Local-first software: You own your data, in spite of the cloud - Ink & Switch

An article summarizing several years of research and prototyping on how principles of local first software can lead to increased user agency and data ownership. The Ink & Switch team built several prototypes, made a lot of use of Dat Protocol, and explored CRDTs as a fundamental building block for syncing / merging distributed data.

In this article we propose “local-first software”: a set of principles for software that enables both collaboration and ownership for users. Local-first ideals include the ability to work offline and collaborate across multiple devices, while also improving the security, privacy, long-term preservation, and user control of data.

Ink & Switch suggests a number of principles, or ideals as they call them:

  1. No spinners: your work at your fingertips
  2. Your work is not trapped on one device
  3. The network is optional
  4. Seamless collaboration with your colleagues
  5. The Long Now
  6. Security and privacy by default
  7. You retain ultimate control
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