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  • If you're a MODX user, you need to read this post as it's very important to the future of MODX:

    https://modxcloud.com/blog/2013/03/27/modx-cloud-to-become-siphonlabs/

    I had to double check today's date to make sure it wasn't April 1st and this was a joke.

    Am I understanding the posting correctly that the core MODX team is going to now focus on hosting? And hosting for multiple platforms that aren't even the speciality of the team? I guess I'm trying to wrap my head around what is happening here. I understood if they were trying to double down on MODX hosting to grow it (which is a bit frustrating as it is as MODX development has been slowed by the focus on the Cloud, but developing a solid income stream is important which I respect), but why would they now also include other CMS options? Aren't there already a gazillion hosting options out there? And on top of that, hosting options that are specific for that CMS? Why would the MODX core team now split energy away from MODx on other CMS platforms? That means they're going to have to learn the ins-and-outs of that CMS which means less time and energy to focus on MODX development. It seems like that's gonna be a huge waste of time to try and grab a small market share when the competition has to be much more stiff and embedded after years of developing hosting just for that CMS (which they specialize in). I have specifically devoted my time and energy to MODX over the last 6.5 years b/c I knew if I tried to master multiple CMS platforms, I wasn't gonna be great at one. I love MODX to the point where I've made it my speciality and am devoting my efforts to grow it. But with this newest blog posting, I'm extremely concerned the core team will split their energy in other directions with MODX development not at the forefront. Am I being paranoid here?

    I'm just very concerned that MODX development is gonna take a back seat in this whole process. I respect the fact that MODX is open source and the team has been growing it over the years at no real cost to me personally. Technically it's free and I don't have a right to complain. The MODX core team has done an amazing job and MODX is a badass system. I just feel there's a lot that has kinda gone stale in development lately and I've wondered why more things haven't grown and been developed in the CMS. Now with this posting I get the feeling that MODX core development is going to be secondary to hosting and the growth of the CMS is going to suffer as a result.

    I hope I'm just being delusional and having a knee-jerk reaction about this whole thing and need to just drink a beer and calm down. Either that's the case or this whole transition has been poorly communicated and maybe I'm just misunderstanding.

    Again, I apologize if I'm being critical here. MODX has been such an amazing system, but as a MODX partner and ambassador, I feel like it's my obligation to speak up about this. And if the MODX core team moves to a new company, who is handling the support contracts? This sounds shady and like a power grab IMO. Again, sorry if I'm being maybe reading too much into this, but I was about to start a new business venture in the next few months which hinged around MODX being continually developed and it's going to start effecting me in real ways if MODX suffers b/c the core team has been taken in a direction of building hosting and MODX core development as a secondary focus.
      Precision Web Development ... SmashStack.com
    • Mark Hamstra Reply #2, 6 years ago
      MODX Cloud (SiphonLabs) is separate from MODX and what MODX Cloud decides to do is not bound one-on-one to what MODX decides to do.

      While set back financially and in resources, the MODX team is absolutely committed to the core development and frankly - I don't think the community contributions have been this high in numbers, like, ever?

      The mere fact that people are responding to this announcement as they are is what tells me that MODX has a golden, community focused, future. Ryan and Jay will make sure of that, and I'm ready to commit serious time to that as well as I know are many members of the best CMS community that exists.

      That said, have a beer. That's never a bad idea. (Unless you're going to drive)
        Mark Hamstra • Developer spending his days working on Premium Extras and a MODX Site Dashboard with the ability to remotely upgrade MODX and extras to make the MODX world a little better.

        Tweet me @mark_hamstra, check my infrequent blog at markhamstra.com, my slightly more frequent ramblings at MODX.today or see code at Github.
      • Sounds like a terrible move. I've seen this happen in the startup world. It begins with great and ambitious intentions. It ends with a legacy and out of date core product and a new platform that never really takes off.

        If MODx is the focus, it should be the core focus. You have a niche that you can continue to own and over time, make it an unbeatable platform (it's not there yet). Or you can go after the highly competitive hosting market, where big dollars are in play.

        That is the business decision that has to be made. To think that both areas can be explored with the same development team output...it's impossible. Your attention is split and you either need to hire more tallent, or dedicate much less time to one direction. Understanding the complexities of the hosting market, to be really successful, that dev time will be dedicated to building/growing the hosting platform.

        I have a good friend, a VP at Polycom in San Jose. He went through something very similar with a small and growing startup he owned. They had a strong following for a small niche product. They split the direction to also go enterprise, which split up the dev hours. In the end, a year and a half later it died from a decision just like this. It was a cloud hosting platform that backboned off of AWS. What it could do was very novel.

        Good luck. I will drop MODx from our recommended CMS if I see the development slow down anymore than it already is today.

        • Silent Works Reply #4, 6 years ago
          I won't comment on this whole case as its old news to me already, but will try to address some concerns surrounding CMS (I am not core team member nor do I run the CMS).

