One year ago, I was working through my masters degree in software engineering. Google had not yet introduced Android 2.2 "Froyo" or cloud-to-device messaging (C2DM), and I had only purchased my first Android device (a Motorola Droid) a few months prior. Not only had Google not announced the "Gingerbread" or "Honeycomb" variants of Android - people had barely started guessing which confections would mascot these coming releases! It was amidst this zeitgeist that the Deacon Project sparked to life, late in the evening on April 16th, 2010, born of my desire to see equity in push capabilities between Android devices and their sundry fruit-themed competition.
Before the Deacon team reached our Alpha release, Google introduced C2DM with the arrival of Froyo. The team opted to press on, to offer developers an independent push alternative where they could control the entire pipeline and support older devices. At a proof of concept level, I believe the team achieved that goal. We got the attention of many app developers, peaking at nearly 2000 web page views per month. At one point, we were even offered a sponsorship; it would later fall through, but not without injecting a healthy dose of enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, we're learning that the cost of maintaining an open source project isn't zero. Domain names and hosting aren't free, coding and testing and responding to e-mails consume precious time, and motivating participation isn't easy. Thus far, our Pledgie button has gone unused, and adoption hasn't been strong enough to give the project much self-sustaining momentum. There have been many projects that flourish with the efforts of just a handful of curators (dcraw, jhead and dnsmasq come to mind), but strong uptake and personal usefulness are often requisite motivators for ongoing development. Frankly speaking, that simply hasn't happened here - and as a result, it's been difficult to attract contributions in the form of code or testing, and correspondingly difficult to achieve a self-sustaining critical mass.
I still believe that The Deacon Project could take off. It offers a value proposition - complete infrastructure control and support for all Android devices - that's beneficial for many mobile-app business models. For now, though, I will be scaling back my efforts to test and polish the Deacon library to free up time for some other projects. Of course, I'll be happy to continue answering questions via the mailing list, making minor improvements in the codebase, and watching the issue trackers. I'd also be thrilled (honored, even!) to receive code contributions in the form of pull requests and patches - and interested parties can certainly inquire about direct commit access. If you or your company really wants to see Deacon grow and mature, please contact me - with the right interest, conditions and support, there is always the potential to go further.