Show HN: Automatisch – Open source workflow automation, an alternative to Zapier

automatisch.io

316 points by farukaydin 6 days ago

Hey, HN community,

We're so excited to share Automatisch with HN finally. Automatisch is an open-source workflow automation tool, an alternative to Zapier. Together with my co-founder (@barinali), we have been working on it for about 15 months and have started getting early adopters.

Automatisch is a workflow automation tool that lets you connect different web services like Slack, Github, Twitter, and more to automate your business processes. For example, you can build automation that gets all new tweets, including the "open source" phrase, and post them to the Slack channel you specified. You can adjust the services and steps depending on what you actually need to automate in your business.

Even though some existing cloud solutions do the job well enough, we still wanted to build an open-source and self-hosted alternative to those. Because it allows you to store your data on your own servers, which is essential for businesses that handle sensitive user information and cannot risk sharing it with external cloud services. This is especially relevant for industries such as healthcare and finance, as well as for European companies that must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

You can see the available integrations here (https://automatisch.io/docs/guide/available-apps). We currently have limited integrations but are constantly working on adding more and enhancing the existing ones. You can also request a new integration by using GitHub discussions: (https://github.com/automatisch/automatisch/discussions/categ...).

You can use the following links to check it out:

Website: https://automatisch.io Docs: https://automatisch.io/docs GitHub: https://github.com/automatisch/automatisch

Please give it a try and let us know if you have any feedback, and if you like what we are doing with Automatisch, please give us a star on GitHub.

Cheers!

Eduard 5 days ago

First thing I do when evaluating products: checking their imprint and data policy.

I didn't find them.

You guys are https://automat.berlin/contact/ , right? A GmbH.

For credibility, legal, and fine reasons, get a product-specific imprint and data policy up and available as soon as possible.

  • Hrun0 5 days ago

    You look for the data policies before looking at the actual product? Why?

    • uniqueuid 5 days ago

      Because for many people, proper data handling is a hard requirement without which a product is useless.

      In addition, not having an imprint is actually in breach of German law — I'd add that ASAP or you'll get a nastygram from some zealous automated lawyer bot.

    • WA 5 days ago

      I check for them too. It’s a credibility signal if a proper ToS, privacy statement and imprint exist. If they don’t exist, it appears as if the creators have something to hide.

      The regulatory requirements to build software are extremely low. If someone can’t even comply with the basics, it’s a bad signal.

    • lytefm 5 days ago

      If it's obvious that the product won't get approved by risk management due do missing essential policies, I won't even take a glance at the actual product.

      Automatisch would be interesting for me exactly due to:

      > It allows you to store your data on your own servers, which is essential for businesses that handle sensitive user information and cannot risk sharing it with external cloud services. This is especially relevant for industries such as healthcare and finance, as well as for European companies that must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

      But automatisch.io doesn't include any data protection policies despite advertising a paid enterprise offering on their website and asking for data in a typeform. Also, there is only a copyright symbol without any link to a legal entity.

      If it was just a non-profit open source package, I'd still look into it. But as it is, the website screams „don't touch this with a ten foot pole“ from a perspective of someone who is supposed to be the target group of your product ;)

  • PurpleRamen 5 days ago

    > You guys are https://automat.berlin/contact/ , right? A GmbH.

    They work at Automat, or worked there at some point. Have you any information that there is more relation than that? And at the moment they seem to not making any money with the project, so there is a limit to what law demands from them at the moment.

  • moneywoes 5 days ago

    Would you be able to share what common policies are for software projects or any examples?

    google didn't return any hits

    • krsdcbl 5 days ago

      I think op means the automatisch.io website doesn't seem to publish any imprint itself

bberenberg 6 days ago

I currently use n8n, but always great to see more alternatives in this space.

One thing that has surprised me is that no one has tried to standardize on the Zapier or IFTTT APIs / SDK implementation to allow for faster deployment of integrations. Seems like there could be a movement here that is akin to how many services use S3 compatible APIs.

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    We checked their abstraction, but it was not a good match with what we have in our minds. Apart from that, it also differs for architectural reasons because they don't have to make it self-hostable, which also affects how they build/run the integrations.

  • rubenfiszel 6 days ago

    We noticed that too and thought scripts with simple main functions and their parameters could be the universal layer for integrations, so we (Windmill) built an open-source hub for it https://hub.windmill.dev

    Pipedream (which is probably Automatisch main competitor) also has a repo full of integrations: https://github.com/PipedreamHQ/pipedream. Their format is a bit more specific than Windmill.

    Hopefully, we all agree on a format and differentiate ourselves on the quality of the orchestration, flow capabilities, performance etc ...

  • ilyt 5 days ago

    It's because they are dozen of those automation clicky things each slightly different and with slightly different featureset that fits this or that workflow better.

  • sneak 6 days ago

    n8n is not open source.

    There is an argument (that I agree with) that the AGPL (used by this project) is not a free software license either, for similar reasons, but this does not seem to have consensus yet.

  • swyx 6 days ago

    ah the ole xkcd 927 strikes again :)

toomuchtodo 6 days ago

What do you believe your biggest challenges to adoption are? Also, Zapier’s value is in the long tail of integrations and their staff who keep those integrations working for their non technical user base when there are breaking changes (expected and otherwise). How will you solve for that? (Recently I thought ChatGPT might be a fun possible solution when Sentry gets the exception from an integration runner, and it could propose a code fix for the on call SRE or platform engineer, something to consider)

Best of luck, big market with a lot of dollars to go around.

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Imho we need to separate the customer base here to think about the adoption. If anyone (people/company) would like to have automation but is also okay with using cloud solutions, it would be too difficult to convince them to use Automatisch rather than Zapier, Integromat, or any other. But if they don't have the option to use cloud solutions with the compliance policy of their company or just because of the sensitive user data, they need to check open source solutions. So those customers will be our main target. While we're doing that, we don't limit the open source version in terms of integrations but create another license to separate the feature set that will be only required by corporate companies.

    We wrote one of the actions in our integrations by using ChatGPT. So action was easy to build, but still, we would like to utilize AI for those tasks.

    Thanks for the comment!

dalys 6 days ago

Neat! Do you plan to actively sell enterprise licenses to mentioned industries, like healthcare and finance? Is that how you'll make money?

Random idea: Maybe sell integration building as well? Instead of just being able to request a integration. For example, if I would want to run this as a marketer and self host (for whatever reason), I would need integrations such as Facebook Lead Ads, TikTok Lead Ads, Gmail, etcetera. But instead of requesting them being built, I can imagine some people would rather pay $1000 to have them built _guaranteed_ within let's say 1 month. Because if there's some integration missing that is essential for my business, requesting and waiting 12 months until it's _maybe_ build is probably not an option. At least mentioning this service on the landing page and docs will cost 5 minutes of your time and maybe get some business. :)

Iyi sanslar!

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Yes, we plan to sell enterprise licenses, but we also have other services, like prioritizing the integrations, as you suggested. The integrations prioritized will be available to all other users, but the companies don't have to wait until it's becoming most-requested integrations in the community.

    Tesekkurler!

johnmaguire 6 days ago

This looks very cool and I'm excited to try it out later today. In the past I've tried Huginn but I have always found Ruby to be particularly unapproachable and the first integration I tried was broken (the weather integration) and despite submitting a PR to fix it, the PR has languished for years.

Here's some questions:

- How does this differ from Huginn?

- How easy is it to install integrations from outside the main source tree? In other words, can I create an integration and publish it on my own Github profile and have others use it with ease?

- Is Automatisch a purely OSS project, or are you planning to build a business around it? What type of business model?

- Is Automatisch primarily focused at home users or business use cases? The integrations listed in the docs seem primarily home-focused.

  • auggierose 6 days ago

    From gleaning at the repo's license, they use AGPL. So that seems tailored towards building a business around it. I find that quite exciting, because I have been thinking about which license to use for a project of mine as well, so that a) it is open-source, and b) I can build a business on top of it. AGPL seems to fit the bill perfectly, as long as you are careful about the license of contributions.

    • farukaydin 6 days ago

      We spent some time to research about licenses. AGPL allows us to keep it open source and also build a business around it as you said.

      • benatkin 5 days ago

        Is technically open source the best kind of open source? It is open source according to the OSI, but many including myself are interested in open source for specific reasons that the AGPL doesn't satisfy.

        • corobo 5 days ago

          Isn't the use of AGPL specifically to stop many including yourself's specific reasons? They want to build a business off it, not build your business off it.

          If the license doesn't work for your use case, the license seems to have done its job successfully.

          • pabs3 5 days ago

            The AGPL is for preserving software freedom in today's networked, service-as-a-software-substitute world. It isn't supposed to be for building a business.

            • corobo 4 days ago

              The ability to communicate is for warning our tribe of danger. It isn't supposed to be for talking about open source software.

              Intentions and realities are often different. Such is life.

        • pabs3 5 days ago

          What can't you do with AGPL stuff that you want to do?

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Thanks a lot!

    - It may not differ in the sense of integrations and general functionality. However, the most significant difference is that we aim not only for developers but also general users who may not have programming knowledge.

    - At the moment, it's only possible if we merge the integration into the source code, but we're thinking about possible ways to have external integrations and also private integrations.

    - We would like to build a business around it without limiting the open-source version in terms of integrations and core functionality. It's still in the plan, but I can say that only the enterprise feature set will require payment.

    - We focused on mostly business use cases, but we also have home users, and we're happy to support them.

    • pabs3 5 days ago

      How does the license factor into your business model? Sounds like you are going for an open core model where the enterprise feature set is implemented by separate proprietary code addons?

rexreed 6 days ago

The installation instructions mention Render but doesn't say what it's needed for, or if it's needed. Is only the Docker needed? Can you provide more details on the installation page?

bartkappenburg 6 days ago

Nice! Automatisch is dutch (and german) for automatic, what a cool name!

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Thanks. We're Berlin based software engineers :)

    We hesitated to use non-english word but so far people liked it.

neoecos 6 days ago

It's funny that n8n is also in Germany. I moved from Zappier to selft hosted n8n, because the low code possibilities, to create more complex flows, for example connecting to Kafka events

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    It's good to hear that you moved to a self-hosted solution. I can tell the differences between n8n and Automatisch so that you can compare them better.

    - Automatisch is an open-source software where n8n is fair-code licensed. Therefore, it especially differs from the licensing perspective.

    - n8n has a canvas-based flow editor, while Automatisch has an editor like Zapier's.

    - From the UX perspective, we try our best to keep it so that anyone with and without technical knowledge can easily build workflow automation.

    • progx 5 days ago

      I use n8n too, but the biggest problem for me (as a developer) is, that it cost too much time to define complex rules and test them. An easier define and better test output procedure could be a great advantage over n8n.

      Don't concentrate too much on "non" developers, cause these people normaly not use such tools, no matter how easy they are. That is why i hope you add better tooling for developer, to make their live easier.

  • PurpleRamen 6 days ago

    For a German company, there is a surprising lack of legal information on the website.

hgomersall 6 days ago

This looks great. I really want a way to plug in to (in my case) Xero, and do some automation. I'm perfectly happy writing code but it seems painfully complicated to do all the oauth authentication stuff and hosting an interface and whatnot. All I want to do is trigger an event on something happening. Is adding oauth services relatively easy?

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Thank you so much!

    We have actually put so much effort into developer experience, especially for building new integrations. You can check examples using oauth authentication: https://automatisch.io/docs/build-integrations/examples

    If you want to check out all documentation for building integrations, you can use this page: https://automatisch.io/docs/build-integrations/folder-struct...

    My suggestion would be that you can copy an app folder that uses oauth and iterate it to cover your integration. Please let me know if you have any questions!

    • hgomersall 6 days ago

      Great stuff! FWIW I've been looking for a "some code" platform, that removes the overhead and plumbing requirements for automation, but still allows arbitrary code to run in the automations. Basically, I can code, but there are loads of things about web development I have no interest in or want to think about. What would be amazing to me would be a way in which APIs can be abstracted away and a low code API for various languages is provided. It could just be JSON or something, but without any crappy hosting or oauth concerns.

      • cuffe 5 days ago

        Totally agree, we were looking for a similar “some code” approach. Automatisch and other no-code automation products (Zapier, n8n, etc) are awesome for non-technical users to automate simple tasks. We started building Workflows (http://retool.com/workflows) because we were looking for something faster than writing cron jobs/spinning up more infra. Products like Zapier, often times weren’t customizable enough without the ability to really write code or secure enough to connect to something like our production databases. Would love any feedback!

        • hgomersall 5 days ago

          Hey that looks cool. How easy is it to add new integrations?

      • farukaydin 6 days ago

        Thanks! We might build a code step or something similar to write a basic JS function to have a custom action/trigger but not sure when it will happen because our main focus is to allow our users to build automation without writing any code at the moment.

jacooper 6 days ago

Great product !

Personally my main use case is automating social media posts from RSS/webhooks So adding these platforms is needed for me: - LinkedIn - Facebook - mastodon - Telegram - (nice to have) Matrix

I know its a lot to ask, but maybe that's possible in your roadmap, because I'm really interested in using it!

m00dy 6 days ago

Well, good news first of all. I feel not really ok with zapper’s closed circle

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Thanks! That's also the concerns of companies with compliance policy, which can not share the data easily with external systems.

number6 6 days ago

I never knew what to do with happier, seems interesting though

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    I think you can start with what you would like to automate. It might be difficult for individuals to come up with an idea, but companies tend to have manual/recurring tasks which they spend time and money. So those tasks are the potential pain points that needs to be automated.

sneak 6 days ago

Your integrations logo wall has the postgres elephant, but I don't see Postgres in the list.

A mastodon/activitypub output action (or input trigger) would be cool.

  • barinali 6 days ago

    Thanks for the comment.

    We have initially thought of developing that integration already. However, circumstances had us postpone it for a while. We already have an integration request for postgres on https://github.com/automatisch/automatisch/discussions/858.

    I'd appreciate it if you could give an upvote to that discussion so we can prioritize the integrations accordingly.

shafyy 6 days ago

Awesome. Do you plan on offering a paid hosted version? Would be great, especially if you would host it in Germany (or EU). Grüße von Hamburg!

  • farukaydin 6 days ago

    Thanks! It's not planned for the near future but we might do it because it's a good place to demonstrate what Automatisch is capable of without installing it anywhere.

dr_kiszonka 5 days ago

Looks nice. Possible error: you have a Firebase icon but don't list it as an integration.