The State of Craft: End-of-2016 Edition


Even with all its faults, 2016 was an incredible year for Craft. The CMS has now been deployed on over 22,000 unique domains. The community has grown larger, more diverse, and more helpful than ever. The software has seen big improvements in security and performance fronts. And internally we think we’ve matured a bit as a company, in a good way.

In what is apparently becoming a tradition for us, we’ve taken some time to reflect on the year, and reveal a bit about where Craft is headed in 2017.


The Craft community saw some serious growth in 2016. According to Google Trends, Craft’s mindshare grew about 50% this year, passing ExpressionEngine and catching up with the popular Advanced Custom Fields plugin for WordPress. (Craft is only a blip compared to WP as a whole, but we think ACF is a good representation of the slice of WP we actually care about.)

Google Trends

Craft (red) vs. ExpressionEngine (blue) vs. Advanced Custom Fields (yellow), January 1 - November 30, 2016. (Via Google Trends.)

We expect the trend to continue in 2017 thanks to all the amazing new learning resources and promotion coming out of the community. Kezz Bracey has begun producing video courses on Craft for Envato Tuts+, Ryan Irelan has continued producing a variety of learning materials for Mijingo, including his new 3-hour video course on Craft Commerce, Andre Lopez produced a 6-hour video course in Spanish for Udemy, and “Bun” has spent the month of December writing about Craft in Japanese. Then there’s the amazing “Why Craft” posts cropping up across the web, like this one from Wildbit. Not to mention all the amazing Twitter and Facebook love Craft receives every day. (Thanks everyone! We love you back.)

Inwardly, the Craft community is as helpful as ever. Craft Slack has reached 3,423 members, and Craft’s Stack Exchange site is at 3,590 members. Both continue to be immensely helpful resources for new and experienced Craft users alike. John Morton has continued curating relevant links over at Craft Link List (which recently passed 500 subscribers), and Andrew Welch has started sharing his vast knowledge about performance, SEO, and best practices over at his nystudio107 blog.


As for Pixel & Tonic, we released 46 updates to Craft 2 this year—almost one per week—introducing hundreds of security and performance improvements, like elevated user sessions and eager-loading support.

After releasing Craft 2.6 in March, we dusted off the Craft 3 branch and got back to work on that. This year saw 9 updates to the Craft 3 Dev Preview, bringing a feature parity with Craft 2, more refactoring, and more performance and stability improvements.

We’re excited to say that the next Craft 3 release will be the Beta. Originally we were planning on having this out by the end of the year, but we recently decided it would be better to wait until Q1 2017, so we don’t risk getting 2016’s bad vibes all over it. (Also because estimating how long it takes to type code on a computer is hard.)

Feature-wise, the Beta will be almost identical to the Dev Preview (and the v2 branch, for that matter). There might be a couple surprises, but for the most part this release has always been about refactoring and modernizing the codebase. Best practices have evolved a lot in the past few years, and we think it’s important to keep up with them. For our own sanity, and also because that’s the only way Craft is going to continue attracting (and retaining!) smart developers.


Craft Commerce 1.0 was released on the 1st of December last year. So 2016 was our year to find out if we could walk and chew gum at the same time. Sure enough, in addition to everything going on with the CMS, we managed to release 30 Commerce updates, including 1.1 and 1.2, which introduced new concepts like multi-currency support, Shipping Zones, and Shipping Categories. We also released the Digital Products plugin, which adds the ability to sell digital goods like e-books with Commerce. All while staying responsive with the support.

In terms of adoption, this was an exciting first year for Commerce. Unlike Craft CMS, which got off to a comparatively slow start, people jumped straight into the deep end with Commerce. It’s already powering high profile stores like Barefoot Contessa, Polk Audio, and Field Notes, and the caliber of these sites is unbelievable. We’re super proud of what the Craft community has been able to do with Commerce.


We kicked off 2016 with the announcement of Craft Services, a program to support the Craft community (and their clients) with Craft business needs. Our goal for the year was to listen and learn while lending a hand in the sales process. We interviewed 85 agencies, participated in 75 sales calls, reviewed 25 RFPs, and wrote 30 introduction-to-Craft letters on agencies’ behalves. We’ve also begun providing custom support contracts and custom licenses to clients that needed something more than what they could get out of the box.

We’re learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t, and in 2017 we’re going to start applying that with new resources and programs that will help the Craft community at large. First up is Craft Showcase, which will be a community-driven site for promoting awesome projects that were built with Craft.

Craft Showcase Preview

The listing page and a project detail page for the upcoming Craft Showcase site.


2016 was a big year internally at Pixel & Tonic as well. For one, all three of us that are US-based (Brandon, Brad, and Leslie) are now located in the beautiful, outdoorsy city of Bend, Oregon. We’ve gone through 3 office moves this year, finally settling on a nice accommodating space in the center of town, which we’re sharing with our friend Tim Sabat of CodePen.

Revenue continues to climb: Craft CMS sales passed $1M for the first time this year, not counting Commerce sales and services-based revenue streams. To get a better handle on our finances, we’re now working with the awesome folks at Summit CPA. And inspired by Chris Quinn’s excellent Peers Conf talk in April, next month we’ll be kicking off a profit sharing plan and other processes to improve transparency, ownership, and accountability within the company.

We’ve begun working with new design and communication partners, including Bright Umbrella, Sharon Steed, Leah Stephenson (a local Bendite), and others, who are helping us with case studies, documentation, marketing pages, and other things. (The fact that these are all women is not accidental.)

Last but not least, we’ve started exploring ways that Pixel & Tonic can create a positive impact in the tech community. We’re working with the local OSU Cascades campus to create a diversity scholarship fund and CS internship program, and we recently sponsored the successful PHP Diversity Elephant Kickstarter project, which aims to promote diversity and inclusion within the PHP community, to name a couple things.

What’s Next

2017 is shaping up to be another busy year for us. In Q1 we will be launching the Craft 3 Beta, with a stable release, the Plugin Store, and Commerce 2 following roughly 6-9 months later. We also expect to launch Craft Showcase sometime in Q1 or Q2.

The whole P&T team will be in Seattle this April for Peers, and we’ll be driving down to Bend after that’s over for a week of working together under the same roof. We’re partnering with Chris and Ari from Environments for Humans to throw a virtual Craft CMS Summit that week (May 4th AKA Star Wars Day!), and we’re partnering with Jess D’Amico of Peers Conf to organize a real life Craft CMS-focussed conference later in the year (all details TBD).

Thanks to everyone who builds awesome stuff with Craft, to everyone who uses it to produce great content, to everyone who helps promote it, to everyone who writes in with suggestions and bug reports, and of course to everyone who sends us booze :) We never cease to be amazed and inspired by everything you do—your talent, your integrity, your generosity, and your persistence. You made 2016 great, despite everything, and we can’t wait to see what happens in 2017.

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