          I don't think CMS development has slowed down, it is actually better these days with more contributions from community users, the system might not have updates or changes as quickly as other CMSs but that is not a bad sign, it just means the team is making careful decisions about what to work on in CMS.

          You should take a look at tracker to see that bugs are getting closed and on Github to see that pull requests are up. MODX CMS now needs the community to get behind it more than ever and make the platform what we want it to be.

          Ignore all the bad press or publicity or whatever you want to call it, Ryan is still behind CMS and since he is the founder and visionary of the system that should be of some confidence to the community. Let me put it this way, until the day Ryan is no longer behind CMS, it will remain alive and thrive to be the best.
          • Mark Hamstra Reply #5, 6 years ago
            @smashbrand: I can completely understand where you're coming from, but it is my belief that with Cloud out of the way, MODX can go back to focusing on what it needs to focus on: the CMS. There'll be hurdles to jump, the team has less resources than it had a year ago and it definitely wont be easy, but I'm excited for the future of a more community and core focused CMS.

            @Andrew: Can't agree more.
              Mark Hamstra • Developer spending his days working on Premium Extras and a MODX Site Dashboard with the ability to remotely upgrade MODX and extras to make the MODX world a little better.

              Tweet me @mark_hamstra, check my infrequent blog at markhamstra.com, my slightly more frequent ramblings at MODX.today or see code at Github.
            • Quote from: markh at Mar 28, 2013, 12:52 AM
              @smashbrand: I can completely understand where you're coming from, but it is my belief that with Cloud out of the way, MODX can go back to focusing on what it needs to focus on: the CMS. There'll be hurdles to jump, the team has less resources than it had a year ago and it definitely wont be easy, but I'm excited for the future of a more community and core focused CMS.

              @Andrew: Can't agree more.
              I hope so, that would be fantastic. I really don't love cloud. It's great for a small business or a developer that wants to spin up a quick instance for their small web host client.

              But we do a lot of innovative things where we need full system access. I want FTP, shell, the ability to sub domain framework, etc. For me and our clients its about the CMS, not the cloud....it's too sandboxed for our needs.
              • splittingred Reply #7, 6 years ago
                Quote from: flinx777 at Mar 27, 2013, 11:58 PM
                If you're a MODX user, you need to read this post as it's very important to the future of MODX:
                Am I understanding the posting correctly that the core MODX team is going to now focus on hosting? And hosting for multiple platforms that aren't even the speciality of the team?
                Similar to other companies, we will be offering a service around MODX that helps assist users in their web development hosting needs. The "Core Team" is not going to "shift focus", but rather I will be working more on Cloud for the time being - which, to be frank, has been the case for the past 8 months now.

                We will be offering installs of other products simply because most of our users already use those other products. We have done surveys that show that a vast majority of the MODX userbase uses other systems, such as WP and Magento, for their needs. We are simply offering those products in order to help people with their web experience. The revenue gained from that will be used to help fund the modx infrastructure and development needs, which cost money.

                Your reply is likely to be, why not just make MODX better so that WP and Magento (et al) aren't needed? While this sounds great in theory, as a core dev I can say this is not realistic at this time. Why? Because the "Core Team" for the past 3 years has been Jason and I - two people. WP has a *huge* development team in its community, and hired by its foundation. (Not to mention the tons of contributions coming from Automattic.) MODX, in its history has had 435 - mostly small - non-core contributions total (look it up on Git). WP will have more than that in one month. It's not simply realistic to say that MODX can "overtake" WP in the blogging arena. Now, can MODX make a small-level integration with the system to offer most of the features to do blogging well? Yes! I'd say I already did that in Articles. As for e-commerce; a robust e-commerce solution takes a ton of time and effort to develop and maintain. It's simply not something we can do scale-ably with the size of our core team.

                With any open source product, there has to be a balance between paid staff that manages and directs the product, ensures no code that is contrary to the product's vision gets in, and assists and manages the infrastructure pieces around the product. That's a full-time job, one that can't really be done by volunteers. Now, that said, a healthy OSS system will have a ton of contributors going through and contributing bug fixes (not just bug reports) and small feature additions, as well as participating in scrums and related projects, to assist the core team. While that is significantly picking up in the past 6 months, it has admittedly been slow over the past 3 years. Most of the work you see in MODX has been done by Jason and I. (See here for the proof in the graph.) Every one of the top 10 Extras for MODX was made and maintained by Jason and I. That simply isn't scalable. MODX cannot rely alone on the "Core Team" for product development. There has to be far more community contribution to grow the product.

                So, back to my point - In my opinion, MODX has two strong needs:

                1) A solid revenue stream for core team salaries, infrastructure costs (these servers aint cheap!), and other services costs (such as all the cool stuff everyone gets for free around here).
                2) A growing community base that contributes bug fixes, documentation, tutorials, meetups, press, and product feature additions (in line with project goals) on a consistent, large basis.

