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Monica: Open-source personal CRM (monicahq.com)
372 points by jandeboevrie on Dec 21, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 129 comments

The moment you or your friends have kids, there are a lot of infrequent interactions with people and the names (and ages) really matter.

I guess the killing feature for me would be remembering names of parents if my kids schoolmates.

You end up calling people "the mother of $KID" for KID in kids in classOf($my_kids).

I have a real lo-tech solution for that. I carry a bound memorandum book (field notes or the like) in my pocket and write down the everything I know about each kid. One kid per page.

Example: Julian, blonde, in same class, 3rd and 4th grade Sister: Kiera, two years younger, big hello kitty fan Mother: Monica, red hair, glasses. Dad: ??, looks like Ron Swanson.

I just fill in the blanks when I learn them. By the time I'm exchanging phone numbers, I usually have the names down.

Families move and friendships change, so I don't invest a lot of time memorizing details.

I would be slightly worried about walking around with a notebook containing the physical attributes of lots of young children. But then again I'm a single 39 year old man.

or worse, the physical attributes of their parents. even if expressed in a seemingly positive light.

Hahah that would be bad particularly in your situation.

A computer filled with the same data is even worse!

Really?? Why all the data recording? I'm not criticizing, I've just never paid that much attention to the families of my kid's friends. Get togethers just sort of naturally happen, and pertenent details of families of kids who my kid likes enough to hang out with a lot aren't that hard to remember.

I can't remember these people's names and I am definitely trying. Even worse is when I confidently use the wrong name when I'm talking to one of these parents. Conversation immediately ceases, it's so awkward that I mostly try not to use names at all.

There are some parents that I remember, I think because I see them often enough or they might be particularly unique looking (to me, anyway). There seems to be some mental bar that needs to be crossed before I can reliably recognize them, otherwise they all kind of blend together for me.

Per the memory crowd, associating characteristics with a person helps tag information in a retrievable fashion.

The characteristic doesn't have to be particularly representative, but the more extreme / emotional, the more effective.

E.g. remembering "Jim always has perfect Ron Swanson hair" helps in making the name itself memorable

Some people (including myself) just really really struggle with names. I've found that people who don't struggle with names don't quite understand how it just doesn't click for other people.

I have to write down the name of everyone I meet in a day and review it before I go to bed in order to even have a chance.

Plus, I have a paralyzing fear of using the wrong name so I don't practice that often unless I'm completely confident.

This needs to be said enough. On the other hand, remembering poems in school wasn't considered "easy" either, so I wonder why people think memory should easy for names, nor why it's a judgment on them that my memory isn't great — I'm agonizing ten times over not remembering, I should be the one hurting lol (definitely am).

It's like numbers. I remember IP addresses and breadcrumbs better/longer than I should, and why is obvious (sysops, web dev, nerd?)

What may be easy for you may be hard to impossible for other people.

When you spend some time at the playground with your kids, you need to keep track. Otherwise you're telling your spouse "That lady with the shoulder length black hair said 'hi.'"

To be honest, I learned this tip when I worked at a large international organization, and I needed to familiarize myself with a large number of new people quickly.

I wish I did this. Your friends only tell you the name of their kids once. If they even remember without you prompting. And then time passes, you have interactions and it's too hard to ask: "hey remember your three year old daughter I've mailed christmas presents for...what's her name again?"

Why is it too hard to ask? That's just in your head. Especially if you're honest about being bad at names and make a little joke about it, 99 out of 100 people will just laugh and tell you the name.

I think I’m my parents’ generation this anxiety may have been well placed but today we are all so information-addled that the rules are quite bent. I see parents in my child’s school and activities and hang onto the names of only a few. Everyone seems genuinely unembarrassed to be reintroduced once in a while.

As kids get older and friendships more solid, I can see this changing.

turns out it does not really matter. i either call people so-and-so’s mom, or i simply ask them to remind me their name. it turns out it’s not a social faux pas to not know the names of your kid’s friend’s parents. it’s common and forgiven.

I looked into Monica recently, but feel that it's way too complicated TBH. Information paralysis, too many fields you can fill with irrelevant information.

