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The Future of Synapse and Dendrite: Element Forks Synapse and Dendrite

Element announced that they will be forking Synapse and Dendrite, two long-standing projects in the Matrix community. This news has raised questions and concerns, but the Foundation is committed to addressing them and finding a way forward together.

Synapse and Dendrite have been around since 2014 and 2017, predating both the Foundation and Element. Element, the creators of Matrix, invested in the development of these projects and transferred them to the Foundation when it was formed. While individual contributors retained their copyright, Element assigned the projects to the Foundation. Both projects are licensed under the permissive ALv2 license, but Element’s forks will now use the reciprocal AGPLv3 license with a Contributor License Agreement (CLA).

Since 2019, the Foundation has been responsible for holding the assets and providing infrastructure for Synapse and Dendrite. While the adoption and use of Matrix and these projects have grown significantly, the contributor ecosystem for Synapse and Dendrite has not seen the same level of growth. Most of the maintenance and development work has been done by individuals working at Element.

Moving forward, the Foundation does not plan to actively fund the development of the current Synapse and Dendrite projects due to limited resources. Instead, the Foundation will focus on funding research and development for the Matrix ecosystem, addressing gaps, and providing community infrastructure. The Foundation does not wish to compete with actively maintained open source projects.

It is expected that the forks of Synapse and Dendrite will be widely adopted, and the Foundation wishes them success. However, there are still many unanswered questions, and the Matrix community will need to navigate this new territory together. Matrix is more than just these two projects - it is an open protocol and a whole ecosystem.

For most users, including the 115 million plus Matrix users on the open federation, there will be no significant changes. Those who run a Synapse or Dendrite server should continue to receive upstream releases from Element’s repositories.

Source: Matrix.