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Companies looking for comprehensive project management and issue tracking tools aren’t exactly short of options, including Atlassian Jira serving software development teams for over two decades.
Many other players have also entered the fray in the years since, from Basecamp, Asana and Linear, to Monday.com and Trello, Jira’s brother. But they all have one common flaw: They are proprietary platforms that lack the flexibility and code transparency required for many modern enterprise environments.
And it’s here Plane seeks to differentiate itself from incumbents, with an open source product development and management platform to manage “issues, sprints and product roadmaps with complete peace of mind,” the company proclaims.
Co-founder and CEO Vamsi Kurama says the main benefit of being open source is privacy and security: businesses can have complete control over their data, with full visibility into the inner workings of the Plane platform .
“The fact that our software can be hosted by our customers on their own infrastructure, with all the protections of the public Internet, is a key factor for Plane adoption,” Kurama told TechCrunch. “Then there’s the transparency of the code, our auditability and our fairly open conversations about what we’re building, how and why – this assures customers of our position and our longevity.”
Founded last November by brothers Vamsi and Vihar Kurama, the initial Plane GitHub repository actually preceded the official launch by several months, although it was primarily an internal tool intended to help creators solve problems. various problems encountered while managing clients of a previous IT department. consulting company they worked for.
Through various iterations, Plane went live 12 months ago and today offers features such as scheduling and issue tracking, with the ability to customize the project layout for list views, Kanban and calendar. It also supports sprint planning with “cycles” filled with progress information and the ability to break larger projects into modular chunks that can be assigned to specific teams or personnel.
The company has continued to iterate on the product since its launch, recently introducing a new “quick add” option to allow developers to add an issue from anywhere on the platform.
Under the hood, Plane also supports two-way sync with GitHub Issueswith added integration with Slack so users can easily push issues into Plane.
It is undeniable that it is still early to be able to compete with the incumbents in the sector, which is why Plane raised $4 million in a funding round entirely financed by OSS Capitala venture capital (VC) firm that invests in startups that create open source commercial alternatives to established proprietary products, like Notion, Air table, Calendar, Unit And even the Bloomberg terminal.
This new cash infusion will help Plane accelerate its product development in the coming year, including a new feature called Vault allowing engineering teams to store and share authentication “secrets” securely. security.
And although Plane is only available on the web today for its cloud users, the company is working to bring to market Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS clients by the middle of next year.
As for monetization, Plane is currently considering different pricing plans, which will include managed services on its hosted cloud plan, as well as enterprise-grade features for those who choose to self-host.
“We are already talking with companies that use the community edition about a managed cloud version which, depending on demand, should be released in the second half of next year,” Kurama said.
It should be noted that Plane has made its product available under a GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) v3.0, known as “copyleft”. Although it is a recognized open source license, it has some restrictions that might not appeal to some commercial companies – the main problem being that any derivative projects must be released under the same terms as the AGPL license of origin.
This all ties into another recent trend, where commercial open source companies have had to move from “permissive” licenses like Apache or MIT to copyleft licenses to protect themselves from others building businesses from their software without bring nothing in return. Indeed, just this month Element moved the Matrix decentralized communications protocol from an Apache license to an AGPL license, similar to what Grafana did it two years ago.
“While some companies have a strict no-AGPL policy, we anticipate that most potential companies will adopt Plane for its contributions to the community, compared to a more ‘closed’ license,” Kurama said. “We are a community-focused project and invest heavily in making contributions easier, which in my experience ensures businesses have a more secure and supported project.”
So, in many ways, Plane is just sustaining its business: it wants to encourage community participation while protecting its bottom line. And in its defense, the company is doing this up front rather than doing a “bait and switch” by changing its license later.
“For those who want a more closed license, we will offer dual license or custom license options in the future,” Kurama added.