The lack of mobile apps is also a massive issue - I want to look up information right before I meet someone, and remember most to note down right afterwards.

For my usage the simplicity of Hippo (https://gethippo.app/) makes me much more likely to actively use it.

Thanks for the link, a simple mobile app is more in line with what I'd be looking for for this use.

Hope you use an iPhone... no Android/HTML5 app...

I was looking for a mobile version of a personal crm, so I ended up building one for myself (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/prim-relationship-manager/id14...)

There’s a lot of improvement to make apps like these less tedious with data entry. I’d also love to see more examples of products that excel at balancing the data-driven nature of technology with personal, empathetic human relationships. It’s a difficult line to walk well.

I like the idea behind a personal CRM. Personally, however, I don't think I've come to the point in my life where I forget about people when I meet them in-person.

On top of that, my biggest issue with tools like these (not bashing, really appreciate that products like these exist) is that they don't intrinsically flow with my life. Honestly Apple Contact is probably as far as I'll go (if even that... I leave a lot of calls without properly IDing them). Personally, I find filling out all the info about a person into some database takes a lot of time... which I guess overtime may save some time based on if you're really utilizing it. This is similar to photos: I am a strong privacy advocate, but Google Photos simply is a far greater product than if I were to spend 10x the time combing through photos to create animations and videos.

Obviously, however, in business, a CRM is a great tool (CRM for investors for example). Which makes me think... maybe I haven't met that many people?

Love the idea of the product and appreciate it exists. I think I'll stick to Apple Contacts and Twitter.

Perhaps it's just about what you're good at. I find it very hard for some reason to remember names or other details like which set of kids are with which parents, even for fairly close family. I've used anki to good effect on this kind of thing but it's not quite the right structure for looking things up.

I've been meaning to try Monica because it's a structured place to store the kind of information I find myself forgetting easily and that is harder to ask again.

This comes up semi-frequently on HN. The Show HN post is here with lots of comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14497295

The other thread was https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18318547, from last year.

Something like this is what I need. I have an awful memory and need something to catalog the people I meet and know. Which would probably sound a bit odd if the people found out but otherwise I wouldn't remember.

My issue is ubiquity and reliability. This doesn't seem to have a mobile component and I'm not sure how reliable the service or even company is. The latter of which can come in time.

It's cool, though. I've been thinking about using something like Airtable for this sort of thing.

I agree. I want something like this that:

(1) is a native mobile/desktop app instead of web-first, because there’s no reason my most personal stuff should be available globally

(2) stores data in a REALLY open format like JSON or YAML, because I want maximum interoperability and minimum but rot

(3) synchronizes across devices using generic file sync tools like Dropbox, google drive, or One Drive, because all my other stuff is in there and they’re as secure as anything gets

(4) runs anywhere without administrator privileges or special run times, because I want to be able to use it at work

(5) federated the data store so I can have a single view into personal, professional and proprietary information, while storing and sharing them appropriately to the sensitivity of the data.

What would you be ready to pay for such a software?

I’m the same and have been using it mostly just to keep track of the names of everyone’s jobs, SO, and kids. The site on mobile is usable, an app might help but isn’t required. As for your data, it lets you export everything quite easily (as JSON IIRC). And since there’s a version you can host yourself, if their service goes away, you can export and self host.

It’s pretty easy to get going on a free Heroku instance too. Consider trying it out if you’re interested in a tool like this.

I would be very interested in this if it can be used as a Carddav server. I run a Nextcloud instance solely as a central point for managing contacts. It syncs with my phone, alias lists for NCID and various other bits and pieces.

Something that specialises in this a bit more, but will still fill in that piece would be quite attractive.

It does look like they implemented carddav earlier this year!

I like the design statement that the text "Proudly OPEN SOURCE" is slightly off-center.

I can't tell if you are serious or not, but it looks off to me.

These types of software has, to me, some big pitfalls:

1. The administrative burden: In over for the software to have any value, the user is imposed a huge documentation burden all the time. 2. Privacy: This is probably the worst. Imagine that you write down intimate details of your friends of family, and the platform has a leak. Also, the subjects have _no_ data control what so ever. In the privacy regard this is probably worst in class.