                MODX Cloud (now SiphonLabs) is trying to achieve #1. Ryan and Jay will now be dedicated to trying to help achieve #2.

                I respect the fact that MODX is open source and the team has been growing it over the years at no real cost to me personally. Technically it's free and I don't have a right to complain. The MODX core team has done an amazing job and MODX is a badass system. I just feel there's a lot that has kinda gone stale in development lately and I've wondered why more things haven't grown and been developed in the CMS. Now with this posting I get the feeling that MODX core development is going to be secondary to hosting and the growth of the CMS is going to suffer as a result.

                The "Core Team" of MODX will continue to work on MODX. There will be a separate team, which I am leading, for development of Cloud at SiphonLabs. Jason will continue to manage the development of MODX the CMS, and will lead a hopefully community-driven core team that will be built up to support the product. So you don't have to worry there.

                Secondly, and I'm going to be really honest here, over the past 4 years, there has simply not been enough of a revenue stream for MODX to fund even one core developer on its own. In 2012, MODX made $8,800 on Partner fees, and $3,000 in donations, for a total of $11,300 in non-cloud revenue: not enough to even pay someone part-time. Cloud has been the only consistent revenue that MODX has made. (The partner programs, job listings, etc were barely drops in the bucket.) We've been living off of angel investor funds for the past two years, and now we have to become revenue-neutral to continue to pay our not-very-high salaries. Developing high-quality software costs money, simply put, which means we have to find a way to get that money to continue making it. I hate to be so frank, but that's the bare truth of it. MODX needs to find a consistent way to make money to continue funding its development, since most of its development is done by the "core team".

                Again, MODX is not going anywhere. I haven't put 4 years of my life at over 60+ hours a week, all while trying to sustain a mortgage and family, for very little self-benefit, on this project and community to just let it die. And I can assure you, *everyone* at SiphonLabs has done the same and feels the same. We all love MODX and are trying to find a way to sustainably fund the project. So yes, let's all just have a beer and take it easy now. smiley
                  shaun mccormick | bigcommerce mgr of software engineering, former modx co-architect | github | splittingred.com
                • stalemate resolution associate Reply #8, 6 years ago
                  Ok. I'll weigh in my two cents.

                  As far as what I read from it, I boil it down to several points:
                  1) MODX Cloud gets renamed to SiphonLabs
                  2) SiphonLabs is headed by a James and a bear in an astronaut suit
                  3) The core MODX team falls under SiphonLabs
                  4) MODX still gets developed and supported

                  Maybe I'm just missing something, but you've got developers who need to be paid. And since they are under a business with a revenue stream, they can focus more on development than using MODX in projects they do for clients.

                  People still have bills to pay, and a pat on the back doesn't put food on the table, so I can't blame them for doing this. Moreover, the donation model is fine for someone doing something in their spare time, but not for a team of developers and actual employees.

                  As was also said in the post, this isn't something new: WordPress and Drupal have a commercial arm, as do other open source companies like MySQL.

                  At first I didn't get why they would want to host WordPress... and then I realized it was because of WP market size: according to a link I just found by Googling (http://royal.pingdom.com/2013/01/16/internet-2012-in-numbers/) WordPress has 59.4 million websites in the world. Strategically, this is like guerrilla warfare -- make money by hosting the large competitor and then fund your own CMS.

                  I know there are also people who want other options other than MODX Cloud: with a team of more people and a name change to something that doesn't include Cloud, it frees them up for other options as well. For myself personally, I use MODX not for Web Site development, but instead for Application development, and the prospect having a database option other than MySQL (specifically MS SQL Server) puts a smile on my face.

                  Finally, for those that worry that MODX will shrivel up and die even though there's now a more sustainable model than making the donate button flash or come up as a flying-in modal pop-up, even if for some reason development were to stop on Revolution and MODX3, there are members of the community who would get together to take it over: look at Evolution if you don't believe me. I can't believe that I just wrote that long, run-on sentence.
                  • splittingred Reply #9, 6 years ago
                    Quote from: smashbrand at Mar 28, 2013, 01:16 AM

                    But we do a lot of innovative things where we need full system access. I want FTP, shell, the ability to sub domain framework, etc. For me and our clients its about the CMS, not the cloud....it's too sandboxed for our needs.

                    Hi Kevin,

                    Just to clarify, we do give full SFTP, SSH, shell and subdomains for all non-lab Clouds. (Free Lab Clouds get SFTP-only for security reasons.) Is there something specific you're missing that we don't currently offer from a CLI perspective?
                      shaun mccormick | bigcommerce mgr of software engineering, former modx co-architect | github | splittingred.com
                    • Hi All,

                      Thank you for taking the time to kick off a discussion. We have added some comments into today's blog post. We hope this adds some clarity.

                      https://modxcloud.com/blog/2013/03/27/modx-cloud-to-become-siphonlabs/?quip_approved=1#qcom45

                      Look forward to reading people's thoughts.