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Open Source Highlight: n8n

Created by Berlin-based developer Jan Oberhauser in 2019, n8n presents itself as “a free and open workflow automation tool”. Think of it as a locally hosted Zapier on steroids.

n8n’s deployment model gives developers access to the underlying code, which makes it a better candidate for debuggable integration, including integrating it with your in-house tools (for example, a proprietary CRM). Yet, despite its focus on extensibility for power users, n8n’s interface is also user-friendly:

n8n flow

At this point, you’re probably wondering how n8n is pronounced. Well, you have two options: either n-eight-n, or “nodemation”, which it stands for (yes, n8n is actually a numeronym, like k8s).

Considering the amount of controversy that initially surrounded it, it’s worth including a disclaimer here: n8n isn’t open-source in the stricter sense of the term, as it is currently licensed under Apache 2.0 with Commons Clause.

This is in line with Jan’s launch of Fair Code, a software model that works to combine “the benefits of an open source approach while preventing big tech from strip-mining the underlying source code.

This approach has also been helpful for n8n’s path as a startup: while it started out as a part-time project for Oberhauser, it is now a venture-backed company, having raised a $1.5 million seed round from Sequoia, firstminute Capital and others earlier this year.

n8n also announced the imminent launch of its hosted version, the fully-managed n8n.cloud - click here to learn more about it and request early access.

Data Pipelines, Open Source

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