Buttercup was most certainly a hobby project when we started it some years ago… At first it was just some core functionality and encryption. It quickly evolved into a desktop application and browser extension, and eventually a mobile app for iOS and Android. As we continued to work on the Buttercup application suite, we watched the community grow into a sizeable support group for making the password manager something more — a serious contender in the market, but completely free and open source.
These ideals haven’t changed, but the seriousness of the project has always been on our minds. For the last couple of years we’ve pushed and tried to get our hosted service, My Buttercup, to the front-line where it could be experienced by some of our user base. The goal here was to provide an entirely free hosted option for Buttercup vaults, including the ability to onboard teams of users that would pay for more advanced options (like sharing). Having a paid model, to compliment our free & OSS, would ensure that Buttercup could continue to thrive as there’d be a company behind it — maintaining it while keeping the applications open for the community.
We failed to get My Buttercup to a stage where we were happy releasing it to the public — we got as far as our alpha program, with some tens of users, but this was simply as far as we could push it considering how busy we’ve become in our working/personal lives. Rather than throw in the towel on the paid model, however, we’ve decided that another approach might even be better than the service model we were trying to build.
Let us digress for a moment: Buttercup has been a fantastic experience for us so far, and we only have its longetivity in mind when planning any potential payment plans for the platform. We use open source software very heavily, and love it, and want to continually give back to the community that’s supported us. It’s important to note that any services or licenses we introduce will always be for a new product that compliments our free suite. That, and we’ve got huge plans to continuing to expand our free application offerings in the form of OSS.
The next product in the Buttercup line-up won’t be a service.. but a server. Buttercup Server will be our self-hosted solution to provide all the features we’d had planned for My Buttercup. We’re planning both a free offering as well as licensed use for premium features. The server will come in a variety of flavours, from a binary through to a Docker (and perhaps LXC) image. The server will be proprietary, but will be completely self-contained (for the free version). Licensed instances will need occasional internet connectivity.
Buttercup’s server platform will replace the My Buttercup option in the cloud connectivity options in the Desktop, Mobile and Browser applications. It can be used in place of Dropbox, Google Drive or WebDAV. Besides the premium features (to be announced), the new server software will provide locking (to prevent conflicts) and backup support.
We believe that this will be a great move for Buttercup — Self hosting will put more control in the hands of our users, in a time where SaaS offerings are oversaturated.