Releasing Collective: Clarifications and Apologies

Releasing Collective: Clarifications and Apologies

I don’t maintain a separate blog for development stuff anymore because I’ve found two blogs hard to maintain. But posts like this make me think I should. In any event, if you’re not interested in my development stuff, then you may want to skip this one.

I recently released Collective for ExpressionEngine. I’ve been using it on my own projects, and projects I work on at my day job for a couple months. It fills a need for me/us and I wanted to go ahead and get it out into the world to help others.

As with a couple of my other add-ons, it is my habit and wont to tease the release in the last week or two leading up to release. So, I teased the upcoming release on Twitter. But I made a strategic error and offended a lot of people, including one (or more) of the pillars in the ExpressionEngine community. I deeply regret how it all transpired.

Though I am in my early thirties, I am young as a developer — I came into it later in my life than most. I love writing code and particularly enjoy at this time writing add-ons for ExpressionEngine. I also love a lot of the people I have the pleasure of interacting with or just following online in the community. And to some extent (okay, a large extent), I feel like I’m trying to elbow my way in and enjoy the company and prove myself a little bit. But I made a mistake. In teasing Collective, I mentioned Low Variables. I thought I was giving props to another great add-on developer while giving a head nod to some of my inspiration for Collective and for writing EE add-ons in general. I immediately got a negative response, followed by a few other negative responses. Later, Low himself became involved and it was clear that I had offended him. I was quite dismayed. This was the last thing I wanted.

I made things far worse by engaging and trying to fix it. I have new understanding and respect for people who just don’t engage on Twitter! I thought I could clarify. I thought I could fix it so we could all be friends — and I certainly still want that. But I was very, very wrong. I finally realized I was compounding the situation and bailed.

Story time: at the last ExpressionEngine conference, I saw Low sitting at one of the tables in between sessions and I thought, I should go up and say hi to one of my EE heroes. But then I thought, well, I don’t know what I would say, I’m not great at small talk, it would feel forced, he doesn’t know who I am, he’s busy, he’s talking to other people, etc. In short, as stupid as this sounds, I intimidated myself into not talking to him.

I tell that story to show how dismayed I was that I seemed to have offended Low. And I didn’t (and still don’t) quite know what to do about it. For a time I debated not releasing Collective. If you followed what happened at all, you will note that this all happened almost two months ago. I had planned to release Collective imminently. But I was so discouraged, and so at a loss for what to do that I tabled the release.

But, I did keep using it internally, and I had a couple of friends testing it. They liked it, I liked it a lot (of course), and I finally decided to put the finishing touches on it and release it. If possible, I’d like to make a little money on it, while benefiting others.

Here’s the deal though. The idea that it was anything like Low Variables actually came later in the development process when I realized there were some similarities. I actually started developing it to replace another add-on out in the community that appears to no longer be maintained and that I had some ideas about. That add-on — which I used regularly for quite some time — is Republic Variables. I only mention it now out of clarification, not because I don’t like Republic Labs or their add-ons or anything like that. Collective is simply not meant to be a direct competitor to Low Variables.

After release earlier today, I have again become depressed because of a negative rating on Collective on devot:ee from someone who has not bought or used the product (I know because there have, as yet, been no sales).

Update: the person who left the negative rating emailed me explaining that it was a mistake so at least on that front I feel much better.

So here I am, not quite sure what to do. But I do know that I can try to mend fences. I offer my apologies to anyone I offended and hope that you can forgive me for my carelessness on Twitter and for continuing to offend and not just disengaging and re-evaluating. I would still like to be a part of the community and I would like to be friends with everyone. I would like to support other developers and be supportive in any way I can. I like to see us as all in this thing together. I love hanging out with everyone virtually, and hope to hang out more in person, despite how awkward I sometimes feel with people I don’t know.

If there is anything I can do for anyone in the ExpressionEngine community, any apologies I can make, and conversations that need to be had, please do let me know.