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We Need an Open Source Alternative to Splitwise

February 4, 2024·Sebastien

Splitwise was created in 2012 as a free application to split expenses between friends. I used it, you probably used it, everybody did. And it has been working quite well since… well, at least until last fall.

In December 2023, Splitwise started limiting the number of expenses you can enter each day with a free account. If you want to create more than 3 ou 4 transactions in one day, you have to subscribe to their Pro plan for a few dollars per month. Maybe that is fair… Splitwise is a company with investors, and they have to make money, right?

As a developer and a product maker, I have no problem with making users pay for a service. And as a consumer, I don’t mind paying for services when I believe it is worth the money. Does this apply to Splitwise? Are they asking to pay because they’ve been building an great application that offers features you couldn’t find somewhere else?

Or, are they asking you to pay after you spent months or years using the app for free, and it is just too painful to start using something else, including convincing your friends to use it too?

If you use all of Splitwise features and are okay to pay, good for you! If you don’t, what are your options? Finding another application with similar features that has less frustrating limitations? Let’s assume you find one; how can you be sure that it won’t become Splitwise in a few months?

xkcd commic: Univers Price Tiers

(Source: xkcd: Universe Price Tiers)

For an application I use during several years, I think that free is just not enough. An application can be free one day, and ask you to pay the next day. Or add so many ads that it’s barely usable.

This is why Spliit is not only free: it is open source. That means you can take its source code, run your own copy, without any kind of approval from me.

That also means that anyone can report an issue, suggest a feature, or even implement it! If you use Spliit, there is a good chance you’ve used a feature developed by one of Spliit’s amazing contributors!

Screenshot of Spliit’s home page, displaying the avatar of its 10 contributors on GitHub.

But that is not it, and that might even not be the most important point.

Because Spliit is open source, you are guaranteed that you can continue use it for free for as long as you want. Why? Because even if I decide to make users pay $1000 for it, even if I add 10 ads per page, anyone can still use the source code from when it was the most wonderful app ever, and make it available to the world.

Does that mean that Spliit will stay completely free forever? For the basic features, definitely. But some features are worth paying something, and running the application costs me a bit of money. While the costs are low, the application is staying free. But it might offer some premium features in the future. If it does, and you don’t agree with it, that’s fine: you or a developer friend of yours can take the code and run a new instance. I may even help you do it 😊.

In light of Splitwise's recent move to limit free usage, Spliit offers transparency and empowers users with access to the source code, ensuring uninterrupted use without unexpected fees. Committed to keeping basic features free, Spliit challenges the notion that If it is free, then you are the product, exemplifying how open source prioritizes user empowerment over profit.

Written by Sebastien on February 4, 2024.