Please don't forget that you can self-host it, so you can own your data. But yes, the administration burden "killed it" for me, too, or at least the enthusiasm to make further edits, although it is a really promising app. I can only imagine taking care of such complex task as your main hobby when you're obsessive to take digital notes of everything. It's not been a year since I've spent a couple of days creating profiles, taking notes of events, conversations, etc, so it might be helpful in a couple of years when I can't remember any of these notes. However, as a self-hosed app, it might not survive that long and I could shut it down to give its resources to something else. Still, a great project, I hope it finds its target audience.

Bitwarden, Lastpass, et al all use vault/blob encryption.

I would think a good personal CRM would as well - unless they themselves want access to your data or they just don’t care to do that work.

As a non-native English speaker I'm quite surprised at the use of the word "CRM" for “children of all your friends // your brother // your grand mother”

Customers, seriously? Can someone educate me on this particular use of the terms? (to me it was only viable in business situations)

Regardless of the second, third meaning of "customer" in English, I'm afraid the word just won't fly in e.g. Western Europe where it only has 1 meaning (someone who pays you for a service), and people often deplore that business, money distort relationships... It's just a cultural mistake to call Monica a CRM over there. It would be like calling a software "union organizer" to manage your -personal- group of friends in the US... not exactly a "neutral" term, nor one remotely related to "friends". Lots of subtexts in some words, translations not 1:1.

PS to authors of Monica: I can help with a French translation ;-)

"Customer" has the same connotations in US English to native speakers. You aren't missing anything, and nobody would call their friends "customers."

But the software is using "CRM" as a term with its own meaning. It's kind of like "MP3" - the M and P come from "MPEG," where they stand for "motion picture." But really, "MP3" means "audio format 3 from the MPEG standard." Nobody thinks that MP3 users are calling audio files "motion pictures."

Got it, thanks.

It's very true that common acronyms tend to get a life of their own, become words in and of themselves, even re-write their meaning — as poster below astutely suggested 'CRM' could mean "contacts" RM in this context.

Here, "CRM" is playing off of the concept, rather than the literal meaning.

A CRM in practice is a social relationship management tool. So, calling something like this a "CRM" is meant to show people what the tool is used for using a familiar term.

It's a little odd, but I understand what they're getting at.

Perhaps in this case we could say the acronym is more of a "contact relationship management"

You might just have named the concept upon which Monica bases.

- meta: it's interesting because having a word somehow 'creates' a concept in our minds, easier to think of and discuss I guess.

- topic: the concept is truly interesting, and you 'get it' when reading Monica's marketing pitch for sure. But the way you name it makes it a category, and when I add up that the one feature of Facebook that even non-users still come for is Groups... somehow this all hints at the aforementioned category.

Interesting. Food for thought.

what about PRM: personal relationship manager

I wonder how many paid users are there for the hosted version and how the pricing was arrived at. Paying $90 a year for a personal CRM seems quite high since this is for each user. The application allows adding people, relationships, notes about people, events, contacts had with people, etc. There is no integration with any data source to pull information automatically. There is no integration with any platform or application to communicate with others.

I believe the hosted application could earn a lot more to support development and maintenance at a lower price point and reaching many more people.

How is $90 for a hosted application expensive?

You're paying somebody $7.50 each month. That's... a latte and a half for the Starbucks crowd. Even at minimum wage, you're paying somebody to do 45 minutes of work for you.

And if organizing your contacts/keeping a log/finding pertinent info is significantly less than 45 minutes/month of work, may I humbly suggest you don't need a CRM?

And my wild guess is the devs know that, and they know that they'll lose the casual crowd anyways. "We make it up in volume" doesn't work if the volume just kicks the tires and leaves.

In my experience, what people really want when they're in that range is not something to manage your contacts - you want help with keeping a household book. (Or butler's book). And I really haven't seen an app to help there yet.

It's expensive because it's a locked in subscription. If I buy a coffee it's "mine", I don't have to buy next time if it's too expensive.

$90 for a hosted application is expensive the same way $1.99 cents for a play store app is expensive. It's all about expectations, and users pay you not only with money, but also with attention and mindshare. If you place too much value on one of those, you lose out on the others, but it can be a non issue, such as when your money doesn't come from the end user.

