Purposeful Open Source at Toggl Track
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Purposeful Open Source at Toggl Track

Paul Scharf Paul Scharf Last Updated:

Toggl Track has long had a number of open source repositories available on GitHub. These range from our public API documentation and various smaller libraries to the full code of our desktop client apps.

Unfortunately, due to lack of focus over many years, most of these repositories now range from obscure to unmaintained in their usefulness. As a company that is majority developers, many of whom love open source, this does not sit right with us.

That is why we decided to take a more principled and purposeful stance when it comes to interacting with the open source and developer community. We want to give back and have a positive influence.

Today, we are announcing the first of several changes as we will update our open source and other developer resources in the coming months.

News

Deprecation of the Toggl Track Linux app

Our Linux client app has always been open source. However, our number of Linux users is so small that it has been difficult to prioritize continued development of the app.

With the growth of our product, many new features on the horizon, and limited resources, it’s unfortunately no longer feasible for us to continue support of our Linux app. We will be stopping official maintenance and support of our Linux app.

We believe that our Linux users will be served much better with our continuously improving web app and browser extensions. At the same time, we can be much more effective as a small team by focusing our efforts on improving the apps that can be used by all our users.

Note that in the meantime, our Linux app remains open source under a very permissible license, and we encourage you to do with it what you please. We will support you to the same degree that we support any other third-party developer using our APIs.

Customizable integrations for our browser extensions

Hundreds of thousands of users track their time daily using our Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, which have also been open source since the very start.

The most important open source part of the extensions are its integrations with over 100 popular productivity and project management tools. The browser extension allows users to embed a Toggl Track button into the websites of tools such as Jira, Asana, Github, and Notion.

These integrations use data from the websites you use to categorize time entries. Many of these integrations were supplied by the community.

Recently, one of our development teams took full ownership of the browser extensions with plans to further improve them. As part of this change, we’ll be splitting the integrations from the heavier code of the browser extension.

The definitions will remain open source, which will make it easier for anyone to contribute with new or updated integrations. The main browser extension code will be closed, which will allow us to work on the extensions’ features more easily as it will allow us to share code with other projects.

Android Komposable Architecture

Here at Toggl Track, we care a lot about technical excellence, from the implementation of the smallest feature to our big solution-wide architectures. In 2020, we rewrote our mobile apps from the ground up and were heavily inspired by Point-Free’s Composable Architecture.

Since our Android app is not written in Swift, but the native Kotlin, we had to make some adjustments and eventually developed an adapted Kotlin-first architecture based on the same principles. You can read more about the process behind it here.

And we just published this Komposable Architecture for Android apps to be freely used by anyone. We are committed to supporting and maintaining it for as long as we use it ourselves.

We strongly believe in the principled approach behind this architecture and have already seen many benefits for our new apps and our developers.

Of course, we’re always happy to answer questions and consider any outside tickets and contributions in the architecture’s repository.

Why are we making these changes?

We at Toggl Track are always looking to improve ourselves and our product. This year, for example, we underwent a major revamp of our company values.

This is because our values are important to us and the way we work. They are the principles we act by. We believe that having strong principles to guide us is how we can achieve great things.

We’ve been reviewing almost everything we do through the lens of these new values—including how we have been handling open source. It was obvious to us that we were falling short of our own standards in several ways.

While our values of trust, freedom, and innovativeness are strongly aligned with our love for open source, we have not lived up to the principles of ownership, respect, and communication.

We respect our users and the open source community too much to publish bad or unmaintained open source. That is why from now on, we aim to take full ownership of all developer resources we publish and communicate proactively on this topic.

In some cases that means that we have to officially stop the maintenance and support for projects that are no longer feasible. Otherwise we will work to share the best quality libraries, documentation, and tools we can, and support and maintain them just like we fully support any of our apps, plugins, and integrations.

We believe that by taking this principled stance, we can live up to our values and can give back to the developer community.

What’s next?

We’ve been working on a number of exciting projects that we can’t wait to share with you. For example, if your team uses any tools not currently supported by our current browser extension—especially if they are internal tools or running on private networks—we’re hope you’re as excited by the changes to our browser extension as we are!

We also have some exciting news related to our APIs coming next year, as well as other long-awaited features for many of our technically-inclined users as well as third-party developers. These new features will completely change how you integrate with and use Toggl Track APIs.

You’ll hear more from us soon!

Paul Scharf

Paul started at Toggl Track as an Engineer after quitting college (he thought "real work" was more fun) and leading a game development team. Now, as CTO, Paul works closely with other department heads and engineering managers to maintain a technical vision for the company. With a focus on leadership and strategy, Paul coordinates the efforts of Toggl Track's engineering teams to follow this vision and achieve sustainable technical solutions that support company goals. In his spare time, Paul continues to follow his passion for writing clean code through various open-source projects and runs a "hella exciting" [sic] game of Dungeons & Dragons.

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