This Is Gonna Be Emotional, We’re Setting over 90% of Our Premium Plugins Free!
WordPress is evolving, and so are we, even though it’s hard to see the kids leave home.
It’s almost 12 years since Andrew and I launched WPMU DEV Premium as ‘a subscription-based service that offers advanced plugins for WordPress Multi-User’ and I reckon it’s fair to say that, well, it’s been quite the ride.
And as of today, we’re taking another corner, guided by you, our members, and bringing all of our focus and efforts to the core services and functionality you care most about when it comes to running a great WordPress site, or two, or a few thousand.
But first a little history.
Over the years we’ve released well over 100 premium plugins, have a bbPress installation that’s hitting something like 1.5 million posts, had over 750,000 users sign up and smushed more than 33,300,000,000 (yes, that’s billion) images with over 267,000 different sites currently hooked up to The Hub.
And that’s just the stuff that worked, lol. We’ve tried our hand at auto install and config of MU, becoming the WP Plugin App Store, achieving peak Gutenberg 5 years too early and no end of other gambles.
But today marks perhaps the most significant change we’ve made as a company, because as of today, we’re embracing and focusing on what the vast vast majority of our members care about and saying farewell and good luck to the over 90% of our plugin catalogue, which you can now find freely available on our GitHub.
CoursePress – The first thing I ever wanted to do online was to build a great LMS, but by the time I got round to it my focus was elsewhere and there are lots of amazing 3rd party platforms online that do this so much better. Like a native live chat plugin, these also don’t work.
Jobs & Experts, Reader, Support System – Same story… you can’t compete with dedicated high-quality platforms offering increasingly wonderful tools in this area. It’s a real shame, in many ways, that WP hasn’t evolved to such an extent to make this a really feasible business model (although in not doing so, there are lots of side benefits)
Dozens and dozens of Multisite specific plugins – some teeny, some bigger, all will be missed.
Pretty simple really, at the end of the day if you are unable to successfully meet and exceed your customer’s needs, then, speaking personally, I’d rather not pretend we are doing that and then deliver something average.
And at WPMU DEV our capacity to meet those needs is effectively determined by the number of members we have using a specific plugin, the level of difficulty entailed in ongoing development & support of that plugin and how it compares to the competition (and is likely to do so in future).
For example, our ‘Ad sharing’ plugin that rotates ad code based on a % set by a network admin so that the subsite owner and they can share in ad revenue has, since we started tracking stats properly in April 2009, been downloaded 26,315 times and yet is active on only 56 members sites and has generated 234 support forum threads and seen 23 releases 😬.
It’s not particularly hard to support but it’s also hardly the future of WordPress and hey, you can take it from GitHub and run with it if you like, it should be solid for years!
And then there’s the pro version of MarketPress that has been downloaded 189,732 times but is now only active on 1,179 members sites (by only 729 members) and has been responsible for 13,712 forum support tickets and many more times that in live chats. Oucha.
The complexity levels involved here are enormous, the competition ‘won’ years and years ago and is supported by Automattic… it’s also really good. Woocommerce is a much better call for our members and we would be doing them a disservice if we told them otherwise.
Which is why, by shifting our focus, we can be better for you.
Moving on from these projects will allow us to do what moving on from Upfront allowed us to do last year – namely focus on bringing you, dear member, products, services and an experience that will be nothing short of magical.
Our developers will have swathes more time to focus on the plugins you really want, the Hub experience you deserve and, coming shortly out of beta, the best hosting product in WordPress (of which you’ll get 3 free instances with your existing membership at no extra cost!!!)
And our expert support team can focus on the solutions that you are actually using and are likely to use in the future. We can give you better support for the WordPress tools and services that *you* actually use.
What to do if you’re currently using these plugins?
Well, you are welcome to continue using them! In fact, you can take them for your own use, fork them on GitHub or wherever and even go and sell them if you like… just maintain the license so somebody else can do the same 😊. That’s the magic of open source!
If you need help transitioning to alternatives, or have any other questions or concerns, we’re here to help 24/7/365, just head over to live chat support to talk to someone.
We won’t leave you in the lurch, we will do everything in our power and spend as much time as is necessary to make sure you have a good experience here.
Why GitHub and not WordPress.org?
In the same way, as we don’t want to provide ‘lesser’ plugins and experiences on WPMU DEV, we don’t think that WordPress.org deserves that either.
So you’ll also find that we’ve removed everything apart from the absolutely core plugins we are dedicated to there as well. And, to be honest, we’d encourage others to do the same.
WordPress thrives as a result of the time and effort that people are able to put into it, whether as a straightforward volunteer, as a member of a company that is dedicated to encouraging its staff to contribute in the community as developers and support or as the owner of an individual freemium plugin.
If you are unable to put the time into a plugin or theme on wp.org, then it’s probably best to sunset it to provide users with the best possible chance of finding what they need. It’s the responsible thing to do. IMO.
But you said you wouldn’t be doing this!
I know, I did, and it was (and has been) my intent to keep and develop and build these plugins for the longest time possible.
I’ve toyed with the idea, been assailed by members of the company to do it and always fallen back to these core parts of what we are.
But, but, but the thing is that it’s no longer just about me. How our company evolves now means supporting over 100 of my colleagues who rely on me to make hard decisions (even ones that I may not like) and admit where I was wrong.
And this is one of those occasions. I was wrong to say we wouldn’t ever do something like this, I should have instead said that I didn’t want to do anything like this, but that it could change depending on circumstances. I’m sorry.
If you are an active member and feel super stressed or worried about this decision please don’t hesitate to contact us on [email protected] or via our 24/7 live support and we will do everything in our power to assist.
Also please remember too that while we will be no longer actively developing these plugins, we *will* be supporting them in the same way that we support *any* WP plugin, theme or service, 24/7/365.
So, where to from here?
Well, maybe it’s time to start my own Killed by
But in all seriousness, in addition to making The Hub the absolute best place to manage every aspect of every site you manage, and the small matter of hosting, you can expect us to continue to focus on optimization with Hummingbird and Smush, on your security by Defender, creating successful marketing machines with SmartCrawl and Hustle, white labelling with Branda and Reports… and a few more specials that I can’t quite tell you about yet (but’ll be on the roadmap soon).
Check out our new navigation for a tour.
And, after that, please do come along on the ride with us as we slip the core products and services at the heart of WPMU DEV into the superhighway to providing you with the very best WordPress services we can.
So, let us know your thoughts, questions and, well, anything you like really in the comments… I’ll endeavour to get back to everyone, and, as I mentioned above, I’m really sorry if this impacts you in any negative way, just ping us at [email protected] or use our 24/7 live chat service if you’d like to discuss any specific concerns.
Otherwise, have at it! Good or bad call? Whaddya reckon?
Update: Ooops, I forgot, there are a whole bunch of Multisite plugins (almost all of them in fact, including Pro Sites) that we are still using on Edublogs, so they will continue to be updated in GitHub and – as we support everything to do with WordPress – supported here too!