It's a heavy pricetag considering other free alternatives exists. If you look at the features page, I could replicate that with Asana easily.

SaaS is another way of outsourcing IT. Personal IT or someone else's.

You could replace dropbox with an FTP server, too.

But most people value their time more and will just pay $90 who want this set of features.

Airtable as well

I've tried to use monica and make it work but I find it's a product that doesn't fit with my needs and lacking a lot of simple and useful features.

For example, you have to manually import contacts. You import your 600 contacts and you can't even bulk remove /edit contacts. You're stuck with this huge list of contacts from your phone. Just the simple things such as bulk editing contacts are missing.

So you end up with a list of contact on your phone / email, in addition to monica and it all ends up out of sync.

I want one source of truth for all my contact and people I want to remain in contact with. With everything synced: CRM, phone, email contacts, etc.

They are not secure with their hosting service, either run it yourself or find a different service that cares about security of their data.

Is anyone using Monica successfully? What's your experience with it?

I notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people/responding to text messages earlier than in 3 days, so this seems to hit the spot for me.

My app is in the same space (or at least the original idea of it) but over time I really doubt it is a space to make any money in. People just don't pay for a personal software like this.

I am glad to see that they have over 40,000 users (maybe not active tho) so it proves that the idea is not completely unreasonable. Maybe it just needs a little bit different approach, I don't know.

I myself struggle with what to do with my own app in the space.

What’s your app? What have you tried?


I didn't get to monetize it as I don't have all the features yet & also I don't see a big demand for it.

I used to use Facebook as essentially a CRM, especially for birthdays. I haven’t used FB in years now and I ported the “CRM” data into google calendar and contacts manually. An actual dedicated CRM makes a lot of sense and it never really dawned on me. Thanks for posting this (and of course thanks for building it!)

i have seen this one on trending php projects on github quite often.

as a side note, the php community is quite good at coming up with cms projects. i wonder what makes the language so nice for writing content management systems in? might be interesting to learn about.

> i wonder what makes the language so nice for writing content management systems in? might be interesting to learn about.

The fact that you just need to drop a file on an Apache server to have a functional web app. It's not so much the language itself but the execution model of the code. No need to stop/start a server when the code changes, no need to actual write a server since Apache fronts everything.

so it has nothing to do with the language, it's about the CGI style model and its simplicity.

This is definitely a big part of it.

PHP as a language was, to a certain extent, made for the web. The language included things like MySQL access. That meant that projects didn't need a lot of dependencies. PEAR existed for libraries, but it's not like Java or Python where things like cookie handling or MySQL access isn't baked into the language. This also meant that a lot of the things you'd do on the web were basically written in C and fast.

This made mod_php very useful. You could write a login.php file that would do a mysql_query and return a redirect and maybe a couple hundred lines of code would need to be interpreted. Everything dealing with the web or database was built-in to the language. If you're using Python, you're loading libraries. Because different users might want to use a different library (or a different version), you couldn't easily build something that would offer the same capability there (where the web server had already loaded most of the things you want to do and shared that with everyone on your box). PHP basically had a web framework built-in and that meant that it could be loaded and shared. Rather than having to interpret your logic plus the web framework, it would just need to interpret your logic.

Now, there are benefits to a library-based ecosystem. You can update your DB library without updating the language. If most programs in the world aren't going to talk to MySQL, why include MySQL access in the language? But that's what PHP was about.

I do think part of what made the execution model possible was the language itself. It's certainly not impossible in other languages, but PHP was really made for the web and it made the mod_php-style system work well.

With no long-running processes, it was easy to offer cheap shared hosting. The PHP language would be in-memory and then the scripts could be small pieces calling into the language functions. If I'm running a Java app or Python/Gunicorn or whatnot, I'm holding onto memory even when I'm not serving requests. Even today, memory isn't free. If you have a lot of customers getting minimal traffic, you'd like to use your hardware efficiently. If you have a 32GB RAM box, you could slice that up into 1,000 customers holding on to 32MB of RAM. However, if they're each getting a hit per minute, you have a lot of wasted RAM. Imagine personal blogs and home pages and such. Plus, when customers need a burst of resources, they aren't available - everyone has their 32MB of resources whether they're using it or not. With mod_php, customers could be using basically zero resources for the 99% of the time that they're idle. They could burst when needed. Some shared hosts way oversold their capacity, but it enabled cheap hosting.

