is too much overhead. But maybe Nextcloud could use the money to hire an extra (part-time) Nextcloud core/server developer to work on issues that the home user community deem important. Or it could be used to justify current developers across all the different repositories to spend a bit of time on some home user relevant issues/feature requests.

I know that setting this up correctly probably isn’t that easy. But I always thought that Nextcloud received enough money from their commercial (support) work to cover all the development that they and the community would like to see. Reading @jospoortvliet’s post this doesn’t seem to the case. So setting up donations really feels like a logical way to get some more money and it could potentially become a significant source of funding.

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  • when you receive money for your work in open source (as independent), you probably have to pay taxes and social security. If you already have your business that might be just another source of income
  • when Nextcloud receives this money, they would have to go through all the administrative stuff to hire and manage these additional developers (and pay TVA for the “donations”)

So “just” setting up things, if you don’t think it through you might end up creating a lot of additional work.

Perhaps they could just provide a developer for 1 day/month for the community. And the community can decide on the project, if there is a 5-6 months release cycle, this would be a week of work. A lot of community work is hidden, and this part would be more visible.