Non-technical names for unhosted

I’m curious if anyone has heard of non-technical nomenclature for describing unhosted apps. On P2P Foundation wiki there are these phrases:

  • unhosted app
  • html5 app
  • offline web app
  • client-side only app
  • (w3c or opera) widget

and I guess today we also have:

  • progressive web app
  • local-first, offline-first
  • browser app
  • single-page app
  • web native

and there are also these descriptions from SOLID

Using Web standards to let people control their data, and choose the applications and services to use with it.

and Autonomous Data

an application architecture that respects users privacy and data ownership.

I think that last one is the most clear without needing to reference the technology, but I would love to say something like “this is a ___ app”.

In my experience explaining remoteStorage to non-programmers, it was difficult to communicate the difference between unhosted and the popular server architectures or native apps without getting too much into technical concepts. Wondering about ways to communicate in this context.

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You could say “web apps” but that’s a big vague

Using Web standards to let people control their data, and choose the applications and services to use with it

When we started solid we wanted it to be a “standards” approach to creating data and apps. But this has shifted in a far too aggressive way to becoming just a synonym for trying to promote RDF with all its incredible complexity, with the main serialization as Turtle. But, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that web developers want to use JSON, and will reject “full” RDF, with maybe some compromise around JSON-LD. Also, solid apps do not always need to be unhosted, so slight differentce

What is the audience of a non technical nomenclature? Non technical people that I know just use the term “apps”. When they like something on the web or on your phone they will ask, “what is the name of that app”

I guess this about branding. What do we want to communicate with an ‘unhosted’ app. Maybe things like privacy, control. Possibly the idea of ‘sovereign’ apps might be a nice brand.

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I think I was mixing up multiple things:

  1. to communicate freedom of platform (i.e. operating system, hardware form factor, browser) - we usually call this a ‘web app’ but as you mention I think less technical people just say ‘app’ without awareness of the distinction.
  2. to communicate data sovereignty (i.e. the user owns the data, not the app or developer ) - I think it’s super important to make people aware of this aspect because it’s non-standard and also because if they know what to call it they can decide to seek it out when making choices.
  3. perhaps, as you say, these two points may not mean that the app is unhosted.

I’m sharing my explorations in case anyone wants to join in. I repeatedly refer to point 1 with ‘universal’.

“autonomous data”

  • universal autonomous data app
  • universal personal data app
  • universal personal data storage app
  • univereal user data storage app
  • universal libre storage app
  • universal self-storage app
  • universal auto-storage app (as in the French ‘auto’)


  • universal personal app
  • universal individual app
  • universal personalized app
  • universal custom app
  • universal single-tenant app
  • universal discrete app
  • universal dynamic app

“connect your storage”

  • universal pluggable app
  • universal connected app
  • universal linked app
  • independent data app
  • Bring Your Own Data app

“own your data”

  • user-centered data storage app
  • user-centered data app
  • fair data app
  • ethical data app
  • own your data app
  • privacy app
  • sovereign app

“web app”

  • adaptive app
  • progressive app
  • multi-platform app
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I like the clarity of ‘zero data app’.


  • data-free app
  • no data app
  • dataless app
  • know nothing app
  • zero-knowledge
  • zero data app

“the only data that exists is what you bring to it”

  • container app
  • shell app
  • reader app
  • port app
  • plug and play app

In the Fission chat, you mention that people are concerned with privacy. Here you’ve suggested “privacy app”. I think this has connotations that don’t match. What about a “private app”?

I think that ideally the progression of “unhosted” apps will necessarily end up with the app itself being included in the user’s data—just like most software from the 90s was supposed to be installed on the user’s disk and kept there. In that case, it could be called a truly private app—there’s really no need to even hit the app developer’s public endpoint to use it, nor is there any problem if they’re unable to keep their site up in the long term—because your storage provider has your copy, anyway.

The notion of privacy is something that’s getting a lot of attention right now. It’s too attractive to pass up the opportunity to adopt messaging based on it, I think.

(NB: I regret that my first comment here is a form of bikeshedding, but there’s a real need for a term that’s approachable.)

I went with Zero Data because it’s somewhat objective: “the app doesn’t store any data”. It’s harder to measure ‘privateness’ and I wouldn’t want to project a false sense of security.

I think this is very much in line with Fission’s approach. Lot’s of different versions of each app, user customization, keep as much as possible in storage.