A lack of long-running processes also meant that a lot of potentially sloppy things never bit you.

PHP had some language features that enabled good performance on a shared system compared to other ecosystems and that made it a great target if you were looking to create such an app. Today, VMs are cheap, but they still require a level of knowledge/work above just sticking files on managed, shared server.

The execution model really drove PHP's adoption, but I think the language design made that possible. If PHP apps needed to load lots of libraries on each run, that execution model wouldn't have worked as well.

That's the reason why PHP became popular and still is but does it make PHP special for CMSes? I believe that the reason is that people started creating CMSes in the mid 90s when the only viable choices were Java, Perl and PHP. There was a wave of big and expensive CMS focused on companies and there were the open source ones we're using still now. Open source went PHP and my guess is that people thinking about CMSes now is heavily influenced by that culture, which is mostly based on PHP.

> but does it make PHP special for CMSes?

Well because people who don't know anything about programming just need a cheap hosting with an Apache/PHP/Mysql plan and upload the script via FTP.

That's it. Again it has everything to do with how easy and cheap it is for an hosting company to provide PHP/hosting and how simple it is to deploy a PHP application for someone without a programming background.

it makes hosting cheaper and deployment easier. you don't need to run a separate server program per app. you share your hosting with others. Sure, things like docker have enabled sharing for other languages, but i think there is still more overhead involved, both in terms of system resources and in terms of setup, so other languages can't compete on price. CMS users also (at least in non-enterprise market) don't care about the language things are written in, because they don't use it. but the price of hosting is important to them.

I don't know why you're being downvoted. The sheer simplicity of deploying such tools as Adminer is astounding.

As I've said here (in a reply to a reply to your comment) -- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21850539

PHP is web-first, built for the web, and it does it's job well for that purpose. In the years before this boom of SaaS web apps and platforms, the only thing you needed on the web, in almost all cases, was some sort of CMS.

PHP was traditionally used for CMS', because that's what was needed (and still is) on the web. It's not a glamorous job, but those CRM, ERP, and other data systems are what power the modern business world. And a large number is written in PHP.

Case in point: Serbia's largest government-owned telco "Telekom Srbija" used to use a CRM system written in ASP.NET with WPF client software. In January 2019. they started to migrate off of that solution onto a web based platform written in PHP. It's still kind-of in progress, but I think it will bring them more success.

SBB, Serbia's largest alternative telco, has been using that same PHP-based solution for years, and has a smooth customer acquisition process, because it can be done from anywhere due to the web UI.

Of course, you can have a Web UI with any other language, but PHP is web native and isn't any worse than other languages, but may provide some advantages.

Also, before nodejs was invented, the only truly accessible (as in - simple to develop in, with a tolerant dev environment) language was PHP, if you wanted to do web and web only. There was (and is) Python, Ruby, Java, etc., but they were never easy to use, manage and deploy. Most of the new tools we take for granted weren't available in, i.e. 2005., when the standard dev procedure was to upload files via FTP for a large amount of the world.

And lastly, nowdays, I don't think PHP is any worse than other scripting languages for web usage, especially for CRUD information system UIs. And if you need more than it offers, you will find luck only in .NET [Core] or Java, not in Node or Python.

Ironically, the company I work for is strictly a no-PHP shop, and does no PHP projects for clients, except half of the Intranet that spans many countries (Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Phillipines, UAE, etc.) and management systems are written in PHP. It's just useful for the task, and there's no need to change it, or waste money on something that works. The company is old-ish (from 1998.) but hasn't outgrown the systems (yet). I said ironically because I really like PHP, but do .NET with Oracle at work.

It’s fairly simple, with a syntax close to JavaScript that’s easy to pick up.

There are many languages that are as simple or even simpler than PHP in syntax, and if you're comparing it to JavaScript, nodejs is literally JavaScript.

