thirty bees as a company

//thirty bees as a company

I wanted to take a minute to talk about thirty bees as a company, what we are and what we are not. Our thoughts, our principals, and part of our path forward. We are starting out as a fork, but we are not going to let that define us. Our code base, code style, and vision is moving forward quickly. We want to make our merchants successful and to do that we have to make tough decisions that can affect our revenue and thirty bees as a company.

 

Our core principals

We have several core principles for thirty bees, but if we had to pick one main thought out it would be “to develop software that works for merchants”. This admittedly encompasses a lot. In the end our  goal for thirty bees is a software package that merchants can set up easily, start selling their products, with a minimal invest in paid modules to make the store work. Some platforms strip our features because they are better sold. That is not our philosophy. A core tenet of our business model is to never sell modules that thirty bees develops.  We are an open source company, we will find other paths to revenue. When an open source company starts selling products they develop to their users, they start straying away from being open source. This is a belief we are not willing to compromise on.

Because stability is an issue, we cannot set ourselves to a time based roadmap. We are not going to box ourselves in with a calendar and set ourselves up for failure. We have seen too many companies do that. We will however start publishing a roadmap of the features and changes we aim at for each version and subversion. We think by doing this it will give a clearer picture for those that want to help, while at the same time giving merchants something to look forward to. But one thing we do want to make clear is that we are a feature driven development company. As we rewrite the core software we will also be writing in new features. Features that will over time make us the cutting edge ecommerce software. Features that you as merchants want. That is the point of our feature request system.

Soon we will start plotting the features that can be done from the feature requests, and some of our own features as well, to a roadmap. We will start showing what features will be worked on in what versions. This not only helps merchants, it helps with community development as well. It lets other developers know what we need help with currently, so they can jump in and help. If you are a developer reading this and wondering what we need help with now, it is testing. We want to build a comprehensive testing framework that covers all of the code. Having automated testing is going to help us produce the best quality software. It is one of those behind-the-scenes things that users and merchants never really see, but they do understand bug-free shops. This will be our next major time investment before the next version.

In the process so far we have been really fortunate to have such a great group of loyal followers. It really makes working on thirty bees so much easier. The contributions from the community have been awesome and they are growing every day. The kind words, the notes, the way people encourage us in what we have started mean a lot to us! That is why we felt like we should make clear our goals and our principals. We want you as a community to hold us accountable and let us know if we let you down. Thanks for being such an awesome community!

2017-05-02T23:16:29+00:00

About the Author:

Lesley Paone
Lesley is one of the co-founders of thirty bees. He also is the owner of a PrestaShop support, development, and SEO agency called dh42. He has been active in the ecommerce community for almost a decade providing help and support services.
  • Markus Hitter

    Awesome. Merchants want to run their shop and want to do this with a software they can trust. Like a software which works reliably. Feature-richness is nice, but secondary.

    These basics get forgotten sometimes, thirty bees apparently remembers them.

    • dh42

      I totally agree, that is why we are going to start focusing on a testing framework. I feel once we have 100% coverage in our testing framework we can then start adding features, work on even more speed optimizations, and grow the software a lot easier. While at the same time keeping it stable and rock solid.

  • wimroffel

    I have mixed feeling about this.

    On the one hand I support this philosophy that more attention should be paid to stability and many things that Prestashop sells as addons should be in the basic package in order to provide the necessary standardization and stability. At the moment the average shop has too many added modules and that often leads to conflicts.

    What we are seeing now is steady progress. However, for me as a database guy who thinks in structures it is sometimes hard to see where we are going.

    On the other hand I miss the business case. What would happen if Michael decided tomorrow that he had enough of it and wants to do something else? In my opinion TB should as soon as possible reach the point where it has enough income so that it can employ at least a few programmers. That gives a guarantee for continuity and I expect that as long as TB hasn’t reached that point many companies will be hesitant to make the jump.

    Lesley is a businessman so I assume he has some ideas. But the story is a bit too vague at the moment for my taste.

    • thirty bees

      You make some good points.

