Differences between the hosted and open source versions of Sharetribe

Sharetribe is available in two flavors: a hosted version, or a self-hosted, open source version. The hosted version (along with all information related to it) can be found at sharetribe.com, and is offered by Sharetribe Ltd. The open source version of Sharetribe is available on GitHub.

This page explains the differences between the hosted and open source versions. And we explained why Sharetribe is open-source in this article.


With the hosted version, the Sharetribe software is installed on Sharetribe Ltd's servers. The Sharetribe team takes full responsibility for the required technical administrative tasks, such as installation, maintenance, updates, security, backups, etc. The hosted version is automatically updated to the latest version of Sharetribe. This lets your focus on building the community around your marketplace. Get started with a few clicks at sharetribe.com.

With the open source version, you will need to install the software on your own server and take care of all technical administrative tasks (security, updates, backups, etc.) yourself. Downloading, installing and using the software is free—you don't need to pay Sharetribe Ltd anything. However, your own server and any possible technical help will likely incur costs.


The hosted version includes full support from the Sharetribe team, who can help with any technical issues. You can find answers to many questions from Sharetribe's knowledge base. When you need personal help, the fastest way to get an answer is using the support link in your marketplace's admin section.

Support for the open source version is community-based, meaning the level of support depends on the voluntary help of other open source users. Sharetribe has a Community forum where you can ask for help or tips. Sharetribe team do occasionally answer and try to help there, but we can only guarantee support with the hosted version. Installation instructions for the open source version are available on the Github page, where you can also report discovered issues.


The hosted version allows for some visual customizability (mainly related to colors and images), and some deeper customization related to categories and listings. For more technical users, Sharetribe supports custom CSS and JavaScript, allowing you to make some changes to the Sharetribe user interface. Custom JavaScript may also allow integration with other services.

The open source version allows you to change all aspects of Sharetribe, included the one above. Of course, this requires deep technical know-how since it consists of modifying Sharetribe's source code. The admin control panel of the open source version has most of the same options as the hosted version. 

Note that major changes to the code might make it difficult to apply future Sharetribe updates to your customized code. If you develop useful features and would like them to be added to the core product (making updates easier for you), open a Pull Request on Github. Before doing this, be sure to read CONTRIBUTING.md. We cannot guarantee that all pull requests will be accepted.

The hosted version uses the commercial Pika icon set. The licensing does not allow the icons to be shared with the open source version, but if desired, they can be purchased separately from the creator. By default, the open source version contains the open source icon set Font Awesome.

Features included

The hosted version includes all the features of the latest Sharetribe software. 

The open source version includes most of the features that are required to host a single marketplace. However there might be exceptions for various reasons, like licensing (see previous chapter for example) and payment provider contracts, (see next chapter for example).

Also there are few features that are relying on some non-open source components in the backend, and thus are not included in the OS version. Currently mainly advanced location search and per day availability management are this kind of features.


The hosted version uses PayPal as the payment processor. Sharetribe has negotiated a deal with PayPal that allows marketplace administrators to easily start using online payments in their marketplace.

The open source version has the same source code as the hosted version, but due to the agreement with PayPal, using the PayPal integration is not possible with the open source version. If an online payment system is important for your project with the open-source version, you should consider integrating the payment gateway of your choice. This requires technical knowledge.


The price of the hosted version depends on your needs. You can browse the available plans on the Sharetribe pricing page.

We don't charge you for using the open source version. It's available as a free download. However, you will need to arrange the initial setup, hosting and maintenance yourself. This could easily cost more than the price of our hosted version. Dan Moore, a user and an active contributor to the Sharetribe open-source version, detailed the associated costs in a blog post.

If you wish to customize the open source version and add new features to it, the cost can go up rather quickly, and easily be in tens of thousands of dollars. The good folks over at web development company RubyGarage have put together a detailed article that helps you estimate the costs of custom development.

Intended audience

The hosted version has been designed to be very simple to set up and get started, and outsources technical administrative tasks to the Sharetribe team, letting you focus on building your marketplace and not worry about technical details. It requires very little technical knowledge. It is possible to migrate from the hosted version to the open source version at any point. We recommend getting started with the hosted version to launch your marketplace early and start learning.

Setting up the open source version requires strong technical knowledge, making it suitable for people who are comfortable with running their own Ruby on Rails server, or have someone who can take care of the technical work on their behalf.

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