We started many moons ago with a little marketplace of just our own add-ons. It was exciting to have found a revenue model for our free software.
As we looked for ways to differentiate ourselves from the sea of other CMSs, the idea of a clean, supported marketplace like Apples App Store made a lot of sense. We started accepting submissions from 3rd parties. With the excitement of Christmas morning, Andy and Ryan would personally review each submission as we had time, of which there was plenty of to go around.
Then things grew, and grew, and grew - and we couldnt keep up. So we added the PRB as an open source inspired committee of reviewers who could collaboratively help alleviate some of the initial poking around at submissions, letting us just be the final approvers. For a while, it worked great. We knew which add-ons to look at first, and while everyone wanted things to move faster, the marketplace maintained a level of excellence far above our peers.
As the marketplace grew, there were struggles around serving both the developer and site owner side of the equation in one environment. (e.g. What impact should difficulty level have? Whats the best way to install themes on existing vs. new site?) Theres a disconnect between our original vision and the reality today. We hear from our 3rd party developers that they feel like theyre putting great effort into providing support, and we hear from customers that its not always delivering the experience they thought they were getting. For example, just this week I was told:
"...In my opinion you guys should rise bar with quality control. This is second time in three years that I'm seriously thinking walking away from concrete for exactly same reason. Poor quality of the apps and bad support. I think you should rate developers for support so before we by their item we know who we deal with..."
Its natural for something important that is growing to have adolescent pains as things change. We believe there are two major problems with the PRB and marketplace today:
- We are trying to serve a diverse customer base with widely different expectations for what a finished product and good support means with a single experience. Is our marketplace a code repository for concrete5 developers who want to share with each other and maybe make a buck? Or is it more like Shopifys app store, with add-ons that are all safe, tested and running against a consistent environment in the will that always works no matter your technical ability? While we still believe we can serve everyone, we need to make some changes to speak more directly to the extreme ends of the spectrum.
- Due to demands on our time, we are unable to keep up with approval of new work in anything close to a timely fashion.
Its time for some well considered changes to improve the processes of the PRB and give different types of marketplace customers the experience they need. Heres whats happening
Submission to the PRB and getting a listing live quickly
1) The automatic checking system (called linter) has been improved. It now runs both on new submissions and new versions of existing listings.
2) If your new submission passes all the tests, you are given a launch date of 1 week in the future. Your listing will go live in 1-week even if no one on the PRB approves it. It will have a Has not been approved by PRB member! message on the listing, you'll have to flip a check box to get them to show up in the marketplace, and it will not be shown in concrete5s in-dashboard shopping UI.
3) The PRB will now have a small administrator group. They can approve add-ons and themes without anyone from the core team signing off. This adds their personal endorsement to a live listing, and/or launches the listing right then with their endorsement.
4) If your new submission did NOT pass all the tests, your listing will not go live until one of the PRB administrators or a core team member launches it.
Submissions will be rejected with limited cause or explanation. (e.g. wouldnt install, code looked sloppy in first file I opened spend some time working on this and resubmit plz. ) The PRB is not a free school, thats for the forums.
5) A new public Submitting to the marketplace forum area will be created for the entire community to help people get their code right.
6) Issues with version updates that fail linter tests will be worked out in that public forum, and not in the existing PRB interface.
1) PRB administrators and regular members have term lengths of 6 months. At the end of that period they automatically lose their PRB membership and have to request it again.
2) It takes 3 PRB administrators agreeing to accept a new PRB member.
3) It takes unanimous PRB administrators and the core team agreeing to accept a new PRB administrator.
4) To start we appoint: JohnTheFish, Mnkras, GoutNet, Tallacman as the first PRB administrators. For this special situation, their terms will be staggered (9, 8, 7, and 6 months respectively. ) Everyone else has had there term end and should re-apply now if they're interested in being part of the new PRB.
5) To request to join as a PRB member, submit your concrete5 user name to this google spreadsheet where PRB admins will review submissions on a monthly basis: (http://bit.ly/1vSIRZ3)
1) We will have a linter server you can just throw stuff at and get results from sans PRB. Dont abuse it or it will go away.
2) If the community wants to build additional checks for the linter to run, weve open sourced the framework and an example test. The PRB administrator group will decide if your check will be added.
3) The PRB interface has changed to be more usable. Were collapsing information that was getting in the way and were adding some filters/status to help keep things organized.