Local-first software for creative work resets the balance of ownership away from the cloud, allowing creators to retain control of their work while still collaborating in real time with others. This sounds like a magical ideal, but it also raises many new questions, such as:
- How should data synchronisation work?
- What does user identity look like when collaborating?
- How is document access defined among several people?
- Is some kind of complex custom backend needed to handle all this?
In this talk, we examine one approach to collaborative, open software by building on Matrix, a secure, decentralised, real-time communication protocol with generic database capabilities hiding beneath its current focus on chat. We show through several examples and demos that Matrix can assist with all of the questions above, allowing creative software to focus on delivering the best experience while still meeting local-first ideals.
The software itself can also be collaborative and malleable, allowing for user customisation without depending on upstream vendors to add a new options to achieve your goals.
The following notes describe the ideas from the talk in more detail: