Last week we rolled out a whole bunch of updates to CreativePro Office. Among them were things like updated jQuery UI controls, new messaging widget, drag and drop file uploads for tasks and messages, and a highly requested feature...estimates!
Now you can create and send estimates to your clients and then convert them to invoices with one click. Estimates are created exactly the same way as invoices and they show up in the Finances area under the Invoices and Estimates tab.
The other big new feature is the ledger view. Until now, there was no way to view income and expenses in a single view. In the ledger view, you can select a date range and see all invoice payments and expenses within that range. You can expand each item to see a little bit more detail. Invoice payments will show all payments made for that particular invoice, along with the date of payment and the method of payment. Expenses will show any notes or comments associated with the expense.
In the right-hand column, you can see income and expense totals for the time period selected. You can also toggle between viewing only expenses or income.
We hope you like the new estimate and ledger features as we keep working to make CPO a more complete solution for your team!
Thanks for reading.
Just a quick update on some of the new stuff we've been doing around here the past few weeks. Possibly THE most requested feature for CPO has been the ability to create estimates. So, we're finally going to make that happen. But as we were building out the estimate feature, we went ahead and decided to do a whole bunch of good stuff in the Finances area. Here's a quick list of things you'll see within the next 2 weeks:
I think that's about it. We hope to have all of these updates rolled out by mid-October. Thanks for reading!
Some good news for your weekend. Today we bumped the storage space on all CreativePro Office accounts by a whopping 10x! That means that the SOLO plan now has 10GB or storage space. The SHOP plan has 50GB, and the TEAM plan has a stupendous 100GB of storage space.
The best part...this increase is completely free to all customers. It's one way we can say a big "Thanks!" to all of our loyal users. So go - upload your documents, photos, comps, and proposals. Hopefully, worries about running out of space will now be the last thing on your mind.
Have a great weekend, everyone and thanks for reading.
We've always felt a little bad about not offering a place where subscribers could see their payment record. So this week, we've fixed that! Beginning this week, you will receive email receipts each month for your CPO payments and you can view them within the app as well.
To view your payments, you'll need to go into the My Account area which is new.
You'll notice that we've moved some stuff into the My Account area that used to be under Settings like changing you password, cancelling your account, and changing your credit card or plan type.
To see your list of payments, click on the View Account Payments tab.
Here you'll see an entry for each payment you've made since May 2012 - unfortunately, we couldn't get data for any payments made prior to May. The Profile ID is a unique ID assigned to your subscription by our payment processor. It will change if you update your credit card or change plans and it's handy to have on hand if there's ever a payment dispute.
Right now, this is a simple list view. Eventually, we'd like to give you the ability to print or email your payment data from this screen.
Thanks for reading!
Our push to move CPO beyond the browser continues. Today we're happy to announce our desktop app for Mac and PC! Now can log time to any of your active projects and tasks right from your desktop without ever having to open CPO in your browser.
For now, the desktop app can log time for multiple projects on a given day. It will also keep a history of time logged. Using the built in calendar widget, you can view time spend on projects in the past.
When the app is minimized, you will see a little icon in your tray indicating whether or not you have active timers running. You also get a small menu of options for logging out or getting help with the app.
One last nifty feature...if you want to start a new task that isn't already in your task list, you can add it right in the task combo box. You don't have to log in to your account in the browser, and add the task there - you can do it right from your desktop.
Check out our Extras page to find the download links for both Mac and PC. Installation should be quick and painless on both platforms.
Yes...and, it depends. Some updates are certain. For example, we would love to add better keyboard shortcuts to the app along with some simple reporting features. We've also thought about releasing this as a standalone app in the Mac App Store.
Other features we see being useful are a task manager, file uploader and viewer, invoice viewer, expense manager, and maybe a contact list manager. We're going to take a wait and see approach to these other features. Our sense is that most users will be happier with a good and complete mobile app so that's where we will likely spend most of our resources.
However, if folks seem to really like the desktop app, then we'll give it some more love!
