The Story of Spaz: How to Give Away Everything, Make No Money, and Still Win

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 3, 2010 from 4:45 – 5:30pm in Steel


What motivates us as developers? How do we define success? Throughout the development of Spaz, we've learned a lot about what works, what doesn't, and what really matters. Come to hear the story, and participate in the discussion of how we define success in open source.


Spaz is a mature, open source, free desktop and mobile client for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Palm webOS. Started in Spring of 2007, Spaz is one of the oldest Twitter clients available still under active development. Other systems have gone on to great commercial and popular success, but Spaz still continues to plug along, driven by a commitment to open standards, transparency, and community.

This talk will cover the history of Spaz’s development, from early successes and awards, to competition from well-funded closed source projects, to the transition onto mobile, and finding a sustainable niche where it continues to grow.

Specific topics we’ll cover include:

  • Changing how you measure success
  • Ignoring what everyone tells you about being successful
  • Doing it for love, not money
  • How one user can be more important than 100,000 downloads
  • What to expect when you open your code
  • Getting others involved in your project
  • Creating a codebase for multiple platforms and systems
  • Being open on a closed platform

Speaking experience


  • Edfinkler pensive

    Edward Finkler

    Funkatron Productions


    With over 15 years of passionate web development experience and open source advocacy, Ed Finkler loves empowering people through technology. He’s excited about creating things and sharing them with the world.

    He served as web lead and security researcher at The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University for 9 years. More recently, he has been helping startup teams build exciting e-commerce, social sharing, and mapping systems. He’s a proud member of the Fictive Kin team, working on Done Not Done, Gimme Bar, and lots of other cool stuff.

    Ed spends much of his free time creating and working on open source projects such as Spaz, a long-running, award winning microblogging client. Ed also created the PHP libraries like FUnit, Resty.php, PHPSecInfo, and Inspekt.