The Drumbeat 2000 & Macromedia Saga
To all Drumbeat Users:
I believe that we should take a fair but firm stand with Macromedia regarding Drumbeat 2000. To further than end I have drafted this letter to be sent to Rob Burgess (Chairman and CEO of Macromedia), Kevin Lynch (Executive Vice President and General Manager), and David Mendels (Senior Vice President). I believe that we would be best served in this endeavor by presenting a united stand. I hope that you will agree with the position that I have drafted here as the best response we could reasonable hope for and expect from Macromedia. If you support this letter, please send email to by Friday April 14. Include your name and email address and the city and state you live in. I will include all of your names with the letter. I also appreciate any comments people may wish to make about this approach. However, it is not feasible to write a letter by committee and we must act quickly. So your comments really must be general in nature. If you feel that another approach will better serve our needs I encourage you to take up your own pen and write to these people yourself. Here is hoping that Macromedia is willing to accept its responsibilities.
Mr. Rob Burgess
Dear Mr. Burgess,
I am writing to you as the chairman and CEO of Macromedia on behalf many members of the Drumbeat user community to discuss with you a number of recent developments regarding two Macromedia products, Drumbeat 2000 and the upcoming UltraDev. I have enclosed the names and email addresses of nearly one hundred Drumbeat developers who have agreed to sign this letter as well as many of their comments. I also encourage you and your staff to view the discussions on Macromedia's Drumbeat and UltraDev newsgroups on this topic. I am sure that you will find them both interesting and challenging.
Last August, Macromedia announced that it would be acquiring Drumbeat as part of the Macromedia line. Some of us had been using Drumbeat since Elemental Software released it. Others of us were new to Drumbeat. All of us read with excitement the following press release from Macromedia that described the Drumbeat acquisition and Macromedia's plans for the product.
After reading these statements we were confident that we had picked the right tool, which would be around for a long time. With Macromedia at the helm we believed that Drumbeat would receive the kind of polishing and customer support that Macromedia is known for. One of the major selling points for Drumbeat has been the e-commerce version, which has allowed us to develop outstanding E-commerce sites.
In September Macromedia released Service Pack 2 for Drumbeat, which added some new features but also added some annoying bugs while connecting with stored procedures. Over the last 6 months Drumbeat developers have fiddled with workarounds and waited for the next Service Pack to solve the problems.
On April 5 of this year, when Macromedia announced that Drumbeat would be discontinued in June with the release of a new product UltraDev, I and many other Drumbeat developers were quite shocked. Based on your company's statements many of us expected some merging of Drumbeat and Dreamweaver but assumed that our investment both financially and in terms of time in developing sites in built with Macromedia's Drumbeat was not going to go to waste.
I am certain that there were many issues involved in the decision of how to create "the next generation of Drumbeat 2000" and, as developers we recognize that extending Drumbeat into Dreamweaver was ultimately not as good for Macromedia as extending the Dreamweaver core architecture to create UltraDev. Many of us are looking forward to seeing UltraDev when it is released and hope that it will be a solid tool that we can base our businesses on.
However, UltraDev will not be available until June and many of us have an extensive number of Drumbeat sites we will have to continue to maintain with Drumbeat. This is especially crucial since the UltraDev announcement states, "the core product will not include any e-commerce specific features." The announcement then goes on to say "through the power of extensibility and our network of developers, you will be able to easily download extensions for creating e-commerce applications." We hope to see such extensions for UltraDev. However, Dreamweaver 3 was released in December of 1999 and as yet there are no extensions available for Dreamweaver 3. An email message from Macromedia Tech Support staffer Matt Brown dated April 10 stated, "There are no specific extensions for version 3 because of a new way we are working on to deliver extensions. This project is slightly behind schedule." This leaves many of us with serious concerns as to when we will actually see e-commerce extensions for this new product. Many of us have e-commerce sites that we must maintain until UltraDev e-commerce becomes a reality and the timeline for that availability remains unclear.
This presents those of us in the Drumbeat developers' community with a serious problem. Like Macromedia, we are in business. Some of us are independent developers while others work for companies large and small that use Drumbeat. We have developed sites for our companies and customers with Drumbeat and must continue to maintain and support these sites for the foreseeable future. It simply will not be possible for many Drumbeat developers to scrap the program come June. We will continue to rely on Drumbeat to maintain our sites until UltraDev has the required features like e-commerce and until each of us has the time to port the sites across. One Drumbeat developer reported having over fifty commercial sites built in Drumbeat. I expect that many of us will continue to maintain sites with Drumbeat well into 2001.
