Lack of loyalty within the Concrete5 developer community.3 users found helpful
I am a great fan of Concrete5 but since all the updates it seems that there are less developers and some are just abandoning their themes and add-ons. There also are less themes then in the early versions of C5 like 5.6. It feels like there is no continuity and loyalty within the Concrete5 community for maybe obvious reasons. This is becoming a bigger problem compared to other options like WP. I don't like WP but for e-commerce I use it together with Woocommerce. But a none e-commerce site I prefer Concrete5. The lack of loyalty makes me uncomfortable and more and more feels like I have to shift to WP especially with great themes like a low cost theme like DIVI.
Unfortunately I am not a developer of themes and focus on marketing and communication and I am depending on contributions of developers and willing to pay for that.
What is the team of Concrete5 doing about this and why nobody cleans up the themes and add-ons that are abandoned?
Dead links to demos and developer websites are becoming a serious threat to concrete5 n my opinion.
In concrete5 there are themes I bought, and support literally vanished within weeks, because the developers decided to abandon their work.
Since you mention WP - when you buy a theme or add on you usually get 1 year of free support, and you can then buy extended support for a reasonable fee.
I understand that supporting things takes up time, therefore I think this is a very fair model.
Something similar should be introduced to concrete5. That way it would become more rewarding for developers to support their legacy themes and add ons, which are still widely used. I'd happily pay for this, every year.
But in the end, I don't think it's really ever enforced. Personally when someone comes to me with a problem 6 months or a year after buying one of my addons what happens can vary:
1- the problem is due to an update I pushed. Then I offer a solution as part of the free support package.
2- the fix is trivial and takes me 2 seconds and one line to explain then I don't bother asking for payment and just do it for free (I occasionally ask for a review if possible but leave it at the user's discretion)
3- the fix is not trivial then I explain that I'll be happy to do it for a fee which is usually quite low. Each and every time I said that I never heard from the user again. Not to bargain, not to complain, not to say yes or call me names. Just disappeared.
I agree a business model like many WP plugins use would be great. You buy the plugin with a year of updates + support and then you can renew each year for a discounted price.
But the key word here is updates. Why would anyone pay for a year of support or more for anything other than big plugins like ecommerce or stuff like that?
Paying for updates makes sense, paying for support, not always.
Is it new? I admit, I have stayed away from c5.7 as much as I could.
c5.6 i am pretty sure there was no paid support option offered to me ever
Again, nobody ever has decided it was a good idea for any of my packages.
And no I don't suck at support, I am often praised for awesome support :)
I'm totally in for doing something like this, don't get me wrong. It's bad if stuff breaks, or demos are dead or whatever. But sometimes I guess one is not aware or just has other stuff going on. The WordPress scene is way bigger indeed, but the WP plugins are mostly the cause of the hacks and a danger to your WP site.
Most of all I don't see that much new themes. Where in 5.6 there were regularly surprises with new themes, it looks now that since 5.7 the spirit is gone. I am not sure but it looks to me as if the big changes and updates scared away a lot of developers. Concrete5 is still my favourite platform to work with but if this is the trend it is the beginning of the end.
The logic is also less users less possibility to sell a theme or add/on. The less themes/add-ons the less new users or prospects that would like to use the platform. As for WP, I don't like it much, there is no consistency in solutions and the quality of add-ons is sometimes a nightmare. But at least there are possibilities to try an add-on for free and buy in to a pro version. I don't have the answers to everything I only share my observations and I have the feeling that the team of C5 is to much focused on the technical solutions and not so much on extending their base of users.
I find myself agreeing with everything you have said especially the bit about the 'Spirit' being gone since 5.7.
I recall when the version was 5.4 that the forum was 'alive' with activity from users and developers.
Now it seems almost 'dead' by comparison.
Many marketplace addons and themes are spin-offs from customer projects, where the project has covered development for a specific application and the developer then puts in a bit more work to generalise and toughen up for the marketplace.
With all the ongoing API changes, the work needed to get an addon or theme into the marketplace has increased, both for developers and reviewers. We need to ensure any new submission conforms to the latest, or it will break sooner. The work needed to keep an addon current with the latest c5 core has also increased as the core changes. The easy forward compatibility of c5.4/5.5/5.6 has long gone. Us developers complained about breaking core changes between c5.4 and c5.5 back then, but didn't realise how trivial they were in comparison to what happens regularly now.
