#Pixel & Tonic

2019 Year in Review

“We’re working on nothing right now.”

That’s how I began my talk at Dot One Australia in February. Craft Commerce 2.0, Craft CMS 3.1, and the online Plugin Store had all shipped a couple weeks earlier—projects that each took the better part of a year to complete—and for the first time in a long time, we didn’t have anything big in the works. So in lieu of something to announce, I shared our roadmap for Craft CMS 3.x, 4.0, and even 5.0.

The plan for 5.0 was to recode Craft’s control panel as a Vue app, and part of that effort would be to give Craft a GraphQL API. That little tidbit sparked a big conversation in the Q&A and afterwards, around Craft’s headless support (or lack thereof), and the opportunity for a hosted offering.

We left the conference knowing we needed to make a few tweaks to the roadmap, and more importantly, it was time to start working on Craft Cloud.

The idea of creating a headless-only SaaS version of Craft had been floating around for a while. If we’re ever going to offer some sort of hosted Craft solution, best to make it as simple as possible. No templates. No plugins. No servers. No updates.

We had been thinking that a service like that would make more sense once Craft was a little more capable out of the box, with nestable Matrix fields and better collaboration features. (We still do.) But feature-wise, Craft already kicks the pants off of its competitors in this space when it comes to content modeling and author experience. So why wait.

Our first order of business was to make Craft a better headless CMS. People have been deploying headless Craft installs for a while to be sure, but not without the help of plugins and custom modules, and usually without a working Live Preview. So we redesigned the Live Preview system to support headless in Craft 3.2, and we added a native GraphQL API in 3.3. Now we’re putting the finishing touches on 3.4, which will bring even better headless Live Preview support and new GraphQL features, plus a redesigned control panel and improved author collaboration.

With most of the necessary software changes behind us, we flew the whole team out to Bend for the first two weeks of December to plan out all the other details: How are we going to host it? How will people manage their Cloud projects? How does it fit into the existing Craft ecosystem? And how much is it going to cost? By the time everyone went home, we reached a point where we feel pretty confident we know the right answers (more on that in the coming weeks), and we’ve already started working on the design and infrastructure.

Team Growth

Speaking of the whole team, we’ve grown more in 2019 than ever before: Heidi Crowell joined in January to help with biz admin, Olivier Bon joined in March as Lead Customer Success Developer, Nathaniel Hammond joined in October as Senior Commerce Engineer, and Jason McCallister joined in December as Lead DevOps Engineer. We’re in the process of filling a new position for Technical Writer, which will bring the total team size up to 12. We’re also excited to announce that Leah Stephenson was promoted to COO this year.

Craft Commerce

Craft Commerce had an exciting year, with the releases of 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, plus 3.0 Alpha. We’re going to be releasing Commerce 3 in January, which introduces back-end order creation and editing, GraphQL support for products, plus dozens of other highly requested features.

New Release Cycle

We should have learned a lesson with Craft 3, and we definitely learned it after 3.1: big releases suck. They take too much time, and the bigger they get, the harder it becomes to contain their scope. They also become exponentially harder to support post-launch, because bugs make their way into more parts of the system all at once.

So beginning with Commerce 3, we’re establishing a new annual release cycle for Craft CMS and Craft Commerce. We will start working on version 4.0 of both products early in the year, and do what we can in time for beta releases in Q4, followed by GA releases in January 2021. Then the cycle will repeat itself for the 5.0 releases, and so on. We think that this model will lead to a more sustainable development workflow, and more predictability for our customers.

Each major release will come with a three year support window: two years of active support, and a third year of critical security updates. So in any given year, there will be two actively supported versions of Craft CMS and Craft Commerce: the current one (V) and the last one (V-1); plus critical security updates for V-2. (We’ll be applying these policies retroactively to Craft 3 and Commerce 2.)

Ten Years

Tomorrow, January 1, 2020, marks Pixel & Tonic’s 10th anniversary. A lot has changed in the last ten years. We’ve grown from 1 to 11. The way people build websites is evolving, as is the nature of our business. But the Web, and the task to build tools that power it, are exciting as ever.

Thanks to all of you that have made this possible, whether you bought a Matrix license in 2010 when you could have downloaded EEMatrix for free, or you’re new to the P&T family. We raise a glass to you, and race into the ’20s with more in the works than ever before. We’re just getting started.

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