The Secret Behind Our Silence

Image: 'Young Man Climbs On A Rocky Wall In A Valley With Mountains' from Shutterstock

Regular MODX.com visitors may wonder what’s going on with MODX. Some would probably even say the silence has been deafening. Now it’s time to share.

An Open Source Business

2013 was a challenging and transformative year for MODX, not without its hurdles, to put it mildly. But the saying is definitely true: what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. MODX is ready to enter the World’s Strongest OS Software competition.

Being completely candid, 2013 is when we (finally!) figured out the business of Open Source. This is incredibly important because it keeps a roof over the heads of more than a dozen families for the people that work daily to make better software. We’re bootstrapping every move we make, cash flow positive, and making profits. Not that anyone will be able to retire soon—don’t let your imagination run wild—but we are growing and looking for the right people to help us crush it in our industry.

2013 also firmly cemented the resolve of the incredible team that’s entrusted with fostering MODX. We’re 100% dedicated to building the tools that help you create amazing things on the web. We’ll keep sharing that software with the world, and offering commercial support and services around it to fund ongoing innovation. We’re in this for the long haul.

Getting Back to Basics

No matter how long it takes going forward, how long it’s taken so far, and between the lessons learned through 2013 and our re-confirmed commitment, a theme for 2014 emerged. It’s back to basics—simplify and streamlining things like crazy. We do it right, and our Community of MODXers just like you won’t be able to help yourself, and you’ll get involved.

That means we had to get or house in order, starting with the underpinnings of everything that runs the software, like user authentication and Package Management/Extras, what serves up the downloads and Add-ons to every MODX website on the Internet. Since doing this, our “Twitter monitoring platform” has not alerted us a single time to who is on deadline and needs to download Wayfinder.

In November, we also replaced our documentation platform with one built in our own software, giving us a lot more creative freedom to realize exactly what we wanted to realize, just like the millions of people around the world that use MODX software every day as users and professional website builders.

Plugging the Leaks

Currently, we’re fixing some other longstanding issues including search across the website, Add-ons, forums and documentation—suffice it to say, Elastic Search is amazing—and replacing the software that let’s people submit and maintain their Add-ons. We’re building a new website that streamlines the content to make it easier to find and uses straightforward, clear language. We hope the result is a site you send your clients to who want to learn about MODX and what it does for site owners.

Similarly, MODX Cloud has seen amazing improvements since July, when it came back home. Response times are faster, stability and robustness improved. Our new home-grown billing platform is about to go online that opens up the possibilities to do what we’ve really wanted for so long, including new plans, more backup options, and more robust solutions overall. It has laid the foundation for making it easy to get your sites out of MODX Cloud, or to keep them there if you wish, without having to open a support ticket to do so. And you will be able to pay by methods other than credit cards, including Paypal, Dwolla, Bitcoin and others in the future.

Our Forums must still be updated to the latest code base, along with some other housecleaning chores, but the majority of our legacy baggage is behind us.

Delighting MODX Users & Accelerated Innovation

Even though there’s more work to do across the board, we’ve learned the value of delivering awesome supprt. We’ll be extending support beyond Cloud in 2014, and doing our best to model after our support idols, MailChimp. We want to be the type of user-loving-and-delighting organization they’re known for, and we’re going to make it happen. MODX will be faster to start with and learn, easier to use and maintain, simpler to get the right type of help when you need it, and a really, really smart way to manage your digital storefront.

Part of delighting MODX users will also mean accelerated innovation. Rather than having to wait for our 3.0 release for the really good stuff, we’ll start incorporating it when we can in point releases. You’ll start seeing those with 2.3, and more in 2.4 and subsequent releases—which should be released with increased frequency. We’ll save the “3.0” designation for later, which will look totally different than what we could plan today. Smaller, more frequent iterations of innovation will allow us to have a more capable, usable and robust product in the future, version numbers be damned!

More Soon…

I hope you’ll get involved with MODX in 2014. There are some awesome things that will start in the near future, beginning with a big announcement on Wed, Jan 29th, that I think will usher in another wave of awesomeness for MODX. I can’t wait to share that with you soon!

About
Ryan is a Christian, the lucky husband of an amazing wife, and father of two usually great kids. A native redneck from East Texas living in Dallas for over 20 years, he's lost a bit of the verbal twang over the years, but still loves to get back to his roots over charcoal with a chunk of meat and a few frosty bevs. Ryan co-founded MODX in 2004, where he works every day helping build the company and its products. 

http://thrash.me


35 Comments


  1. Jeff Jones
    Jan 25, 2014 at 06:09 PM
    "Rather than having to wait for our 3.0 release for the really good stuff, we’ll start incorporating it when we can in point releases."