      As for where we are going it is a two pronged attack method we are using. The first is bringing the software to stable in its current form. Adding a few new features we would like to see, then maintaining it in a stable state. We are getting really close to that point. Once we reach that point we are going to start laying the groundwork for the big changes. The data model changes, maybe starting to include an ORM, really wherever we can all agree that it needs to go.

      As for the business model we are going to start monetizing things this month. We are going to start with affiliate partners, then open up the development partners and agency partners. At the same time we have kicked around the idea of crowdfunding as well so that we do not have to take any private money that could restrict our plans for the future. We do have a path to make money though, its not extorting our users though.

      • wimroffel

        Good to hear you have clear ideas about the commercial path.

        Unfortunately the development of the software worries me. I was shocked when I saw my attempt to upgrade the Prestools.com website to TB fail spectacularly. These look like bugs that even basic testing should have brought out. I was even more shocked that – although my bug report was on Friday – I haven’t seen any reaction yet. You cannot maintain commercial software like that.

        I was planning to make some publicity for TB by having a website that is visited by many Prestashoppers running on TB and by having all my product descriptions as “for Prestashop and Thirty Bees” but you are making that hard to do.

        I never understood why it took so long to publish the first version of TB. My idea was to take the top-20 (or top-50) problems of Prestashop and repair them. That would be enough to have a first version. Instead a lot of code has been rewritten at once – with the predictable result that quite a few new bugs were introduced.

        Then there is the structure of the software. Prestashop still has largely maintained the database structure of version 1.5.0. That gives an underlying stability that makes that the modules keep running – with sometimes small adaptations – and that the software after periods of instability in the end is stabilized. I haven’t yet analyzed the complete present structure of the TB database but I was worried to discover a new ps_currency_module table. It suggests that some compatibility with PS has already been given up. I also read about plans for a new API.

        My impression is that the plans for TB are getting bigger with the day. And that in the process the date when there is software that people can use gets delayed more and more.

        My preference would be:
        – at least till July to keep the PS database and API intact and concentrate only on bug fixing and integrating modules.
        – only when the software is stable and there is a considerable number of users start with phase II: a new API and database structure. I would like to see this done more systematically than is happening now: publish your plans and be open for feedback. And only implement after a considerable period. Now such changes are introduced at the need of the moment and it seems to me that there is quite some risk connected to that. You cannot improve a structure by trial-and-error: every change will affect some modules and make them outdated.

        ok, so far my 10 cents. I wish you good luck with the project.

  • Tom Noreilde

    Great work. I’m loving it.
    I’m converting every shop i have for my customers to thirtybees.
    In comparison of Prestashop it’s so stable and fast. I hope that every update going flawless.
    Keep up the good work. I’m almost done with the first template for thirtybees.

    • thirty bees

      Awesome, thanks for the compliments. Are you planning on selling the template or just using it for your clients?

  • Hi lesley. I have a PS support&dev&hosting agency like you and discovered TB when googling for alternatives, frustrated for the neverending and recurring PS 1.6 bug (I don’t even consider 1.7, is a beta sold as a stable). God, I was even thinking about trying totally new frameworks (there are some new interesting solutions in Rails o JS other than well known PHP alternatives).

    I always had the same thoughts about the “module selling” path PS is going, even before 1.7 was released (which made things worse). My idea is to keep, as external and paid modules, only those who are really useful to a niche of merchant or for which the developement is really like another complete product (for example a live product customization module to draw on tshirts or store managers and things like that).

    I’m seriously thinking about helping you with the code guys, once I finish setting up things on my home server for cloning your github repo. I would like to open, with your consent, a semi-official (or unofficial) FB page/group to promote TB in my country (IT). Actually I would like to know if you are thinking about an Ambassador-like system for TB, I would gladly participate in it for my country. Anyway I’ll send a partner request soon, are there any prerequisites for that?

    • thirty bees

      Yes, you are welcome to set up a country specific page, that should not be a problem. As for an ambassador program, we would like to start one at some point. I think they are a good idea and help with the community if properly done. We just have a couple of things we need to accomplish before we can start the program, but it will be coming at some point this year.

      For the external / paid modules, we are going to bring what we think is important and we can maintain in house. We never plan to sell any of our modules, but we will have a store to sell third party modules and to house all of our free modules.