There are many feature requests for the Android app. I asked for like 4 features and others have asked for more features that aren't added yet. I know that the developers team might be busy fixing bugs, polishing the app and working on major improvements.

But what about open sourcing the app? Everyone could fix something, add something.

So could we open source this Android app and help make it better?

  • 1
    Or we could fork it and edit it however we like, if the dev team doesn't like to include some feature in the official app
    – Lynob
    Apr 25, 2014 at 11:14
  • 4
    Not always as awesome as you imagine. Excessive forking was what killed infiniminer (heard of that?) and allowed closed source minecraft (insired by infiniminer) with its laser focus to become one of the most successful games of all time. Not saying open source isn't sometimes a good thing but you can't just throw it at anything and expect good results Apr 25, 2014 at 13:22
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    @RichardTingle you can use a license which forbids those who fork your code from creating closed source projects and protect the rights of the original writer. Besides you can look at other examples ubuntu based on debian, elementary os based on ubuntu. Both made Linux more popular than ever. Many people dumped windows to try the new exciting os, elementary os. You don't have to look at the dark side. The bright side is more beautiful
    – Lynob
    Apr 25, 2014 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


Note: mobile apps development and support have been discontinued. Below was the history that might include obsolete info regarding future plan for mobile apps development.

As an update to this: We're currently working on doing a code-drop for a variant of our application, a new branch of the Android app which will have some things removed from it.

It's not open source in the real definition (for now we're just doing a one time code-drop, we might do later support for it in the future) and it's not pure OSS, you won't be able to compile it from the source and get the exact same binary we have on the Play Store, but it should be an interesting experience.

I'll post more about this when more progress happens on it.

Around 90% of the mobile applications are built on top of the Stack Exchange API. The libraries we use are open source and anyone can grab them and use them.

The other 10% of the app however consists of internal things that we are not yet ready to put out to the world and say "here are all the URLs, documentation, description of what they do, go wild". This includes the server endpoints for the feed, user registration, etc. Because of these, and the fact that the rest of the apps are simple data-retrieval and demonstration, the mobile apps themselves are not going to be open sourced.

Anyone is more than welcome to use our libraries (or even make their own!) and make an application using the API, but as far as feature-requests and bugs in the official app the best thing you can do is get more votes for your requests, since questions on meta are one of our highest priority things to work on.

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    I think that's a great shame. "We don't yet have documentation" is an unconvincing argument, to say the least - the best documentation has always been the source code. Your decision to stay closed looks a lot like an attempt to keep control of the way people access SE by keeping control of the secret sauce. SE has always struck me as a good way to encourage the world to open their specialist knowledge to all, so it's a real shame that you don't seem to regard knowledge only you can share as being in the same camp.
    – MadHatter
    Dec 23, 2014 at 18:16
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    @MadHatter There's... there's no secret sauce here. We explicitly haven't obfuscated anything on our end so if anyone is inclined to they can reverse engineer it and see what we're doing. However, if we open sourced as-is we'd have to support people trying to use the "secret" endpoints in the application that exist right now, and I'm not ready to make that commitment yet. Dec 23, 2014 at 18:18
  • BTW, this is something we've been discussing a bit internally. The current decision was to open-source the components rather than it as a whole, e.g. SEMarkdownEditor and I'm actively working on open sourcing the Android version, but I can see the benefit of open-sourcing a large application to show the architecture. Dec 23, 2014 at 18:21
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    That is of course your call to make, but your argument above only holds if it's your clear intention to free the apps, and the APIs, in the near-foreseeable future. From your second comment, it looks like that's a possibility. May I applaud you for that, and encourage you to keep down that road? I, for one, would value an SE app to allow me better mobile access to the site - but I won't run non-free software, so I will be waiting until you decide to open things up!
    – MadHatter
    Dec 23, 2014 at 18:23
  • The app crashes every time I close it with the back button or press on quoted code. It forgets data when app switching and repositions the courser making it hard to ask/answer/comment/cut/paste/select/etc. It was so frustrating I uninstalled it, but the mobile web version suffers the same editing problems, small buttons, and lack of confirmation dialogs. stackexchange is basically not ready for mobile and putting the UIs on github can only help as the other side of the API can remain closed. May 7, 2015 at 17:00
  • If you're as overloaded as you said in a recent post, perhaps you should really consider putting more effort into open sourcing as soon as you can, whatever you can.
    – muru
    Jan 6, 2016 at 9:20
  • @muru I still want to do this, but when we do this it'll purely be a code drop, not a real open-sourcing, as I mentioned in the answer. Jan 6, 2016 at 9:37
  • @KasraRahjerdi as long as we can submit patches under suitable licences that you can then apply to your actual code, it's all the same to me. I (and I suspect most others interested in this question) don't care about being able to build this for ourselves, but rather about getting much needed features in there.
    – muru
    Jan 6, 2016 at 9:39
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    Hi @KasraRahjerdi, I really appreciate all the work you guys do and love the app. Is there any chance you can do the code-drop this month? Even if it's a reduced-feature build, it would be great if I could submit a version (even if rebranded) on the F-Droid market. I would gladly contribute to a crowdfund as incentive if you decide go that route.
    – habs
    Apr 12, 2018 at 22:44
  • Or, perhaps, this month? It'd be great, especially considering that most of this app is recreatable from the APIs so you wouldn't be losing any secrets.
    – wizzwizz4
    Jul 10, 2018 at 20:27

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