Happy Birthday AlternativeTo! We’re turning 5 years today.

AlternativeTo 5 yearsFive years ago today we made AlternativeTo available to the public for the first time, so we consider March 11 to be our birthday. It has been five very fun, interesting and special years to us and we’re happy that we’ve made it this far.

During the Summer of 2008 we came up with an idea to build a different kind of software site. We wanted to go further than just listing applications in different categories, but instead focus on providing relevant alternatives to software, based on input from the community. We think that we have succeeded pretty well with the task. Here are some stats about the first five years of the site:

  • We have alternatives listed for 30.000 apps, tools, games, websites, online services and other stuff.

  • Our users have clicked the like-button about 300.000 times on these applications.

  • More than 15.000 forum posts, reviews and comments have been posted to the site.

  • AlternativeTo have had about 67,000,00 visitors and 186,000,000 page views over the years.

Statistics is nice, but more importantly we have received an overwhelming amount of praise, press coverage and nice feedback from you users. The fact that people use and enjoy AlternativeTo has been a great inspiration to keep improving the site.

We want to thank all our visitors for these fantastic years. Especially all of you who have helped people all over the world to find better software by contributing with your knowledge and time by helping us build up our powerful database.

Happy Birthday to the whole AlternativeTo community and please continue to spread the word!

/Ola & Markus

Unlimited amount of platforms, unlimited possibilites

Ever since we started AlternativeTo a few years ago we have felt a bit limited with the standard platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone and so on. We wanted people to also be able to find alternatives to jQuery Plugins, Chrome Extensions and add-ons to Microsoft Outlook, but we didn’t have a good solution for it until recently.

A few months ago we came up with an idea. Why not make it possible to use any of the apps we have in our database as platforms. The possibilities with this solution are endless. Maybe you want to find Google Chrome alternatives to the awesome Tree Style Tab for Firefox? Or you just want to browse extensions to Windows Explorer? Perhaps find Joomla alternatives to Buddypress? You get the point. We think it’s pretty awesome and this new feature probably makes AlternativeTo one of the most versatile software sites on the planet.

 

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We have also taken the time to rebuild our menus and filter options to make it easier to find and browse all the platforms. Before this update some of our less popular platforms were pretty hard to find and we hope that these changes will help both regular users and power users to find better software.

In order to make the custom platforms as awesome as they have the potential to be we really need your help. We can’t really compete with specialized catalogs, like the browsers own extension repositories for example. But since we have a unique approach and can provide alternatives cross platform we really hope that the community can step up and help us add content. Please report stuff that is incorrect, suggest new platforms for apps and make sure that they have the right alternatives. We really hope this could take AlternativeTo to a new level of usefulness. Enjoy!

Login with Twitter, change your login method and use multiple logins

Last week we made some big changes to our login system. First we added the option to use your Twitter account as method when logging in. We also made it possible to change which external service to use and you can even use multiple login methods for the same user account. This is really useful when one of the external services is down or is being discontinued for some reason. If you value your AlternativeTo account then we really recommend using at least two different login methods.

To use multiple services you just sign in with the method you use today, go to your profile and then choose to edit your profile from the link in the sidebar. At the top of the edit page you see what method you use today and right below that info you see a link to “Add / Change Your Login Method”. This link leads you to a page similar to the login page where you can just click on one of the other services and it will be connected to your account.

If you want to change your Twitter, Facebook or OpenID account then, on the same page, just click on the service you want to change, log in with your new account on that service and we will automatically connect this to your user account on AlternativeTo instead of the one your where using before.

Why can’t I just login with a username & password?

We want to make everything as simple as possible, both for our users and for ourselves. Even if you use a great password manager it can still be a mess to keep track of usernames and passwords for the hundreds of different websites you use. It’s also a great responsibility for us to keep your username and password safe. We think it’s a good thing to store your valuable data on as few places as possible, especially since most users use the same password on multiple services. We hope you agree with us and if you do not want to use any external service then it’s even possible to setup your own OpenID provider.

The Free Web, Ad Blockers And Get $5 Free From Flattr

We love the web. It’s a wonderful and truly open platform that nobody can control, even though big economic interests do everything they can to stop it. Most of the free web is possible thanks to advertisement and to be able to run a free website as a full time job you don’t have many options other than running ads on your site. We don’t think the ads on AlternativeTo are intrusive but unfortunately some websites throw so much advertisements on the site that it becomes nearly unusable and that is why someone invented the ad blocker.

