Why Solid?

I just wrote a blog post talking about some of the problems and advantages of Solid, and why would anyone choose it over some other solutions.

I hope you find it interesting, and please let me know what you think!

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What a great write up! I can’t claim to be part of the Solid community, but I’ve been following it for some time and really believe in the Solid mission. You present a lot of interesting and important points here. Thanks for sharing!

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Two things stuck out to me:

Lack of POD providers in B2C
This is, to me, the single most important issue holding Solid back.

100%. It’s the part of the gamble that our small business cannot justify at the moment. It’s already a gamble to adopt Solid within our product. But then, on top of it, we really have to setup the Pod infrastructure to get the level of security our customers expect.

Overall I think the blog post is honest; in some ways it doesn’t inspire hope for anything in between hobby and enterprise adoption for Solid.

But then there is this nugget that describes how we can keep moving forward with Solid on the roadmap:

If you look outside of the core specification, it doesn’t get any better. Most have been a draft for years […] I’ve tried to understand why this is happening, and I even had a short stint trying to contribute.

That PR Noel links to is for CRDT support. My company can continue to look forward to storage federation without committing to a single technology. This is a big deal when building a company. In theory, we could even start our members on something like Dropbox or local storage to get users used to the idea of selecting storage.

That means that Solid might not win right now, but if Inrupt gets the enterprise support they’re looking for, the rest of us can help regular folks get used to the idea of personal data/application separation.

Then maybe Solid can gain traction in certain verticals or win on the merits of a superior technology. Or perhaps something happens sooner where we can justify setting up something using Pod Spaces. Or perhaps there is an improvement in the Pod hosting ecosystem. The point is, getting commitment is going to be hard right now. So providing flexibility is probably best for everyone.

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As you can see by looking at the variety of server implementations, there is a lot of different people working on Solid: Node Solid Server (JavaScript), Community Solid Server (TypeScript), PHP Solid Server, Solid Nextcloud, Manas (Rust), etc. And that’s just including Open Source PODs!

Also - on this list I must say that Nextcloud is one of the most exciting. You get the security guarantees of a Nextcloud installation with the codebase’s existing adoption.

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Very good article. I have linked to it on LinkedIn (that is where we post most of our content).

From PDS Interop, we are with you. Still seeing an excellent move forward in Solid this year and ideas that will solve some of the issues you mention.
Thank you for the article and the work in Solid you are doing.

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in some ways it doesn’t inspire hope for anything in between hobby and enterprise adoption for Solid.

Yeah, I was hesitant about publishing the post because it could be seen as too negative. But ultimately, I think it’s important that we share our honest opinion without sugarcoating.

Also, with all the issues we have I still think they aren’t inherent to Solid’s vision and they can be fixed. Hopefully voicing them will contribute to start making those improvements :).

That PR Noel links to is for CRDT support. My company can continue to look forward to storage federation without committing to a single technology. This is a big deal when building a company. In theory, we could even start our members on something like Dropbox or local storage to get users used to the idea of selecting storage.

Yes, I also think a bridge between popular storage providers and Solid would go a long way, because people already understand how that works. Actually, when I’m trying to explain Solid to non-technical people, I’ve found that using that analogy is the best way for them to understand it.

Also - on this list I must say that Nextcloud is one of the most exciting. You get the security guarantees of a Nextcloud installation with the codebase’s existing adoption.

I’m also very interested in the Nextcloud integration, although I think there are a couple of things missing to make it super awesome.

The first one is to allow custom domains, that way people can get started with something like Nextcloud and upgrade to a “real POD” later on. Or move instances, etc. I actually think this should be one of the main features for most POD providers, not just integrations.

And the second one is to allow Nextcloud users to use it. At the moment, the only one who can enable this integration is a Nextcloud admin. So unless your admin decides to install this, you probably won’t be able to use it. Though I think this is a technical limitation, that’s how Nextcloud extensions work (understandably, I guess).

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Thank you Noel, this is a very good article, you are pointing out a lot of things that are on my mind as well, but I did not write down that well or at all. I always come to the same conclusion, that while many things are not perfect, Solid is still the only option we have that has a chance to solve the mentioned problems, so I am going to stick with it. And honestly, the criticism like bad UX/DX are nothing compared to the goals and vision of solid. It’s all solvable.

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