Competition, Ethics, and Add-ons


EllisLab is committed to making ExpressionEngine the best content management platform available. Today’s developer preview for ExpressionEngine 2.7 includes a feature that was previously only available through the third-party add-on market: a fieldtype that allows authors to used grouped fieldtypes to publish any number of rows of related content within an entry. We’re calling it Grid, and it’s great for photo galleries, addresses, product details, baseball statistics and more. We thought it would be beneficial to provide some insight into this decision, as well as answer some pertinent questions about the third-party market for ExpressionEngine in general.

Grid field example

One of our primary goals with ExpressionEngine 2 was to create a true platform, enabling a robust and diverse add-on ecosystem. This often left us taking a hands-off approach to features that were made available and well-executed by third-parties, even when the feature was something we wanted to build or already had a base for in the core product. In this way we helped create opportunities for third-party developers to succeed: if a third-party’s solution is widely adopted and well-supported, ExpressionEngine ostensibly has that feature.

It’s no secret that a prominent developer in the ExpressionEngine add-on community decided to release their own publishing system, intending to compete directly against ExpressionEngine. What surprised us about this was not that it happened, but the way that it happened. A formerly friendly developer unveiled a competing product behind closed doors at our own conference, and tried to convince the organizers to let him use the A/V equipment that we were paying for to do it the ExpressionEngine conference.

Competition is both expected and vital for innovation, and it is a good thing for consumers. There are some nuances to this situation that make it unique from competing with Drupal, Wordpress, or Joomla. Pixel & Tonic did not just set up shop across the street from us. We invited Pixel & Tonic to sell flavored syrups to our customers inside our own coffee shop. We left a few syrups off our menu because the friendly business in the corner was providing them. But then they began telling our customers that the coffee at their new shop was better - certainly their prerogative, but we would be irresponsible to ignore it.

So quite simply, we are putting those flavors back on our menu. Our customers do not have to worry whether or not Pixel & Tonic can develop and support something as complex as a publishing platform and still maintain the time and interest required to continue offering and supporting add-ons for a competitor’s product. It is a sincere and realistic concern that many of you have shared with us. And for those of you who relied on both Playa and Matrix regularly, your per-site software licensing costs will decrease by $120.

Additionally, our third-party development community (including Pixel & Tonic for that matter) does not have to worry that we will attempt to legally prohibit anyone from duplicating, improving, or modifying functionality that we decide to build into ExpressionEngine. If we are concerned about a third-party providing native functionality better than we have, it’s our responsibility to improve what we offer, not legally bar that developer from making his or her own improvements.

Ironically, the license agreement currently in place for Pixel & Tonic’s CMS explicitly forbids the type of add-ons that enabled Brandon Kelly to build his company within our community. Wygwam, Playa, Matrix, Assets, none of those could have existed if EllisLab took a similar view of third-party development for ExpressionEngine. Nor would User, Membrr, Zenbu, Wyvern, Expresso, Photo Frame, Updater, Low Search, CE Cache, and countless other add-ons that are intended to either improve or replace native ExpressionEngine features.

Two things we’d like you to take away from this. First, we are committed to ensuring that our customers (and most importantly the end users) that rely on our platform will not get caught in a lurch, relying on functionality from a company that has a conflict of interest in our users’ ability to succeed with ExpressionEngine.

And second, we are committed to making ExpressionEngine the best content management platform available. Some features should be available out of the box. We will build those features, and will not intentionally avoid them simply because a third-party has made similar functionality available. At the same time, we will continue to make our code extensible and invite add-on developers to do their own thing. Your approach at solving the same problem may be different and wonderful. We will help you make that work with our application, and continue to write our code in such a way that invites third-party developers into our community, fostering a spirit that encourages a diversity of solutions and feature sets for ExpressionEngine users to choose from.

I had a recent conversation with Brandon Kelly and discovered we were misled about the attempted use of equipment for his presentation, and extended our apologies.

Comments & Feedback

  1. “And second, we are committed to making ExpressionEngine the best content management platform available. Some features should be available out of the box. We will build those features, and will not intentionally avoid them simply because a third-party has made similar functionality available.”

    Welcome back EE!

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  2. Excited to see competition lighting fires under your coding fingers!

    With that said, I’d prefer to see things which don’t currently exist in the core happen first. For example a responsive control panel would be nice. This is something which you will need to add to be the “best content management platform available” anyway. You already had Matrix and Playa as part of your “family” to claim as yours if you ask me.

    Also, I guess I’m wondering if P&T buys out Solspace or DevDemon buys out P&T (or what ever) will we then be able to count on not having to pay for those add-ons as well? These are all hypotheticals of course but, now it’s got me wondering.

    The hypotheticals about whether or not P&T can or will still provide great support to their paying EE add-on clients have, for me anyway, been put to rest after experiencing some of the best support I’ve ever experienced anywhere. I’m not sure how this became your problem by the way?

    I ask myself how any of this makes sense? I feel you are just confusing an already confusing situation for us the community. Rather for me, at least, I’ll let the community speak for themselves on this.

    I’m not sure you are taking the high road here. Labeling the low road as “competition” is still just that, the low road.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I like paying less money and like that my clients will pay less too; especially if what you are adding into core is better than what the 3rd party devs are offering. Free is free and who doesn’t love free?

    And I don’t disagree with you about the fact that Brandon couldn’t wait till after the conference (the real after.) I’d be upset about that as well, I’m sure but, I question, once you’ve completed all the P&T offerings (Assets for free please!) what will EL move on to then?

    How will any of this end good, seriously?

    Picture of Natetronn


  3. Great job!

    Ufortunately for me, this doesn’t progress what we can do with ExpressionEngine in any way. After this release we can make the exact same things with EE as we can today. I save $120, but that’s peanuts. Having stuff like multilanguage support and publish workflow built in would mean that we could deliver much more advanced projects based on EE - actually increasing the value of your product. Also, having a proper API for addons would make it possible to extend the CMS without it breaking every time there is a new update.

