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It started when he asked himself which apps were missing for him in Nextcloud. Julien Veyssier, the contributor behind the Nextcloud PhoneTrack app had started adapting to Java/Android programming, and he was looking for a new contribution to bring to the project. That’s where he thought of IHateMoney, an app he had been using for years to manage shared expenses with his housemates.
He was “almost” fine with IHateMoney, until their public instance crashed, and his data was lost. It was time for a self-hosted IHateMoney instance, followed by an attempt to build MoneyBuster, an IHateMoney client for Android. And that’s where it became an evidence: wouldn’t it be better to have a similar Nextcloud app? An app that would provide the same API so it would be compatible with MoneyBuster?
Cospend was born: a tool to keep track of common expenses for groups of people. Who spent what for whom is the basic question that it answers. With features – much more than on its inspiration IHateMoney – like recurring bills, the possibility to link Nextcloud files to bills, and many more options. After a few struggles with the web user interface, Julien “happily followed Nextcloud design guidelines”, and quickly became satisfied with the result he obtained. One feature he is particularly happy about: It is possible to access a Cospend project without having a Nextcloud account, making it easier for a Nextcloud user to share the content of the app with their friends, in order to include everyone.
While the app is already fully functional, many improvements are already on their way. Besides testing and “improving this and that”, features like QR codes can be expected in the future: “I’d like to make it simpler to “add” a project in MoneyBuster. I’ll make it possible to add a project just by “clicking” on a URL looking like cospend://my.nextcloud.org/daproject/dapasswd. I’ll probably also add project-QRCode generation to Cospend which would contain such URL. It would be nice to be able to generate such QRCode from MoneyBuster too, to share a project from one phone to another.” And there’s still space for input and new ideas: “I hope we’ll see good ideas emerging from users.”
The benefits to creating an app in Nextcloud, instead of pursuing his initial project? Building Cospend on the Nextcloud foundation didn’t only allow him to benefit from the Nextcloud ecosystem, but also to “kick the ass (pardon my French) of privacy-unfriendly centralized services providing similar features”, says Julien. And of course, Nextcloud has more to offer for the future of the project: “I’d like to learn more about how federation between Nextcloud instances work to make it happen in Cospend. It would be great to be able to share a project across NC instances.”
Julien particularly insists on the benefits of building software in an open source, active an welcoming community: “I would like to thank everyone participating in Nextcloud, the core team which makes a huge effort to document app development aspects, the communication team which makes the community a nice place to be in, the design team which helps developers to make nice interfaces… Cospend is the result of their work too.”
And he finishes: “In conclusion I made the app because I felt there was something missing and it would fit perfectly in Nextcloud. Another bit in the Nextcloud ecosystem.”