A Rose by Any Other Name

Around the release of Ubercart 2.0 in October, several Ubercart developers (including myself and Lyle) met in San Francisco to brainstorm and implement our vision for the future of Ubercart. In short, our plan was to re-implement the core systems of Ubercart on Drupal 7 to reflect everything we'd learned in the past three years and to take advantage of D7's killer new features, like entities and fields in core. To do this without disrupting the current implementation of Ubercart and the thousands of sites depending on it, we opened the Ubercore project with the idea of moving Ubercart on Drupal 7 into the packaged distribution space.

This whole process was dubbed the Ubercore Initiative (d7uc), and we carved out a place where developers could more easily brainstorm and communicate about development. The scope of the initiative included efforts not just to rethink the code but also to rethink the processes we used to write and manage it, so we wanted a clean slate to figure out how to best communicate with current and potential contributors.

With the amount of support the initiative received from the community, it was clear that we hit on something people wanted to happen. The end result would be a much stronger Ubercart with a solid developer community and a core module package comfortable in its place as a support module (like Views, CCK, Hooker) while Ubercart itself would be remade into a full-blown application showcasing the power of Drupal as an e-commerce platform.

All that said, from this point forward, we're having to change our tack a bit. For my part, most people know me as the Ubercart project lead and are passingly familiar with the tale of Ubercart starting as an osCommerce replacement for the restaurant equipment sales company, Prima Supply, I worked for after college. After leaving there to join Commerce Guys, we arranged for me to continue leading the project while Prima retained ownership of various project assets and continued to contribute significantly to Ubercart development.

Unfortunately, we now find ourselves at odds over the future.  I and many others feel the architectural and procedural improvements proposed by d7uc are necessary for Ubercart to evolve and to thrive.  However, conflict surrounding the execution and governance of Ubercore arose with Prima that we were unable to resolve satisfactorily.  This resulted in Prima, on the strength of project / trademark ownership, asking me to either stop the Ubercore Initiative or cede leadership of Ubercart, rename Ubercore, and move on.  I still believe in the vision I originally outlined and cannot agree to the terms of continued Ubercart leadership, so I'm going to step down as the project lead of Ubercart and move forward with a renamed Ubercore.  The goals are the same, the plans for an upgrade path from Ubercart 2.0 are the same, and the future of products on Drupal 7 is still bright.

Hopefully this can explain what one commenter has described as recent "lazy maintaining" of Ubercart. The last couple of months have been counter-productive all around. I haven't been an administrator on Ubercart.org for some time now, nor have I contributed significantly to the Ubercart code itself beyond quick bug fixes. It's unfortunate that circumstances developed as they did, and I definitely wish I hadn't let the Ubercore momentum flag in the midst of the conflict. While I expect Ubercart will continue to be developed, with a bit of sadness but plenty of excitement for the future, it's time for me to move on.

Thus the title of this post. A rose by any other name is still a rose, and Ubercore by any other name is still the best thing to happen for Drupal based e-commerce since the advent of Ubercart. For at least the foreseeable future, Ubercore will continue as Drupal Commerce, managed similarly to Drupal itself. We'll be working our tails off to make sure e-commerce on Drupal 7 shows just how awesome having fields in core can be.

Comments

I'm sorry to see the break but that sort of thing happens. Given the amount of work I am now doing on UC2 and the frustrations I'm encountering I'd certainly be interested in looking at this new endeavor. You know how to reach me. :-)

I really hope that we can get Asia on board with some core issues on this one. Let us know if you need help with that. I know we will have to do it no matter what for Japan if not.

Good luck with everything!

-Shaun

Awesome, Shaun. I'll reply to your e-mail later today, but having someone placed to get Asia on board in a big way would be huge for Drupal / Drupal Commerce. You guys have the largest internet market after all, and e-commerce in China is exploding!

Plus... it would really warm my heart for software I work on to be used to sell anime and life sized Gundams. Tongue

Hi Ryan, can't wait, and yes, the life sized Gundam was crazy cool!

Please hit me up when you can, phone or email. We really do want to help as much as we can.

Talk to you soon,

Shaun

What will happen to the old ubercart project? And what assets does prima hold on too? Isn't it true that technically all these assets are GPL because they hook into Drupal?

Besides the problems you're having, great news! Fields into core will make UC even more flexible and powerful! (and lightweight)

I won't be responsible for the old project any more, so I can't really say what's going to happen to it. The assets I mostly mentioned in the article - domains, project page, name, and I source code repository. Ownership of these things isn't negated by the license of the code itself.

That said, I'm glad you're excited about the prospects for a system based around Fields in core, too! Damien Tournoud has already been blazing that trail, and we should get some code in real soon. Wink

Feel free to post your questions about the future of Ubercart or it's development roadmap on the Ubercart forums or to me at andy@ubercart.org.
Peace,
Andy

Prima is being extremely short-sighted on this: they are holding the bag, but without the model of community and open source, the bag is being held upside down!

Please don't get demoralized: you are making the wisest decision, short of being in a position to sue the stuffings out of what will be left of this erstwhile Prima outfit, for a very simple reason.

I wrote the aticle this week because I realized that Drupal Commerce has before it an immense challenge, since ecommerce requires in some way shape or form a sparse matrix on the backend and context sensitive searching and attribute exposing engine on the front end, and therefore needs a "back to basics" and solid and simplified architecture, which is going to need all the juice it can get out of the community and the open source way of doing things. Then it will definitely be going places, since it will have all the power of best of breed, plus social networking, semantic web, etc., etc., i.e. all the power of Drupal.