    I think this is a good move. Unless the new feature requires a ground up rewrite of MODx, then it is much better to not wait 2 years and release 50 features all at once. That is a model designed around paying customers and hard to upgrade systems like an Operating System.

    However, what I would like to see eventually is a self upgrading option within MODx. For example: When MODx goes from v2.2.10 to v2.2.11 it would be nice to just click a button and have it download and isntall the new fixes/features just like the package manager upgrades snippets.

    1. JP DeVries
      Jan 28, 2014 at 11:23 AM
      A "one click in-Manager upgrade" was actually demoed at MODXpo. It's not part of the core, and I don't think is on the 2.x roadmap, but it has been done.

    2. Pavel Lovtsevich
      Jan 26, 2014 at 03:01 AM
      Moving to more frequent releases the right decision! Continuous delivery is an advantage in today's world, and the version numbers? Who needs them?

      Good work in 2014! Looking forward to January 29!

      1. Pavel Lovtsevich
        Jan 26, 2014 at 03:06 AM
        I agree with Jeff!

        Upgrading the kernel through the Manager UI is very high demand option! A few days ago a new version of WordPress has become even automatically update option!

        Although automatic update without administrator most can be dangerous, however it is very convenient in some cases.

        1. Jörg Lippmann
          Jan 27, 2014 at 03:10 AM
          One-click-upgrades would be absolutely fantastic. When you manage a lot of sites it eats up a lot of time uploading thousands of files via ftp. Even optional patch upgrades with less files would make a huge difference.

        2. Qodo
          Jan 27, 2014 at 03:46 PM
          Thank you all for your huge effort. MODX is an incredible CMS and look forward to what 2014 has in store and hoping to get more involved in events and the community. :)

          1. Mark Hamstra
            Jan 27, 2014 at 04:32 PM
            So what's the story on 3.0 now? I get incremental updates but is that really different than what was planned for 2.3 or 2.4? Certain things that, as I understand it, were going to happen in 3.0 cannot be done in minor releases because they would cause a major backwards incompatible change. Is stuff like that still going to happen, or is the foreseeable future (say next 18 months) focused on continuing Revo 2.x before work on formerly-known-as-MODX3 will start?

            Glad to hear long-standing issues with the MODX site and services are being sorted out as we speak :)

            1. Ryan Thrash
              Jan 28, 2014 at 11:07 AM
              Definitely different re: what was planned for 2.3 and beyond. Those 3.0 features will be made available as they're mature/tested enough, and broadly supportable on commodity server infrastructure. This should result in more rapid and frequent innovations seeing the light of day, a more robust platform for developers, and iterative UX improvements for end users no matter if the UI is built on ExtJS or it changes to something else.

            2. Adam Wintle
              Jan 27, 2014 at 08:25 PM
              More frequent updates with smaller batches of feature releases is definitely a good idea! Just like Chrome and Firefox browsers are now handling it :)

              I'm also glad someone brought up updating the Managed from within the CMS, this would be a very useful feature. I'm +1 for this.

              1. Friso
                Jan 28, 2014 at 06:31 AM
                I got the same questions as Mark-H about MODX 3.0. It would be great the get an inside in your vision of MODX 3.0. Just saying it will be great doesn't cut it.

                I agree with Jeff. An update function really enhances the usability of MODX. And is a great feature what could make a difference for other CMS users to choose MODX. Cause not everybody loves an FTP driven update

                1. Carlo Bedrossian
                  Jan 28, 2014 at 08:38 AM
                  This new backend looks really really great!

                  Is it going to be responsive ?


                  Tks

                  1. Jay Gilmore
                    Jan 28, 2014 at 08:54 AM
                    Hey Carlo,

                    The level to which the current standard Manager is responsive is limited by the underlying framework, ExtJS 3.X. Due to it's rather old-fashioned markup output and backward-compatibility that removing it would cause, we cannot achieve full responsiveness until 3.0 based on semantic versioning : http://semver.org/spec/v2.0.0.html

                    That being said, it's been proven possible to create either native or mobile versions of the Manager to provide the desired functionality. Of course, in the future the Manager will be device agnostic (as much as possible).

