Here's how we came to develop Offen, a fair and open source web analytics software.
Privacy issues on the web have been a talking point for some time now. Since we have both been running websites for quite some time, this has always been a topic for us as well. Thats why the choice of which web analytics tool to use has always been a very important consideration for us.
So in 2018, while once again searching for a new analytics tool, we found that there was no offering that allowed for a really fair data transfer between website operator and website user. That got us thinking. Of course, as website operators, we had an interest in seeing what was happening on our pages. Obviously, we wanted to know how we could improve what we offer. But couldn't this be done in a fair way, treating operators and users as equal parties?
Another few months had to pass and by the end of 2018, after further in-depth research, we were convinced. Yes, of course it was possible. And if it didn't exist yet, we should build it ourselves! So we started looking for support to build our own tool. And as we dug deeper, we were amazed at how many funding sources for developing open source software exist around the world. Nevertheless, there are of course a lot of applicants. That is why we believe that one has to think carefully about one's application.
That's why we focused on one German and a few international calls for proposals. And by summer 2019, we had submitted a few applications. To our great delight, our application to the NGI Zero Privacy & Trust Fund of the Dutch NLnet Foundation was finally successful. What happened next is covered in detail on our blog. In summary, it has been a great experience that is far from over.
Being able to secure funding for your non-commercial open source project gives you the distance you need to think more deeply about how you can create a real alternative to existing solutions. A constellation that we can only recommend to every developer out there.