How Airbyte's choices are different from Singer's. Airbyte's connectors are not standalone binaries. One platform, one project with standards. Connectors can be built in the language of your choice. Decoupling of Extract-Load from Transformation. A UI and API to address every teams' needs.
We’ve been asked if Airbyte was being built on top of Singer. Even though we loved the initial mission they had, that won’t be the case. Aibyte's data protocol will be compatible with Singer’s, so that you can easily integrate and use Singer’s taps, but our protocol will differ in many ways from theirs.
Let’s first go over the reasons why we don’t build on top of Singer, in contrast with other open-source projects (such as Meltano), and then let’s see how different Airbyte is.
A little history on Singer.io. It was the first open-source project with the mission to address the data integration problem. It was introduced by the company StitchData (which was acquired by Talend in 2018) as a way to offer extendibility to the connectors they had pre-built. Your company could build their own taps (source connectors). Singer now counts about 150-200 connectors, on par with the closed-source Fivetran.
*So what is the issue with Singer? *Several things:
1. Absence of standardization
There is an absence of standardization and enforcement of protocol. Developers just add whatever they want in their implementation and messages. Contributors only address their own use cases and needs, and don’t build the connector with the mindset to address most use cases that the community might need. So, you never know the quality of a tap or target until you have actually used it. There is no guarantee whatsoever about what you’ll get.
2. No real ownership
There is no real ownership or direction for the project anymore. Indeed, StitchData, over the years, became less and less involved with maintaining the open-source project. And the difficulty with data integration is that applications and APIs change schemas every few months. So a lot of the connectors became outdated, as they were not maintained anymore. In fact, it is not unusual to see connectors with years old PRs that aren’t merged.
In the end, you have a set of connectors with varying quality. In general, the more used a connector is, the more maintained it is. So there is still some value in being compatible with Singer, but building on top of them and being limited by them would not be smart.
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