Benjamin Bouvier creator of Kresus app interviewed

Hi Benjamin, you’re the guy behind the Kresus application for Cozy. Can you introduce yourself?

BB - Hi! My name is Benjamin Bouvier, I’m 25 and I’m an Engineer working for Mozilla. I have discovered Free and Open Source software while I was an Engineering student and I love the fact that I can change existing software products, extend them and give back to the community. I have been interested by data protection and on-line privacy for a while, and it made me contribute to Cozy.

Aside from computing, I love music, in particular doing piano covers of popular electronic pieces.

How did you learn about Cozy?

BB - In 2012, I attend a LyonJS meet-up in Lyon (France) about JavaScript. Frank and Benjamin, the Cozy founders, were giving a talk. The idea of a personal, Open-Source cloud that enables people to do more with their data without sacrificing their privacy was interesting. We had a beer with Frank and while chatting I realized how our respective visions matched each other, so I started contributing to the Cozy platform and a few apps.

What is Kresus and where did you get the incentive to start creating it?

BB - Kresus is a Cozy app to manage your personal finances. It can automatically extract data from your bank account in order to categorize it. It enables users to create report and learn how they spend their money: where do I spend most, what is actually my monthly budget and such…

benjamin_bouvier.jpg

Hi Benjamin, you’re the guy behind the Kresus application for Cozy. Can you introduce yourself?

BB - Hi! My name is Benjamin Bouvier, I’m 25 and I’m an Engineer working for Mozilla. I have discovered Free and Open Source software while I was an Engineering student and I love the fact that I can change existing software products, extend them and give back to the community. I have been interested by data protection and on-line privacy for a while, and it made me contribute to Cozy.

Aside from computing, I love music, in particular doing piano covers of popular electronic pieces.

How did you learn about Cozy?

BB - In 2012, I attend a LyonJS meet-up in Lyon (France) about JavaScript. Frank and Benjamin, the Cozy founders, were giving a talk. The idea of a personal, Open-Source cloud that enables people to do more with their data without sacrificing their privacy was interesting. We had a beer with Frank and while chatting I realized how our respective visions matched each other, so I started contributing to the Cozy platform and a few apps.

What is Kresus and where did you get the incentive to start creating it?

BB - Kresus is a Cozy app to manage your personal finances. It can automatically extract data from your bank account in order to categorize it. It enables users to create report and learn how they spend their money: where do I spend most, what is actually my monthly budget and such…

In 2013, there were already a handful of Web apps that did just that, but their were all proprietary, so I could not host them on my own machine and check what they actually did behind the scenes. But these apps do have access to all my banking history, which is very private. They are all made available for free, but the money to maintain them must come from somewhere. As the saying goes “if it’s free, you’re not the client, you’re the product”. In fact banking data is very useful to profile people. That’s what data brokers do. So I decided to write a new line in my TODO-list: “create an open source banking app”.

Did you have other Cozy-related items in this list?

BB - Yes! I wanted a good Webmail client that was compatible with several back-ends, and the Cozy Emails app is now fitting the bill. The dreams we had yesterday are a reality today thanks to Open source!

Tell me more about Kresus…

BB - In 2014, there was already a Cozy Personal Finance Manager, but it was not actively maintained, so I forked it so that I could start from scratch the parts I needed the most, including the User Interface. It was an opportunity for me to try that new (at the time) JavaScript framework called React, which added to the fun!

On July 31st, 2014, just one year ago, I created the Github repo and shared my first change on the server side.

What did you like the most at Cozy?

BB - As a Cozy user, it always has been a pleasure to report bugs and suggest enhancements and see that my feedback is valued.

As a Cozy developer, all the issues that I have identified have been solved fairly quickly, so I did not end up stuck during Kresus development because of platform-related issues. Many development tools have also helped: no need to worry about data management, no need to handle user authentication, as it’s taken care of by the platform.

The Cozy team also has contributed to my Kresus app! For example, Frank added a link between bank operations and bills, which is now automatic if you use Konnectors.

Finally, after I shared with the Cozy team that I was having a hard time getting the User Interface right, the team offered me the help of a design professional! It was fantastic to have a design pro helping me, so we discussed several approaches and designs, I picked the best one and included it in the app. Another developer, of the Weather app, has also benefitted of the same kind of help. It really shows how much Cozy takes care of the community and empowers it in order to deliver the best apps possible.

What do you hope for Kresus’ future?

‘BB -” Kresus still has a lot of progress to do before it becomes the app I’m dreaming of! Feature-wise, I dream of a better user experience on mobile, of better dashboards, of better more customizable graphs and a simpler installation procedure.

Another big step would be operations to be put into categories automatically. As of now, one has to do it manually. In the future, I plan to make it possible to create rules that will do the work automatically. In and ideal world, users would share these rules between them.

Finally, I’d love to have more contributors who help with Kresus, so that I can focus my energy on other issues and applications. In order for this to happen, I’ll have to make the right choices on development techniques, to ease the development and the contribution. I’d also like to have automated testing in order to avoid introducing regressions when fixing bugs. By the way, I want to thank Cozy contributor @ZeHiro for all the issues he has reported about Kresus and all he has done for Kresus!

And for Cozy?

BB - In and ideal world, everybody would have his personal, decentralized, cloud. I want to see more Cozy users, as I think it would help create a virtuous circle for the ecosystem: more users, more applications, more developers, etc. Also, I’d love to see Cozy hire more people! The team is great, but more developers would mean faster progresses. This would enable Cozy to invest officially in more apps.

There are several apps in my dreams for Cozy. I would love to see an app that enables friends to share expenses (like Tricount); another app similar to YouTube but decentralized; a media player app with my music stored on my Cozy, offering integration to services such as Spotify; a project management app that follows the GTD principles; a development environment within Cozy; and finally an app that does messaging using several protocols. This is actually a call for contributions to the community: go ahead and start developing these apps, and ask for my help if you need it!

Great ideas, thanks! Do you have one last thing to say to our readers?

BB - I’d like to thank Cozy for giving me inspiration in writing Kresus. And if there are readers that want to help with Kresus, feel free to discuss this on the Forum, in the Github tickets or on Twitter!