    So, I hope in the future you will focus your efforts towards more important things, instead of filling in gaps that isn’t there.


    Picture of aelvan


  4. Thank you Ellislab, I’m looking forward to using the new Grid field already! If it’s the same calibre as the recent improvement to the Relationship field type then we have a winner, and a $120 project saving.

    Keep it up!

    Picture of Rob (bluedreamer)

    Rob (bluedreamer)

  5. I see a lot of difference between an addon that fill a need of some client or developer and another one that correct a problem.

    The 2nd type doesn’t need to be respect. The absence of WYSIWYG editor and of a gallery solution were huge problems of EECMS. Solspace Calendar and Favorites, MadeByHippo’s Adman, Zenbu and Hokoku, per example, should never be part of the core.

    Picture of Robson Sobral

    Robson Sobral

  6. Personally, I think the most frustrating thing through all of this is the desire for so many of us to have a better product, to be able to do things easier and more quickly.

    By taking months maybe even years of your development time to duplicate features that we have had in excellent add-ons for 3-4 years is so frustrating when there are ways that only you can make the product better. (See Nathan Pitman’s discussion with one of the Ellis Lab team -

    The reason we gladly pay for P&T’s addons is because they are frankly better. Assets > File. Wygwam > RTE. Playa > Relationships. They are better because they fit in splendidly into the control panel and feel like a first-party product. There are lots of other addons you could have duplicated and improved upon that to this day feel tacked on… for example, every single add-on for Member management in the front and back end.

    I’ve used ExpressionEngine since 2007 but the day I first used Craft made me feel like the first day that I used the iPhone…it’s really quite ahead of where EE is today and in 2.7. I want EllisLab to get out there and blow me away, but going back to EE 2.3 in October 2011, there has really been little innovation. (A quick skim of the change log reveals these biggest new features: EE 2.3 had new pagination tags, EE 2.4 gave an Edit dropdown menu, EE 2.5 gave us the inferior RTE and the cookie module, EE 2.6 gave us the relationship field).

    EllisLab, blow me away…“Make”...let the third parties be themselves and help them make what they want. But you guys should do the the things that they can’t, not the things they’ve done 4 years ago.

    Picture of Jonathan McGaha

    Jonathan McGaha

  7. Community: “You never answer my support requests.”

    Ellis Lab: “Ok I changed how this works I will answer you fast now, sorry we have grown a lot.”

    Community: “How could you abandon us in this forum? And now we have to pay? AND for all these add-ons? Put these in the core everyone uses them.”

    Ellis Lab: “ok ok I put them in the core now.”

    Community: “Stop reinventing the wheel, you should focus on other stuff and make IT better, provide solutions actual problems.”

    HA! ExpressionEngine is a tough job apparently, but I guess someone has to do it.

    Not assuming that is everyone in the community. I follow what’s going on, read the blog posts, follow developers, went to one of the EECI conferences, have built over 30 EE sites, custom add ons for specific site solutions, etc… But I don’t consider myself part of the in crowd or anything. I don’t know anyone at EllisLab, not out to make new friends, and I don’t really care. I use ExpressionEngine to maximize profits, turnaround sites faster, provide the lowest learning curve for clients, and it enables me to accomplish more on my own. That is probably what EllisLab wants to do for people. The happy customers or the developers that don’t get their panties in a wad after every blog post that announces a change usually don’t say anything because, I don’t know, we usually don’t have time. But I am sure a lot of them exist, EllisLab should know that.

    I know the issues aren’t simple and I am aware that every one of EE’s customers is not the same. If people didn’t give feedback the product wouldn’t improve like it does. But EE isn’t perfect, nor is EllisLab (or anyone). Some of you are like the guy on the couch yelling at the quarterback for being so stupid, how could he not just throw a touchdown every play. EllisLab all of a sudden owes you something, and needs to impress you again.

    If EE doesn’t do it for you use something else. Let’s focus on our clients, making money, maybe be a little more grateful, make criticism a little more constructive, and give em a frikkin break.

    Picture of mattgreen110


  8. Ditto most of what mattgreen110 said (but happy to make new friends). Really glad to hear about Grid! And hoping that Relationships work as cell/column types as well.

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  9. aw shucks I love friends. forget the friends part!

    Picture of mattgreen110


  10. Grid looks really nice.  Does it work with Members or Categories?

    Picture of Ben Parizek

    Ben Parizek

  11. You have spoken EE and you have been heard, now it’s time to get it done!

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  12. While others wonder why Ellis Labs picks on Pixel & Tonic, it’s clear that it’s a necessary business decision. So far they haven’t the level of fine-grain control P&Ts; stuff does, so I’ll stick with them, but honestly - would you expect a company to let a competitor hold the keys to their most-powerful, most-essential plugins? They’re not replacing everyone’s plug-ins; they’re replacing those from an insider who became a competitor.

    If P&T every decides to change their mind and leave, there would be some massive holes in the EE ecosystem to fill - better to do it now, create a firmer foundation and get the pain out of the way, and then develop new and better tools. They’re already cleaning up a lot of the old, dead code, making it faster with each release and now adding tools that they *never* should have abandoned to a third-party.

    I think most EE devs have an emotional attachment to Brandon and P&T - I do too; they have great tools and great service and I’ll continue to buy their plugins well into the foreseeable future. Alas, this is also “business”, and the “friend” has become a “foe”...we can’t ignore this.

    This move from Ellis Lab shows their commitment to the platform, over and above gentleman’s agreements and soft boundaries. I think this will make both sides work harder for our allegiance and, likely, make both platforms better tools. 

    As a consumer of both, I’m good with this.

    Picture of HilversumJim


  13. Thing is - the coffee at the other shop is better!

    Picture of leeaston


  14. Subjective arguments don’t hold sway - everyone had a different reason to use a certain tool.

    Picture of HilversumJim


  15. I for one would like to hear Brandon’s reply to this. I’ve used ExpressionEngine for years, I know that some parts of the core from ee1 over to ee2 were directly because of Brandon’s efforts and addons. Did Pixel & Tonic approach Craft’s announcement for spite and an underhanded slap at Ellis Lab, or was it because he knew that this community would benefit from the new available platform when EE did not seem to be the right fit for that particular project?

    I’m all for making the core more powerful and spending less money and getting more, but without knowing the full story of how this “attack” came about, frankly this post seems a bit too much of a personal attack against Brandon and Pixel & Tonic to sit right with me.

    I’ve spoken with former Ellis Lab employees over the past few months because of lots of things that have been going on i.e.: Lots of staff members no longer with the company, Statamic, Craft, Significant changes to the EL company, law suit with Engine Hosting, yada yada yada. The general feeling i’ve gotten from these former employees is that they are HAPPY Craft has come about. Not because they want to see ExpressionEngine fail, not that at all they want it to continue to grow and improve, but because competition is GOOD, it helps keep everybody moving forward. Lets not pretend EllisLab is perfect here, the community created it’s own support channel because EL was dropping the ball in a VERY BIG way, the reactor team was formed (and made some awesome patches), community members began patching bugs in the system because EL neglected many for WAY longer than they should have. I could go on.

    I really enjoy working in ExpressionEngine, and from what i’ve seen so far in sites i’ve built in Craft, I like it too. Craft does many things better than EE ever has. EE also still does things Craft can’t even begin to do particularly when comparing the add-ons available for both platforms, ecommerce anyone? Lets not point fingers and say we’re taking the high road. Lets rather say this is our platform, X company made an add-on for it and it was great, we’ve now decided to include a similar feature in the core. If your feature is better than the third party alternative, that is what we will use. If it falls short, like some other features that have been “added to the core” then the third party add-ons are still going to thrive. EL should focus on making it’s platform the very best it can, not to spite another individual or company, but to better serve it’s customers. If EL feels loyalty to the EE platform is becoming shakey (one of the most loyal and supportive communities at one point) it should not be pointing the finger and assigning blame externally, it should look internally and say, what are we doing wrong, what could we be doing better, and focus THERE. Make your product the best, and people will use it. Let it stagnate and it will die.

    Craft is becoming successful, not because they announced at the EL conference. It’s becoming successful because it fills a void. The same people that learned about it there, would have learned about it elsewhere, the EE community is fairly social. Twitter, Google+, etc.

    ExpressionEngine is the CMS i’ve worked in more than probably any other PHP based platform in my entire career. I like it. I always have. Keep making it better, make sure it address all the problems it’s competitors address, better, and you’ll never have a problem.

    Picture of chealey


  16. EllisLab wants to make sure important fieldtypes are included in the core because they feel it is important for them to be in control of such features (wysiwyg, relationships, grids)? Fine by me! That’s a sound business move that I and a lot of others can understand, no need to get this personal about it on a corporate blog. To me, the fact that P&T recently became competitors in the CMS space has little to do with this.

    At the end of the day, fieldtypes are just fieldtypes and if we as users have the choice between first and third party alternatives, that’s better for everybody. EllisLab controls the first party options and add-on devs will still sell theirs if they provide features not existing in the out of the box offering and when projects demand these features. For example, I am glad I have wygwam, expresso and editor available when the native RTE doesn’t cut it.

    EE is a solid platform/framework, mainly because of its flexibility, which FieldFrame and add-ons (P&T and others) played a big part in. I’ve been using EE for years and will continue do so when it best serves the interests and objectives of the project at hand.

    What I would like to see next is EllisLab directing its energy and resources at making ExpressionEngine fit better with that platform/framework orientation: bug fixing and code optimisation, better control panel UI and customisation, members custom fields and member management tools, workflow management, front-end CRUD API, better template parser, etc.

    The more competition, innovation and relentless focus on what make your particular product great, the better off we all are.

    Picture of jeromecoupe


  17. I have no issue with this decision from a business perspective, but the pious tone, and utter lack of self awareness really grates. Some basic facts and clarification:

    ExpressionEngine owes much of its success to third-party add-on devs. While EllisLab has repeatedly failed to release high-quality, bug-free updates to EE over the last few years, the quality of third-party add-ons has continued to improve, to the point where many greatly outshine EE itself.

    > So quite simply, we are putting those flavors back on our menu

    You can’t: those flavours were never on the menu to begin with.

    > Ironically, the license agreement currently in place for Pixel & Tonic’s
    > CMS explicitly forbids the type of add-ons that enabled Brandon Kelly
    > to build his company within our community. Wygwam, Playa, Matrix,
    > Assets, none of those could have existed if EllisLab took a similar view
    > of third-party development for ExpressionEngine.”

    I’m certainly not keen on the terms you refer to, but you’ve overplayed your hand here, and it just comes across as FUD. Which part of EE’s core functionality was Matrix replacing? Or Wygwam, for that matter? And are you really suggesting that the Relationships module (as it stood at the time of Playa’s release) was comparable to Playa?

    If this was a professional business decision, that’s fine, and it should be communicated as such. This article just comes across as whining, self-righteous, and at times deluded.


    Picture of Stephen Lewis

    Stephen Lewis

  18. Seriously? Sweeping aside the very childish tone to this post, *this* is how you choose to spend your development time on EE?

    Of all the things that need done you choose to spend time developing functionality that already exists? Given the lack of polish and plethora of bugs that arrive with your releases it’s highly doubtful I’ll be in any rush to replace P&T add-ons with your new core alternatives.

    This leaves a pretty bitter taste in my mouth.

    Picture of Steve Abraham

    Steve Abraham

  19. A humble sidenote from EE user that doesnt really want to even look at the hooks or anything. From a User that has been using EE and a lot of 3rd party add-ons in the past years.

    I do not follow the tweets, i simply follow only updates, bug tracker and try to build my site in the level that it should have been in year 2009 or so. With no success yet. I do have bought recently variety of very usefull add-ons that i keep important for my site’s future with over 2000 active national users atm. and very good Forum spirit.

    So, back then, when we got EE2.0 i had to drop the idea of how i handle galleries, and thank god i did drop it then, because there hasnt been anything about the promised patch from EE1.x to 2.x when it comes/came to old gallery module.

    I have been waiting and waiting that something happens to Forum Module, i mean i really have been waiting - nothing and I am still waiting.

    I have been waiting for better handling to member side - still template system is way too a part from powerful CMS based usage. Too many templates, too “hard” to make member side easy to handle, or styling it.

    I have always tried to upgrade instantly the core or EE when new versions has published,  because the common reply in old community support was “what version you are running, do you have the latest”.

    But in the long run, i have “forced” to open my wallet and go elsewhere to get the Features that was asked back then, many times in many ways, still nothing came up. And for that reason my EE installation is more or less full of add-ons and that makes the buggy upgrading even worse.

    I have nothing against anyone or anything but in the past 2 years the upgrading has started to be a nightmare mainly because usually new version has bought more critical bugs with it, than the older version had. And now i have set of add-ons so i need to wait that it’s “safe” to run the basic upgrade.

    What I, as a non-developer user hope, is that new EE versions, when they come out, are solid and as bug free as they just can be. I hope that EL takes the time to bring Features that are not sold by 3rd party dev’s, i hope…no, i expect that EL finally do something it its Forum Module and to it’s Member part of the CMS. Forum Module, even if it is not so popular, is after all, a product that EL is selling but c’mon - i have used if from 2007 and it is still the same as it was back then, really.

    I do hope that the competition, or something gives to EL the extra fuel to light EE into new shine but what i fear, is that EL has so few hands doing that?

    Anyway, is this the beginning of better road for EE, i really hope so.

    Picture of Riverboy


  20. This worries me.
    1) There’s a lot of negativity around the brand at the moment and it’s not being managed well - this post is a good example. At what point will I recommend EE to a potential client and lose their business because of it, irrespective of how good a platform it is?
    2) I can’t help thinking successful addon makers will be hesitant in becoming too reliant on EE as a revenue stream now this gentleman’s agreement is gone.
    3) Are these new fieldtypes the reason why we still have problems with the RTE?

    Picture of Clive Portman

    Clive Portman

  21. The big difference with addon creators is that they keep on developing their addons, every, single, day. So we can keep on expecting improvements, new features and bug fixes for them, all the time.

    This “Grid” field, sounds great. But it should’ve been in there years ago. So, all it takes is some developer to be “unfaithful”, for EL to get out of their caves?

    The core EE modules, well, most of them: are extremely basic or outdated. Good example of this is “Mailing Lists”. Everybody needs it, yet it’s still exactly the same as in EE1. So if you want to do anything with mailinglists in EE, you have to go to FireMail, CampaignMonitor or MailChimp.

    We got used to old, not-so-often-updated, modules.

    REElocate. How essential is this?
    You want a decent CP skin? Get rid of the default one.
    You want to import some data? Better buy that module.

    Maybe, the most striking example is the Updater module from DevDemon. This little thing is so awesome, and such a big miss by EL.

    I love EE, and personally don’t care about issues with other developers that the company might have rightfully or not rightfully have—I have better things to do, but the truth is that for the first time, I’m starting to look for alternatives.

    The core EE should be simply better maintained and updated/upgraded.

    Picture of Limey


  22. +1 ‘The core EE should be simply better maintained and updated/upgraded.’

    Picture of Clive Portman

    Clive Portman

  23. One last things I’d like to say is that it’s clear that P&T is piggybacking on EE. A mouse that gradually turned into a trojan elephant. The irritation is very understandable, yet insignificant. Mainly because of the reason that their CMS not mature yet, ironnically because it’s missing a whole lot of 3rd party addons. On their website it states that they’re not taking on Consultancy jobs. One could ask, why and how they would make the time for that.

    Is it 100 ethical of what P&T did, or is doing? No.

    Should they’ve been more grateful? Yes.

    Do we care? Not really.

    Most of us pay and use your product to get our bills paid. That’s about it. We have an opinion, and probably most of us are sympathetic and grateful to Brandon—- because, afterall, he saved our asses so many times with his addons.

    But in the end, we don’t really care about these politics. We just want to get our websites made as easy and fun as possible… to get our bills paid.

    Picture of Limey


  24. I dont think there is any chance of EllisLab pursuing any one other than P&T.

    I think P&T developed great extensions that plugged a gap that EE either could not, or by their nature did not intrude upon 3rd party development.
    P&T crossed that line by not only creating a competing product ( which is quite good, but has even more restrictive licensing ) but by using an EE Conference, paid for by Ellis to try and promote. That was bad form Brandon.

    I see a lot of support for P&T here, and on Twatter, but P&T broke the cardinal rule. Don’t try and #### on your own doorstep.

    I’ll use what ever happens to be best for the job, but as all is fair in love and war I’m going to side with Ellislab.

    Picture of Flatulent Badger

    Flatulent Badger

  25. It’s unfortunate to see this public resentment from Ellislab towards a 3rd party business who came up with great ideas and add-ons for ExpressionEngine. By sharing how the company feels towards Pixel and Tonic publicly, is that really going to increase sales and make people feel better about your product?

    Instead of focusing on ExpressionEngine i.e. bug fixes, core features, etc. I see punches being thrown by Ellislab to cut off P&T’s revenue stream. I don’t see how that solves a problem with your product. By voicing this publicly, I do not see how this does anything for your customers, other than you’re upset about having some new competition.

    Picture of Bransin


  26. Ellislab gave P&t a good revenue stream by not duplicating what p&t did.

    P&T released a competing product.

    Ellislab are more than entitled to respond.

    Picture of Flatulent Badger

    Flatulent Badger

  27. @Flatulent Badger

    Ellislab responding - sure. Does Ellislab need to do it in such a way to let the entire community know their resentment by giving coffee shop analogies and bringing up a sound system they didn’t want to share with a new competitor?

    Call me crazy. I get the feeling in the back of my mind that Ellislab is planning a lawsuit over the 2012 EECI sound system ordeal and they want to gather as many community responses.

    Picture of Bransin


  28. @Bransin

    Doubt it.

    Other devs are getting a little worried, which is understandable. This airing of dirty laundry is not the best way to do things.

    I sit very much on the frippery of this community, but P&T methods and tactics were off.

    I would not have written a blog post airing my concerns.

    Picture of Flatulent Badger

    Flatulent Badger

  29. The tail is wagging the dog; ExpressionEngine has become a container for 3rd party add-ons and this is suffocating it. EllisLab has been losing control and recent issues are highlighting this.

    In principle, add-ons that many people would consider to be essential for most projects are better rolled into the core product. A la carte CMS is fine in theory and it has served EL and many add-on devs rather well so far, in fact it has been the making of ExpressionEngine.

    However, this is also ExpressionEngines’s downfall: it’s not just the cost, but the escalating bloat, spiralling db queries, complexity of updates, problems with compatibility and dependency between add-ons from different vendors, and also restrictions on what can change without breaking things.

    So, more functionality in the core is good, but only if:

    1) the implementation is exceptionally good (RTE:fail).
    2) this does not happen at the expense of other essential work which is not already covered by 3rd party add-ons. On this point, there are a number of major issues which seem unlikely to be addressed.

    I don’t think add-on devs have too much to fear.

    As for P&T competing with EL - competition is healthy as most of us agree, and while EL was making little progress improving EE, Brandon got his ass into gear and did something about it. If Craft takes a big dent out of EE, this will happen on merit - the product which doesn’t evolve or fails to deliver, will lose. Darwin.

    So really, EL is doing the right thing boosting core functionality and P&T is entitled to build a rival CMS, to be judged on its own merit.

    The manner in which all this is happening is not so good.

    Picture of guru24


  30. I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to hear Brandon’s reply to this. After reading it all again, and reading all of the comments, I stand by everything else I said and agree with most others in this thread. Ryan Masuga said it very well:

    “If the article had skipped the bashing and simply said “Hey, we finally added this for you!” I think everything would be cool. Alas.”

    But that’s not how it went, instead you put a bad taste in the mouths of MANY long time and very loyal supporters of your community.

    Guru24 also said it quite well:

    “As for P&T competing with EL - competition is healthy as most of us agree, and while EL was making little progress improving EE, Brandon got his ass into gear and did something about it. If Craft takes a big dent out of EE, this will happen on merit - the product which doesn’t evolve or fails to deliver, will lose. Darwin.

    So really, EL is doing the right thing boosting core functionality and P&T is entitled to build a rival CMS, to be judged on its own merit.”

    This all reminds me of something I saw a while back between Jeffrey Zeldman and Ryan Ireland. Zeldman made a public post expressing his “anger” with Ireland over something Ireland had said in one of his blog posts. End result? Respect lost for both of them but mainly Zeldman for his “whining, self-righteous, and at times deluded ~ Stephen Lewis” public outcry, much like this by EL.

    At the end of the day, nobody really cares who is mad at who for what. They care about using the better product for the job. If Craft becomes the better product, that’s because EL screwed the pooch. Your team is more established, has a wider reach, and unless i’m mistaken about the size of the P&T team, significantly larger.

    Craft isn’t the first CMS built by a member of the EE add-on developer community. That should tell you something. Why are people building alternatives platforms? They build them because there are voids that need to be filled, that EL is not appropriately filling.

    Great to hear you’re adding a new field type, it’ll be great to be able to spend less to achieve the same results (assuming Grid is as good as Matrix), but keep the QQ behind closed doors.

    Picture of chealey


  31. The airing of emotional grievances by a corporate entity always frightens me some. Makes me question what’s going on at the top. I don’t want the companies I do business with to sound like they’re in the midst of some High School drama. It seems peevish, regardless of the merits of their case, and I don’t appreciate it, but that might just be personal taste.

    The tin-ear of EL is well documented here, but its sprawl is really quite remarkable and goes back a while. Some folks are defending (if that’s the word) EL, and that’s fine. But my father used to tell me that one “earned his lumps” when he brought pain upon himself, vs being a victim.

    EL has earned these lumps.

    If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading any of my posts on the old support forums—whether chipping in or asking for help—you will know that I have been completely outspoken about the abysmal forum-based “support” of yore.

    ME: I’m having a major problem with XYZ. Here’s what’s happening… (details, details, details). I’m using EE vX.X and the following extensions, et al. PLEASE HELP!
    EL: (30 hours later) You need to update to the most recent version, which is one dot up from your version.
    ME: (2 min later) I don’t think that’s part of the problem because of Y. And Z. And I’m reluctant to upgrade in the middle of a project. Can you please tell what steps you would take *pretending* I’m upgraded? Just give me some options, some things to look into? And please hurry if possible, it’s more than a day after my initial question. Thanks.
    ANOTHER FORUM USER: Hey, I had the same problem. You can fix it by mucking around in the Core. Change code X to Y and you should be good. Here, copy/paste this (Core code changes generously provided.)
    ME: Yes! That did it! Thanks so much, ANOTHER FORUM USER!
    EL: Glad you got that worked out! Let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you. Closing this thread.

    or this one…
    ANOTHER USER: I’m having a major problem with XYZ. Can you please help?
    EL: (20 hours later) What version of EE are you using?
    ANOTHER USER: Oh, sorry, version XX. Please hurry!
    ME: Hey, I just found this ticket because I’m having the same *exact* problem! I tried this and this and this, but still having it. Interested in this one too, EL!
    ANOTHER USER: (12 hours later) Never mind! I got it worked out!
    EL: (12 hours later) Glad you got that worked out! Let us know if there’s anything else we can do for you. Closing this thread.
    ME: (thinking, since the thread’s closed and I can’t post) WTF? Doesn’t EL even want to know what the fix was? F*cking REALLY?

    For any of you who are a) old enough to remember and b) emigrants from the print world, I liken my feelings about EE/EL to my feelings about Quark XPress/Quark, Inc. from back then.

    XPress was “the bomb” in its heyday. It was an excellent product that did its job very well, even considering it was really the only game in town and there was nothing to seriously compare it to. It did what it had to do with aplomb, had a robust third-party community that provided great add-ons to make it sing and dance. It was all we knew and it worked.

    But as the third-party offerings went from basic song & dance to full-fledged Ziegfeld productions, people started wondering why some of the features of the add-ons were not part of the core functionality, especially since the add-ons for XPress were often VERY steeply priced. And because they just made sense to be part of the core. Long, convoluted workarounds and fixes for XPress “gotchas” (hanging quotes?) kept David Blatner and other XPress gurus in book business, and the core XPress functionality stagnated. Long asked-for features were not forthcoming. Quark, Inc. let the product lag, added no new features that anyone wanted, but *did* add new Web Publishing functionality (abysmal) and a few years later Multimedia functionality (abysmal), which precisely ZERO people wanted.

    Calls to Quark Support (and as the IT Manager for Mac Support for a very large corporation at the time I made MANY) usually dripped with derision and left me with the feeling that I was somehow inconveniencing the call-taker. And God help you if you weren’t lucky enough to have a corporate support agreement; then you had to use the Support Forums, which was akin to putting a help request in a bottle and sending it off to sea. I hated interacting with the company, but I still liked the product, and held out for improvements. After all, there wasn’t another game in town. Well, not one that did waht it did as well.

    Sound familiar?

    Fast forward to the point that I got a phone call from Adobe, who wanted to come to my office to pitch an app called InDesign. Stupid name, I thought, but sure.

    I was sold.

    I used the copy of ID v1 that they gave me on a side project that I was working on at home and never—and I mean never—used XPress again. EVER. I have used InDesign ever since. Why? Because they addressed my needs and capitalized on their competition’s failures. They plugged holes in functionality, and they added bells and whistles (drop shadows? right in my page layout program?!) to sweeten the deal.

    I had been an XPress power user for more than a decade at that time, with LOTS of money invested in the 3rd party ecosystem. And I dropped it and never looked back. Because another company addressed my problems and was eager to get my input to make their product better.

    Please, Ellis Labs (Derek?), stop. Take a breath, accept the critique and squelch the desire to defend yourselves. This situation is childish. Brandon can be faulted for one thing as far as I can see: debuting his new CMS at EECI. Bad form.

    There. I said it in two words. Bad form. That’s it.

    Now, improve the coffee in your shop and maybe folks will stop looking for a better cup.
    Fix XPressionEngine while looking forward. KWIM?

    Picture of dashard


  32. > This all reminds me of something I saw a while back between Jeffrey Zeldman and Ryan Ireland. Zeldman made a public post expressing his “anger” with Ireland over something Ireland had said in one of his blog posts. End result? Respect lost for both of them but mainly Zeldman for his “whining, self-righteous, and at times deluded ~ Stephen Lewis” public outcry, much like this by EL.

    Please cite the location of this because what you are describing never happened. Also, there’s no D at the end of my name.

    Picture of Ryan Irelan

    Ryan Irelan

  33. So sorry Ryan (about using your name and mis spelling it) I meant Paul Irish. I have no idea how i mixed the two of you up. My sincerest apologies.

    Picture of chealey


  34. @chealey: that’s a hilarious mix up—Irelan(d) and Irish.


    Picture of Limey


  35. Yeah, honest mistake. I knew i meant Irish while i was typing it but I associate Ryan Irelan with Zeldman due to Happy Cog so once i got him in my head my fingers took hold and my mind went absent. Again Ryan, my deepest and sincerest apologies.

    Picture of chealey


  36. dashard - interesting read. I remember those heady QuarkXPress days… Quark didn’t listen, didn’t engage, didn’t advance the product and as a result it engineered a 95% market share down to under 30% as Adobe stepped in to fill the void with InDesign - customers needed and wanted more. The similarities between Quark and EllisLab are definitely there.

    In Quark’s case, their arrogance was legendary, but I remember some new people came on board, admitted the company had dropped the ball and messed up, then started reaching out to and engaging with customers. By that time the writing was already on the wall for XPress, customers were switching, print-based publishing was already in decline and Quark’s response to the online revolution was way off target.

    I’m not suggesting that it’s too late for ExpressionEngine, but it will take a hit because of these stagnation and comms problems.

    Picture of guru24


  37. Dashard. good post. BUT i miss the Original user-forums. The ones were we received plenty of good advice and solutions from EE and from others on the forum…. and there was none of the smarmy “Closing this Thread”

    I am glad that Grids and other tools are being rolled into the core.

    Picture of giovanni


  38. @guru24—It’s important to note that Quark’s 30% retention (or whatever the actual number was) was really only because of those companies that relied on heavy Applescript automation of XPress—large newspapers and the like. They didn’t so much have money invested as *workflow,* and thus couldn’t just pull up anchor and sail away.

    Or they likely would have.

    The reality is that if those factors were controlled for, Quark would have essentially given up the ghost. Virtually immediately. It was a stunning thing to be a part of, and they absolutely deserved it.

    I am neither suggesting EL is in the same boat nor acting in the same way.
    But similar. Let’s not kid ourselves…similarities abound.

    I’m hoping for a much better outcome for EL.
    I *LOVE* EE.

    Picture of dashard


  39. This is all reminding me of the old story about 2 bald men fighting over a comb. What attracted me to EE in the first place was the reputation of the product and the extremely high quality support forums. The forums became somewhat user-hostile (the much noted “closing this thread”) and eventually ceased to be of any use whatever.

    Now P&T and EL seem to be involved in some sort of conflict over the current EE user base whereas they should each be striving for the best quality they can manage. As for Craft, while it has a very slick website it is a very sub-Wordpress blogging platform, unless you pay for add-ons which bring the price up to (or exceeding) the the cost of EE. If I hadn’t already bought a license it is highly unlikely I would use EE for my own website upgrade. EL need to pay much more attention to their smaller customers. I await news of 3.7 with interest.

    Picture of eduqate


  40. Will be interesting to see whether P&T hit back or if they let their software do the talking.

    Picture of Clive Portman

    Clive Portman

  41. @Clive Portman - I initially wanted to see the reply back from P&T but as per my 2nd post after having given it some thought, I really hope they don’t hit back, take the TRUE high road, and just let their software (and the community) do the talking for them.

    Picture of chealey


  42. @chealey & Clive: You know them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another snarky cartoon on their homepage, and for some reason folks will praise it. I’m sensing a double-standard here…

    Picture of squirmingcoil


  43. I started with EL back in the pMachine days. I used EE to run my community site of Mac developers for many years. If I were the marketing director at EL (hey, I have the pre-required last name, Camacho) I wouldn’t have taken this approach. I would have simply made the announcement of a great new feature. The competition write-up takes attention away IMHO. I would just focus on my own product and provide a sense to the community that while we would support 3rd-party developers, we would also be more aggressive about adding in new functions. From a humble user perspective, I’ve always liked a system with a modern feature set. I moved away from Joomla years ago because of the dozens of plugins/modules that I had to upgrade each time the core was upgraded. It becomes a nightmare. The world of WordPress is like this too. There is a plugin to do anything, actually, usually 10 plugins to do the same thing. But you never know what will happen to that plugin developer. So over time, you are unable to upgrade or must jump to a new plugin.And I won’t even mention the costs with buying all these plugins. I’d much rather have the CMS developer provide those functions. I sometimes wonder, what is better for the end-user in the long-term… (a) a solid, modern full-function CMS (b) more basic and aging CMS that requires plugins to do what you need. I prefer (a). I know the level of code will be high. It will work smoothly with their own CMS. I don’t need to worry about the developer going bye-bye. In a way, I want to say what sells EE should be a great CMS that is modern. While I don’t call from closing the ability for 3rd party developers to fill a niche, I’d like to see EE step-up. I have been looking at PyroCMS (used CE but dropped it) and ProcessWire. Both of these CMS look very very nice. I’m pondering now which CMS system to use to create the website for a new political party. It is going to take a lot of man hours. Hopefully 2.7 will get released soonish so I can compare to PyroCMS and ProcessWire. Thanks.

    Picture of DevServe


  44. What kind of annoys me, is that, after that EL has been loyally been making my life easier for so many years—they get all this mess on top of them. For nothing, really. Hey, it’s a bunch of geeks, and we know: and they don’t really care that much about social media and all that. Do you? Most of you don’t either.

    Most of the problems mentioned here, like with the forums, are true, but I see them as: growing pains. For better or for worse: but always with the best intentions.

    Anyway, the Craft licence model sucks ass. Unless you like to go to french “a la carte” restaurants, and tell your clients into detail how much every option costs.

    Hey, give me a burger.

    Picture of Limey


  45. Although this isn’t really the place, I just wanted to clarify a few things for you Limey:

    If you go to the P&T website, they released somewhat of a reply to this ‘or the attack on the license portion at least’.

    If you read that and also read the comments and Brandon’s follow-up replies, as well as participating in the social media portals built around Craft such as on Google+ at least in my opinion, it makes a lot of sense.

    Their CMS is free, if you want some of these other core features, you pay to unlock them. They are already built in. As Brandon says in a comment:

    “The whole point of the packages is that they cover a middle ground where the functionality is not essential in every site, but there’s no clean way to add that functionality via a plugin. We’ve added packages for everything we can think of that fits that description, and while I can’t say this with absolute certainty, the chances of us adding a new package at some point are very low. *If* we ever did, and a plugin already exists with the same functionality, we would not be at odds with that plugin. That goes for non-package core code too. (This is something that we should clarify in the license agreement.)”

    All add-ons are not to be setup like the included ‘unlockable’ packages. Just like ExpressionEngine, third-party add-ons would be installed separately and would not just be unlockable in Packages with the prices and all that listed out.

    In the article (as well as the comments) he also mentions that like Craft, the license agreement is version 1.0 and is subject to change based on input and use-cases from the community to make it the most appealing to all.

    As this really isn’t the place to continue discussing the license model of Craft, if after what I’ve said, and reading the official release from P&T you still for some reason think it “sucks ass” please start a discussion in the Craft G+ community, i’d be interested in hearing exactly why. To me it makes sense and also somewhat resembles the ‘CORE’ offering for ExpressionEngine from EL, only you ‘unlock’ the additional features rather than having to download and perform and upgrade like you do with ExpressionEngine if upgrading from Core to Commercial.

    Picture of chealey


  46. @chealey, That’s a really interesting read. Thanks for that.

    Picture of Limey


  47. As a long ime user of CI and EE (now running an agency), I’m disappointed to read a post like this. I believe competition is healthy for the marketplace and putting out a feature like this while also directly calling out P&T is bad form by EllisLabs.

    We have always supported the developer market around EE and I think it only reinforces the strength of the platform when developers are willing to produce such high quality add-ons. For EllisLabs to under cut one of the strongest and established add-ons in the marketplace it comes off as childish and immature.

    I’m not going to speculate on the inner workings of the relationship between EllisLabs and P&T but I can tell you I wholeheartedly stand by the product that Brandon is developing. They (Brandon and his team) have been more than open with the community about the features they’ve been developing and bugs that are discovered. To date, I have never seen or received that sort of public support from EE. I don’t like that EE has chosen to (mostly) ignore the community, failed to respond to replies and hashtags on twitter and is now asking for users to pay for support (in addition to the license of the software [Yes I know - “3 free months” on the first license]).

    Decisions and public rants like this make me seriously question continuing to deploy EE as a solution for our clients. For a company that has produced such a great product, I think we all expect better. I would be slightly embarrassed if a client would have brought this blog post to my attention (as they’ve done with your site before). Please focus on what makes EE great and stop worrying about what your [new] competition is doing.

    tl;dr - This tweet:

    Picture of Adam McCombs

    Adam McCombs

  48. Great job and pertinent response, EllisLab!

    There’s a lot of talk about EllisLab not taking the high road, but they are! P&T took the low road, and EllisLab is simply responding to the new status of things. They’re taking the high road with respect to us, the developers - wether that in turn offends P&T or its supporters, is an acceptable casualty.

    The developers are what’s important, everything else is irrelevant

    And providing a core set of relevant add-ons - the ones we need every time we develop a site - is what EllisLab should do. If that treads on some toes, so be it. We all want more developers to choose EE, and providing the necessary tools and add-ons to get started, is what developers expect.

    I’ve long kept my mouth shut about these and other issues, because I’m not a “professional” developer in the sense, that the sites I build cost money. I do pro-bono work for organizations, friends and those who can’t pay, but I now feel I finally need to speak up, in defense of EllisLab. Even if I’m not well known or do important work.

    The fact is - and I’ve been bothered by this for so very long - that this community needs to grow up. Sorry, I meant “GROW UP!” smile

    The never ending whining about every single thing EllisLab does, is getting old. They do some amazing work, and they do what they think is best for the community and the developers, and in turn themselves.

    EllisLab don’t change functionality, introduce new features and add-ons, redesign their site, reorganize the support-system, or do anything else, to hurt or annoy us, or because they think we don’t deserve the best. Everything they do, is to make us happier, and our clients come back for more. They do things to make a better product, and to make money from those who buy it.

    I’m pretty sure EllisLab don’t sit around a big table, and contemplate how to be even more cruel while stroking white cats and saying things like “excellent” in a Mr. Burns voice.

    And I’m pretty sure they don’t do things, based on how many of the usual suspects, they can get to complain about said things ... the most negative and vocal of you will do that without encouragement smile

    I’m actually amazed they’re able to get out of bed every morning, and start coding knowing full well, that whatever they do will get poo-pooed on.

    But I’m thankful they do, because I for one will not abandon EE. Not as long as EllisLab keeps doing the great job they - in my opinion (and I know it’s of no importance) - do.

    And even though I’m a nobody, who knows full well this post will get hammered, I still want to end this by encouraging everyone to be a tad more optimistic and respectful towards EllisLab. I assure you they’re not out to get you, they just want what we all want: to create great work, that others will like and benefit from.

    Do try to keep that in mind, and perhaps reserve criticism for when it’s warranted, and perhaps even until you’ve actually tried a new feature, until a change has taken effect, or until “they” are truly out to get you…

    ...that would just be ... “excellent” wink

    Picture of Thomas Boelskifte

    Thomas Boelskifte

  49. @Thomas Boelskifte—let the hammering begin, I guess.

    Did you even *read* through this thread? This is NOT about the addition of Grid to the Core and whether that offends P&T friends/allies/customers, or whether it’s well-implemented. Re-read, my friend, and you will learn that even the harshest critics here have one common goal: the advancement of the platform, which, de facto, is having EL’s best interests at heart while, admittedly selfishly, our own.

    The rest of your post was sadly juvenile. EL is a for-profit company. When they started charging and accepting payments for their products they pretty much made a contract to “get out of bed every morning…”

    Criticism is warranted. Thus it’s here.

    You should re-read the entire thread. Or perhaps even read it for the first time.  Scroll all the way up.

    Picture of dashard


  50. good and nice post to read. really enjoy it.

    Picture of raihanbd1000


  51. I’m newer to EE, and although I am aware of a lot of issues around EL and some 3rd parties, I also have not been entrenched long enough to have a bias one way or the other. So for me, I am happy to see the new functionality being added to core. Not from a cost savings standpoint, I never thought EE or add-on licenses were a barrier, but simply for having a few more first party integrated solutions.

    I get the philosophy of how EE and the add-on community works (start simple with core, add only what you need), but it’s time to extend core further to give EE some more talking points to weigh against other options, whether in a CMS comparison or at a pitch meeting.

    Picture of Jeremy S.

    Jeremy S.

  52. Out of interest, is Grid based on Max Lazar´s Grid Lite?

    Picture of Kippi


  53. I for one will carry on working with EE, and although only starting on add-on development recently I will carry on with that also. I still hold faith in EllisLab and the products they produce even if others are moving elsewhere. As has been said before, people will use the tools they feel best fit the job and whether that is EE, Craft, PyroCMS or anything else is irrelevant.

    There are always going to be shifting sands in the online development world, but I recognise that a company such as EllisLab has lived through a period of huge change in the web and is still going now. I will agree that communication to their user base and developer community could be better, but I firmly believe that that will improve with time.

    I am always wary of new apps and frameworks and will always think carefully before committing to something new without allowing the company behind it or the user base/community time to grow. In my opinion we are living in a time when too many people are too quick to not only jump on a new bandwagon, but also to quick to bad mouth a company or product that has served them well, allowed them to earn money and assisted them in building a business that allows them the joy of a lifestyle business that others will envy.

    Right, that’s my two pence worth - now I’ll get my head back down and carry on working…

    Picture of WinkingFrog


  54. > Out of interest, is Grid based on Max Lazar´s Grid Lite?

    No, it is not, we built it from scratch.

    Picture of Wes Baker

    Wes Baker

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