Restropective of the 1.0 GA Release and Website Relaunch

A few days ago, we released our first GA version 1.0.0 and relaunched the project's website at http://structr.org. The resonance was very good, we were featured on JAXenter, listed on the hacker news front page for a full day (best rank: #5), there was an entry on Reddit, and a day later an article in the german Heise Developer news. This resulted in a spike in visitors and page hits, but we were a bit disappointed as it was not really a stress test for Structr.

Not really a stress test

At peak times, we had some hundreds of concurrent users, but we didn't even see a significant raise in CPU or memory usage. The response times* of the structr.org frontpage remained constant at about 200 ms (* without network latency), which is quite good for a page of about 32 kB size, fully dynamic content including blog posts, on a stock Structr 1.0.0, no performance tuning at all.

We assembled the new site within roughly a week, including migration of the content including blog posts from the old instance. For us, as hackers and non-native English speakers, the most challenging part was to create some new content. We started with a fresh Structr instance because this time, we decided to use a standard page template instead of hand-coded HTML and CSS. This approach worked quite well, especially in combination with Structr's new template engine (see blog post), but of course resulted in pages with about five times the size.

User Feedback

Far more interesting was the feedback we got from some comments on hacker news. Some visitors must have mistaken the site for a 'sales pitch' as they didn't see that it's Open Source. To be fair, at first, the front page didn't state it prominentely, and the Documentation button was also missing. After we changed the wording a little bit, it apparently became much clearer.

When we relaunched the .org site, one of the goals was to put a little more emphasis on the commercial services around Structr. We might follow the comments saying we should better not dilute the open source character with too much commercial stuff (which actually should be moved to the .com site).

"What is Structr, and why should I use it?"

Another typical question was about the use-cases, if it is a CMS or a RAD tool, or more general "why should I use Structr"? We get these kinds of questions very often, and they are absolutely valid and understandable, because people tend to put things into categories or try to relate them to things they already now. We believe that Structr does not fit into existing categories.

We always encourage people to try it out and see for themselves. Depending on what you like to see in it, Structr could be...

  • a CMS (you can create, maintain and serve websites)
  • a web framework (you have 100% control over the output)
  • a web service backend (JSON/REST server)
  • a Rapid Application Development tool (manage your data model at runtime)
  • a graph visualization tool
  • ...

Maybe someone comes up with a new category eventually (which certainly will be better than our attempt with 'Data CMS').

Does it try to be too much?

Someone over at HN wrote "Seems like it's trying to do too much". Yes, Structr tries to be a lot, but is it possible to try too much? You could also say that about a Swiss Army Knife, or a Smartphone. So the real question is not about being too much, but rather "can you make it really useful for people by mastering the complexity and hiding it from the user?". We believe that we can do, because we're not wasting our time fiddling around with ORM layers, SQL databases, or heavyweight enterprise architecture and tools. But time will tell...

And even if noone else would find Structr useful enough to get real things done, or use it in production - we do both, and besides of having a large competitive advantage in our customer projects, we're also having a lot of fun using and developing it.

But we're as happy about this particular comment as we are about others we read, like "groundbreaking", "really cool product", "You guys have saved me months of work", "It looks promising", "game changer" etc..

What's next?

In the meantime, we'll keep on trying to make Structr even more useful for as many users as possible, and we have some very interesting customers and projects in the pipeline.

If you like to get in contact with us personally, here are the next events where you can meet me or someone of the team:

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