Clarifications regarding RefinePro participation to the OpenRefine community.

Following recent discussions with several OpenRefine community members, I realized that there were some confusions and misunderstanding regarding RefinePro intentions regarding the OpenRefine project.

In 2013 Google stopped supporting the project, and the community was relying solely on unpaid volunteer contributors. The idea behind RefinePro was to offer a paid service to some users and use the money generated to secure developers time for the community.

We founded RefinePro in August 2014 to provide hosting services for OpenRefine. Any technical development done at during the first months had little to do with OpenRefine (mostly managing virtual machine and user registration). In 2014, I connected with several OpenRefine contributors, and none were interested in participating in the venture. Jacky joined RefinePro early 2015 and started to contribute to the community. Except for one internal proof of concept, Jacky mostly worked on the public OpenRefine repository until he left RefinePro in January 2016.

RefinePro never made any profit from OpenRefine. Our hosted services never took off, and we lost money in the process. We would have loved to send more dollars back to the community, but those never materialized on our side. During the 2014 – 2016 period, the RefinePro team members were active contributors. We made an online course available, ran a regular meet up in the Toronto area, and updated the community via blog posts. We carried all those actions under the OpenRefine brand. In 2015, when Jacky was RefinePro’s lead developer, he was the most active code contributor to the project.

During that period we made many efforts to clarify the governance of the project received no feedback from the community. At that time, our proposition to create a nonprofit was declined, and any proposal to set up a governance model was left uncommented.

The plan did not work as expected and we decided to shut down RefinePro hosting service earlier in 2017 and stopped our venture into commercial data preparation software. Today RefinePro provides consulting services to schedule and automate data transformation job based on OpenRefine scripts among other data collection and normalization services.

RefinePro remains an active user of OpenRefine, and we are pleased to support and contribute.