Ben Croker made an interesting observation during his talk at the ExpressionEngine conference this year. He noticed that the About page of the EllisLab website no longer depicts their team members as superheros, but instead each one has a plain old head shot. The EE community is no longer waiting for EllisLab to make a big announcement. These days add-on developers are the cause of excitement and buzz. In the past year, developers have released some complex and amazing add-ons. This is fantastic.
Extending EE is where its power lies. However, I did miss hearing from EllisLab in the way of a presentation at EECI. A simple talk: their year in review, a Reactor update, an update about what Chief Creative Officer James Mathias has been working on, what's next on their plate. Sure, some of this may be scattered around in blog posts and tweets, but a summary from the EllisLab perspective would have been beneficial to the whole community.
It's like the President not wanting to speak at the Democratic National Convention.
The EllisLab team maintains an open-door policy. At EECI they encouraged attendees to approach them and ask questions, but I don't have specific questions to ask them. And asking them the same general questions that the last 30 people have asked seems unproductive. Whether they didn't want an extended public Q&A session or this is part of their new communication strategy - letting us come to them, I don't know. And don't really understand their reasoning. They chose not to address a passel of EE fanatics, a rapt audience who had traveled many miles to be there. It's like the President not wanting to speak at the Democratic National Convention.
Honestly, I didn't have a chance to ask EllisLab directly about their roadmap at the conference. It wasn't their fault, I was busy "networking" (or what I call having a drink and talking to people). But to me, there is something fundamentally wrong with this model, this gatekeeping of information (yes I realize this is a proprietary piece of software we are talking about). I would rather have information readily available, out in the public (not everyone has the means to spend $200 a night on a hotel). And worse, their vacuum gets filled with uncertainty.
Apart from the informational aspect of an EllisLab presentation, it might have served as an air pump for a community that seems a bit deflated around the edges. I don't want to use the word cheerleader, but it's nice to reflect on the past year, celebrate victories and recognize areas for improvement. A bit of hot air might have done the community some good.
And worse, their vacuum gets filled with uncertainty.
Is this anything? Probably not. There will always be a small percentage of vocal criticism about unfixed bugs and slow support. But mostly, the EE community will continue to crank out EE sites. It's still an enjoyable platform to use, I'm still onboard. I still have the faith. I am so glad I went to the conference because I absolutely adore the EE community. I was hoping the air would be cleared at EECI and the community would feel more certain about its future.