                  2. Kris Sarratt
                    Jan 28, 2014 at 09:23 AM
                    Really exciting news. Glad to see MODX really picking up steam up again now that things are sorted out.

                    1. neil yamit
                      Jan 28, 2014 at 09:33 AM
                      Looking forward to that gorgeous admin! Good luck to the ModX Team!

                      1. Joe Molloy
                        Jan 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM
                        I'm sorry to have to strike such a negative note but I would have to agree here with some of the other commenters. No concrete specifics on the path forward such as the feature/fix list to be implemented in the 2.X branch or the timeframe in which to expect those and no details at all on 3.0, the stack to be used (ExtJS, XPDO?) etc. This does not inspire confidence going forward, it's really just more of the same 'cheerleading' we got through 2013. Ryan, as a freelance developer, I also have to keep a roof over my head (as most folk do) and, to be candid with you in return, basing my business around such a degree of uncertainty is just too big an ask.

                        I directly asked a core member when in-manager upgrades were coming in 2011 as it has been a constant bugbear with my clients and I was told at that stage to 'stay tuned', 3 years later, nothing. If you propose more frequent updates then this issue must be addressed as a first step, particularly for those on shared hosting with only FTP access for whom updates are especially time consuming or does MODX not care about those users, you know, the ones you would like to wean off Evo or is the strategy to try to herd everyone into Cloud? For my own part I wrote a script that gets the job done for my hosting setup in a few hours so I am assuming it would not be rocket science to build something quickly that would be a lot more robust.

                        As I say, I dislike having to be negative and especially in such a great community overall but critical voices in any community are also vital, particularly at watershed moments and I can plainly see that over the past couple of years some kind of nasty 'fix it yourself or shut up' culture has leaked in here making it pretty much forbidden to point out any of the very substantial problems that MODX is failing to address - for an example of this nastiness, take the response I received from some when I brought up the disaster of the documentation migration on Twitter last year.

                        I have no doubt I'll also take some flak for this post. I don't care. Despite what those from the 'fix it yourself or shut up' brigade will doubtless claim, I do care about MODX, if for no other reason than I care about my business and I think I, like the many other stakeholders in MODX's future, deserve more at this point than 'cheerleading'. We need actionable information Ryan as I have described.

                        1. Ryan Thrash
                          Jan 28, 2014 at 10:54 AM
                          Sorry you view it as cheerleading Joe, it really isn't that. It's telling you concretely what we've done, where we're going, and critically important, the why behind what we're doing.

                          Some of that "why" involves keeping folks fed. I'll never apologize for or downplay that. Some people might even be surprised by the amount of infrastructure and work that goes on behind the scenes just to support having the privilege of giving away free software at scale. It's not worth bemoaning the details though because it really is one of those things you'll never appreciate until you've actually experienced it.

                          The next thing that should be scratched off an increasingly short punch list is to finish the Github issues migration. I'm sure others won't be happy with that move, but it is exactly what will occur and it will free us to focus on innovation rather than maintaining fragile infrastructure. Perfect, no? A positive step in the right direction, hells-yeah!

                          If we told you today what we think MODX 3 will look like it would be absolutely wrong when it ships. Instead we'll focus on what we do know concretely: MODX Revolution 2.3 is coming out next and it will include things that would otherwise have been slated for 3. Download the pre-release and poke around for more details. Barring major snafus, in a few days you should also be able to see the roadmaps/milestones for Revo at Github, too.

                          1. JP DeVries
                            Jan 28, 2014 at 11:51 AM
                            The 2.x roadmap which admittedly is outdated but still contains relevant features is here:
                            http://rtfm.modx.com/revolution/2.x/getting-started/an-overview-of-modx/roadmap

                            There are several new feature and improvements in the 2.3 branch. A lot of them are community contributions for things we never would have even thought to roadmap. The best way to see those would be on Github.

                            Once 2.3 is release candidate you can expect to hear more about 3.0. We need to keep that the focus, as it has been much delayed, while reminding the community that 3.0 is in the planning stages.

                            Regarding the front end toolkit for 3.0, I (as in myself) have started a project to help use work together to compare and decide what toolkit will be best for what we have planned for 3.0. Anyone can watch the project, contribute, submit a toolkit for consideration. If the project proves itself, it may be forked by modxcms and officially announced.
                            https://github.com/jpdevries/matboard

                            Remember this is open source. Even though I am a core developer the process I'm taking is the same process anyone else could to contribute to MODX. Make awesome, submit a pull request, hope it gets approved or picks up some attention.

                          2. Joe Molloy
                            Jan 28, 2014 at 11:25 AM
                            But Ryan it's actually not telling anything about the direction of MODX technically moving forward, which is key for me and I believe many other users. Rather than telling us to spend our valuable time downloading and working through the 2.3 preview to figure out what's new/revised, why not just enumerate the changes coming in 2.3 and publish a roadmap for the rest of the 2.X branch?

                            It's frankly also a bit of a patronising assumption to suggest that I or others don't or can't at least guesstimate what it takes to provide the software at scale - I so do, if only for no other reason than because so many times when I or my clients hit these services they are down - like the package manager was as I was typing my original post.

                            I have no issues with you pointing out that the core team need a sustainable living, but as I said, who doesn't?

                            I note you have said nothing on the issue that so many have raised here, the in-manager update facility, can we get some clarification of your position on that please?

                            It's not all negative, I'm personally glad to see the issue tracking moved to Github so well done on that initiative but the vagaries here now are definitely becoming an issue for me.




                            1. JP DeVries
                              Jan 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM
                              We are very committed to keeping services like package manager up and running for you and your clients. Part of the reason 2.3 was recently delayed is we had to shift priorities to address some critical infrastructure issues. We are also committed to keeping our documentation up. That's why we invested an immeasurable amount of time both on and off the clock to move to the new RTFM. This was not a smooth transition, nor is the GitHub issue migration we are currently wrapping up.

                              I'm working on some initiative to improve community communication and contribution this quarter and feedback is always appreciated.

                            2. Ryan Thrash
                              Jan 28, 2014 at 11:33 AM
                              Joe, when migration to Github for issues is completed, roadmap will be there like I said.

                              In-Manager update was demo'd at MODXpo, as JP points out above. It's awesome. I'd love to see it … and it needs a ton of testing and dependency reviews before it can go on the roadmap.

                              1. Joe Molloy
                                Jan 28, 2014 at 01:01 PM
                                Well Ryan its disappointing that the roadmap can not be released now and I'm frankly at a loss to see why. As for in-manager updates, 3 years plus for something that's essentially a mechanism to overwrite or add to existing files in a structured file system. Guess I have my answers.

                                1. JP DeVries
                                  Jan 28, 2014 at 04:00 PM
                                  I don't think Ryan said that the roadmap cannot be released now. Heres the current roadmap:
                                  http://rtfm.modx.com/revolution/2.x/getting-started/an-overview-of-modx/roadmap

                                  Once GitHub issues are finished being migrated roadmap and related discussion will be on GitHub.

                                  As for in-manager updates, roadmaps do change. In the last three years, we haven't seen in Manager updates make it into the MODX core, but we have seen MODX Cloud arise which has similar "dashboard" features. We've also seen packaging toolkits like teleport released.

                                  1. Ryan Thrash
                                    Jan 28, 2014 at 07:10 PM
                                    Actually Joe, that's not what's disappointing.

                                    1. Garry Nutting
                                      Jan 28, 2014 at 07:56 PM
                                      Joe, I think there's a few technicalities to the in-manager upgrade than you might think once you open it up to the masses ... of course, we're happy to be proven wrong, you want to share the script you wrote for that?

                                      1. Peter Knight
                                        Jan 29, 2014 at 04:21 AM
                                        I've used this upgrade tool which Joe mentioned. It rocks and works beautifully. There's a few especially cool features such as database and file backup as well as the ability to choose which Revo version you want to install.

                                    2. Malcom Reno
                                      Jan 29, 2014 at 09:08 PM
                                      Yeah, another published roadmap...


                                      http://modx.com/blog/2012/09/11/the-modx-innovation-process-putting-penguins-in-a-suitcase/

                                      MODX Innovation or Putting Penguins in a Suitcase

                                      Posted by Kevin Marvin on Sep 11, 2012

                                      Result: A Published Roadmap

                                      Over the next few weeks, we will transcribe this information. Once properly massaged and put into small plastic baggies for storage in suitcases, we will entered them into our Project Tracker. We will also add the ability to vote on features to let you—and all MODX users—tell us how you feel about the activities we're planning. We’re also going to organize and collaborate with groups of community members to add to the list of ideas for the products.

                                    3. Martin Gartner
                                      Jan 28, 2014 at 01:51 PM
                                      " There are some awesome things that will start in the near future, beginning with a big announcement on Wed, Jan 29th, that I think will usher in another wave of awesomeness for MODX. I can’t wait to share that with you soon!"

