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All entries posted in 2012

Eric Lamb on: Awards and Web Development

Awards are an odd thing in the web development world. A lot of developers don’t even know they exist and those that do, in my experience, are pretty split in how they view them. Some like them, some hate them, but all, in my experience, want them. None moreso in our little nook of the Internet than the AcadamEE Awards from devot:ee.

Disclosure: I (and my products) am nominated for 3 awards this year (Extension, FieldType, and Developer of the Year). While I’m not writing this to specifically shill for votes you shouldn’t let that stand in the way of voting for me.

Now, if you don’t know, 90% of the time awards within web development center around a specific client website. Projects that are collaborations between a team of people that goes above and beyond a single individual and their contributions. There are quite a few organizations that handle this sort of stuff, like the American Business Awards, IMA, Webby, and SIA, but there isn’t any sort of officiality to the process or anything. They all seem to do their own thing and abide by no standard or set criteria.

So, for the most part, online awards are really tough to measure in terms of value. Who, exactly, chose the nominees? What criteria comes into play when determining who wins an award? Why the hell did they pick what they did? Most awarding institutions are pretty vague on those questions so it makes it almost impossible to add any weight to the award. For all we know it could be a filthy dude in their bathrobe.

Most designers and programmers, in my experience, realize this though and seem to not really care about awards outside having the percieved professional accolades. For what it’s worth; I’ve never heard a developer mention they were up for an award; it’s always mentioned in past tense, if ever. It’s just not something that comes up casually in conversation.

But for the administrators (the producers, project managers, general managers, and, especially, agency owners), they seem to eat this stuff up. Maybe they know the answers to the above, or maybe they don’t care and just like there’s a third party they can use as an impartial source for credibility. No idea really but I know they do love them their awards.

But the AcademEE Awards seem different. We know that it’s Ryan Masuga and the devot:ee team, with data taken from devot:ee, who chooses the nominees. We know the actual winners are chosen by the ExpressionEngine community; people we know and who know us. There’s no secret consortium in a back room deciding this. It’s the community doing what it does best; speaking.

For a lot of us ExpressionEngine add-on devs this is a big deal. A bigger deal, I think, than most would likely admit to. It’s the time when our peers, those people in the community who actually use the products and know the developers, can stand up and let us devs know what they think. There’s some real value in that.

The majority of the nominations, across all categories, are for single devs (those unassociated with a dev shop). The individual people who work late into the night, long after their day job finished, often for something they’re just going to give away for free. Most of the time they do this because they have to. It’s the passion for the craft of programming and ExpressionEngine that motivates, but things like the AcademEE Awards certainly feed that motivation.

So if there’s been a dev who’s helped you out above and beyond or created an add-on that’s become crucial to your business now’s the time to stand up and show a little appreciation.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012 by Eric Lamb

Filed Under: Life as a Web Professional,

Weekly Wrap: December 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap Image It’s Friday. Again. Which means, it’s time for another edition of the Weekly Wrap. We put together this roundup for you, the community, so be sure to tag any of your ExpressionEngine news with the #eenews hashtag on Twitter.

Here are some notable pieces of information from this week in EE:

Sponsored by HelpSpot

Answering customer support through email clients is messy & error prone. HelpSpot makes it organized and easy. Learn why companies like EngineHosting, BrilliantRetail, and Focus Lab use HelpSpot to manage their support.

Objective HTML

Justin Kimbrell has been busy this week. First and foremost, he’s released Google Maps for ExpressionEngine version 3.1.

Justin describes it this way:

With over six months of development, 19 new features, and 21 bug fixes, this is the premium mapping add-on for ExressionEngine.

Also released, was an expansion pack for the Google Maps add-on. Google Maps Proxy allows you to quicky and easily enable your own proxy to re-route requests away from a cloud or shared hosting environment.

Zenbu Studio

Nicolas Bottari released Kyara 1.1. Kyara enables longer maximum characters in entry titles and other fields, easy conversion of tables to another collation/encoding, and simple database backup using CodeIgniter’s database backup tools.

Low

Low updated Low GoogleSearch to 1.1.0 with some new extension hooks and parameters.

Electric Putty

Better Workflow 1.5 was released, featuring official Matrix support.

