"Okay so let me get this straight, when we first spoke it was $13k to own it, and now its free? Are you sure about this?" a dear friend and repeat client who runs an agency just asked me.
I get that you want to provide for your family, sooo what are you thinking?
Are we going to offer a "freemeium" model where you get crippleware for free and the useful parts in expensive add-ons?
Are we going to have a different license depending who you are?
Are we going have a donation button or something?
Yes, but it will point to our favorite charity, which can do more good with the cash than us.
So I give up, why do you think destroying your perfectly viable license revenue is going to provide stability and creative freedom?
Here's what I see. The biggest challenge my crew has is bizdev. We're not perfect at everything, but we sure can deliver sweet stuff and we improve every day, execept for sales.
We've only really won good gigs through word of mouth. We've tried just about everything, and without marrying yourself to a particular vertical, it's very difficult to define a meaningful marketing strategy for a web/IT services company that wants to do "cool stuff." From my experience you do your best, and try to cultivate as many life long associates and friends who will recommend you as you go.
As the network slowly grows, things get easier over time, but it doesn't really deliver with security and creative freedom if it ties you to a limited local gossipy scene. (yeah i said it).
So while completely giving away something we have and can charge a lot for, we're actually doing ourselves a practical favor. Sure, we'll be giving up a revenue stream, but we're dropping a expensive business development challenge that we've never been good at or interested in solving. We certainly will still spend some real resources to make Concrete5 known but a lot of that can be our time instead of cash. Moreover, if what we've been working on all these years is really as good as we think it is, we stand to jump-start a process that would traditionally take much longer. I'm interesting in seeing what a larger open source developer community might contribute to the project from a code standpoint, but I'm hungry for their evangelism about concrete5 to their clients. I don't need (or want) to own every dollar that is made off of concrete5. Why not just get out of the way and respond to opportunities as they arise as thousands of people deliver concrete5 powered solutions to their clients?
That's the practical reason to go "free beer." The real one is better:
Content management is a basic human right.
It costs next to nothing to write your thoughts on a piece of paper and nail it to a door, it should cost about the same to make a basic website without it having to be a blog. If we can do that, we'll win one way or another.
Just catching up on my New Yorker articles and read this interesting one by Eric Alterman about the death of the newspaper.
Yes, newspapers are dying, in fact they predict the last one will be delivered to the last door on 2043 (not sure how they came to that, but yay for trees.)
The real point I took from the article was "good God! this is horrid, because original reporting is HARD and EXPENSIVE Blogging is all well and good, but all bloggers do is pontificate and comment on other original sources" which to a great degree is true.. (omg, is that me admitting to being full of bs?)
had yet another client meeting today where someone wanted "a corporate blog," yet when asked "list 100 topics right now" question had little to offer.
the best solution to this in my eyes is a centralized blogging interface for all employees & associates, with tag/category based cross referencing and featured embeds throughout the rest of the site for depth of content and SEO purposes.
Concrete has been around since 2003, this major version update that has been a year in the works and is major version release 5. While our content management system has always been "open source" to our clients, who paid for it; this is the first fully "free beer" open source release we've done. We're giving away our secret sauce and we're thinking how to protect the years and millions in development that have gone into it.
We've come to recognize it's the brand. We will trademark our name as Concrete5™ and make money by being the official host, trainer, documenter, and support provider. Conversely we may look at any of those roles and tap a better suited partner as an "Official Concrete5 Solution" in return for some license or revenue model.
The Ruby on Rails guy looks to have similar ideas around his brand and license model, which is also MIT.
Models? Patterns? ARRRRG!
In previous versions of Concrete we've kept the technical architecture for how pages are presented pretty simple. Every page is a single type. Each type has a PHP file that handles presentation, and a record in the CMS that defines default/shared blocks you want to always show up. When we build sites ourselves, this typically works pretty well for us.
Sadly, it tends to get out of control when other people start playing with it. Our developers tend to think of page types as functional, and aesthetic idiocyncries from section to section are handled in that presentation PHP. So if you have a page type of "Case Study" it's going to use the same template no matter where you put it in the site. If you have case studies both in your Product section and Services section, we would A: make the navigation block that renderes that primary nav handle how it looks, or B: add some logic to the template to do area specific presentation stuff based on where you are in the category tree.
A lot of the development shops we've partnered with in the past tend to think of page types as silos or areas of the site, not functional break outs. So Products and Services both get their own page type because they have different side bars. Now when you add a Case Study that was originally designed to show up in the Services area to the Products area, its gonna have the wrong header color. All of a sudden you end up with a ba-gillion page types to handle these scenarios, which basically defeats the whole point.
The resolution we seem to have come to is split the concept in two. In Concrete 5 you will have page types that map to what goes on a page. You will also have Themes that are presentation focused, and control where and how that content/functionality is presented. Themes will contain templates that map to page type names. Every theme must have at least one "default" template, which will be used for a page type if no specific file exists.
By splitting this in two this way we hope to handle more diverse situations in a more intuitive way for end developers/site owners my only fear is introducing too many labels and leaving people wondering where their presentation layer is coming from.
As a youth, you tend to think price is in some way related to cost.
It is not.
It's easy to be taught this in your MBA course, it's easy to think this is evil from your Marxism course, but I have found it really is the way of things. The answer to "how much is that doggy in the window?" is at best "what's he worth to ya?" and at worse, "how much you got?" How much time, care and energy went into raising the bitch and birthing the puppy have nothing to do with it. (yes I choose that metaphor to create a credible excuse to curse. son-of-bitch-shit!)
I've never been a huge fan of the corporate training week. In my experience going to them as a employee, it's kinda a paid vacation, yet a boring. It's great to learn all at once and whatnot, but having someone read a manual to you in front of a computer seems like a horrible way to spend your day when you're visiting a fun big city.
It's not all strategic crap and programming around the office.. in fact an awful lot of time gets wasted with stuff like this fantastically amusing video:
Tasty dim sum today, fresh shrimp yum.
Figured the revenue model out for Concrete 5 today at lunch. We knew we were gonna give the source away, but hadn't quite figured out how to offer a hosted one for a price. We wanted to make it easy for tired old developers like me to setup a site quickly, as you would a blog and take the opportunity to make some money on the hosting side. We also think the elegant ‘demo turns into your install' approach of so many web2.0 apps is nice.
Well the challenge with that for us is unlike Wordpress or Basecamp, we need to give people a fair amount of personalization and space. A website isn't much good without a email, our CMS shines most when one starts to mess with the presentation layer, you just have to deliver a non-centralized traditional hosting environment for it to be useful and stable in the big picture.
That becoming clear helped settle the details around our how to price hosting. The demo simply isn't gonna happen without a credit card. You're welcome to download the source, see examples, etc.. but if you want to "1-2-3 it's just that easy" on our servers, we're gonna need a credit card and real info. Keep yer l33t warez off my boxes.
Nothing shocking here, just reality. There are a lot of unique problems in the world and we don't have time to solve them all perfectly. I'll be the first to aknowlege that a Content Management company using something like WordPress to blog about their adventures is somewhat ironic. We do have a blog component in Concrete today, and it works well if you need to incorporate a blog into a larger more design centric site. For this problem, I did not. I just needed something I could setup quickly and use well from anywhere without having to take my developers away from building a CMS that serves our client's needs So in addition to WordPress, here are some other 3rd party tools we enjoy around the office
UPDATE: We moved all this content into our own concrete5.org site with a nice blog UI on the top end. So while aspects of this post remain true (blogs are about writing, concrete5 is about managing) the bulk of it is way out of date.