                                      I hope it's what I think what it is! :-)

                                      1. Ryan Thrash
                                        Jan 28, 2014 at 07:11 PM
                                        It'll take a little while longer for that, but it's coming!

                                      2. mdsdesign
                                        Jan 28, 2014 at 03:13 PM
                                        It's great to hear that everyone at MODX is working hard to make the software better for everyone and putting a plan in place to make sure it is around for a long time to come. I still prefer MODX over every other platform that I've used but I do also have some concerns. I'm with Joe Molloy on the in-manager updates. Lately there have been a number of updates and taking care of them manually is incredibly time consuming for all of my clients. I'm part of a small design group and we have many, many installations of MODX across many different servers and shared hosting plans. Usually upgrades go pretty smoothly but other times there are issues that take up so much time. We've started using WordPress on more sites just because of the ease up updating and adding plugins and add-ons. I would prefer to stick with MODX and hope to do so as much as possible. Having an in-manager update button would make that choice so much easier.

                                        Thanks for making the software great and to committing to the platform. I'm looking forward to great things from MODX.

                                        1. Jesse Showalter
                                          Jan 28, 2014 at 06:52 PM
                                          Very excited, more for the team of MODX than anything else. People who create great products deserve to be less stressed as time goes by. We as the MODX community should be asking less what they can do for us and more what we can be doing to help. Become a MODX ambassador, spread the word, hold a meetup, write code if you can, design something useful if that's your game. Don't get me wrong I am very excited for all the updates rolling out, but the people behind it matter more.

                                          1. Ryan Thrash
                                            Jan 28, 2014 at 07:15 PM
                                            Thank you Jesse!

                                            1. Jeff Miranda
                                              Jan 29, 2014 at 12:29 PM
                                              +1 @Jesseatomic

                                              1. YJ Tso
                                                Jan 29, 2014 at 05:38 PM
                                                Jesse that makes our day :)

                                              2. Lee Brinckley
                                                Jan 29, 2014 at 12:25 PM
                                                Ryan,

                                                This is very exciting! I know many of your team members personally and I can say that MODX team is the strongest it has ever been. I am excited to see that MODX has regained focus through the growing pains and continues to grow stronger and provide an absolute great CMS! Looking forward to what 2014 brings.

                                                1. YJ Tso
                                                  Jan 29, 2014 at 05:57 PM
                                                  Thank you Lee!

                                                  ..and to everyone who took the time to post comments and suggestions. Even negative ones, as Joe points out, have their place and purpose, and I think I speak for the team when I say we appreciate all the viewpoints.

                                                  It's completely natural and understandable when an unknown causes anxiety: "What's happening for MODX 3? What's on the roadmap? When will we get in-Manager upgrading?" It might be even more stress-inducing when we feel we can't do anything about the unknowns.

                                                  Let me shed a bit of light - some specifics, for those who are interested.

                                                  Due to the fact that MODX is free and open-source software, AND that we don't yet have the kind of resources at the disposal of say, Wordpress or Drupal, often times the "roadmap" of features are simply those that fit client requirements. I know this intimately as I'm working with those clients daily. The new Extra Collections is one such example, and actually we have another half dozen or so similarly amazing and bootstrapped Extras we'd like to release.

                                                  Are there features we want to develop, that are needed in MODX, that aren't asked for by clients? 1000% Can we afford to make those happen, before client priorities? ~10%.

                                                  Additionally, it's not only client requirements but internal ones that drive innovation as well. For example Teleport, and ElasticSearch, are both technologies we've integrated into MODX because we desperately needed them internally.

                                                  So the answer to the question "what's coming next" is a mixture of what we'd like to do, and what we end up doing out of necessity. Could we be better at updating you all? Sure, agreed, admitted.

                                                  However, are community members relegated to live under the thumb of anxiety, waiting for the next thing to hit MODX? Waiting for the core team to add a long-awaited feature? Absolutely not.

                                                  Some community members have forged ahead and made Extras, or core improvements, that solve the problems they have, that their clients have. Their hard work and creativity amazes us and seeing cool community-made stuff is partly the reason I wake up in the morning. This is the heartbeat of open source. Everyone pitches in and gets involved.

                                                  May I suggest to those who can't write software: sell the feature(s) you want to a client who wants it and hire yet another community member who can develop it.

                                                  It's easy and understandable to be upset about the unknowns. But in the end, certainly in the MODX ecosystem, we all have the power to do something about it. Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to discuss how.

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