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ExpressionEngine 2 Week: Interview with Leslie Camacho

To kick off our week long look at ExpressionEngine 2.0, Leslie Camacho, el presidente de EllisLab, sat down to talk with us about ExpressionEngine 2.0. Welcome to ExpressionEngine 2 week!

What is the number one feature request you’ve received that’s been implemented in 2.0?

I think the integrated File Manager is probably the most requested feature that’s been implemented in 2.0. It works “system wide” so you’re not just limited to uploading files on the Publish/Edit screens. You can manage files from just about anywhere in ExpressionEngine 2.0.

The File Manager also has an integrated Image Editor which streamlines the process of uses images in posts or elsewhere in EE.

There are lots of big requests but we started with the File Manager because we felt that was the single biggest feature EE was missing in terms of its core web publishing capabilities.

For those who want that “number one to be something else” keep in mind that 2.0 is just the beginning of 2.x. There will be plenty of new features and additions over 2.x’s lifespan, just like we did on our journey from 1.0 to 1.6.8.

How is everyone on the team feeling? What’s the mood at EllisLab?

Right now we’re feeling great, we’ll be feeling even better on December 1st! Its been a long journey to 2.0 and the end is in sight. This has energized everybody and it’s fun to be able to look past development and start working on actually building new things with 2.0. We want to utilize EE on CI just like everybody else.

What is EllisLab doing to prepare for the release?

The most important thing we’re doing is giving everyone on staff the opportunity for a vacation prior to release. We’ve been working so hard, for so long that an almost mandatory break is necessary. Once 2.0 is out in the wild the work load will ramp up again and we want the team fresh and ready to go.

I took a vacation with my wife prior to EECI2009, Derek Allard is taking one after. Rick has one scheduled as does Derek Jones, and we’re working that out with the rest of the team as well.

As for the release, we’re looking at December 1st as more of a soft launch. There are information materials to update, store updates to make, and a bunch of little things to get ready but we look at 2.0 to 2.1 as the time period where we’re going to learn the most about 2.0.

The beta has been fantastic but you can only accomplish so much in a beta. There just isn’t a substitute for real world use. As such we want to concentrate on putting EE 2.0 into the hands of our community and making the “marketing/sales push” as it were for 2.1 and on.

How do you feel about the new UI? What lead to the decision to change it?

I personally love it. The decision to change it came about from 4+ years of using EE and seeing where the UI needed updating. We had to rewrite the entire CP backend to update it for CodeIgniter anyway (View files, etc…) so it was a good opportunity to do the UI as well.

The new UI makes doing the most common tasks in EE faster. There are literally hundreds of little updates in the UI that as people work with EE, we think they’ll come to love.

The important thing to understand about the UI is that its not just a fresh coat of paint. Every single line of the CP has been rewritten in a way that will make future updates much easier for us and it will also make customizing the CP much easier for development teams. I’m not talking about new color schemes for a CP themes, but in-depth customization will be a lot easier.

For those who need to build custom apps for clients or add-ons that require a GUI, they’ll find working with the underlying code a much more pleasant experience.

What are the major selling points of 2.0 to developers? client-based services?

If you are a CodeIgniter developer we’ve literally just handed you tens of thousands of potential clients. We’ve created this market that is only going to see increased demand.

As far as the code goes, the big advantage is that you can utilize CI when developing on EE or integrating an existing application with EE. But our dev team will be better able to answer that question in technical detail and I’m sure you’ll ask them.

Bottom line, if you aren’t a CI dev, now is a good time to start thinking about it. We have the largest commercial web publishing community on the internet and the demand for customization is great.

Why December 1st?

We’re at the point where there will always be more we could do with EE 2.0 prior to release but there isn’t any more that we should do. Perhaps a better way to say this is that the value we’ll get from real world use outweighs the beta at this point and so its time to feature lock 2.0, clean up the major bugs, and release. That’s the technical reason.

The more important reason is that we’re at the point where internally we are proud of what we’ve accomplished and we’re ready to share it and support it and grow it.

We picked December 1st specifically because its after Thanksgiving (USA Holiday) and its a Tuesday, which has traditionally been a reliable day to release software (never release on a Monday).

Will there no longer be a free version of 2.0?

This is one of the last decisions we have to make regarding the primary license types. Right now, we’re pretty certain there will be no free Core version of 2.0. Its very likely we’ll continue to make EE Core 1.6.8 available and update it with any necessary security releases. In other words, even if we don’t introduce a Core version of 2.0 we’re not going to abandon EE 1.6.8 Core users or force them to upgrade.

What Core does for us from a business standpoint is offer people an easy, low-barrier way to try EE. We think there are better ways to accomplish this than a feature-limited free version that doesn’t really let you play with all the goodies that make EE so charming.

If you want to save EE Core, here’s what to do. Email me and tell me the story of how EE Core is central to your business model and helps you be successful online. In terms of marketing/sales value to EllisLab, we think there are better, more cost effective methods, but if there is a solid community-based case for keeping Core around we’ll certainly consider it.

