Open Source CMS concrete5 Gets Even Sexier to Use, and Catches the Eye of Drupal and Joomla! Developers at SXSW.
Portland, OR (PRWEB) March 29, 2010 — concrete CMS was commercial software that went open source in late 2008, quickly winning project of the month on SourceForge and much attention from a community of open source fans used to dealing with painful user experiences and scattered code. During the last year the core team behind concrete5 has been flushing out features in their CMS, along with building an active community and marketplace at concrete5.org. Now with the release of version 5.4 concrete5 has really hit its stride and the core team expects continued great growth this summer.
concrete5 powers over 35,000 websites today, with a developer community some 18,000 members strong. "We've grown very quickly since going open source," says CTO Andrew Embler. "The core application has always been very stable, but in the past we knew there were a few areas we wanted to clean up. With the sitemap improvements and even faster AJAX editing in 5.4 we've really covered the big items on my radar. "
Some architectural changes to better support the needs of enterprise level clients have already allowed some larger organizations to choose concrete5 over Drupal, Joomla!, and Wordpress. The additional changes to fully embrace the Zend framework by using Zend Cache and Zend Translate has proven well worth the investment.
"It was great fun showing off the release candidate of 5.4 at SXSW:Interactive this year,' says Franz Maruna, CEO. "We met a lot of Joomla! and Drupal developers who begrudgingly gave us 5 minutes to see the competition, only to walk away 20 minutes later lamenting about time they'd wasted on other systems. I think we showed quite a few people that you can build big powerful sites with concrete5 that really are easy to use."
See the complete feature list in 5.4 here:
concrete CMS is a leading developer of next- generation open source solutions for web sites. The company's flagship product, concrete5, combines the ease-of-use of a blogging platform with the flexibility and power of a web development platform. To date, thousands of advertising and creative agencies and web developers around the world have downloaded concrete5 for free and used the technology to quickly and inexpensively build enterprise-quality web sites that can be updated by end users. concrete CMS is a privately held company based in Portland, Oregon, and manages the concrete5.org project. For more information, please visit https://www.concretecms.com.
franz (at) concrete5.org
I'm writing you from lovely Austin TX as we wrap up our exhibit hall stuff at SXSW. It's been super fun and a LOT of people seem really excited about concrete5. We've met plenty of directors of huge companies and consultancies, new media reporters, all sorts of folks, but often its the Joomla developers who have the most amusing response. After starting slow with a "I guess I'll check it out" and then going through a couple "Holy-Moly its that easy?!?" moments they end up leaving somewhat disgruntled. "Where the h#ll have you guys been? I just wasted 2 years learning Joomla and it took me 10 minutes to get as far as it took me 2 weeks to do in it!".. That's good stuff.
Thought we should also let everyone know we FINALLY re-did our documentation and it's waaaay better now. We still have some pages we want to add, but now everything is nicely organized and makes sense with a cool slidey jump nav. We even hooked it into our forum system using some tags and a "helpful answer" system so instead of those annoying guestbook comments that just grew out of control, our doc pages can start discussions that remain encapsulated but are still searchable.
concrete5.4 is out as a Release Candidate now so you should certainly check that out and let us know if its ready to ship. We think it just about is.
Thanks for your attention,
ps: here's pics from SXSW.
concrete5.org now features much improved documentation, both for developers and for end users.
No more developer docs separated from user docs. Tags also make it easy to cross-reference pages with forum posts that refer to them. Related discussions marked as helpful should also float toward the top on their related docs pages. Much, much more (and sensibly organized) developer content. No more "page coming soon" messages. Search should also be much improved.
This thing on?? * tap-tap *
Wow, it's been an embarrassingly long time since anyone looked at this wordpress blog. First, lets pass out blame for that:
- Time once you have children it stops being endless.
- Twitter who knows what that thing is gonna become, but it does kinda take a big slice of motivation out of anyone posting to a blog. While crafting the perfect 140 characters isn't "easy," it does always seem like the shortest path when you have something new to announce. I'm not arguing that's right, there's certainly a lot of crap content with no real voice there but still. I think every one's kinda knee jerking over there for news announcements these days.
- Do concrete5 and WP compete? Sure kinda. I guess we say we do on our about page, so *shrugs*. We've talked about this here in the past. My view is concrete5 is a flexible CMS (legos), while Wordpress is a really nice Blog (Barbie). Both have value. We never tried to recreate the blog editing experience with concrete5 but along came some 3rd party developers to do just that. Now there's kinda an unspoken question of why our blog isn't in concrete5 and frankly the answer is just Time, again.
