Yes, websites can have birthdays! Six years ago today we published the very first version of AlternativeTo, and today more people than ever come to the site daily in search of better alternatives to applications and tools they want to replace. They come from countries all over the world, and according to Google Analytics we have actually had visitors from almost every (244 out of 247) country in the world. That includes 505 from Cook Islands, 129 from North Korea, 10 from Vatican City and 1 from Western Sahara. We sure hope they and many, many others found applications that made their lives better, easier and more fun.
Soon our team will meet up in Italy and make more plans for the future. At the moment we’re working on a major design update, and we have some interesting new features planned for 2015. We will also be focusing more on content creation, curation and social features. We can’t wait to show you more later this year.
If you want to help us make the site an even better resource then feel free to add your favorite applications to the site, click like on the applications you enjoy using so more people get the chance to experience them and send us any feedback you might have.
(Original image by Nicolas Raymond)
We have always believed that smaller websites have more important things to think about than handling their users logins. We also believe that users should be careful about entering their email address and password into random forms on the internet. We think that as few websites as possible should store your passwords in their database and that centralised (preferably two-step) login systems are great. That is why we always have had support for third party logins and not provided one of our own.
But, there is always a but. We have now decided to implement our own email/password login option now for a few reasons:
- OpenID didn’t really take off as we thought it would. We still think OpenID is great but unfortunately it has become a niche product that not many people support or use. The reasons for this can be discussed, but not in this blog post.
- A lot of people have asked for a email/password login method over the years.
- We now have great resources to store your password in a way that is as safe as we want our own passwords to be stored.
If you always wanted to log in to AlternativeTo with your email and a password then it is now possible to do so. You can still, of course, log in with a third-party provider, and it is also possible to connect multiple login methods to your AlternativeTo account.
Please remember folks: Never use the same combination of password and email adress on multiple sites, and use a password manager to store your (hopefully) unique passwords. There are many awesome password managers available today and they help you staying safe and organised.
Five 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!