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Bluesky Social just took a big open-source step forward


Bluesky social media app

Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bluesky Social, the popular new beta social network, is taking a big open-source step forward. On May 15th, 2023, it open-sourced the codebase for its Bluesky Social app on GitHub. This fits well with its plans. From the start, its owner, BlueSky Public Benefit LLC, a public benefit corporation, was building an «open and decentralized» social network.

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Unlike Twitter, which is still tripping over its own open source feet, Bluesky client code is for anyone who wants to work on improving the code or use it as the basis for their own social network. Twitter’s recommendation code, on the other hand, is essentially unusable. 

The Bluesky code, licensed under the MIT License, can be used now. Indeed, while it’s been out for only about 24 hours, it’s already been forked 88 times and has earned over 1,300 GitHub Stars. 

While it’s specifically the Bluesky Social app’s codebase, it’s also a resource for AT Protocol programmers. This protocol supports a decentralized social network. Its features include connecting with anyone on a server that supports AT Protocol; controlling how users see the world via an open algorithm market; and enabling users to change hosts without losing their content, followers, or identity.

The code itself is written in React Native. This is an open-source, user-interface JavaScript software framework. It’s used primarily to build applications that run on both iOS and Android devices.

Also: I tried Bluesky Social, and it’s basically a far friendlier Twitter (for now)

The chief developers would like to remind you that they «serve a wide community of users. Our day-to-day involves constantly asking, «Which top priority is our top priority.» If you submit well-written PRs [Pull Requests] that solve problems concisely, that’s an awesome contribution. Otherwise, as much as we’d love to accept your ideas and contributions, we really don’t have the bandwidth. That’s what forking is for!»

So far, Bluesky’s open source development is going well. Paul Frazee, Bluesky’s product developer and protocol engineer, said, «I want to give everybody a shout-out for how incredibly you’ve already engaged on the app codebase. You’ve all been extremely kind and helpful. You’ve honored my requests about the kinds of contributions. And, there have already been multiple awesome PRs merged. yall. rule.»

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If you fork the code, while you have their blessings, it’s important to be clear to your users that you’re giving them a fork. So, be sure to: 

  • Change all branding in the repository and UI to clearly differentiate from Bluesky.

  • Change any support links (feedback, email, terms of service, etc.) to your own systems.

  • Replace any analytics or error-collection systems with your own so we don’t get confused.

As for using Bluesky, while its membership is over 100,000, you must still either join the network’s waitlist or receive an invite from an existing member to get on the network.


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