Would like to help,

Victor Kane
http://awebfactory.com.ar
http://projectflowandtracker.com

Victor, thanks for the comments and your offer to help. With the vision to normalize attributes of products as fields, we'll be in a much better position to pursue alternate forms of product display to the standard catalog. We've already been playing around w/ faceted search, and this will get us closer to my holy grail of a New Egg browsing experience. Smile

I'll definitely be following up with you.

(On a side note, not sure if I ever mentioned, but my wife has a special place in her heart for Argentina. She spent 6 months in Carlos Paz and had to become a beef snob when nothing here compared. ;))

Awesome!

sorry to hear. All the best with Drupal Commerce. I'll check back at drupal.org to contribute German translation as soon as Drupal Commerce is available... Smile

Someone explain for me, how can Prima monetize a lame-duck Drupal module?

Perhaps your definition of "lame duck" is different from mine. Care to explain?

OK, that was an overstatement. But now there is a risk that a good part of the ubercart development community will move on.

I hope it doesn't, since I need a Drupal cart this spring.

btw the original question still stands. How does Prima make money off ubercart in 2010 and beyond?

I am Prima. Please read the tone of this comment as politely succinct. Your assumption that I (Prima) am doing this for money is invalid. My reasons for supporting the Ubercart project are (in order) 1. To provide a superior platform for the needs of my e-commerce businesses. 2. To give back to the open source community. 3. Maybe someday for Ubercart to generate enough revenue to be self supporting. If Ubercart never makes money for me, I will continue to support it.

It is a little pre-mature to call Ubercart a "lame-duck Drupal module." Ryan will certainly be missed, but Ubercart still has it's founder and I'm still supporting four people including Lyle in developing Ubercart full time not to mention the contributions from the community.

Ubercart 3.0 will be a straight forward-port of 2.2 to Drupal 7 and will be ready in the spring. Lyle has posted a roadmap here: http://www.ubercart.org/forum/development/15127/ubercart_road_map
Peace,
Andy

Great, I hope it works out. Forks make some people nervous. Thanks for the clarification Andy, and I hope your message gets out.

I don't think it's hard to predict what will happen. Every project has to have vision. That vision is usually carried by one or two main evangelists. The community knows this, and I don't think it takes a genius to know that the community will follow where the vision goes. I think you can count on lots of support moving forward.

I know you've been dealing with this for a while now. You're doing the right thing following these ideas. And, surely, this will relieve the unease this has been causing over the past year.

I, as many others, will be following the new developments closely!

It's unfortunate that it's come to this, Ryan. Please pick a new name quickly, and start building a brand so we can all help wave the flag around you and this new endeavour.

A great time for change, and a great leader for it. Congratulations on the decision. Excellent name for the new project.

There is another Drupal project called E-commerce module: http://drupal.org/project/ecommerce (http://www.drupalecommerce.org/)

Will this not be confusing since your new project is called Drupal commerce?

It's also a shame existing users already using Ubercart will be stick with it and i understand this isn't your fault but will there be an upgrade or migration path?

Thanks

Yep, as mentioned above, we're still targeting an upgrade path from Ubercart 2.0. As for the possibilities for confusion, at this point I'd almost say I'm confused. Wink But yes, it will be confusing in the short term, but hopefully the end result will be clear and appreciated.

Ai,

Something indeed felt a little off last few months. Prima felt they deserved some more credit for the big sponsoring of the initial project and don't want to let it slip away that easy. Can understand that.

Hope the separation of efforts is just temporary.

Thanks for the explanation!

I hope Prima comes to their senses, because the community is not going to stick with a non-supported module. All it will take, once we have a name, is a find and replace on the module files and put it up on a new project page. For "forks" sake, I don't think that they understand what the GPL is.

I definitely appreciate all that Prima has done to bring ubercart to where it is, but the idea that they control it is laughably ignorant of OSS. We'll just take our toys and go play someplace else- and it will take all of a few hours to do!

A few hours to make Ubercart usable by more than hobbyists? I see optimism isn't your weak point, but maybe realism is.

It's ok to use your name. I tend to agree with you, hence the goals of d7uc in the first place. Tongue

Hey Ryan,

I think this is a good move, i wish good luck!

I believe that with Drupal 7, Drupal commerce will deliver a killing blow to all those damn fugly ecommerce solutions we're forced to work with nowadays. Can't wait to do plenty of migrations, or advise to use drupal commerce to my clients Smile

I'm eagerly looking forward to commerce in Drupal that integrates with Drupal core features out-of-the-box. I'd love to see your module at the same level as Views/CCK - intuitive, integrated and on track.
Anyway, I find Uber to be a gimmicky name.
I wish I could help in some way... but I'm just a "clicker" not a "developer" Lol

The name Drupal commerce has other big disadvantages. It will create too many false positives. and many people looking for this kind of software will never find it. People everywhere will have trouble just writing and talking about it !

What about Kaching or Tching ? The sound of an opening cash register.

I didn't really get it. Did Prima Suply hijack an open source project?

"retained ownership of various project assets": what does this mean?

Danny

Sad to see another split between developpers in OSS
Happy to see an intergrated fields commerce solution for Drupal 7

Jesus a bunch of drama queens, the open source community sounds like one big soap opera lol.

When it comes to people clashing with each other it's usually ego that gets in the way my code is better than yours blah blah.

I don't understand why open source communities put themselves over the project. There have been some great projects that had to be forked or reshaped into yet another project. Now there are tons of forked projects labeled under a new name with claims of being better blah blah.

Open Source is a prime example of how people fail to live up to standards.