Save for a few big sellers, marketplace sales volumes are small compared to what they were a few years ago, and even back then only a few items actually covered the developers' costs. With most addons and themes, if they were developed just for the marketplace, both price and sales volume would need to be an order of magnitude higher. But would 10 times as many sites pay $150 for an image slider?
So these days doing anything for the marketplace requires a lot of community dedication, or a naivety about making your money back. There are also developers that place items in the marketplace for convenience of supporting their own sites rather than any expectation of sales (but they still need to meet marketplace requirements).
Inevitably, over time, core changes and changes of personal circumstance, some developers just cant afford to keep on subsidising the web sites of others, which is what 90% of marketplace development ends up as. Hence the abandoned addons and themes.
Once something is abandoned, we have a choice. Take it out of the marketplace, and some existing users will be upset by its disappearance. Leave it in the marketplace, and it will attract new users who then become disappointed. The current best idea is to leave it in the marketplace, but remove its approval status and mark it black/bleeding edge. So its there, but buyers are warned.
We can only do that if those buying/downloading addons that have become buggy and are unsupported make it well known. Leave 1* reviews. Post on the forums. PM a member of the PRB. If any addon or theme gets enough bad reports, we can do something about it. But only if users let us know!
If it's the case that development becomes more difficult instead of less difficult, over time, then this could explain much.
It took a while, but I learned how to develop with 5.7+. It was especially difficult, though, due to the lack of documentation that was available upon the 5.7 release. I believe this was a contributing factor to why so many devs left.
But... I am a FIRM believer in Concrete5! I am now employed full-time (for about a year now), and I am rebuilding all my employer's sites in C5! Due to more limited availability, I have made most of my addons and themes available for free. I do intend to update some of them every once in a while, and I'm actively working on a simple Paypal product package for the marketplace (C5 could use more ecommerce addons).
I do find the lack of themes disturbing. I'm planning a couple themes myself, and I think there needs to be more themes for specific industries.
If developers no longer wish to support their items, making them available for free is the best idea, as this could at least encourage more new C5 users.
When a developer has 'gone away', I am not convinced free and unsupported is a good solution.
Free -> more will use it. Unsupported -> greater volume of issues as the core evolves, and all those 'free' users run into them. Hence free & unsupported could actually increase the number of sites having issues with marketplace addons/themes.
If we were to rebuild the marketplace, what should be different about the approach?
With respect to this thread, implement some indicator of when the developer was last active, average response time, days of no-response support requests, aggregated across all of a developer's addons.
Display the result in a banner across the top of every addon/theme. Either as data, or turned into a 'developer support rating' that ranges from Excellent....OK, but sometimes a bit slow....Unsupported.
If an individual addon has too many pending support requests, automatically make it unapproved/black.
The core of the issue seems to be the business model for developers is not sustainable.
If it were, a lot of these problems would disappear.
I am very happy with the input so far and saw some great ideas. But I also would like to know what the experience is of developers and if they have any answers why it seems that there is a trend of less innovation for 5.7 and up. If they see a future in 5.8 where I think most of do or that they rather like to take a shot on other platforms because of more possibilities to generate income.
As for the income, if you go to WordPress for generating income - good luck. Everything is free and people want free. There are "Pro" versions for plugins, true, but you'd have to make a damn good plugin and get the people to use it before they actually buy your paid "Pro" version of it.
I generally make my Add-Ons to be compatible with as much versions as possible, to stay out of trouble when buyers have a wide range of versions. Also comes in handy when own clients don't update their CMS - and there are a lot. I can imagine not everyone can put as much effort into doing this, since they probably only do it for sales and not for clients too. It would be more of a hobby with a little extra on your plate at the end of the month - so to speak.
For developers maybe an API to hook into as well, to retrieve the sales (or make a page with stats/graphs/pie charts etc. etc.).
I think the WordPress "Plugin" pages are quite neat. I'm not loving WordPress itself, but hey, we don't need to right?
Looking forward to the "something bigger" part you're talking about!
In the past there was one place to go for Concrete5 info and support, Concrete5.org. Now things are splintered all over the place and there is no one good place to turn. The Forums where once a beehive of activity where you could count on getting answers from developers, the C5 Team and other end users, today not so much.