We're really pleased with the Chico UI components. We didn't like the idea of including a huge UI library (like jQuery UI) just to get a calendar and a combo box. Chico UI fit the bill nicely. It's a relatively new library on the scene but the devs are actively working on it and respond quickly to bugs and feature requests. Check 'em out for your next project!
We're happy to finally announce our new iPhone app for CreativePro Office! Now you can track your time and tasks while away from the office. We know you've waited a long time for this release and we appreciate your patience.
Currently, our iPhone app includes time tracking and task management. You can track time against any of your current projects and tasks. The timer can run in the background so you don't need to have the app in the foreground to track your time.
The task manager allows you to see all of your current, upcoming, and overdue tasks. You can mark tasks as complete and add new tasks as well.
Download the app and kick the tires for a bit. We're looking for feedback on how well it works and what features should be added in the future.
Yes, lots. Our rough roadmap for additional mobile features looks like this...
Yes, we're actually in the early stages of development. I won't give a release date yet but we do hope to have something available for the iPad before the end of 2012.
Eventually...we would like to get an iPad version out the door first. Tentatively look for something early in 2013.
We've been promising a mobile app for a little over a year. The main problem has been finding a development platform that we felt worked well. Last year there were many emerging mobile technologies that promised the ability to build native apps for both iOS and Android with one codebase instead of buiding separate apps for each platform.
The very first thing we did was build a mobile web version of CPO with a product called Sencha Touch that you could access through the phone browser. We just weren't happy with the results - it was slow and the code was cumbersome...so we kept looking.
Now you can reorder tasks simply by dragging them around and dropping them where you want. You can reorder tasks within a milestone or move tasks from one milestone to another - it works the same either way. We hope this makes organizing your tasks a little bit easier.
NOTE: Currently you cannot reorder milestones...we're still working on this feature.
We just made your invoice PDF's a little prettier and a lot easier to use. Check out the sample below or download the actual sample PDF here.
We really hope you like the new changes! Thanks for reading.
Over the weekend we rolled out a nice little update. Now you can have a custom subdomain associated with your CreativePro Office account like mycompany.mycpohq.com. Here's how you make that happen.
Click on the Office Settings icon in the upper-right. On the first screen for Company Information, look for the field labeled Your account web address.
Enter your desired subdomain, no spaces or special characters allowed. If the subdomain is reserved or already taken by another customer, you will be notified and asked to select another one.
After you've selected a subdomain and clicked Save, you can find your account login screen by entering your-subdomain.mycpohq.com. The login screen that both you and your clients will see looks something like this ...
If you have uploaded a low-res logo, it will appear at the top of your new login box. We think this addition helps our customers give a more professional presentation to their clients and team members. We hope you like it!
At long last we finally have an update package for the self-hosted version available.
We decided to abandon the in-app auto-update process because it simply didn't work for enough customers. So, here are some quick instructions to get you started. Be sure to also read the instruction PDF included in the ZIP file.
Hopefully your update goes smoothly but if not, please shoot us an email if you run into trouble.
CreativePro Office has been around, in one form or another, since 2003. Back then the state-of-the-art for timesheet data entry was the typical week grid that looks something like this...
"Hey, that looks just like the timesheet I use on CPO version 2!" Yup, you're right. The point is, as CPO has gone through numerous upgrades and revisions, the timesheet has remained pretty old school and it's time for a change. Here's why.
The old timesheet user interface (UI) has 1 advantage ... it allows for quick data entry for 1 week IF it is the only place in the system to enter timesheet data AND hours are the only data you're entering. Anthing more complex and the UI begins to fall apart. For example, there's no place to view comments without clicking on a comment bubble and the design just looks cramped.
You also run into trouble when introducing other means of entering timesheet data such as the job timer or the up-and-coming mobile app and desktop app (more on these in another post - later). It quickly becomes unclear how to render the timesheet rows with multiple entry points. If I enter hours and comments through the timesheet UI for a given project/task/day and then enter more hours/comments through the job timer for the same project/task/day, how should that be shown? Two lines in the UI or combine the 2 entries into 1 line? It gets confusing fast.
