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BekahHW for OpenSauced

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Dev, Medium, and Hashnode: Choosing Your Digital Stage

Today is day 19 of my 29 Days of Open Source Alternatives series, where I'll be exploring open source alternatives to proprietary software in the categories of Game Development and Multimedia, Development Tools and Platforms, Productivity and Collaboration Tools, and more. If you'd like to see the list of the open source alternatives I'll be covering this month, head over to my 29 Days of Open Source Alts Page or if you're interested in some of the top OSS projects of last year, check out this list. This is the first post in the Content Management and Publishing category.

I started blogging when I was learning how to code. Back then, I had only heard of Medium, and I didn’t think it would be a good fit for me. Fast forward to a couple of years later, I was following The Practical Dev on the platform formerly known as Twitter, and I appreciated the audience it was building both there and here. I posted my first Dev blog in April of 2020, A Letter to My Past Self, and I’ve posted regularly since then. Sure, Dev isn’t the only platform out there, but it’s built with the open source software, Forem, and one of the most reputable open source alternatives for blogging.

dev.to (or just DEV) is hosted by Forem. It is a community of software developers who write articles, take part in discussions, and build their professional profiles. We value supportive and constructive dialogue in the pursuit of great code and career growth for all members. The ecosystem spans from beginner to advanced developers, and all are welcome to find their place within our community. ❤️

Let’s take a look behind the scenes and see how Dev, as powered by Forem, compares to other proprietary platforms.

Features

  • Customizable Community Spaces: Tailor the look and feel to match the community's identity, like we have on our OpenSauced Page.
  • Content Creation and Management: Collaborative tools for writing, editing, and organizing content with your team. Admins are able to edit and schedule content and add and remove writers, and writers can choose whether to write on their own account or within an organization they’re a part of.
  • Social Networking Features: Connect with others, follow topics, and join discussions.
  • Options for Curating Your Feed: Includes filters for relevant, latest, and top.
  • Additional features: Guides, Shop, Media Uploads, and community engagement activities.

Forem Dashboard on OpenSauced

Forem v. Hashnode and Medium

Let's do a feature comparison to better understand what you're contributing to when you post and what options you have.

Feature Dev Medium Hashnode
Cost Free Freemium (limited) Freemium (limited)
Ownership & Control Own content & data You retain your rights to any content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. Own content & data
Monetization Web monetization (beta) Partnerships, tips, memberships (platform takes share) Limited (direct sponsorships, affiliate links)
Community & Support Active forum Large community, limited support (FAQs, guides) Smaller, focused community, good support (team, users)

Open Source Support & Popularity

Forem has definitely had a strong showing of contributors and support over the years, as evidenced by their numbers.

  • ⭐ 21.4k
  • 👀 357
  • forks: 4k license: AGPL-3.0 commits: 13k+ contributors: 701

Star History Chart

We see the star chart starting to flatten out here, and I think the contributor community reflects that reality as well.

Community

There's a thriving community of writers on Dev, as well as moderators. But if we take a look behind the scenes, we only see 14 contributors in the last thirty days.

Contributor Graph

The top contributor (at the time of this writing) to the Forem repo is @ben.

ben halpern card

It's interesting to note that many are contributing to a variety of other open source projects as well, including tailwindlabs, rubytoolbox, avo-hq and more.

forem contributors

Takeaways

Dev offers something other platforms don't: the transparency of being an open source product. There are currently over 500 issues open, so there's no shortage of work for maintainers, triagers, and contributors. Here's my pitch: If you use this platform and you'd like to see it thrive as a successful open source project, take a look at their contributing guide and see how you can get involved.

If you'd like to see the full list of the open source alternatives I'll be covering this month, head over to my 29 Days of Open Source Alts Page.

Top comments (9)

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matfire profile image
Matteo

Hey Bekah,
nice article!

If I can do a bit of a self plug, i'm working on an open source tool to allow users to publish to multiple platforms at the same time. You can find it here: github.com/magitools/magiedit
it is completely free (currently thinking on a pricing model for the public instance) and self-hostable

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bekahhw profile image
BekahHW

Very cool! I'll definitely check that out.

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muuviana profile image
Murilo Viana

Very Enlightening text! I didn't know how to contribute to Forem, tks.

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello

Nice summary of differences among the platforms. One minor issue in the monetization row of your table. For DEV, you list "web monetization (beta)". When that existed, it was via Coil. But Coil discontinued their web monetization service almost a year ago. DEV still has the settings in place for configuring payment pointer, but the service itself doesn't exist any longer. See the open letter explaining on the Coil homepage linked above.

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bekahhw profile image
BekahHW

Thanks for the info! I didn't realize that since it was still in my settings.

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello • Edited

Coil shut down about a year ago. It might be that DEV didn't notice so the settings are still there. Or it might be that DEV deliberately kept the settings for now because there are efforts by others to bring it back. For example this article indicates that the Chromium development team is planning to integrate web monetization into the Chromium browser, which will bring that functionality directly to Chromium based browsers like Chrome and Edge. And from that article it looks like they are planning to use the same html tag in page head for the payment pointers. So if they keep the settings in place it might just start working again if Chromium's plans are implemented.

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bekahhw profile image
BekahHW

Thanks for the info!

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georgewl profile image
George WL

The real solution of course is not to choose any of them, have full control of your content by self hosting and then cross post to multiple sources using automation

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bekahhw profile image
BekahHW

Is that what you're doing? I'd love to know how you're automating that.