I think to build the Community back to where it was a few years ago would be a good thing for Concrete5 and would stimulate Marketplace development, sales and support.
I've been with C5 since 5.6 if not earlier. IMO v8 is the best in terms of ease and understanding of how c5 works. v7 and below were a real nightmare for me. What bugs me is pretty big core changes within v8, for example 8.2 to 8.3 which make all my customized blocks broken. It takes a lot of effort to make changes. The 2nd issue, which should be the 1st actually, it's incomplete and wrong documentation. So, combination of bad documentation, lack of support on Forum/Slack/Stackoverflow makes me weigh the pros and cons of staying with c5 every time I start a new site. So far though I did not find anything better overall than C5.8.3. Everything else may better/easier/faster/cheaper in some areas, but overall nothing beats the C5. IMO. Well, OpenCart does for a shop, but hopefully the CommunityStore will be as good soon.
I've recently developed a few add-ons. I've been developing one of them for over 5 years! Simply because of the core changes I couldn't keep up with. But I don't expect to earn money from C5 to live on. So I'll just keep developing because I can afford it and I like it. Unfortunately the market share seems to be dropping. People DO REALLY want everything free these days.
I want to suggest to drop the low limit for add-ons to, say, $6, no discount, limited support. Want more support, make it $15. I don't want to give away mine for free, but I'm ok with such little award. Maybe someone else want to as well. And maybe that will be a smaller plank for the designers to overcome.
(And I realise that this is a minor issue overall.)
Even though we have one of the best selling themes (Fundamental) in the marketplace, we are now really struggling to make it a viable income stream.
As most devs have found over the years, trying to keep all of our themes & add-ons up to date with every major version, that come with breaking changes is often a loosing battle.
Just under our c5Hub brand, we've got 15 products. With the drop in sales as steep as they have been recently, the motivation to find the time and justify the sunken costs, just to maintain and support our products is very difficult. Especially themes and add-ons that are not as well used or known.
Ultimately, I think there just isn't the community base there once was and in turn not enough users to keep most developers interested in maintaining their existing products or indeed to develop new ones.
I love developing concrete5 themes and add-ons but it's not a good use of my time when there aren't any users whom are going be interested. Everyones got to pay the bills, so they have to utilise their time in the best way - currently that doesn't seem to be on concrete5.
I'm more or less seeing the same thing for sales, so it's a general thing then I guess (not just you or me). If this stays this way, we get an even smaller marketplace I assume...
I am very grateful for what the team of C5 created but they should focus more on getting this platform out there. There is to much focus on the technical side of C5 but in my opinion not so much in attracting new users.
Did anybody ever see an ad for C5 on let's say Facebook? Where I, on a regular basis, see a lot of WP related advertising.
My fear is that if the tide is not turned C5 will disappear in oblivion. I am very reluctant even kind of refuse to turn to WP, though I work with WP for E-commerce because I have a bad history with the older e-commerce add-on of C5.
Maybe we as users and developers should plea and team-up with the C5 team but also together come up with a strategy to get C5 out there. It would be a great loss if C5 stops to exist.
I would like to know what others think?
I emphatically agree. More generally, the volunteers need to work with the core team much more closely on a lot of things (documentation, bug reporting, etc). Alas, many volunteers are unwilling/unable to put much time into it. Furthermore, the core team seems unwilling to facilitate/empower the volunteers.
but admittedly as an afterthought.
Audience size has diminished - or at least it feels like that. Concrete5 isn't well marketed IMO and content management in general now feels fairly well done - the space is overcrowded.
Also, some of the USPs of C5 (e.g. in context editing) are now also available in other systems.
Yes, the technical bar is now higher, but that's not the real story. It's not that developers can't get there, just that they have to speculate many more hours of development in the hope of a return from the marketplace. It's a gamble, and many have concluded it is not a good one.
In particular theming is now crazy complicated. If you've ever seen Andrew Embler's original video where he converts a HTML theme to a concrete5 theme in a matter of minutes you'll appreciate the step change!
Broken upgrade paths have not helped either.
But all of that to one side - crack the marketing of @concrete5 and you crack much of the problem.
I'll be watching out for the announcement Franz alluded to.