Lastly, as many of our users have noticed, the code is just buggy. Comment popups don't close when you think they should, timesheet rows don't always delete, etc. This is due to a cludgy and ugly codebase that has not changed a whole lot in about 7 years.
This coming Friday we'll be rolling out the new-and-improved timesheet UI. It may take a bit of getting used to, but ultimately I think it will be more intuitive, relatively bug free, and simpler to maintain. Let's take a look...
Hopefully, the first thing you notice is a cleaner look and more 'breathing room' in the design. Other than that, the most fundamental change is the shift from project/task focused entry to day focused entry. In other words, instead of selecting a Project/Task and entering all your weekly hours for that combination, you select a Day and enter whatever project/task/hours you worked for that day.
I don't know about you but for me, this shift just fits better with my daily routine. The clutter reduction and increase in visible data helps me see what I've done day-to-day with a lot more clarity.
Data entry for this new UI look like this...
We understand that a whole-week view is essential as well so we have kept the weekly grid view - it's available when you click the Grid view button.
Also, along the right-hand column you will see a bar chart of hours worked, giving a kind of at-a-glance understanding of the week. Down the road we will include charts to show hours worked per project/task/client as well.
We believe the new timesheet user interface will be a lot more friendly, informative, and stable. Look for this to be rolled out by Friday, Feb. 11th and we hope you like it!
This coming weekend (Feb. 12, 13) CreativePro Office will most likely experience some downtime as we upgrade our server capacity. We've had a lot of new users sign up over the past couple of months and we're hoping to speed things up a bit.
Something we've wanted to do for a long time is to simplify the process of invoicing timesheet entries and expensses. Well this week we made some big improvements in this area. You can now add expenses and timesheet entries to an invoice right from the invoice form. Let's check it out.
To add either an expense item or timesheet entry, click one of the buttons right above the invoice item section of the form as shown below. We'll start by adding some expense items to our invoice.
After clicking the Select expenses button, a dialog window will appear that allows you to search your expenses for the ones you wish to invoice.
You can use the auto-suggest search box or search by date range. We're going to do a text search on Computer and see what comes up.
Ok, we found a few expenses and are now going to select the ones we want to include in the invoice. After we're done making our selections, we can either do another search or click the Add selected items button in the bottom left to add the expenses to our invoice.
You'll notice that adding expenses will automatically change the Type column to Product by default. If the expense is a service, you can certainly change the Type column to reflect that.
Selecting timesheet entries is almost exactly the same except that you can only search by date range. You must first select a client and project in the invoice form before selecting timesheet entries.
If any timesheet entries are found in your date range search, you can then select them to be included in the invoice. Click the Add selected items button to include the timesheet entries.
And there you go. No more flipping back and forth between an invoice and your timesheet page to see exactly what it is you need to invoice.
Thanks for reading.
We're please to announce a completely revamped file manager in CreativePro Office! In version 1, CreativePro Office allowed file uploads to specific projects - there was no ability to share files across multiple projects. In early version 2, we improved file management a bit by allowing multiple file uploads and file "attachment" to projects, tasks, messages, etc. However, this solution was not ideal...file uploads did not work well in Safari, files could not be moved to other folders, file/folder management was cumbersome and unreliable.
File upload and management now has a dedicated section within the application and you should see a new menu item called Files.
This section is where you will do all of your file uploading, folder creation, and moving files between folders. We have kept the popup file manager that is available on all pages of the application; however, its sole purpose now is for selecting and attaching files to items.
Uploading files now is really simple if you use an HTML5 compatible browser like Firefox, Safari 4+, or Chrome. You simply drag and drop files into the file uploader, then click the Start Upload button. If you use IE or some other browser that doesn't support HTML5, you can still upload multiple files at once but drag and drop will not be enabled.