Rein

Rein released Gmaps 2.4, which offers Twitter integration, JS events, and bug fixes.

Creat-ee

Creat-ee is offering a free intro to EE2 webinar.

From EE Insider

Have a great weekend, don’t work too hard! We still have ad spots open on EE Insider as well. Feel free to get in touch if you’re interested.

Posted on Dec 07, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: Weekly Roundup,

Your Weekly Devot:ee - December 6, 2012

devot:ee

  • Google Maps Proxy ($) by Objective HTML
    Google Maps Proxy allows you to quicky and easily enable your own proxy to re-route requests away from a cloud or shared hosting envionment.
  • Safecracker emailer by Punch Buggy
    Sends a notification each time an entry is updated with Safecracker. You can optionally choose a specific channel. Supports {short_name} tags throughout the fields, for both channel settings and channel field names.

Posted on Dec 06, 2012 by Ryan Masuga

Filed Under: Weekly Devot:ee,

An Event Apart Website Redesign

An Event Apart, the popular, and highly classy design conference for people who make websites, received a brand new look over the weekend. It’s fully responsive, and quite a nice refresh from the previous version.

The best part is, it’s running ExpressionEngine!

Posted on Dec 04, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: News,

Weekly Wrap: November 30, 2012

Weekly Wrap Image Well I’ll be, looks like I’m back to posting the FR…Weekly Wrap: the ExpressionEngine community news of the week.

This was quite an eventful week. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here are a few posts to get you caught up (but I’m almost certain you know what’s up):


Sponsored by HelpSpot

Answering customer support through email clients is messy & error prone. HelpSpot makes it organized and easy. Learn why companies like EngineHosting, BrilliantRetail, and Focus Lab use HelpSpot to manage their support.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s promote the awesome that you did this week.

Low Events Updated

Low has added Low Search, Zenbu support, and new tags and parameters to Low Events.

Isaac Raway Released More Entries

This free add-on lets you essentially nest channel entries tags without making ExpressionEngine freak out. Due to the fact the tag has a different name, you can embed it within a channel entries loop to pull in other content. This also eliminates the need for an embed or other method.

New Site for the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program

QB Marketing launched a multi-lingual site for the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program.

And that’s a wrap! See what I did there?

Make sure to tag your ExpressionEngine related news with #eenews on Twitter, and we’ll make sure to showcase it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Other Posts on EE Insider this Week

Posted on Nov 30, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: Weekly Roundup,

EllisLab on New Licensing

Some of you have been vocal about your dislike of the new ExpressionEngine license costs. The removal of the Non-Commercial and Freelancer licenses have led many to ask “Why?” Well, Derek Jones opens up as to why EllisLab went the route of selling ExpressionEngine in one flavor.

For those who want the quick and dirty here’s a list of pros and cons:

Pros

  • No more spending hours of your time (and EllisLab Support’s time) asking if your project qualifies for a cheaper license.
  • With the license changes, all licenses have been upgraded, regardless of the type, to the standard $299 version of ExpressionEngine. (Which they didn’t have to do.)
  • ExpressionEngine 1 license holders can upgrade to ExpressionEngine 2 for the flat fee of $50.
  • EllisLab no longer has to package three separate versions of ExpressionEngine for new version releases.
  • The team can focus more on building ExpressionEngine instead of figuring out who gets what.
  • With one license type, better estimates of revenue can be made.

Cons

  • Non-profits with small budgets now have to pay twice as much as before.

From the lists, it is clear that the move was reasonable. Do you think so?

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: EllisLab,

EE Podcast: Big Changes for EE & EllisLab

There’s been a lot of discussion over the recent changes at EllisLab. Various community members, including EE Insider’s Ryan Irelan and Eric Lamb, weigh in on the changes and so, not to be outdone, the EE Podcast throws their opinion into the ring! wink

We discuss what EllisLab’s and EE’s evolution may mean for developers and the future of the software. From the new site design to paid support to partner relationships, today’s episode offer opinions on the good and the “remains to be seen.”

Tune in now!

Correction Nov 29, 2012 4pm MT: On the podcast, we made a couple of errors that we’d like to clarify. We mentioned that the previous commercial pricing and non-commercial pricing were $249 and $99, respectively. This is incorrect. Previous commercial licenses were at $299.95 and non-commercial was $149.95, with the Freelancer license at $99.95. Additionally, the podcast has heard that Derek Jones will be talking more about EllisLab and Enterprise in the near future, so stay tuned for that!

