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author Kai T. Ohlhus <>
date Mon, 10 Sep 2018 19:58:21 +0200
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title: Support Expectations
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Octave is a capable free software system for numerical computing
developed primarily by a community of volunteers.  As good as it
is, there are certainly some flaws and a lot of room for
improvement.  Most people who use Octave understand these things
and know that if they work together with the community bugs will
be fixed, features will be added, and Octave will improve over
time.  Working with people who have this kind of attitude is fun
and rewarding.

Unfortunately, there are a few people who behave as though the
community owes them support as well as a 100% Matlab compatible
system, all at zero cost.  It shouldn't really be necessary, but
we'll say it anyway: working with these people is no fun.  If you
approach the Octave community this way, you are sure to be
disappointed.  You should also not be surprised when your requests
for help are ignored.

# Development Group

People sometimes think that Octave is developed by some large team
of well-paid programmers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most of the initial development of Octave was done by one person
over several years.  Since then, there have been at most a half-dozen
or so volunteers working on Octave at any one time.
You can see who has done most of the work by looking through the
[development history][1] (prior to February 2008 it is best to look
in the old `ChangeLog` files).  Currently, none of the Octave developers
are paid to work on Octave directly.

If you would like to see Octave moving forward more quickly, then
contribute to its development, either by working on the project
yourself, or by donating funds.  With sufficient funding, we would
be able to pay a few developers to work on Octave full time.


# Help

When asking for help on the mailing list or IRC channel,
or reporting a bug, remember that the people helping you
are Octave users just like you who are volunteering their time.
They are not paid support staff.  Use meaningful subject lines.
Try to ask clear questions.  Be precise about the problems you are having.

# Bugs

No software is perfect, and Octave is no exception.
You can search the list of bug reports to see what problems have been reported.
In looking at the list, you might also noticed the number of problems that
have been *fixed*.
Nearly all of these problems have been fixed by volunteers.
If you find a problem, you are encouraged to [report it][2].
Your report can help to improve Octave, but you should not think of the bug
tracker as your personal support line.

If you depend on Octave and absolutely must have prompt responses
to problem reports, you should consider paying
for [commercial support][3].

[2]: {{ "bugs.html" | relative_url }}
[3]: {{ "commercial-support.html" | relative_url }}

# Features

When we say that Octave is "mostly compatible" with Matlab,
we mean that the language that it accepts is similar enough that a
substantial amount of code written for Matlab can also run in
Octave without needing to be changed.  But Octave does not have
all the features of Matlab, and it is unlikely that it ever will.
Given that Matlab is developed in secret and Octave developers
only find out about new Matlab features when new versions of
Matlab are released, it is clearly impossible for Octave to have
new Matlab features as soon as they are available in Matlab.

In most cases, Octave has the features that it does because
someone decided to add them because they needed them.  If you have
the programming skills perhaps you can add the features you need.
If you not, then consider paying for someone to implement the
feature for you.  Most people who provide [commercial support][3]
services for Octave will also take on custom programming projects.

Even if you don't have the expertise required to implement new
features or can't pay for someone to do the work for you, you may
submit feature requests to the bug tracker.  But you should
understand that unless you are paying for someone to to add the
feature, no one is obligated to do it for you.