Almost five years ago (!) I said I was sold in theory on open-sourcing Beeminder. That it wasn’t a priority but was worth doing eventually. To prove that those weren’t empty words, I started beeminding making it happen – beeminder.com/d/bos – albeit at a glacial rate (< 8 minutes/week).
I should hasten to add that open-sourcing Beeminder does not mean becoming a non-profit or ceding any control or anything like that. We’ll remain a normal business with nothing at all changing from users’ point of view (other than, iff we do it right, new features getting shipped faster). I think the idea of a SaaS business open-sourcing their code is surprising to people because it seems like a natural trade secret or something. Like how Coca-Cola supposedly jealously guards their recipe for Coke. And in theory, publishing Beeminder’s source code could allow a competitor with a better marketing budget to deploy a Beeminder clone and eat our lunch.
But realistically, no one with the competence to pull that off would stoop that low. I’d expect someone to be motivated to do that to the extent they thought they could do Beeminder better, in which case our source code wouldn’t help them. We already spell out all our clever ideas on the blog.
Anyway, here’s a long discussion about the pros and cons from 5 years ago:
But the status now is that we’re just ever-so-gradually doing things like separating API keys and such into a separate GitHub repository and other prereqs for making this eventually happen, without actually prioritizing it. I’ve asked this before but if you’d potentially submit a pull request if Beeminder were open source, please remind me of that by checking some boxes in this poll:
- I’d hard-commit to submitting a pull request to improve Beeminder
- I’d soft-commit to submitting a pull request to improve Beeminder
- I might help improve the webcopy or other nontechnical things
- I’m excited on principle for Beeminder to be open-source
- I don’t think open-sourcing Beeminder is worth it
- I think it’s a bad idea even if time/money were no object