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 by CTRL+CLICK CAST

Filed Under: EE Podcast,

Your Weekly Devot:ee - November 29, 2012

devot:ee

  • Tag Extra ($) by Hop Studios
    If you’re running SolSpace’s tag module, there might be times when you want some default tags to appear on each entry. This extension adds those tags at new entry and edit time so if an entry has no tags, it’ll get the default ones.
  • Dollars Fieldtype by Working Concept (Matt Stein)
    Simple fieldtype for accepting human-friendly dollar formats and storing integers.
  • More Entries by Isaac Raway (Airways)
    More Entries allows you to query data in exactly the same way that the built-in Channel Entries tag allows. More Entries supports all parameters, variables and third party extensions supported by Channel Entries, and most importantly can be called inside of an existing Channel Entries loop!

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 by Ryan Masuga

Filed Under: Weekly Devot:ee,

Eric Lamb on the EllisLab Changes

This is the first installment of a new column by Eric Lamb covering the world of ExpressionEngine add-on development. Eric will regularly join us here on the site and chime in on whatever is on his mind. For this first installment, Eric gets honest with you about the changes EllisLab made this past weekend. We don’t know what to call this column but we’re open to suggestions. Have a good one? Email us. –Ryan

Recently EllisLab made some HUGE and sweeping changes to pretty much everything. They killed free official support, changed their pricing model, replaced the CEO, consolidated the main product sites into a single presence, and even killed the ExpressionEngine Pro Network. Lots and lots of changes that happened, seemingly, overnight and with little warning (outside of the support changes).

It appears that a bunch of people in the community were taken completely by surprise and are taking these changes pretty hard. For some agencies and developers, the support was a huge asset that they relied on and now that it’s no longer included they’re feeling less secure with ExpressionEngine as a product for their business. A bunch of smarter people than I have written their thoughts on how this affects consumers so I’m not going to dig too deep into it outside of saying that, to me, if these changes hurt your business, likely you have much bigger problems to address.

That said, I believe most of the changes EllisLab made have very little negative effect on add-on developers. I mean, sure, if these changes end up killing the entire platform there’d be some negative effect on add-on devs. But outside that, and I seriously doubt that’ll happen, there’s very little to worry about with any of those changes. In fact, I think some of them are pretty sweet for add-on developers specifically.

Now, if you weren’t at EECI this year, know that it was a big surprise to a lot of people to learn how much of a burden free support is for add-on devs. Both Solspace and Pixel & Tonic, arguably 2 of the most successful and respected add-on shops around, admitted to mostly breaking even due to the costs of free support. More though, others, like me (mithra62), are actually working at a loss due to free support. No joke people; unlimited free support is a killer if you’re trying to build a profitable business around ExpressionEngine add-on development.

But with the changes EllisLab made, it opens things up for add-on developers to help cover the costs of support. Like it or not, EllisLab does set the tone for how add-on devs are expected to operate so, with them going to paid support, add-on devs can do the same without ruffling as many feathers. Sure, some devs could have gone cowboy and done this without them (and I know of 2 that have) but EllisLab being first does make things easier for everyone I think.

Another thing that’s pretty interesting is the switch to focusing on Enterprise level customers. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what that means so I’m making a couple assumptions here but, in my experience, this should be really good for add-on developers. Enterprise customers are the companies who have little to no problem paying for above and beyond support and may even open up additional revenue streams for add-on developers. Plus, considering how small the existing market for add-ons is anything to help that grow is good.

In terms of the Pro Network going away I’m actually pretty ambivalent there. I’m not sure the Pro Network did much for everyday developers in any real way and I’m even less sure it helped add-on devs. It was a list of people with little to no moderation outside of initial profile creation. Big deal. I’m surprised anyone found any value there outside of personal ego. Hearing the complaints, I’m likely wrong, but honestly; I just don’t get it.

So, for me, as an add-on developer, I’m pretty encouraged by all this. I know a lot of people in the community seem to have taken these changes personally and are lashing out. I know they don’t affect me as a website developer or add-on developer. Frankly, I just don’t think there’s anything to worry about with any of this.