- Me. The buck stops here..
So what's happened since MAY of last year??! Ugh.. well.. a lot!
- Launched the marketplace, had it grow dramatically, fueled by the work of 3rd party developers as much as us.
- Rebuilt the way we do hosting and started developing a true server management application for running multiple concete5 installs on a box.
- Launched a few versions of concrete5 that changed around all sorts of stuff nicely.
- Launched eCommerce add-on, Launched Discussion Forums
- Built a concrete5 cyborg that is laying waste to the American west.
Okay so that last one was a lie, but what's going on right now?
- We're just about halfway towards our fund-raising goal for going to SXSW! Thanks to all our donors.
- We were just given a few pages in The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott. I guess transparency and community are the new big things in marketing, and happily we're good at ‘em already! It's certainly worth picking this up if you're trying to bring your company into the 21st century he does a great job covering everything in detail.
Meh. I'm all tuckered, this is waaay more than 140 characters.. you'll just have to stay tuned to find out.
We want to show off concrete5 at SXSW, and we could really use some help getting there.
We've never asked for much beyond your attention since we went free and open source some 18 months ago. We've gone from a dozen clients around Oregon to over 100,000 downloads and 25,000 active sites with almost 14,000 members in our forums - we've built something people love and depend on.
Yesterday, I was lamenting the fact that searching concrete5.org (specifically, finding the search input field on the website) wasn't as easy as I thought it ought to be.
Todd, one of our excellent developers, came up with a great solution for those who use Firefox: a custom Firefox search plugin. His original used google.com to search concrete5.org, and while I can appreciate that, I'm hoping that our search has improved to the point where that's not necessary. With that in mind, I've tweaked it so that it searches concrete5.org directly.
Installing the search plugin:
The following instructions assume that your copy of Firefox is in a standard location.
First, download concrete5.xml above, and then
On Windows: Copy it to "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins"
On OS X: Copy it to "/Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/searchplugins"
Restart Firefox and concrete5 should appear in the search engine list, below the search field, complete with a nice icon. Thanks again, Todd. You may have even given me a reason to occasionally ditch Safari.
Okay, we've been through this enough times that it deserves a clear position from the CEO.
concrete5 core is free and open source. When we say free, we mean "free beer." Our belief is that content management is a human right, and we are committed to making it easy for everyone in the world to run a website.
However, not every add-on in our marketplace is free. All of them are open source meaning once you buy it you are "free" to do what you want to it for that site, and you can get "under the hood" completely.
Why do we do this?
A lot of time and money has gone into concrete5. Anyone who doesn't think we're generous has vastly underestimated the amount of energy that goes into making a powerful CMS that makes sense and doesn't require an expert to configure. We are people too however and not only do we need to provide for our families, we also need to continue to put the level of coherent leadership into the project that it benefited from when we were strictly commercial software for 5 years.
A huge part (IMHO most) of what makes concrete5 so compelling over other projects like Drupal and Joomlais the fact that it does take the risk of saying "this is the right solution" to many problems. No, we don't believe you really need 300 results for "permissions" when searching for add-ons to a project. How about manning up and just getting the core solution right? That's our philosophy. We don't always hit the mark because we're human, but we've done pretty well so far, and that's the goal for the future as well.
Same deal with the marketplace. Other projects seem to have a pretty low barrier of entry for add-ons. I'm not entirely sure if there even is any barrier, but if it exists, surely the question is "does this add-on work with a clean install of our app? Didn't break? Okay give them a project area goooo Open Source!" Well bravo for Free Love and everyone being Super Duper, but I see that as unfair to the next schmoe who is trying to figure out how to solve their own problem. If I download a weather widget and my whole site breaks because it uses the same table as some image gallery I already had running, everyone fails. The weather widget developer looks like an ass, and so does the image gallery developer. Both end up doing way more individualized support than they should to keep their customers happy. Moreover, the overall project fails because now no one can trust any add-on to do anything easily. This is where Drupal certainly is today, just look at Acquia's business model. This is unacceptable to us.
At concrete5.org you will only find things that work. If they don't work, we're gonna make them work for you. $15, $55, or even a couple hundred bucks is a small price to pay for something that solves a real business need for you and is going to work in a seamless, happy, healthy way. When we evaluate a new add-on, the question will be "does it work on an install with EVERYTHING added?" This is a huge challenge, but we think it's going to be critical to the success of our project in the big picture.
How do we decide what is in core?
Anything that will make a fundamental change to the way concrete5 works which would impact all add-ons and benefits the community/project is free. So recent additions that fall in that category include things like:
- A My Profile section that various add-ons like forums or ecommerce would depend on.