And once the upload starts, you will get an accurate idea of how the upload is progressing and approximately how much upload time remains.
Now you can move files between folders by just dragging and dropping the file onto a folder. You can do the same thing with entire folders as well.
Adding new folders is now a lot more intuitive. Just click the New Folder button, enter a folder name and click Save or hit Enter - a new folder will be created within the current directory. A folders can now be easily deleted by just clicking the delete button when you hover over a folder.
Another nice new feature is the file list view. Instead of viewing your files in thumbnail form where much of the filename can often be obscured, the file list view gives you much more information about the file like who uploaded the file, when it was uploaded, and the file size. You can access this view by clicking the list view icon in the upper-right.
It's still around and available on most sections within the application. However, it is no longer responsible for file uploads, folder creation, or moving files. The popup file manager now exists so you can select files that you want to attach to certain items within your account like tasks, messages, or projects.
Thanks for reading and please let us know your thoughts about the new CPO file manager!
Now that CreativePro Office is officially out of beta, we feel good about finally releasing the self hosted version of CPO 2 on Monday, September 13th.
This download will be available as a beta to buyers of the version 1 source code until it is moved into general release. It will then be available for purchase by everyone. We should have prices set for version 2 by early October.
To request a download link for the beta, please Contact Us. You'll need to provide at least your company name, your name, or better yet, your order number for the version 1 download.
This beta version will be fully functionaly except that it will not include a data import from a CPO 2 hosted account. You will, however be able to import data from a self hosted CPO 1 installation or a CPO 1 hosted account. Import from a hosted CPO 2 account will come later in September.
This new version also has a simpler, 1 click update feature. Initially, updates will probably be released on a weekly basis as bug fixes and patches are released. After that, a monthly update schedule will probably be more appropriate.
Thanks for reading and please let us know if you have any questions.
We passed an important milestone last week. After 20 months of part-time but continuous work, CreativePro Office 2 finally came out of public beta!
Is it perfect? Nah, it's got a few bugs, some quirks, and some features need more polish - but it's a solid foundation for the CPO product moving forward. We're proud of what the product is and excited about it's potential in the coming months.
So what happens now? Well, the immediate priorities in order are, bug fixes, bug fixes, and bug fixes. We plan on spending the month of September (and maybe longer) just addressing bugs that users continue to find. And also polishing some features and making them a little simpler and easier to understand.
Another super high priority item is the self hosted product, formerly known as the source code download. We will be releasing a beta version of the self hosted product to existing customers on Monday, September 13th. There is more information on that in this post over here.
After the bug fixes and self hosted product release, should financial support allow, here is a list of features we are really excited to implement:
There are many other ideas we have but they're a little further on the back burner right now. Let us know if there's something you'd like to see bumped up the priority list a little bit and we'll take it under consideration.
Thanks for reading!
Our beta testers have found a multitude of bugs over the past few weeks and we've been trying our best to squash them. Our date for bringing CreativePro Office of public beta will be September 1st.
Those of you with premium plans more than 30 days old will be asked to supply credit card information to pay for your accounts on Sept. 1 when you login. The Solo, Shop, and Team plans are premium plans.
You will be given the option of downgrading your account to the Free plan if you wish during the payment process.
Thanks to all the users that have worked with us to identify and troubleshoot problems. Although little quirks will no doubt persist for some time, we feel that CreativePro Office 2 is becoming a very solid and reliable product.
Thanks for reading.
It is with much excitement that we finally announce the public beta for CreativePro Office 2. After almost 18 months of development,we're letting this new version out into the wild. We want to give a big thanks to our private beta testers for helping us get to this point. We also thank our loyal customers for their tremendous patience as we slowly move this product through development.
Some of the great new features you'll notice in this new version:
Head on over to http://www.MyCPOhq.com . Click on the Pricing menu option and sign up for a plan. You will not be charged anything for your plan unless you decide to continue using it after the private beta period is over.
Just use CreativePro Office and let us know about any quirks, bugs, or wierdness going on. You can alert us easily to problems but clicking the bug alert icon in the upper-right toolbar.
Yes, you certainly can. Once you're logged in, click on the Settings icon in the upper-right toolbar, then click on the Data tab. You'll be asked to enter the user name and password of your CreativePro Office 1.0 account, then all of your data will be imported.
(NOTE: This only works for hosted accounts - you cannot import data from a copy of CreativePro Office that is installed on your own server.)
No! You can sign up for any plan and will not be billed for the duration of the public beta period. When the beta period is over, you will be asked to enter your billing information to continue using a premium plan. You can always opt out or downgrade to a free account at this point if you wish.
Yes you can. All existing CreativePro Office 1.0 accounts will remain active for 6 months after the public beta is completed.
Well, we let you beat up our new app and tell us what breaks. In addition to bugs, we're looking for feedback on how various features might be improved. We're hoping this process can be completed within 2 to 3 weeks. Then we'll be ready to release the final versions for the web and for download.
Hi faithful CreativePro Office users. This is a quick note to let you all know that CPO has entered private beta testing. Bug testing is important and necessary and we appreciate your help with the process.
We appreciate your tracking with us as we make another step in development progress. The move from freeware to paid subscription based software is something that we are happy to make progress on. CPO hasn't yet "earned its keep", even though it is so popular with our users.
It is nice to reach this point after so long, I think we are taking a bit of an exhale as we reach this point, happily.
We will keep you posted!
We have been fielding a lot of questions about CPO’s next version that is due out very soon. The work is still fast and furious here with a private beta release date of March 31 looming large. There are a few things that current CreativePro Office users should know as we finally enter the release phase of this long project.
We have decided to do a private beta release of CreativePro Office 2.0 on March 31 with a public release shortly thereafter.
This is an honest question and the answers are many. Mainly, the scope of work was much larger than anticipated. In retrospect, we may have tried to cram too many features into the initial 2.0 release. But, since version 1.0 has a pretty complete feature set, we knew we had to match and exceed that benchmark which I believe we have done.
Too many to list here but the ones we’re most excited about are:
Yes and no. CreativePro Office 2.0 will have a free option among several premium, paid options. We will release the official pricing structure very soon.
No. We are allowing a 6 month grace period after launch for existing users to migrate to a free or paid plan on version 2.0. If you decide that you do not wish to continue using CPO we will provide a data extract feature so that you can get your data out of the system and migrate it to another service.
No. Version 1.0 will not accept any new subscriptions after April 15. Existing users of version 1.0 will have 6 months from the public release date to migrate over to a CreativePro Office 2.0 subscription.
Yes, but it will be available after the public hosted release. The reason is that we have to do some tweaking to the self-hosted version to insure a smooth installation experience for the widest variety of users.
No, the price point of version 2.0 will be higher. We will release official prices within a week.
CPO has been developed to be as intuitive as possible to use. However, we realize that support in many forms is necessary for a satisfied user base. The forum and priority email (for subscribers) will be the primary means of helping our users find their way around CreativePro Office 2.0. Tutorials and help files will be built out as we see a need. For example, if we see that many users are having trouble with file uploads; we’ll create some help content around that specific issue. We are definitely going to create some comprehensive help content for the self-hosted, downloadable version though.
We have long fielded the request for different language versions of CPO. Our plans are to include over 10 translations in version 2.0. We already have the translations more or less sketched out but we will be working as much as we can with native speakers to fine tune the translations.
No but we have added over 45 currencies to version 2.0 and will add more at your request.
Our plan for CreativePro Office is to continue to integrate more and more features over time as this application becomes profitable. While we might not be able to give you a specific date for a specific feature roll out, be confident that we have many improvements in store for the future.
Thanks for reading. Please let us know if you have any other questions.
Dear trusty, faithful users and new users alike,
Despite periodic silence, work still ticks on here in development of 2.0. The silence here can be easily explained: development is to be a process that is, in our case, more often just done and less often talked about. To put it succinctly, we are working.
On our part there has been a little bit of dismay over watching the date we intended to release come and go. In reflection on what is causing the delay, Jeff realized a few things:
1. The scope of work for version 2.0 has increased significantly since it was originally conceived. Originally, 2.0 was to be a rewrite of the code so that future added features would have a stable code-base. But what happened was that while in the code, tinkering, it seemed more logical (and more interesting) to start the process of making some of the more major improvements that were slated for the future.
2. The amount of anticipated collaboration for the task of version 2.0 decreased by about 66%. A smaller team made more work to be done.
3. The hosting situation caused a bit of a slowdown for awhile but has since been rectified.
As we saw the date of anticipated release approaching, there were signs that things weren't going to work out as planned. The release date was too ambitious, based on a "best case scenario" when excitement was high, and the scope of work was smaller.
Now, a year after beginning, Jeff is just pushing for that next release date. There had been considerations of releasing with what we had completed, but that would have fallen short on what we had told users to anticipate. We are setting the date to end of February 2010, which seems entirely reasonable since version 2.0 is 80% complete.
The February release is planned to be beta tested and ready for use.
Thank you for your patience and hope that you will continue to looking forward to this as much as we are!
Here are some of the features that are going to be included in the new release of CreativePro. If we haven't said so before, CreativePro Office is working on a new version that will remedy the bugs of the existing version AND include these killer new features:
This is a limited list of changes that will be going into version 2.0. These features are in direct response to what users have asked for over the past 2 years that CPO has been active. It isn't an exhaustive list, but it is definitely an exhausting list. For those who wonder what the silence is about, this would explain it.
We look forward to our new release and hope you all are enjoying your summer!
Well, the sun has come out, but I am still standing over Jeff cracking the whip, yelling "Code faster, you!"
Okay, well not really.
Folks have been asking about the next version which will remedy remaining bugs and have some often requested features. It is in steady development and at this stage it is looking like fall for release.
Jeff has been coding on timesheets and doing some of the last things that he needs to be doing as he prepares for the release of 2.0. Pricing structures are in development and are in the final stages of soon being released, as well as features lists. Screencasts are easy and are still underway.
Jeff has said that pricing structures, features lists and screencasts are ready to come out. Look for that in our next blog post.
CreativePro Office has come a long way from when Jeff was hammering out icons that he was making from scratch. Talk about time-consuming, CreativePro has been an education, a hobby, a tool and now there is a chance it might start pulling its own weight. We are on the precipice of Creative Pro actually being able to hold its own, and we are quite excited about it.
If we haven't mentioned it previously, the existing free, hosted version of CreativePro Office is not going to be as well technically supported as it was in the days of development and bug testing. We are letting it off into the wild. The forum as well will be transitioned to being a place where users help other users to resolve problems.
We have received some good press here , being cited as the number 11 top small business project management tool.
We look forward to communicating with you as version 2.0 takes shape and prepares to emerge this year!
If we haven't said so before, a big THANK YOU to all the buyers of the CPO Source Code. Your purchases are lighting the fire under our pants to keep improving CreativePro Office daily.
There are source code patches available to amend some of the bugs that our much appreciated bug testers have found.
The link is here:
We are currently working on CreativePro Office 2.0 that we hope will be available by the end of March and possibly earlier. We are excited about this release as it will be the "new improved" version with more features that users have been requesting and numerous bug fixes.
Hi! I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season, had a happy and safe New Year and that things are going along well with CPO.
We have been busily working on rebuilding CreativePro so that we can add on new features that users have been requesting. However, we have noticed that CPO is often times creeping along at a slugs pace, which makes development almost impossible. We know that users are experiencing the same slugishness.
So, CPO will be moving from its current hosting provider to a much more robust, dedicated server at Slicehost! This move will not only alleviate the slow user experience but will allow us to implement some exciting new features such as emailing tasks and other information to your CPO account.
Important Stuff: We are planning this migration on the weekend of Jan 10 and 11. We cannot guarantee service for these 2 days. However, we intend to have CPO up and running again Monday morning, Jan 12.
Thank you again for the continued positive input from our dedicated users. Your communication is what makes CPO improve.
Update 1/12/09: While we were able to build a new host server for CPO on Slicehost this past week, we did not have time to move the site files and user data. We will be moving site files and user data to the new host on the weekend of Jan. 17, 18. CPO will be down for these 2 days. Thanks again for your patience.
Thank you to all the folks who have braved the wilds of our first CreativePro Office source code release! Because of your bug reports and feature requests we are able to release this first patch to the download.
This patch will bring your installation current with the 1.0.3 release of the CPO source code and addresses the following items:
Instructions for installing the patch are included in the zip file that you will download. Look for more patches in the future at the link mentioned above.
One of the big new features that this patch provides is data transfer from your hosted CPO account to your installed CPO software. Once the patch is installed, go to your Settings area and look for the data download link. You will need to have your online CPO login information handy in order to download your data.
Much thanks to those who have contributed on forums, in emails and by posting bugs. Very soon there will be a development roadmap here on the blog outlining our path to a rebuilt hosted version of CPO that includes all those features that people have been asking for. Keep your eyes open for it!
At long last.
While the blog has been silent, the behind the scenes of Creative Pro have been busy. Those of you interested in installing CPO on your own server finally have that option.
First, a big thank you to all the commenters and emails that have nothing but good things to say about CPO. It is encouraging to see the application meeting the needs of so many people. Those encouraging emails are not falling into the abyss, but are inspiring further time investment to work out the little issues of getting CPO all packaged up to sell.
And things are so close to being ready I can taste it. But I want to wheel and deal with some of the existing users to help roll out CPO as a downloadable product.
For those of you who are interested in installing CPO on your own server, beta testing the CPO download and reporting any bugs with installation or use, you can buy the source code through December 31 for the reduced price of $75. The beta testing should be done by New Year 2009 after which, the cost of the source code will increase to $150.
Of course, the hosted version of CPO is still free.
Once I see that things are running smoothly for folks who buy the CPO souce code, I will then turn my attention to updating the online version of CPO, fixing some bugs and adding new features.
In other exciting news, Smashing Magazine featured CPO on November 13 and had this to say about it:
"CreativePro Office is very robust for a completely free application and is definitely worth checking out before shelling out for an expensive paid solution."
Since Smashing Magazine is one that I read regularly, it was pretty cool to have them recognize the work I have cobbled together quietly over the past 6 years.
And, if you are still perplexed by my silence for the past 6 months or so, I would like to assure you there has been good reason for it most recently. Her name is Sylvie Roberta Denton and she was born September 30. We couldn't be more happy to have her.
I'm am thrilled to announce two new members to the CreativePro Office development and customer support team.
First up, Matt O'Connor of Stump Town Slingers has agreed to join the CreativePro Office development team.
Matt has spent the better part of his career building large special education data systems for Oregon, Iowa and most recently, Nevada. I am confident that he will bring both the skill and passion required to push the CreativePro Office project to the next level of usability and, hopefully, profitability.
Better still, Matt now works right down the hall from me over at Western Oregon University so we collaborate quite frequently on other projects already. As some of you know, I have been struggling for some time over whether to bring outside help from distant places into the CPO project. I think we've found the perfect solution in Matt.
Heather Denton of Chez What? will bring some much needed customer support to CPO. Heather will be responsible for keeping the blog up to date, responding to questions in the CPO forum, answering email, and providing triage for bug notifications and feature requests.
Heather is tri-lingual, fluent in Spanish and Russian so she will also be helping extensively with the first non-English release of CPO in 2009.
So head over to Stump Town Slingers and Chez What? and give our new team members a warm welcome. I'm excited about the future of this project. Be looking for a CPO development roadmap in the near future.
Thanks for reading.