PHP's biggest strength is ease of deployment and popularity. Deploying a nodejs app is a nightmare, because of the fact that nodejs isn't a web-first language in the traditional sense. It's a general purpose language that can do many things, but that causes problems for, i.e. hosting multiple apps on a single server (without having to coordinate ports between them, firewall them off, and have a single nginx instance proxying to them based on domain names).

PHP is simple to deploy. If you have a shared hosting, just upload files to the FTP server, and open the page in the browser. It works. If you have a root server, just `sudo apt install -y apache2 libapache2-mod-php7.3` and put the files in /var/www/html/

It's a perfect fit for web because that's the only place where it actually works. It does one thing (platform) and it does it well (from the deployment perspective).

It has (had) it's warts in the years, but I don't find many things that it doesn't have compared to other scripting languages.

Think you're underestimating the array functions. They might be ugly (programmers tend to prefer expressive array syntax), but their learning curve is the best of any language. So much of programming for the web is "do something to an array of stuff", and PHP makes that super-easy.

The built in standard libruary has everything you need. No packages are really required.

Not only this, but the Laravel PHP framework (such as used by Monica) makes it particularly easy to build and maintain such apps.

Laravel is great for other things too — not just CMS-type-apps. It’s phenomenally good.

Agreed. Laravel is also fixing many of the complaints people have with PHP [developers], because it tries super hard to make you do things properly, and wherever it is possible, it actively prevents doing things the wrong way.

It's really a breath of fresh air in the way it's laid out (IMO) and the documentation is mostly very good, with some areas (weird edge cases) that are lacking a bit, but it's quite usable.

I'd recommend someone starting PHP to go with Laravel, and learn it's way of doing things. You can't go wrong and you will learn how to do things the right way. That's what I teach people.

Also, this is excellent: https://phptherightway.com/

> it tries super hard to make you do things properly

I don't have much experience with Laravel, but my sense is that Laravel tries to make hard stuff (CRUD operations, MVC) easy, but it doesn't try so hard to make you do things "properly".


It’s a CRM, not a CMS.

The distinction here is not really interesting. Besides, contacts are content too.

It's an SRM=social relationship manager.

Not a CRM.

I've tried the self hosted version. What kind of app on android should one use? I think there's supposed to be chandler and I either did not find the app in play store or it did not work. It has been many months since I tried that though.

The app which let's you browse the internet? Type in the address of your server and you should be presented with Monica. Works quite well on mobile.

Ah. Memory served me well, although it got the timeline wrong: https://github.com/monicahq/chandler It has been deprecated

App is needed to avoid copypasta and inconveniences

The first thing I'd like to do after meeting someone is enter their name and a brief note. With the web version, this requires submitting two forms.

I created a mobile app that lets you do this in one step. You just need to configure it with your API key: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.twilam.mon...

I evaluated Monica a few years back but it lacked some features so I picked Highrise (from Basecamp). Then Highrise went maintenance mode and Monica still flourishes it looks. If there is a migration tool, I'll be happy to move.

My first thought: "What a gold mine for hackers"

Why bother hacking the Monica servers when you can probably much more cost effectively buy the data that Facebook via Cambridge-likes sell?

As is Salesforce, yet people still use that.

So kind of like a combination contacts+notes app?

Or just use notion

That actually works really well. When I found out that Notion is completely free for students, I moved from every notes site apart from Google Keep and manage almost everything on it.

I've been doing this for years using BBDB and org-mode in emacs. I always forget to update it though.

Is anyone using this CRM? How have you benefitted from it in your personal life?

I tried it and really liked the features.

So far I haven't been able to bake it into some kind of 'visit friends workflow'. And also I get this bad vibe from consulting-managing my personal relationships, it feels cold, cynical and controlling. It's not who I am. However it's not this apps' fault, but the feeling I get from trying to apply it and get some value out of putting effort into tracking personal relationships.

I feel similarly and would feel a bit awkward telling someone that I use it.

On the other hand I think I have to face the fact that I am just not good at remembering a lot of tiny details - especially about people I have only met a few times or don't see very frequently.