- An advanced file system that all add-ons can use.
- A better way to create shared central blocks.
The reality is that with other projects like Drupal, once you've installed one modification to the way core permissions work you've effectively rendered their massive marketplace to you. How can the huge community really even help when everyone's configuration is a unique one off? We're going to do everything we can to keep this project from splintering into core pieces that don't work with one another and render all subsequent add-ons a crap shoot.
Anything that we think is a basic building block to 80% of the websites out there in the world, we'll make either part of the core or free in the marketplace. So things around embedding most types of content, some interaction like guestbooks and forums..etc.. We're not asking "would everyone benefit" because who doesn't want free stuff, but rather "do you /need/ this to get your point across with the software." Some examples:
- You can place banner ads using the Content Block, the HTML block or the Image block and your site visitors will never know the difference. Want to track click-throughs, impressions, and pull from centralized ad groups that randomize choices? You can do that, you can have it TONIGHT! That costs $55.
- You can assign a date to any page in concrete5, so it's possible to make many different type of chronilogical interfaces with the core. You can also just include a Google Calendar with the HTML block. Want a month view, list view, and ajax driven agenda view to a multiple calendar system that makes event pages spread across your site? Want that working NOW? You need to pay something too.
How do we price things?
We make it up. We don't frankly care how long it took us to write it, we don't care how much the competition sells it for, we're guessing how much you're willing to pay to have it "just work." No lie. This is business 101.
But wait, what about the Community??!?
Here's some promises to our community we've always kept and always will:
- Your stuff can go in our marketplace. We don't care if you're selling it or giving it away, if your able to give us a stable, solid, correctly packaged add-on for concrete5 and we don't think it's malware, we'll stick it in the marketplace. I can't promise you we'll feature it above our own in every interface view, but we'll gladly post your free image gallery block right up there next to our own $15 per site one. If yours is better and you can make the community happy using it, so much the better for everyone.
- We will help you sell your own stuff. Software is about support as much as creation. If you're making something and giving it away, you might consider selling it and making a buck. Getting out of the purely hourly revenue model is the dream of almost every developer out there, and we think we're gonna make a lot of dreams come true with this awesome marketplace. If you're making stuff that people want, you should want to help them install and use it safely. You should want to add to it over time. You should be compenstated for your efforts. If you'd like to sell something you've built in our marketplace, all we ask is 25% cut of the price. This is less than Apple's iPhone App store and from what I can tell comperable toDot Net Nuke's system if not better.
- This stuff is not going to be super expensive. I've seen libraries that take this approach where solutions cost many thousands of dollars. Crap, I remember buying a Digital Asset Management system from the Cold Fusion marketplace back in the day for 8k and still shoveling out 30k to the developers to customize it to our client's needs. This isn't the model here. The highest price we've even debated setting a product at so far is $255. That's what most targeted consumer software is priced at today. There's no five figure recurring yearly license fees here.
What does this mean for the project?
It means a lot of great stuff. It means we're going to end up building a community that is not only passionate, but is actually making a better life for themselves and their families out of their contributions. It means when you go shopping for add-ons for your site, you'll be able to do it with a smile on your face and try stuff out without fear.
Is it open source? Absolutely yes. Open source as a term is really just a catch all for any number of different license types from the 80's and early 90's when we were cutting our teeth in the BBS scene, and this idea honors them all quite well.
If you're still not sold, ponder this:
THE MAN is actually just A Man.
Thanks for making it though this rant, hope you agree I'm sure you all won't. If you don't I'm all ears on constructive suggestions. If the reply is "it should be free because I want it to be, and it's not my problem how you or the project succeeed in the big picture" the door is that-a way. <grin>
concrete5.3 has been made possible by long hours, a great community of developers, and the kind license grants of these folks:
This developer wrote the Python based engine we use to compare versions. It's the only script we've been able to find that actually does diff with an awareness of how HTML tags work. If you stop and think about it, you'll realize that's a HUGE challenge and this guy solved it with a few pages of code. You should hire him to think about very complicated problems if he's willing. He allowed us to bundle his GPL based script into concrete5 under the LGPL licesne.
This designer does a lot of amazing work, is based in Chicago, and is gonna be someone you read about in magazines and books one day (if he isn't already!) We're using his file type icons in the new file manager because they're dead sexy, and work at a large scale. He's allowed us rights to redistribute them with concrete5 and we really dig that!
Thanks to both of these guys, it's awesome to be able to find something amazing on the web and use it. We'll keep doing our best to make sure the whole package is greater than the sum of it's parts!