How long will you continue to support 1.6.8?

Development of the 1.x has stopped but we’ll continue to provide security updates and technical support for a long time. There isn’t a set date. It really depends on how long it takes for the significant majority of the community to switch to 2.0.

Prior to ExpressionEngine we had a blog tool called pMachine Pro. When we introduced ExpressionEngine, we supported pMachine Pro for over 2 years and provided security updates for it for over 3 years.

I suspect that it will be similar with EE 1.x. Websites are more like applications these days and a web publishing platform more akin to an OS. As such, our view is that we should treat major upgrades like this more like an OS upgrade in terms of how we expect the community to transition.

After December 1st, what will the team be moving on to?

Nice try Mr. Meyers!

We have plans but the most important thing will be to concentrate on 2.0’s release and focus on responding quickly to real world feedback… bugs, performance, security, stability, and helping 3rd party add-on devs transition to 2.x.

Why the price increase?

We haven’t increased the price of EE in over 4 years and we need to be responsible to the business needs of the company. Our community just passed the 100,000 registered members mark which means our support costs are going to grow as well, things like that. The real question is why the price increase is only $50. The answer there is that we’re committed to keeping the primary licenses affordable to freelancers and small teams.

We have a growing number of high-end EE teams that need us to charge significantly more for EE and we’ll be doing that as well with the Corporate license/support options and some other changes that we’ll be talking about closer to release.

But its real important to us that we stay true to our freelance web developer roots and keep the primary licenses the best value for the widest audience.

Will you be offering the ability for people to Brand EE?

We already allow people to brand EE. What we don’t allow is private branding or white labeling. You can brand it to your company or your client so long as our copyright remains in the footer and you don’t claim that its your web publishing platform.

However, I think you are talking about private branding or expanded options for web teams that want to deliver a private solution to clients.

At 2.0’s release, the answer is no. However, its something we’re seriously considering for 2.x’s lifespan.

After 2.0’s release, my primary job will be to establish business-to-business relationships of various kinds such as revamping the Pro Net and introducing Corporate licensing/support options. Branding/reselling and other options will be considered during that process.

If that’s something you’re interested in, please email me and tell me how it would make your company more successful. The more detailed and thorough the story is, the more useful it is in the decision making process.

If you could, give your team some props and talk about a defining moment for them on this project.

The defining moment came when we missed our initial release date. In my 7 years at EllisLab there hasn’t been a more difficult time than October of 2008 to January of 2009.

What I’m most proud of is how we matured as a company in those short months. We owned our mistakes, didn’t panic, created a plan, made internal transitions, executed some very difficult decisions, learned to embrace our incredible community, and did it in a positive way that made all of us better people and better professionals.

Without a doubt I couldn’t ask to work with a better group of people and I never let myself forget that. Everyone talks about EE 2.0 and I’m extremely proud of that, but EllisLab 2.0 and the EE Community is where the success of the next 10 years really is. Without EllisLab 2.0 there would not be an EE 2.0.

To Rick, DJ, DA, Lisa, Robin, Pascal, Greg, Sue, Ingmar, John Henry, Greg, and Adam (yes, even the new guy) we’ve come a long way and you have much to be proud of. This also includes Nevin, Laurie, and the wonderful team at EngineHosting. Their support continues to be and always has been essential.

We’ve had an incredible 7 years, here’s to the next 10!

Posted on Oct 26, 2009 by Kenny Meyers

Filed Under: ExpressionEngine 2 Week

PXLated07:55 on 10.26.2009

7 years - My how time flies grin

Shane08:43 on 10.26.2009

I’m just picking up Expression Engine for the first time, helped largely by the excellent videos by Ryan Irelan.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s in 2.0!

Angie12:47 on 10.26.2009

I’m giddy with excitement. smile

Spamschlucker13:57 on 10.26.2009

very interesting interview, thank you for this!


Nathan Pitman22:40 on 10.26.2009

Excellent interview. Really looking forward to deploying EE2 for the first time on a live project. smile

Rod06:46 on 11.11.2009

I hadn’t ever heard of ExpressionEngine until October of 2008—right about the time the staff at EE were hitting the challenges. I had just hired a new developer and he was just bubbling over about EE and how wonderful it was. I told him we should wait for 2.0. He said that we should move forward with 1.6. (Obviously, I’m glad he talked me into that—we couldn’t have waited a year.) Meanwhile I closely read all of the EE blogs and could tell there were unexpected delays with the EE 2.0 release. At first I thought this may be a company that wasn’t well organized, but the more I read the more I recognized these people really cared about the experience of their customers. All I can say is how impressed I was to see a company put off making a few quick bucks in favor of going back to the drawing board and fixing things before the release. Far too many software companies are tossing ethics out the window in favor of fast cash. I’ll probably still wait for 2.1 before I make the switch, but the team at EllisLab deserves a pat on the back. I’m sure 2.0 will come with its share of little issues, but I have confidence it will soar in the CMS world.