I think remembering stuff about a bunch of people is possible but when you interact with a lot it becomes more and more difficult to remember everything.

Of course one could argue that in this case you maybe should "sort out" your relationships to determine who of all these people is really important to you but that feels even harder for me than using a personal CRM to have a good relationship to people that are not part of my circle of best friends.

Family is another example. I didn't choose them but I have to see them once in a while and among other features recording what presents I got them and they got me would be good enough to at least not blow up some celebration because I would get the same present again or being able to connect presents to people who gave them.

I tried running this a year ago and remember some things which stood out. But again, a year ago -- details are fuzzy, and likely outdated.


- The no-cost self-hosted setup was easy enough. I didn't have to jump through too many installation-debugging-hoops

- Could easily customize the UI with minimal CSS edits

- The app was pretty responsive in my view, and my view is that web apps are known for clunkiness

- All the things you could do within the app were pretty obvious from the interface ("no manual required")


- Honestly, the thing that killed it for me was being required to select Male or Female for every person entered. It was ridiculous, so they probably have removed any sex/gender field by now, right?

- To my knowledge it only had a web interface, so I couldn't open up and edit the data in a text editor (personal preference), for instance

I wanted to try it but I couldn't get it going using docker. I tried `docker-compose -f docker-compose.dev.yml up` and then `docker-compose exec monicahq php artisan setup:production` and I get an error about /var/www/monica/storage/artisisan not existing.

What is a CRM? All acronyms should be defined somewhere in articles that use them.

What's the benefit over a .txt file on a computer or a custom field in your Google contacts for remembering friend's kid's names?

I'm personally not really interested, I'm stating that the website needs to define this term if they want many people to understand what their service is. If you're trying to sell a product, don't force the customer to look up basic information about the product.

A quick search on CRM returns "Customer Relationship Management" as the first several results.

Not everybody wants to share all this information with Google.

This is not a CRM you are not managing customer relationships. This is a social relationship manager. SRM.

It's even available on Cloudron.io too.

In light of GDPR et al., how legal is this here in Europe? To store detailed personal data on people and even their children without written consent, and host that data on some company's servers, maybe even in the US. Is there some GDPR exception that allows private individuals to store as many personal details about as many people as they like?

If it were, any email company would be in grave danger because they all have address book features where you can keep all of this info, and many even allow that data to be shared over the internet!

As long as all data is stored securely, providing a place for keeping track of information isn't illegal.

Is this really an issue?

Arguing over whether or not someone can store contact information about people they personally know for the purpose of a private database?

If that really falls under GDPR, then GDPR is way more fucking asinine than I ever realized.

Well, it would be personal data about me that they store on their servers. So I could, at any point, send a GDPR request and force them to send me any data they have stored about me. Or tell them to delete it. Or sue them for having it in the first place without my written consent.

Same would be true for any other "online address book" type of app. Particulary funny if people added "notes" about you to your data set. Those notes would have to be send along with all the other data they have about you, because it is data about you.

As in Monica Geller, right?

This is not a crm but a custom social relationship application. There is no customer.

Not that I see myself needing this in the foreseeable future, but I still want to commend the structure of the offering. There's a paid tier, a free tier, and the possibility of installing the open-source software on your own host computer. I think that's a great set of choices. I wish more webware were organized like that.

> I think that's a great set of choices. I wish more webware were organized like that

Agreed. This is the way forward for most software monetization (in case of web applications): Have a FOSS licensed application, where you can pay for a hosted version. I think this is a fair model where you pretty much outsource devops for the software to the company who builds it.

If you want to self-host it (maybe legal or security reasons), you can do that without cost or hire their consultants in helping you doing that.

Bitwarden (open source password manager) uses this model and I think it's great. Those who want to host it themselves can do so, and those who cares about open-source but aren't comfortable managing the server can use the free hosted version or pay for some additional features.

It's great that the self hosted version is fully featured. On the other hand $90/year seems way overpriced.

As someone now working in a different industry, let me just say that there are very few professional tools of any kind which cost less than $100. I don’t see how a $90 tool, if it provides any value at all, can be considered overpriced. There are hammers that cost several times more than that.

