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!

Changes in the registration process

As mentioned in our previous post we were featured on Reddit recently and we got a ton of great feedback from the Reddit users. Among other stuff we got some valuable input on our registration process. So we made our incredibly simple registration process even simpler!

  • Removed requirement for e-mail: Previously we required you to enter an e-mail adress but since we use OpenID and Facebook Connect there isn’t really a real need for that. We still recommend everyone to enter an e-mail adress but you don’t need to anymore. If you want to get e-mail notifications you obviously still need to enter your e-mail adress tough, and it will help out a lot if you need help with your account.
  • Removed requirement for username: We also required you to enter a username but for people who just want to like some applications or to give us some quick feedback about applications that should not be alternatives to each other we do not even require that anymore.

This means that our registration process is nothing more than one or two clicks. We hope you like it!

Desktop + Mobile = Software

Hi people!

We hope you all had a nice summer and that you’re still around exploring new and exciting software on AlternativeTo. It’s time for a short update on what has happened on the site lately.

Thank you

First of all we want to take this chance to thank you all for coming to the site and for telling your friends about AlternativeTo. More and more people find their way here every day and it’s mostly organic traffic which makes us very happy. Also, a big thank you to our friend @ziddax who submitted the site to Reddit last week which resulted in a big traffic spike when people there seemed to like it.

Desktop and Mobile merged

It have come to our attention that many users didn’t know there were mobile applications on the site since the desktop version was selected by default when your browsed to http://alternativeto.net directly. There have always been tabs for desktop and mobile right below the logo but it could had been made more obvious. What we decided to do was to merge the two versions into one since it’s all software anyway. The main menu now contains links to all the popular platforms from both the old desktop and mobile versions. And in case you didn’t know, there are other platforms than those in the menu. If you looking for Blackberry, Java or something else then just search for it and you fill find it.

iPhone and iPad

Apple keeps innovating and changing the world of mobile devices and AlternativeTo recently went from having a platform called iPhone to renaming it iPhone OS when the iPad was released. Now Apple renamed the whole platform into iOS but we have decided to split the platform into iPhone and iPad since the applications developed for the big iPad screen don’t work on an iPhone and iPhone apps are kind of useless on an iPad. We believe that there should be a way to filter on only the type of platform you’re interested in and we hope you agree that this is the right way to go.

Let us know if you have any thoughts on these changes or anything else. A great way to give feedback is to sound off in the Discussions that we introduced with our latest blog post a while back. After a slow start the activity in the different discussion forums have increased a lot and the quality of the feedback is incredible.

Follow AlternativeTo, Markus and Ola on Twitter for more more frequent updates.

New look, features and discussion forums

Right now we’re working hard on bringing you new features and also a cleaner look and feel of the whole site. So what have we done lately?

Discussion forums

Some of you took the time to provide feedback, praise, complaints and questions via the Getsatisfaction service we previously used and we really appreciate that. Even though Getsatisfaction is great we also felt the need for a system that we could integrate tightly into AlternativeTo, so we built our own discussion forums. They’re not only intended for feedback and questions but also for general discussions about software. Be sure to check out the first version of the discussion forums and while you’re there why not leave us some feedback on what way you want us to improve the forums or anything else on the site.

New logo and menu

It’s been a while since we introduced our new logo (see the image above) and last week we also redesigned the menu. We got rid of the tabs and moved the platform switch to the white bar that wasn’t used for anything important. This saves some space and we think the new look is fresh. What do you think? We’re planning on making many small design tweaks in the coming weeks.

Widgets for applications

This one is aimed at software developers that want to show off their applications popularity on AlternativeTo and encourage visitors to go to AlternativeTo and leave comments and to “like” the applications they enjoy. Devs can find the code to use on the widget tab on each application page or go to the Widget & WordPress plugin page.

iPhone = iPhone OS

Have you heard of this thing called iPad? Okay good. When Apple introduced a new device running the iPhone OS we thought it was about time we changed the name of this category from just “iPhone” to “iPhone OS”. All applications running on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad belong here.

Two new blogs: iPhoneUpd & AndroidUpd

Besides working on AlternativeTo we have also launched two small side projects. iPhoneUpd.com and AndroidUpd.com are intended to deliver quick and short updates about all things iPhone / Android. Check them out if you’re interested!

Until next time

Join the discussions, suggest any new applications you found recently, join us on Facebook and tell your friends and followers on Twitter and/or Facebook about AlternativeTo. Everyone needs an alternative to something :)

Have a great summer!

Markus & Ola