That said, advertising efforts in the past have worked for C5. So, being pro-active in getting the word out will definitely help.
I am trying to do my part in this. I built a CMS directory site with C5, and I have C5 set in the spotlight:http://www.cmsguide.info
Part of what I do is SEM and SEO, so I understand the marketing funnel. I believe that getting conversions could currently be the biggest problem for C5 right now. Perhaps better splash pages with better call to actions could help encourage more potential developers to use C5.
Marketing and exposure is what C5 needs a lot more of right now.
I too, noticed a huge drop in the number of supported themes and add-ons with the switch and just finished upgrading our last website to the new platform just recently.
I've bought stuff from people in this thread and the support has always been excellent.
I don't see sebastian in here, he always had great themes too but if they were over my head I couldn't understand his english well enough to get things sorted.
C5 CMS is super-friendly to my clients that need simplicity and great for SEO. I hated the buig overhaul as much as anyone else and passed on upgrading any of the websites for over a year until 8 came out because there were so few themes and/or add-ons to purchase.
Someone mentioned ProBlog. That was an outstanding add-on and now there are only a couple blogging add-ons to choose from.
There's no project support anymore and searching for answers in the forums doesn't work very well. My latest for-instance was for an add-on I purchased today called Call Me.
I recently moved a website over to a new URL after dis-connecting all the licenses and uploading everything to the new URL and re-connecting the licenses and to the C5 community I discovered that my project page is now wrong.
The Call ME add-on I assigned to the page doesn't show up but all the other add-ons prior to the move do.
The project page link from the current domain goes to the old project but looking in the forums none of the keywords seem find anything useful and any of the ones that are close date back to the legacy version.
Someone said this could be the beginning of the end. I sure hope not, WP is horrible and it only gets worse. LOL.
I just don't want this to end. It became such a great platform. It looks much more stable now. But missing out in themes and add-ons is a killer.
Any ideas how to connect to all that want to move forward? Any ideas?
1) An "advanced" marketplace section, where i can get advanced, reliable, well tested and feature-rich add-ons, actively maintained by a team (!), that guarantees compatibility with the current C5 version and also backwards compatibility to explicitly defined C5 versions. Prices for these add-ons should be a lot higher. Good documentation and support should be provided. Extended paid support should also be offered by that team. Additionally to reporting bugs and asking for help, it should also be possible to suggest and discuss new features. Major updates should not be free, but come with a cost.
2) A "default" marketplace section, pretty much how it is right now.
3) A "free" marketplace section.
I just think it would be great to have a "premium" add-on section, with characteristics as described above.
But that model only works with sufficient users.
But to be honest I see the marketplace as a secondary problem. C5 has to get be marketed and spread otherwise no developers feel the urge to create add-ons and themes. Without a large user base it's all useless.
I know it's also a bit the egg and chicken story what comes first. But think that marketing now is the main target for C5.
While this seems like a criticism of Portland Labs, it really isn't. They don't have the resources to do everything, and have chosen to focus on what they do best, and what it's ultimately all about: code. Very few of us can do what they do. This basically means that the rest of us have to pick up the other tasks—as you've already concluded.
Obviously, this can only happen with a bit of co-ordination between Portland Labs and the rest of the developer community. Unfortunately, this is proving hard to achieve, with difficulties posed by both sides: Portland is rather uncommunicative and dog-in-the-manger, whereas we're disorganised and unproductive.
I also professionally use Drupal 7 & 8 and Wordpress. Drupal 8 is more for enterprise level websites that are going to have hundreds maybe thousands of pages and it overkill for many of my clients. Wordpress to me is just crap. I've used Divi Page builder plugin and it was cumbersome and resource heavy. Also with so many plugin for WP (good and bad) I feel that your site can easily get bogged down quickly. Also building custom templates in Wordpress is much harder to me then building templates in C5.
I think it up to us the developer that believe in C5 as a product for our clients to really create a thriving community and support. In the slack group I see many people asking questions and getting help in a timely manor. For developers that do not support there plugin or leave the community all together there are many reason for that. But I would rather focus on the great people that are in this community and grow C5 a better alternative to Wordpress.
P.S. I hope this is not the beginning of the end concrete5, but I have been keeping my ears to the streets and been hearing good things about Craft CMS http://craftcms.com.
Than rather C5, WP, Drup.