Composr development update - July-October 2017

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Hi all,

This is a development update for the 3rd quarter of 2017 :hippie:.

The following has recently been completed for v11:
  • Google reCAPTCHA support (allows Google's "invisible" CAPTCHA to work); this is a new CAPTCHA option only enabled if the Google reCAPTCHA API is configured
  • New Confluence integration addon (for those who would like to develop documentation in the Atlassian Confluence product then have it integrated natively with their website)
  • New oAuth framework, for more consistent future integration of 3rd party APIs which need per-site authentication (this framework is likely to expand over time, eventually covering the possibility of Composr website login using oAuth too)
  • Powerful and user-friendly new Broken URL checking module, including integration with Moz and Google Search Console to find and check inbound links
  • Cancel button on forms, deletes any autosaved content
  • Ability to apply 'page' and 'hide' Comcode tags over selected text (previously you had to add new text while adding the tags)
  • Added useful CKEditor plugins: emojis, syntax highlighting of source view, advanced HTML property setting
  • Rearranged CKEditor toolbar for usability
  • Improvements to CKEditor table editing, image editing - including integration with our default table styles
  • Additional flexibility for SugarCRM integration
  • Improvements to automatic mobile-friendly filtering feature for content (this is a cool new feature so website content can be optimised for mobile automatically, as realistically content authors are not likely to test authored content on multiple device types)
  • Tracking of page titles in stats log, and inclusion in user trail metadata sent with contact forms (contact form metadata is new to v11, it let's you see a lot of information about who is filling in your forms)
  • Lots of hidden options to hide features (fine-tuning for usability)
  • Support for Selectcode in the side_news_categories block (so you can decide what news categories to show there)
  • Easy adding of menu links when Comcode Page editing, and synching with page renames
  • Further work from Salman on our big JavaScript overhaul
  • A totally new icon set has been finished now, and posted on the forum for community review

We don't have any kind of release date for version 11 currently. As expectations for websites keeps evolving, and as we keep learning, our plans do tend to fluctuate. It's looking to be quite a big overhaul for themeing, and there's quite a lot currently mid-progress. Likely what will happen is random cool new features will come in that are 'sponsored' on the back of client projects, until the themeing is overhaul is finished which is when we'll enter beta.

Progress has been significant, but also unsteady, due to my current personal situation, and due to the nature of the economy now. I'll fill people in so the curious can know what's going on with me, with ocProducts, and by extension, Composr. This is not the kind of update a regular project or company would provide because I believe in direct communication, not putting PR-spin on things.

I got married to my American wife (I'm English) in May, and have been spending a lot of time in the US, either with my wife, or doing meetings with American clients. While in the UK I'm in limbo pending immigration paperwork to go through, and I've had a lot of chores to do (packing, rearranging finances, paperwork, generally getting a lot of things in order that I neglected for many years). For example, I spent about 4 days just scanning boxes of paperwork (I bought a really cool feed scanner for that, highly recommended).

I'm mostly through my chores, but there is another important thing to discuss, and that is how Composr is funded.

Nowadays ocProducts income comes almost exclusively from large ongoing Composr projects, which requires a lot of time commitment from me, and also defines the kind of Composr enhancements I'm working on. The way the economy is, we don't really have income coming in from small businesses or enthusiasts right now (money is extremely tight for the vast majority of people, as anyone reading this will know - few can pay a top-skilled programmer for a couple of months to launch a new enterprise). This is one reason I've been trying (and honestly, currently failing) to encourage people to support me on Patreon - so I can more directly focus on the needs of regular users as a source of income, small-donation style. That's not to say I'm not very happy with the work I've done this summer (and the financial stability of us having large clients). For example support for Google reCAPTCHA is very nice and will be appreciated by many users – but ideally I'd like to be able to put much more effort into front-end design work on the default theme (for example) and at a faster pace.

A big goal for 2018 is to re-align the project as much more of a community project. I frankly don't see the economy getting better for middle-class people any time soon, so our old business model of getting features sponsored by individual users, or users paying for professional-grade support isn't going to work (and I doubt I'll get to my dream of $10k/month on Patreon to fund all I think should be a priority). I need to encourage a lot more people to get directly involved in Composr development as volunteers and peers (equals). I want to be just one of many individuals investing time (and in my case, the time of my staff) back into the project and for my relationship with users to be that of being just one of the highest contributing community members rather than 'the guy responsible for anything people want to happen in Composr'. Don't read this as a pull-back, read it as a desire to better branch-out and change how Composr development is perceived, to grow and diversify. I would have been against this shift a few years ago due to the need to keep tight control of the design of a very big product (i.e. keep it streamlined), but I know at this point things have crystallised so well that it's not a concern anymore. For example the coding standards document we now have for v11 prints out to the size of a small book, things are very well put down.

We're actually working on a major website relaunch right now that reflects all this.

In any case, I have things financially stable with my company to keep working on Composr indefinitely, this is about the pace and scope of development, and the focus of where sponsored features come from (who they're best for), not my own commitment to it as a whole.

As an aside I've just caught up putting out new patch releases for v8, v9, v10, and v10.1 :party:.
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