If you use an Ad Blocker on AlternativeTo today you get this message where our banner in the header is supposed to be.

Hi! For some reason we can’t display an ad here, probably because of an ad blocker. If this ad is not displayed our design gets screwed up. We have full respect if you want to run an ad blocker but we would appreciate if you add us to your white list or consider donating via Flattr or Paypal. The free web is dependent on ads to continue to be free. Thank you, and we hope you find a great alternative!

As stated above, we have full respect for people who use ad blockers and we want to make people aware that there are alternative ways to support your favorite websites without having to view ads. Fellow swedish startup Flattr have created an awesome way to do this. When you sign up for Flattr you decide on an amount that you pay monthly and then you can just “Flattr” stuff all over the web, pretty much the same way you “like” stuff on Facebook. The difference is that the creator of the thing you Flattr get a small cut of of the monthly amount of money you pay to Flattr. It’s a great idea and we really want this project to be successful.

A couple of weeks ago Flattr blogged about our approach to Ad Blockers and they also gave us an exclusive offer for our visitors. The first 200 people who enter their e-mail address below (you won’t get spammed, it’s not our style) will get a €5 Flattr credit (for free) that can be used to Flattr stuff and contribute to the free web that we all love. Of course it would be nice if you decide to Flattr us and continue to use Flattr but there are not obligations what so ever. The offer is only available for new users on Flattr though. Flattr will email you your offer and sign up link within a few days.

Categories on AlternativeTo, how did this happen?

When we came up with the idea that was to become AlternativeTo we were determined to focus on helping people find alternatives to the applications they want to replace. To really make sure this stayed the focus we totally left out categories from the equation. Every application was its own category with a list of alternatives that shared the same main functionality. We believe that we, together with our great user community, managed to keep this focus for the site very well but now we feel it’s time to make small improvement.

The focus is still the same for AlternativeTo but during the years we have learned that many people go far beyond the usual “search for alternatives to application X, find it and move on” type of usage of the site. Many of you spend much time browsing the different application lists, forum posts and alternative lists without having a specific application to replace in mind. To make casual browsing easier we have launched 22 categories that can be attached to the applications in our database. The categories are based on tags so please help us keep the tags for all applications up to date and relevant.

You have probably already noticed the category list in the menu bar and you can use it to show only a specific category of apps when browsing  an application list like Most Likes, New & Popular etc. It’s also possible to combine it with the platform filter and browse something like Business applications for Mac OS X sorted by Most Likes.

To get a quick peek at the 10 most popular applications in every category then head over to our new Category  Overview page. This page can be filtered by platform as well.

As always, we’re very interested in feedback about this new feature so send us an email or get in touch via Twitter or Facebook. Any feedback about the choice of categories is also very appreciated. We’re open to changes and additions if needed.

Forum, Comments and Reviews

A while back we made some major changes in the way comments and reviews work on AlternativeTo. What we did was basically to integrate our discussion forum with the comments so that every time you post a comment you start a new thread in our applications forum. Our goal is to make it easy for people to get a good overview about other peoples opinion about the application they’re looking at, but still easy to browse comments and reviews in general in the forum view.

When you post a new comment or review the post is always about one main application but you also have the possibility to tag other apps in that post. One example where this is useful is when you’re doing a comparison between multiple applications. You can also specify if the review or comment is positive, negative or neutral. This will affect the rank of the “main” application you are commenting or reviewing.


We are proud of this system and we think it’s kind of unique. However there is always room for improvement and we would love to hear your feedback about this or any part of AlternativeTo.

What have we been up to?

We been working hard lately with AlternativeTo but we seem to have forgotten to tell you about it here. Here’s what’s new:

  • You can now filter our different startpages by license. So if you want to get a list of our most liked Open Source Linux applications or recently added free Windows applications that is now possible.
  • We have a new awesome short URL that is used when you share stuff on Twitter and such. It looks like this: http://altrn.tv/fDAZwA
  • It is now possible to view the entire activity history for an application or a user. You can also view the entire history of the whole site (although that would take a while). You find these links below each activity log in the sidebar.
  • Lot’s of other changes have been made to the activity log to make it easier for our crew to maintain the quality of AlternativeTo.
  • A page to list things like best contributor the last 30 days and all time high, our recently promoted contributors and a list of our moderators and admins
  • We implemented “meta tags” some time back that made it possible to tag a application with different tags like portable, jailbreak, and discontinued. This is a complement to our regular tag system that is a bit more “explicit”. The meta tag system is still not all done, but we have we implemented the possibility to search for apps with a specific meta tag and there’s more to come. You can either click on a specific meta tag on a app that has one or search for them yourself. So now you can get a list of all applications that are “portable apps” or require a jailbrooken iPhone.
  • New design on the application page that allows you to see more info in the right sidebar.

