Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Campfire Is ONCE #1

Jason Fried:

Once upon a time you owned what you paid for, you controlled what you depended on, and your privacy and security were your own business. We think it’s that time again.

Introducing ONCE, a new line of software products from 37signals.

  • Pay one time, own forever.
  • We write the code, you get to see it.
  • We give you the software, you get to host it.
  • Simple and straightforward, not enterprisey and bloated.


In the early 2000s, we were among the early pioneers leading the industry into the SaaS revolution. Now, 20 years later, we intend to help lead the way out.

David Heinemeier Hansson (Hacker News):

SaaS is great for systems that need to be services. The kind of software that’s constantly evolving or difficult to operate.


But there’s also a lot of SaaS that does not need to be a service. That could just as well be a simple product. A finished product, even. And we think standalone chat is the perfect example of that. It’s simply ridiculous to hear people paying hundreds of dollars a month, if not thousands, if not TENS OF THOUSANDS, for a system like Slack. When all they need is a basic system for their employees to talk to each other.

It seems like there’s an opportunity here because Slack is way too heavyweight and expensive for a lot of companies and organizations. And I like the idea of having control over my data and access to the source code, even though it isn’t open-source. $299 gets you three years of bug and security fixes. I’m not sure what happens after that. No software is ever truly a finished product.

For many years, I used vBulletin, which kind of had this model except that they had the ambition to keep rewriting the software, adding bloat and bugs. I would keep buying paid upgrades but turning off the new features because they were no longer maintaining the old versions.

Currently, I’m using Sendy, which also has a one-time fee.


Update (2024-01-30): Austen Allred (via David Heinemeier Hansson):

Having paid Slack millions of dollars, exporting our data is failing. We tried a few ways, none of it works.

Slack’s response?

“Sign a new contract or your data automatically enters deletion queue.”

In case you’re wondering, the “services package” they are referring to where they would migrate the data for us was quoted at $78,000.

His tweet got 1.7M views, and the CEO of Salesforce responded promptly. If you have less reach, good luck getting out the data that you supposedly own.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Kevin Schumacher

I used to be a tech support rep for vBulletin from 2000 to about 2003 or so and used the software on a website I ran around the same time. I remember the first time it was rewritten from the ground up for vB3. I think it was not too long after that that two of the three developers left and created XenForo. I have fond memories of creating "modifications" back in the early days.

Anyway, back on topic, very interesting development. I have said here before I do think companies will reach a tipping point with subscriptions where people will just stop accepting them as a valid business method. I've mostly reached that point myself.

Slack is not just a way for employees to chat is reductionist. it’s a Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge.

Slack’s context sensitive, highly relevant, and context sensitive search is head and shoulders above Teams and other competitors.

Does DHH have a chat product with outstanding search built in?

@Jules I don’t know how search with Slack and Campfire compares. Personally, I have not been that impressed with Slack’s search. But I think the point is that not everyone needs everything that Slack does, and so another product can do less and optimize for different things.

> even though it isn’t open-source

He writes "We write the code, you get to see it.", so I assume it is open-source, but presumably w/ a very restricted license? It is all Ruby after all.
Kinda similar to how we sold OpenGroupware.org back then.

P.S.: And no, it is not "a group chat system similar to Slack" at all. Slack is more like the Web 1.0, but for messaging.

I'm not a fan of Slack. I think the search is crap for example. I think it has recreated the issues they said they would solve, i.e. important information disappearing in email threads.

I do like how it integrated with Google Calendar though and I would miss that. But the subscription software business will get a kick in the balls now that we arein tighter economic times. I think about that Icelander who got fired by Musk, and how he had saved $500K by going over who paid for Figma I think. I assume that was the annual cost for people who weren't even using it.

@Helge I think a key part of the definition of open-source is the ability to redistribute the code, which I assume will not be the case here.

So, what, chat should be self-hosted, but email shouldn't? Is that it?

In a sane world, everyone would also self-host email, unless they genuinely wanted/needed the convenience of an email host. Right now there's realistically no option and the trick to being successful as an email provider is basically shouldering your way into the club and then staying there by using your own customers as bargaining loot.

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