How was NarraFirma funded?

My husband and I (Cynthia Kurtz) spent 18 months working on NarraFirma together, from early 2014 to late 2015. We used up a little bit of savings we had, and we borrowed a lot of money. Since then I have put another 1.5 or 2 person-years into the software, here and there, a few months at a time. Probably about a quarter of that work was supported by commissions. So for the most part it has been a labor of love. We’d love it if you wanted to help out with a donation or some volunteer help. (To find out how you can volunteer, send me an email at

What is in the future for NarraFirma development?

As of this writing (December 2021), I am committed to keeping NarraFirma alive. I have  been spending at least a month (and as much as 3-6 months) per year working on the software (between other projects) since its initial 18-month pulse of work ended in 2015. I also respond as quickly as I can to bug reports when they come in.

NarraFirma has also been supported over the past six years by several commissions that added particular functions to the software (e.g., correlation maps). In relation to the initial investment, however, these commissions have been small and sporadic.

As for the future of NarraFirma, looking forward ten years, I can see four possible paths ahead.

  1. NarraFirma gets lots of funding, from grants or sponsorships or the formation of a membership non-profit, or by some other means of fund-raising. I continue to work on the software, but I am finally reimbursed for (some of) my massive investment in getting it started. Also, lots of other people work on the software (for pay) as well. As a result, NarraFirma grows in capability by leaps and bounds.
  2. NarraFirma gets little funding, but many volunteers step up to support and improve the software, contributing code, documentation, tutorials, training videos, peer support, and so on. I don’t run all of this myself (I don’t have the time or capacity for it), but a core group of dedicated volunteers (maybe supported by small donations) handles the day-to-day coordination of volunteer contributions. The software still grows, but more slowly.
  3. NarraFirma gets little or no funding or volunteer support. I continue to support it as a labor of love, when I can and as much as I can. In that case, it will probably continue to do what it does now about as well as it does now, with incremental improvements from time to time.
  4. NarraFirma gets no funding or volunteer support, and I find (or decide) that I can no longer support it myself. In that case, the software will remain current for some time but will eventually fall out of synch with the rest of the web world and become abandoned. This is the fate of many open-source software efforts, and it could be what ends up happening to NarraFirma. Still, just because something ends does not mean it never happened. Even if NarraFirma is eventually abandoned, it will have done what I hoped it would do for at least some people. And that’s a good thing.

I absolutely cannot say which of these scenarios will come about. Obviously I hope for the first or second scenarios; but I am determined to at least try, for as long as I can, to keep the third scenario possible and the last at bay. That is all I can say at this moment. If you would like to help ensure that NarraFirma survives and continues to improve, send me your ideas by email at


Why did you write NarraFirma?

I wrote NarraFirma because readers of Working with Stories kept asking me how they could get started doing projects in participatory narrative inquiry. People seemed to need a bridge between reading about doing PNI projects and actually doing them. My first plan was to write a “workbook” or “field notebook” for PNI projects that people could use to check their progress and record their thoughts. However, I soon realized that (a) everybody writes things on computers now and (b) people work best in groups. So my husband and I decided to build software that would combine guidance, record-keeping, teamwork, and data visualization to support PNI projects.

What is the current state of NarraFirma?

As of this writing (November 2021), NarraFirma has been in use for several years – not by a million people, but enough to have grown and matured.

However, we still suggest that you back up your work every so often by exporting your project to a JSON file (go to Project administration and choose Export). We also strongly suggest that you set up SSL security on any web site that runs NarraFirma (unless you run it locally).

How can I help with NarraFirma?

You can donate, volunteer, pay us a commission to improve the software to suit your needs, and spread the word.

For example, here are some crazy ideas about things you could do to help with NarraFirma.

  • Make a series of how-to videos showing people how you did a project using NarraFirma, to help new users get started.
  • If you’ve done a project using NarraFirma, and if your project isn’t sensitive or private, think about releasing the project’s NF files, so other people can learn about NarraFirma by playing with your project.
  • Promote NarraFirma on your blog, on LinkedIn, on a podcast, and so on. Tell people about it, in explanatory detail.
  • Test the software. When a new release comes out, read about what has changed, then try to break each new thing. Post any bugs you find on the GitHub issues page.
  • If you have skills in a particular area (coding, writing, design), look to see if there is a “chunk” of work you could take on to add to the project. Look at the wish list (commissions) page and see if you could help with any of the items there.
  • Talk to me. Send me a note (, tell me how you have used NF and why you like it, and ask me what you could do to help. Just hearing from NF users encourages me to keep working on it.