Lemmy frontend alternatives are popping off
The official lemmy-ui works fine, but it has never been a top priority for the Lemmy project; understandably so, as they've been focused on pioneering an ActivityPub-enabled forum backend.
Thankfully the UI side is now receiving a ton of updates, but alternatives are still much needed:
- lemmy-ui is styled like legacy Reddit, which isn't everyone's preference. (I personally have no need for the sidebar.)
- Inferno is a rather niche framework that raises the bar-to-entry for some prospective contributors.
- Alt-frontends make for a healthier app ecosystem.
I like to go on the occasional GitHub safari by searching within a trending area of interest. Today I simply looked up the most recently updated repositories containing the keyword 'lemmy' and I'm thrilled to report that if you're in the market for a new Lemmy frontend, you've got plenty of promising options in the making!
The following are my handpicked examples and not an exhaustive list. I'm only including frontends that are already usable or close to it. I'm sure there are others to be found on indie and self-hosted code hosts out there as well (I did have a look through Codeberg and sr.ht), but afaik there's no good search tool to discover those repos.
edit: this list is more comprehensive.
Svelte – Web
https://github.com/ando818/lemmy-ui-svelte (Mobile support via Capacitor)
React Native – Web/Mobile
Flutter – iOS/Android
Swift – iOS
Kotlin – Android
GTK – Linux
Sync – Android
Though my focus here is on open source apps, Sync for Lemmy deserves an honorable mention as the first major app to “pull an Ivory” by abandoning the enshittified Reddit platform and pivoting over to the open source Lemmy (perhaps also kbin et.al.) ecosystem. Bravo!
Opportunities for collaboration
There are two takeaways I'd like to highlight from these findings:
Developers, you've got friends out there! Divergence is a necessary component of innovation, but at some point the pendulum needs to swing back in favor of convergence and shared foundations.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Projects that are built with the same framework are great candidates for collaborative efforts. Sure, you might have different UX preferences, but that's what theme systems are for. Start by looking at your commonalities rather than your differences and there's a good chance you'll find the pros of working together far outweigh the cons.
Sysadmins, consider officially adopting an alt-frontend, effectively as a mutually beneficial partnership.
- Gives your instance a unique identity.
- More agency over instance interface features.
- Lends legitimacy to the alt-frontend(s) of your choice.
- Directs developers who are aligned with your community towards that open source project.
As these fresh new frontends mature, we march ever closer to a new UI paradigm of multi-modal Juicy Clients, capable of rendering our multi-faceted fediverse in all of its splendor through one seamless interface.
p.s. If you're a client-side Rust developer, I've started discussing the prospect of a juicy client with Ebou, a Mastodon frontend made in Dioxus.
Discuss: – https://writing.exchange/@erlend/110616473377954593 – Lemmy (link pending)