Oh, and if the free official support going away bothers you get on the Stack Exchange and get community support that’ll likely be faster and more helpful than otherwise.


Eric Lamb is the developer of professional and enterprise grade ExpressionEngine add-ons. Founded in 2009 Eric’s company mithra62 aims to be a leader in ExpressionEngine add-on development and has a reputation for stability, usefulness, and being highly configurable.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 by Eric Lamb

Filed Under: EllisLab,

ExpressionEngine Stack Exchange Site Goes Public

The ExpressionEngine Stack Exchange site has officially made it to the Public Beta stage!

This means the site is open to the public and doesn’t require an invitation. Keep the questions coming!

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: News,

The New EllisLab.com: You Want My Opinion?

One thing the #eecms tag on Twitter made clear is that everyone has an opinion about the changes EllisLab made to their site and their products this past weekend. We put together a quick round-up of the EllisLab changes on Sunday. It covers the basics but read through some recent stuff for more details. There is some misinformation out there about what did change, so get caught up on that first.

All set? Good. Let’s break this down.

New Support Plans

I was asked by EllisLab earlier this year what I thought about private, paid support. I encouraged them to do it. I had no influence beyond a single email exchange in January. In short: I am happy that EllisLab switched to paid, private support for ExpressionEngine.

No matter how it may look to the customer, support is never free. It is either built into the price of the product or charged for separately. Up until this weekend, EllisLab supported their CMS for almost nothing. $299 for a software license plus unlimited support doesn’t work as a business model with goals for growth. The new setup allows EllisLab to give better support to those that need and want it while allowing them to grow the support staff. The paid support support funds the staff. It’s pretty basic stuff.

In case you think new customers are left out: new ExpressionEngine license purchasers are supported for 3 months as part of their purchase. This time limited support should be enough to help them work through issues during the site build. Agencies don’t have to pay for support per site license. It’s one fee that covers as many sites as you work on.

The lack of private support has always been a problem for me. I work on client sites and sometimes I need to explain a problem in detail. On a public forum, where all official support took place up until now, I can’t always do that because part of a project might be confidential. In a private support thread, however, I can lay it all out without worry that someone will find it through a Google search.

If you’ve been following along, you know that this isn’t a surprise and was pretty well telegraphed by EllisLab (had to use a Google cached version because the post no longer appears on the blog). Over the past several months EllisLab has been testing out its private support feature with select customers in the forums.

What wasn’t hinted at were the price tiers for support. I mentioned on Twitter that I thought the prices were a little high for the support response time in the $299/month mid tier. I’ve pulled back a little in my initial criticism after reviewing the support options from the competition. However, one business day is the wrong waiting period. One calendar day should be the standard. The traditional business week doesn’t work anymore–especially with small business owners and freelancers–and isn’t as flexible across the world’s timezones.

Pro Network

Sunday morning, EllisLab sent out an email to all Pro Network members stating that effective immediately the Pro Net was suspended.

The reaction on Twitter made it clear that some people relied on the Pro Network as a way to back up their reputation and the recommendation of using ExpressionEngine to clients. Many also found it useful for project leads (others, however, did not. One person even described the types of leads that result from it as just a bunch of “tire kickers.”)

Right after launch the inbound Pro Network links redirected to the Enterprise Partners page, which understandably rubbed some people the wrong way. EllisLab quickly corrected that yesterday and old Pro Network links now redirect to an explanation page. This should be a satisfactory interim solution until EllisLab–with input from the community–decides the future of the Pro Network.

I don’t have any strong opinion about the Pro Network other than it wasn’t working for EllisLab and it’s their right to discontinue it. Some advanced notice (like they did with the affiliate program) beyond a Sunday morning email would’ve created a lot of goodwill and made it seem less like a last minute decision.

License Simplification

EllisLab has once again simplified the license options. There is now only one license option for $299. Freelance and non-profit licenses are no longer available. I understand that only having a $299 license is an adjustment. However, any web project today where EE is a good fit should be able to support that license fee.

To dig up some old skeletons and pick a bone: I am firmly in the camp that removing the EE Core version was a bad idea. It has likely decreased adoption of ExpressionEngine among users of other systems and prevented new people from tinkering. I don’t think it was a bad idea to simplify to just one license type but I still want Core (or something like it) back.

