OFN Germany


I just discovered OFN yesterday and am wondering if we could use it in Germany/Austria/etc.
Is this project still being pursued?

I’m a German native speaker (originally from Munich, now living in Graz, Austria) and can help translating. Regarding Transifex, would it be free for me to collaborate or would I have to pay my own account (couldn’t afford it) ?

Reading through the OFN features, I noticed that it contains lots of well thought-out things, however some features our foodcoops here would require seem to be missing:

  • “continuous” option for units like kg – if checked, customers can order/collect fractional amounts like 0.335 kg (important for bulk-buying (storage) foodcoops where the participants fill up brought in containers and weigh what they have taken) – note: I know you could set the unit to 1gr, but then the price would be per gr too, right? like 0.0299€/gr instead of 2.99€/kg … which would be confusing
  • for foodcoops where members can enter the storage room at any time to collect dry goods: Is the “order cycle” system suitable for this? Wouldn’t it be useful to just allow individual (instant) purchases?

(among other possibly missing features)

For lack of alternative software solutions, two years ago I started an attempt to write my own foodcoop software to replace our ineffective spreadsheets. Being a beginner at coding, it hasn’t got anywhere, however here are my ideas:

Recently, I’ve come to the idea that with increasing complexity and features, it could be more effective to build a cross-plattform native app than a web-based app. (quicker, offline/online use with synchronisation, …)

I’d be glad to hear from you,



Hi @Leo239

Yes the project of OFN Germany is still going. There have been some delays due to sporadic attention from some key people, but I’m hoping that everything will be ‘go’ very soon.

There is a server that is live and you are able to use it if you wish - openfoodnetwork.de

If you are willing to contribute to the translations that would be very helpful and yes it would be free for you to collaborate. If you are keen to do this pleas PM me your email and I’ll ask @maikel and @sigmundpetersen to add you to the german team with ability to review. The strings have all been machine translated, and about half of them have been reviewed / fixed by a human and about half are still waiting

Re. your feature requests

  • continuous options for units have proved very challenging basically because of the underlying use of spree. There are workarounds, and possibilities to improve this in future but nothing perfect at the moment
  • you could just have an order cycle or a private shop open at all times that only members can see that is your ‘storage room’ if you don’t need the actual open / close times




Welcome @Leo239

There are also people planning an OFN instance in Austria. PM me if you would like to be in touch with them too



Thank you for your replies @Kirsten and @nick

I’d be most interested to co-build solutions for problems like having continuous options for units etc. because otherwise it wouldn’t be of more use for us than our current app …
I called @orangeman today and we exchanged some ideas. His main idea was to create multiple small apps which communicate via Matrix protocol – one for foodcoop participants, one for organizing orders, one for stocktaking etc. which can exchange data with others, like product catalogues or external accounting softwares.
I have noticed some discussions here about similar concepts (i.a. “co-sensing the future”). Do you know if there’s such a project that is currently being worked on?

I also wondered if we could set up a global OFN database where you can look for suppliers in other countries (if they enabled to appear in the global database) and get in contact with them. For example, so that multiple Austrian foodcoops could make a collective order of cinnamon directly from a farmer from India; esp. within Europe, it would be very limiting to only be able to connect with suppliers/foodcoops/participants from the same country, because the countries here are much smaller.



there is a big and ongoing discussion around this underway, and lots of work happening - mostly led by @MyriamBoure’s Data Food Consortium project. I have just posted on that thread whether she could post an update

In general yes - we are likely heading towards API and flexible small modules. A step towards this is the work underway in Documenting OFN API and other short-term approaches being taken to enable connection of ofn to other services e.g. via Zapier

I don’t know what Matrix protocol is but I suspect others will. Are you in Slack @Leo239 - the interoperability channel there might also be of interest



Thanks @Leo239 for the ping!

@Kirsten Matrix is a data replication protocol.
(http is synchronous+stateless whereas matrix is asynchronous+stateful)
The canonical application is a decentralized Slack/Whatsapp (eg Riot.im app)

Distributed systems become slower and more fragile with more participants because the likelihood of internet/machine failure grows. Making the system partition-tolerant, ie available/usable+fast in case of network partition brings the risk of data inconsistency, since the same data can be edited at the “same” time in a conflicting way (CAP theorem …)

Matrix protocol (re)solves this reconciliation of data and ensures that everybody eventually arrives at the exact same “chat log”, even if different parties have been disconnected while chatting.
(technically this eventual consistency works like git but for data: servers doing ‘git fetch && git merge && git push’ between each other to synchronize)

The wonderful OFN is this inspiring community, ie a network of people brought together by beautiful communication infrastructure that works today (kudos!) but technically is (still) a central database and not yet a network (even though there has always been the spree rest api that can already do a lot…)

Making OFN also technically a network, (ie a computer network of apps) requires imho a standardized communications protocol, ie an interoperable “language/gramar”, the way how to communicate (and reconcile). Data formats (api/vocabularies) can easily be translated between each other and standards emerge from actual usage best practices …but replicating decentralized data is hard.

Just thinking out loud:
The OFN rails app already pushes out email via smtp protocol. So why could it not also chat out data changes via matrix protocol? in dfc/spree/valueflows format…?

Other apps could hang out in the same chat room(s) and eg generate excel reports from the chatlog or populate/update other product catalogues or chat about (pos) sales that the ofn rails app could then pick up (eg with a chat bot that posts them to the spree api)

Matrix makes sure every app eventually arrives on the same page-
(even if participants are temporarily disconnected but continue to use their apps)


Data Food Consortium: making food platforms interoperable