What a year!!!

concrete5-430x314.jpgIt's easy to forget how rough concrete5.org looked a year ago. After a challenging redesign of our own house, we took on some big projects including an enterprise grade internationalization system. Lots of energy went into the interface design just released in 5.5. New hires were made, processes optimized; 2011 was a full and productive year for our group.

Next year is already adding up to look spectacular. I expect to get some large brand names on our home page, add some great new add-ons, add international support to our community, and develop a number of new core features. We're also launching certification which will include some traveling road show training and event excitement. I hope to leave 2012 with our install base in the millions.

Today, the community has grown to the better part of 100k members at concrete5.org, and about 250k unique installs check for updates. Our marketplace is full of add-ons and themes that sell every day. We've seen a nice steady growth all year. Having spent well over 50% of our marketing budget on stickers and t-shirts, we still somehow remain the fastest growing open source CMS listed in the Water&Stone whitepaper for the second year running.

When we first went open source back in 2008, we already had years of experience in the commercial world. Amongst many motivations I had, there was a strong sense that I simply wasn't making the world a better place. Our hope was that concrete5 was so easy to use, it would empower more people to freely communicate on the web. Open communication is a good thing, and it's my view that it could fix the world's problems.

I can tell you my dream is coming true. We are routinely providing support for the widest and weirdest array of websites imaginable. We see the Plain Yogurt theme used over and over again for important websites, and we really only ever intended it to be an example theme. We are amazed by enterprise clients using concrete5 in complex ways to build content driven applications. Some sites we love, some we do not, but it's clear we've delivered a meaningful tool to the world. It is such a joy to see it used in new ways to share unique ideas.

Business wonks have always pressed me for decisive answers on who our target market is. "Be a CMS for dentists, or designers,… or someone!" they tell me. I've always thought of us as more of a screwdriver; used across all verticals. The huge allure of Open Source to me has always been that chance to have your product become ubiquitous.

Three and a half years after our "lets try open source" experiment started, I can tell you it is certainly not easy. Nor is it cheap. You do have some tremendous power in the crowd, much of which we're still learning how to focus and benefit from. I can't say it is for every person, or type of business, but it has been wonderful for me.

Thank you so much to everyone who has used concrete5, you're all part of our open source family and have made the product and project better by your use alone. To everyone who has taken the extra time to help one another in the forums, submit code, write docs, add-ons, theme - and of course promote the project to everyone you know. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Lets have the absolute best of new years and make 2012 one for the history books!