Not a complete, er, Travis-ty: Travis CI tries calming open source users after price changes and perceived quality drop

Not a complete, er, Travis-ty: Travis CI tries calming open source users after price changes and perceived quality drop

After receiving lots of questions from open source projects making use of Travis CI in the last couple of weeks, product marketing manager Paul Gordon has taken to the company’s blog to assure users the company still plans to stay true to their founder’s promise to open source.

“Open source has always been and always will be at the core of what Travis CI stands for, reflected in the fact that we’re still committed to offering accounts specifically for open source repositories,” Gordon wrote. 

The company also said it plans to work with “leaders in the open source world like AWS, IBM and Arm to give open source projects the power to build, test and deliver the software that powers the internet and beyond, such as OpenSSL and Apache HTTP Server, with over 300,000 other open source projects trusting the speed and reliability of Travis CI.”

Travis CI was amongst the first open source tools that allowed an integration of testing and CI capabilities with repository hosting service GitHub, providing – besides the automation functionalities – now standard niceties such as build status indicators. Noticing a growing demand, the Travis team also offered a managed service and an enterprise version to keep the lights on, but with other options popping up, viability seems to have become trickier through the years.

In early 2019, company co-founder Konstantin Haase announced the acquisition of the organisation looking after Travis by SQL expert and home of Delphi company Embarcadero Idera. Though the goal of the deal was to get the means to “expand and improve the core product”, Travis CI has since made the headlines through outages and talent migration (often involuntary) more than anything else. 

Especially users of the company’s free services started voicing discontent with the performance and overall quality of the tool, which is one of the reasons why there seems to be a wave of migration away from Travis CI over to GitHub Actions.

The recently announced updated pricing model for the hosted services of for users building on macOS environments (something Travis also became known for), those conducting more than 10 concurrent builds, or only using public repos, didn’t help with the matter. According to the company it was however necessary, since “abusers have been tying up our build queues and causing performance reductions for everyone”. 

As a consequence, users building on public repositories without a paid subscription for example will be moved to a trial plan “with a 10K credit allotment (which allows around 1000 minutes in a Linux environment)” and should consider switching to a paid plan once out of credit. Open source projects relying on Travis, meanwhile, were asked to apply for an OSS allotment. 

Though renewable amounts are mentioned, the process looked a bit tedious as it has to be repeated every time the credit is exhausted.

Strictly speaking, this still is in tune with Haase’s promise to “continue to maintain a free, hosted service for open source projects”, however the hoops one has to jump through to get there might mean more projects will reconsider their choices.

If the step is indeed a success and helps revive Travis’s fortunes remains to be seen. Gordon has said it is “confident that our recent changes have brought the abuse of open source at Travis CI under control, ensuring resources are available to all developers and teams as well as improvements to the overall performance and stability of the platform.”