The last update of 2010!

It’s been quiet for some time on AlternativeTo but a couple of weeks ago me and Markus had a meetup and made some plans for the future. The first thing on that list was to fix some small things that’s been littering our to do-list for way to long. You find the fixes and features worth mentioning in the list below.

  • It is now possible to add unique urls for Android, Windows Phone (7), S60 (Ovi), iPad and iPhone apps. This could be links to the App Store for each platform or to some third-party App Store where the app is easy to find.
  • We have added a new meta tag for applications that requires a rooted Android phone.
  • We have made some changes to the start page and the default tab no longer show the applications that has the most views. Now we show applications depending on when they were added, amount of views and amount of likes they have. Hopefully this will give us a more dynamic start page that changes more often and that is way more interesting for finding great new applications.
  • You can now filter search results by platform and license. You can also sort it by likes or by name. We are planning to build some more features that use these new search features to make it easier to browse for apps with tags.

Of course we want to wish you happy holidays if you celebrate Christmas and if you don’t we wish you some happy regular days! We will probably not write another blog post until 2011 so we also wish you a Happy New Gregorian Year!

A mobile version of AlternativeTo and other news

Hi friends,

We hope everything is well with you all! Autumn is here and that means lots of time for indoor activities like coding, designing and other work on this website of ours…

AlternativeTo is getting more and more traffic every week and this makes us happy and even more dedicated to improve the site step by step. Applications and services like Limewire, Xmarks and Drop.io have recently announced that they’re shutting down for different reasons and AlternativeTo has proven to be a great resource for finding alternatives when things like these happen. Both ghacks and Lifehacker obviously agree  and hopefully we have been able to help many of you find good alternatives.

Mobile version

We have created a simple and stripped down version of AlternativeTo that is more suited for mobile browsers. It should work well on any smartphone with a decent browser and you can check it out by visiting m.alternativeto.net on your mobile device. Remember that this is a beta version but we think most of the basic stuff for finding alternatives should work. Lets us know what you think in the forums!

Meta tags

Another thing we have worked on lately is a system to be able to set a couple of “pre-defined” and important tags. These are the meta tags we have added to the list so far:

  • Discontinued – Intended for applications that is no longer being maintained. If it’s still available for usage/download we will still link to it but to know that an application has been discontinued is valuable information in your decision process. Only admins can add this tag.
  • Warning – If we for some reason think that you should think twice before using this application we add the warning tag. There are very few applications in the database that have this tag so far. Only admins can add this tag.
  • Retina Display (iPhone only) – If the application is designed for the iPhone 4 retina display.
  • Jailbreak (iPhone only) – If the application requires a jailbreak to run on your iPhone. We should probably add a similar tag for Android (Root), right?
  • Portable application (Windows Only) – The application can be executed from a USB drive.
  • WINE (Linux only) – If this application can be used with WINE on Linux. We require that the developer of the application has mentioned this explicitly.
  • Plugin – For plugins.

We have lots of more plans for the meta data system in the future. For example you will be able to filter the alternative lists based on these tags.

We always need your help!

Please help us out to make AlternativeTo even better. Suggest new applications, suggest alternatives and maybe even more importantly; help us to remove alternatives that for some reason are incorrect. Thank you!

New platform: Windows Phone 7

Microsoft is releasing their new mobile platform called Windows Phone 7 across the globe in the next couple of weeks. Many people (including us) are excited about this.

We just added Windows Phone as a new platform to AlternativeTo and we really hope that we can help make a switch to Windows Phone 7 easier by providing you with alternatives to the popular iPhone and Android applications that are out there.

Windows Mobile will still be in our database so remember this:

  • Windows Phone = Windows Phone 7
  • Windows Mobile = Old stuff

We are aware that Microsoft has re-branded Windows Mobile into Windows Phone but we think that when people talk about Windows Phone in the future they mean Windows Phone 7 (and 8 and so on whether they will call them).

And last but not least: please help us add new apps to this new platform. Both apps that only exist for WP7 and apps already in our database that has versions for Windows Phone. Thank you!