Less than $7.50 per month and I think it would be hard to quantify the benefit.

$7.50/month? Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Not to me, but it I guess it depends on your usage. However, for something like this I don't think you want to be competing with a Netflix subscription price-wise. I would have aimed for a dollar or two a month. Admittedly this was probably their initial idea too, but things don't always work out as planned.

To be frank, if your monthly value comparison for something like this is Netflix, you aren't the target demo.

Some people fall on the 'low margin, high volume' side of things, others on the 'high margin, low volume' side, and there's nothing wrong with either decision. With the former, you will lose customers who think 'wow, it must be cheap because it is bad' and the latter, you will lose customers who think 'I'm not paying that much to use hosted MonicaCRM'.

I personally would be willing to pay for and use the hosted version for $1-2 a month, but I am not price flexible all the way up to $9. $9/ month is 'real' money, while 1/2 a month is 'patreon / burner' money that one doesn't have to think about in one's monthly budget. For something that I need to use over the course of 6-months/year to see if there are relationship benefits to all of the data entry, that means the first month trial is not quite enough to evaluate if there is value there.

I heartily applaud the FOSS if you host it yourself version, that is a mark of a good person, there.

Why do you say that? I subscribe to more and more things and every once in a while I re-evaluate what I'm spending vs what I'm getting.

Okay, what do you want to compare it to?

Instead of evaluation by comparison, why not evaluate it simply based on its merits and the value it provides you?

You've been abundantly clear in this thread that this SaaS product wouldn't provide you with good value for the money they want. That's totally cool, you're not the target market for them (at their chosen price point).

But other people do see value at that price.

So what does that tell us? Nothing!

Unless two things provide the same service, it's kind pointless to compare them because the relative value is tied to other subjective factors that aren't universally relevant.

Shocking idea: Start by not using Netflix as a reference. They aren't even in the same industry. It looks logically sloppy.

MS Office 365 gives you 1TB of cloud storage and access to web and desktop versions of the world's most popular office productivity suite for $6.99 a month.

I don't find it unreasonable that the parent comment considers $9 / month for the value proposition of what is a relatively unique / untried / new (less than a decade old) software category (database for your interpersonal relationships) to be too high.

Until one has time to use the software and have it help you remind yourself what the guy you've only met 4 times in the past likes for lunch, you are paying 'more than an MS Office subscription' for access to the data you entered previously, and unless you quickly become a power user for the software, will use the Monica product for less time per week than MS office, at least in many office jobs.

EDIT: That value may be there once you have used the software, but someone is hardly being a cheapskate for not wanting to dole out $9 a month for something they don't yet see the full value prop of.

Edit Edit: Hippo CRM costs $1.50 a month , with a reduced albeit same ballpark functionality.

What’s your yearly income?

I agree, super reasonable.

Ideally there should be a full-feaured free version which would only ask for money if you use it actively for a prolonged period of time. Perhaps I could like it but having to invest (whatever a sum of money) immediately before I try it and find it useful I am hardly going to bother trying. Simple time-limited trials like sign-up and have one month free also don't work - I usually sign-up/install and forget and when I actually fell like let's try it it's already expired.

Running a business requires paying customers. People who do what you're talking about, aren't paying customers. If you're running a business, you have to focus on people willing to pay you money, not tire kickers.

People who do what I'm talking about, obviously aren't paying customers at this point, they are leads and the job here is to remove all the obstacles between their current status and them becoming paying customers.

You can try it and cancel after 1 month, according to their docs. It seems like it’s a one-click cancel too. Seems like a reasonable approach, especially since it’s an open source project and thus "free" if you so choose.

They even publish a docker image so a moderately technical person could "docker run" it and kick the tires before deciding to subscribe or run it themselves.

I'm flabbergasted that you could post this. Self hosted option, hosted option, open source. Isn't this what HN is all about? You should be eager to support this project for such a small amount.

How do they make money or keep the service online? They don’t have any pricing and also say they don’t show ads or sell user data.

> They don’t have any pricing

What do you mean? They literally have a link called "Pricing" at the top. It's $9 a month.

No link on my phone.

There it is - if I turn it sideways.

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