Website Redesign

This is the part of this piece where I’m struggling because I had such a strong negative reaction to the redesign. I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to figure out what I don’t like about it and how I can explain that without just rattling off a bullet list of negativity. I care about how ExpressionEngine is marketed and sold because its success directly affects me and my business. As it does others, too.

In all, the entire website feels like a flashback. And not in a good way. The logo is a step backward for a company that is taking a firm, bold step forward in its business through new product offerings.

As I browsed around the site it felt unfocused and wordy (like me when I’m over-caffeinated). An example is the introduction on the homepage. It’s a 31-word paragraph that could be summed in 5 words: “Solid software. World class support.” Cut everything else.

As I continued to browse, I wondered about the site’s identity. Is EllisLab.com a superhero-inspired quirky company site or a site where I can come learn about ExpressionEngine, other products and support? There’s also a science theme with the periodic table listing the staff members and their geographic locations (clever treatment; I like it). Can it be all of these? Right now it is and it’s not working very well for me. They could have benefited from some content strategy and unified design direction.

(I wish there was a Skip Intro on that support page animation. Do I have to watch that every time?)

On the homepage, the company history is a long, horizontal pencil drawing. There is no copy included so people brand new to EllisLab will have no idea what this means and it provides very little value to them. It’s fun and I like the idea. I just don’t know how it fits in with everything else or helps someone choose ExpressionEngine over another CMS.

The product pages, especially for ExpressionEngine, have no product images and do very little to sell me on ExpressionEngine. Don’t be so shy! Show me the goods and make me understand why this is the best choice.

As a site that sells EE as a product, this site, in its current form, is far behind where the old one was. It feels like there are a lot of inside jokes and motifs that I don’t get. It feels like it was designed for the enjoyment of EllisLab and not for the good of the customers.

The good news is that the web is a living, moving, and changing medium. Nothing is permanent. Launching a fully fleshed out site with all new copy is very hard to do. I know EllisLab will refine and tweak their new site as the days, weeks, and months go on.

Closing Arguments

The sum of the changes EllisLab made will be good for them. Now that the site is launched they can refocus their time on refining their messaging, improving ExpressionEngine, and showing that their new support platform is a good deal.

I know not everyone is happy with the changes but nothing EllisLab did yesterday changes why I use the software or why I recommend it.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: EllisLab,

ExpressionEngine & CodeIgniter Austin Meetup this Wednesday

Join the ExpressionEngine & CodeIgniter Austin Meetup Group Wednesday, November 28th, for a discussion on custom ExpressionEngine add-ons and a recap of EECI 2012.

EE developer Robert Banh of Tacheo Group will speak on EE add-on development, from extending core classes, to using various undocumented features of ExpressionEngine.

Be sure to RSVP.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: Meetups,

Temporary Pro Network Page as EllisLab Restructures Program

Existing Pro Network links now redirect to http://ellislab.com/pro-network/ as opposed to the Enterprise Partners page. EllisLab is currently reworking how the Pro Network functions.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: News,

Free Trial of EllisLab Silver Support Plan

While EllisLab product support (ExpressionEngine and MojoMotor) has moved to a paid system, EllisLab hasn’t left us out to dry. In the blog post “Introducing a New EllisLab Support Experience” the following is stated:

…every single ExpressionEngine or MojoMotor license holder gets 3 months of the new EllisLab Support right now. To start your complementary 3 month subscription, just add Silver Support to your cart in the store and complete the order as usual. And starting today, anyone purchasing our software for the first time will get the same deal.

The Silver Support plan has the following benefits:

  • 1 Urgent Ticket per month
  • Unlimited support tickets
  • Unlimited sites covered
  • 2 Day Response time

Typically this is $49 per month.

Again, you get a three month trial of this.

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: News,

New EllisLab Refund Policy: There Isn’t One

There’s a new refund policy on EllisLab software: there isn’t one. This is a change from the 30 day money back guarantee. They do however, encourage you to test before you buy.

From the license agreement:

Due to the non-returnable nature of downloadable software, EllisLab, Inc. does not issue refunds once a transaction has been completed.

If you have questions about whether or not ExpressionEngine will work for you, please contact us to request a free trial.

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 by Kyle Cotter

Filed Under: