We've created a few products in the past, and what we've found pretty consistently is that distributing and supporting them has always been a challenge, as well as really important, because we want to take good care of you as a user of our stuff. We learned a ton from building both the Flare and SlideDeck WordPress plugins, both by doing it right in certain respects, and also making some dumb mistakes.
We stopped maintaining the Flare WP plugin a while ago, because we felt that doing it right meant taking a different approach. Plugins are very tricky to support for a couple of reasons:
- No matter how well-coded the plugin is, it can break due to the particular theme being used, the version of WordPress it's on, the configuration of WordPress, the hosting service being used, or any combo of these things. That's thousands of potential points of failure in any one of millions of permutations that we have to sift through whenever helping someone, and it's frustrating - both to us, and the user who has to actively help us in identifying the problem
- Plugins are reliant on the person using them to be on the most up-to-date version
We found that supporting hosted products (where you log in and interact with the product on our servers, instead of installing a plugin on your own server) is far more reliable - better yet, if one person has an issue and we fix it, we can push that fix to everyone! =) Moving to a central platform has allowed us to iterate and improve our products FAR quicker. For example, in one year, we shipped 32 updates for our SlideDeck plugin, but with Filament so far, we've shipped north of 350!