It's probably not a secret - I love 37signals . Not only do they build great products, but they have a way of cutting through the clutter and bringing refreshing clarity to often complex issues. They never fail to inspire me and their recent blog post titled The Secret of Making Money Online was no exception. This is a video of a talk that David Heinemeier (of 37signals) gave at Statup School.
David tackled one of the more pressing dilemmas in modern software development...something like:
Build great application
What miracle happens at #2??? Good question. Some of David's more salient points:
Having a price helps create profit (it's almost too simple to work).
This notion has been lost in the web world.
There are many ways to have a price - not just one.
If people like your product, they pay you for it and if they continue to like it, they continue to pay.
This has been a successful business model for thousands of years.
Building the next Facebook and selling it for 3 billion dollars is an extremely remote possibility. The chance that you might build a decent niche product that a few thousand people like and will make you a decent living - much better odds.
So, David's talk got me to thinking about my original intent for CPO and it's future. My intent from the beginning was for CPO to become profitable somehow - the question was always the HOW. In my perfect world, CPO would always be a free product and earn revenue in other ways.
As you might have noticed, we have been trying some of these options out for the past month. Since early March, we've solicited paid contributions, paid ads and non-financial contributions like monitoring the forum, translating or writing documentation. So far this experiment has had limited...ok, NO success. Now, I'm not expecting miracles here but I genuinely believed that CPO had enough active and loyal users to spin this plan up a bit by now. I'm a little skeptical - looking around I find that others are in the same boat with contribution/ad supported business models. But it's ok - I've decided to give this plan a total of three months to prove itself one way or the other and then I'll move to Plan B.
So I'll level with you and try to be brief. CPO needs to begin earning its own living - pure and simple. I see 2 possible scenarios playing out over the next 6 months:
CPO begins generating enough revenue to justify better support, a more robust hosting infrastructure, regular bug fixes and more features. This doesn't have to be a lot of money at this stage - just enough to entice a little help and to keep motivation up enough to get things to the next level.
Or, CPO generates no revenue and things stay as they are indefinitely. I can always afford the hosting account but there will be limited support, few if any new features and bug fixes when I get around to it.
I'm not satisfied with scenario #2 mostly because I know it doesn't have to occur. I know that there are some problems with CPO - I know that support has been virtually non-existent for the past several months. I also know that I'm still passionate about turning CPO into a truly great product - but not for free. The key word here is sustainable - we don't need a $5,000,000 infusion of cash but we do need something that will generate revenue next month, and the month after that and on and so on and so forth. Otherwise, everything will stop.
So, how can we remedy this? I'm coming to you, the CPO user community, before making any firm decisions because I feel it's fair that you have a say in how this all goes down. I'll throw out the first pitch...here are some ideas I have for generating revenue:
Created a tiered hosted account model. A free version with no support, no file uploads and limits on projects, clients and invoices. A paid ($5-$10 per month) premium account that would include responsive support, file uploads and unlimited number of clients, projects, etc.
Offer the source code for download and installation on any server for $149. This would include 3 months of support and free upgrades forever.
Offer a combination of 1 and 2.
Charge only for the source code and keep the hosted accounts free.
That's about all I can think of at the moment but I'm open to suggestions. I just got done reading some blog posts over at ActiveCollab and it looks like the community really hit them hard for springing a pay only revenue model on a previously free product without any warning. I'm trying to avoid making their mistake so let's all be constructive and try to find a win-win. I trust my users.
One request though...let's stay away from comments like 'Yeah but Joomla/WordPress/Drupal/eGroupWare [insert favorite open source poster child here] give their stuff away for free and still make money.' unless you can provide explicit ways in which they bring in revenue. Otherwise it's just not very helpful. I know there are a number of quality open source initiatives that make money in ways other than selling software - but I think in the grand scheme of things, they tend to be the exception and not the rule. There are, however, numerous examples of shitty OSS that is completely free and worth every penny...I don't want CPO to fall into that camp if I can avoid it.
Thanks for reading and for your thoughts.