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Supporting the future of open source

A short walk down memory lane to learn about Appwrite’s open-source journey so far and why we owe the community our support.

With the release of Appwrite Pro, we reached another milestone. A new development in our product offering that allows you to build with more confidence.

But for those of you thinking: ‘This is a paid plan, so what about us open-source maintainers?’

Well, we haven’t forgotten you. Appwrite is open-source, and we have come so far due to the love the open-source community has shown us. Therefore, we want to continue to give back to the community by allowing OSS maintainers to build with Appwrite Pro free of charge. With this OSS plan, we hope to ensure the future for many open-source maintainers, just like many of you have ensured ours.

Let’s take a short walk down memory lane to learn about Appwrite’s open-source journey so far and why we owe the community our support.

Falling in love with open-source

The first ever pull request for Appwrite was submitted in August 2019 by Eldad, Founder and CEO of Appwrite, and not much later, the first community PR followed. Contributors kept on coming and helped with code, copy, accessibility, fixing bugs, and more. For Eldad at the time, it was remarkable to witness how devs would help out and expect nothing in return. They wanted to use Appwrite as their backend, so they helped improve Appwrite for themselves and also ensured others would not have to face the challenges of building a complex backend. During this period, Eldad fell in love with open-source and the community around it.

Eldad's first ever PR for Appwrite

Not much later, Appwrite's open-source version was launched. The launch went viral, our Hacker News post was trending, and our GitHub Stars charts went up with over 1,500 new stargazers in the first month after release. The love was evident from both sides and together with many contributors, Eldad worked tirelessly as a solo maintainer to build out the product envisioned, ensuring many other developers would not face the same struggles when building complex software.

First ever community contribution for Appwrite

Today, Appwrite has over 38K stars, 800 contributors, 3.5K forks, and thousands of contributions made, all with the help, support, and love of the open-source community.

The number of contributions over the years

Pre-monetization as a solo maintainer

After three months of getting serious traction, Eldad decided to become a full-time open-source maintainer, leaving a full-time job. After 12 months, with no monetization of Appwrite yet possible, the real struggle started. The financial burden as a solo maintainer was immense. Not only do you have to cover the costs of building your project, such as infrastructure, development tools, and hosting, but you also feel the financial burden of day-to-day life.

After many considerations to fight the financial pressure, Appwrite got an amazing investment offer from the outstanding individuals at Ibex and Seedcamp, who offered to support the vision. Six months later, they were followed by an investment from Bessemer (Auth0, Cloudinary) and Flybridge (Firebase, MongoDB) that led our 8.5m seed round. The timing could not have been better, and Appwrite was able to thrive with new financial stability.

Giving back to the community

This financial power meant many things, such as Appwrite could build a team, invest in a better product offering, community swag, and start an OSS fund. And all of it with one thing in mind, giving back to the community. Helping those who have helped us.

Hiring from the OSS community

The first thing Eldad did with the funding was build out the team. And what better place to find the right people than in the open-source community? We hired some of the first and top Appwrite contributors. Christy, Torsten, Damodar, and Brandon. They formed Appwrite’s founding engineering team. Damodar even had a YouTube channel that focussed on Appwrite and Flutter, just to show off the support we got from an early stage.

The evolution of Torsten Dittman's contributions to Appwrite

As we grew, so did our team, and we added many more engineers to the team. Many of them came from the community. Some contributed to code, some started helping others in the community, and some created content. To this day, we still hire from the community, as we stand by open source and its contributors. It is embedded in our DNA.

Appwrite Swag Store

Another way we ensure funds from the community go back to the community is by giving back the money we earn on swags. For every shirt, hoodie, bag, or sock we sell from the Appwrite store, we give back the profit made. In general, we believe swag should be there for the community, not to line our pockets.

OSS Fund

We always knew that if we're ever fortunate enough to be in a position to give back funds to the community, we'd never think twice about it. And with our Series A, we were in that position. In 2022 we announced the Appwrite OSS Fund, a $50,000 fund to support open-source projects.

At the time, Eldad put the purpose of the fund into words, and we couldn’t phrase it any better:

‘In the journey of turning your dream project into a reality, all that you need to have is the vision to build an awesome open-source project. The idea behind the fund is to support developers like you and the open-source project you are building.’

This fund has now come to an end, but we successfully supported twenty OSS maintainers, such as LinkFree (now BioDrop), Vale, Rally, and Strawberry.

Pro Plan for free

Now that we have released Appwrite Pro, we can also release our new initiative to give back to the OSS community, the Appwrite OSS Program. OSS maintainers can apply for the OSS Program and use Appwrite Pro resources free of charge. This plan is important to us as we strongly believe in helping OSS maintainers, and we are humbled to have the opportunity and privilege to contribute to the growth of developers. We know very well where we came from, and Appwrite has been built with and by the open-source community. We’re excited to continue our support and to see OSS maintainers reach out to build with Appwrite Pro. In case you are such a maintainer, read our announcement blog to learn more.

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