Under the current plan Macromedia has left us no viable options for easily transitioning to UltraDev. This is a tremendous blow to many of our companies and does not jibe with the statements your company made about "welcoming us into the Macromedia family" and "providing us with excellent customer support." These statements should stand as a commitment to Drumbeat users. We don't expect that this means a lifetime commitment to keep Drumbeat in your product line. We understand that products change. But your company's statements do mean that we as users we should be supported in our use of your product. Part of that support should be to provide a reasonable upgrade path to the next product in the development cycle. However, since UltraDev is a totally new product based on Dreamweaver, there is no real upgrade path for Drumbeat developers.
As developers we must stay on the cutting edge just like Macromedia. In order to stay competitive this means we must move to Windows 2000 to take advantage of new technologies like IIS 5.0. The Macromedia version of the Drumbeat 2000 user's manual states on page 12 that Drumbeat "works with NT 4.0 and later." According to that statement, Drumbeat should work under Windows 2000. However, it does not. This is the most crippling aspect of Drumbeat 2000, yet Macromedia has made no commitment to provide Windows 2000 support.
We believe that your company should stand behind the commitments made in August when Macromedia announced Drumbeat as a product. Macromedia should provide Drumbeat developers with a real transition. The only way to do this is to provide the type of customer support that your company advertises. What I and other members of the Drumbeat developers community are requesting is both reasonable and appropriate. Macromedia should release a new Service Pack for Drumbeat that fixes the bugs introduced in Service Pack 2 and provides Windows 2000 support. This will allow developers to maintain their current sites and port them to the new UltraDev architecture as that product matures.
After posting a draft of this letter on the Web for comment from Drumbeat users, I received a phone call from David Mendels on your staff. I appreciated David taking the time to call me. He and I had an interesting discussion, which confirmed many of the things that I had been assuming about Macromedia's development needs and directions for Drumbeat and UltraDev. However, what David discussed with me failed to address the substantive issues.
Here is a quick summary of our conversation. David did agree that up now, Drumbeat has been the best product on the market for Web-database development. He talked about how the decision had been made to shift to the Dreamweaver core architecture as ultimately creating the best piece of software for the most users. He mentioned Dreamweaver's market share and the extensibility of the product as providing a better platform for future products. When I asked about the issues that I requested above, Windows 2000 support and a service pack update for Drumbeat 2000, David said that there simply wasn't the programming staff to do this without delaying UltraDev by three to six months. He agreed that the lack of Windows 2000 support was "unfortunate for some users" and understood the frustration. But said that it was a challenge "whenever you move to a new architecture and we can't do everything."
In discussions about the "upgrade" from Drumbeat to UltraDev, David stated that UltraDev would be the replacement product. When I asked him about the upgrade from Drumbeat ecommerce to UltraDev he reported that UltraDev would not offer a one-to-one feature set match to the e-commerce edition. David reported that all of the e-commerce features of Drumbeat "would not be coming in the first release of UltraDev." He said that he hoped that some of the e-commerce features like shopping cart technology would ship with the product and was sure that other e-commerce extensions would be added "sometime after release" but was not able to specify when. For those of us maintaining and developing e-commerce sites, UltraDev does not qualify as an upgrade.
I tried to point out that, based on his own statements, UltraDev was not, in fact, an upgrade for Drumbeat e-commerce users. While it is true that UltraDev can modify Drumbeat files once they are published, it is a one-way street. If you make changes in UltraDev and then need to go back and modify your Drumbeat code, you must republish the Drumbeat files, wiping out all the UltraDev changes. As David said, "this is a new product," but it is clearly not an upgrade to Drumbeat.
As I write this, I frankly find myself exhausted and disillusioned by all that has happened. Your company made some business decisions and those decisions are negatively impacting many of our companies. We feel that Macromedia should have more accountability for supporting us as users. You may disagree with us on what that level of support should be. However, the response from David and other members of the company which has been, just wait and you'll get a better product is simply not enough. Even David agreed that Macromedia "has not done a good job at communication" to Drumbeat users.
The other issue that seriously concerns Drumbeat users is how Macromedia continues to market Drumbeat. Macromedia should not continue to sell a product that will cease to be marketed in June, with extremely limited support, no Windows 2000 support, and yet market it as if the product has a future. All of the information quoted above is still on the Macromedia Web site. We believe it is time for Macromedia to be honest with consumers about Macromedia's plans for Drumbeat. The Macromedia Web site and marketing materials should be changed to the reflect the following facts:
What will this mean for Macromedia? Well, it would mean that some consumers wouldn't buy Drumbeat over the next few months. Others would choose to do so for the free "upgrade" to UltraDev. Overall, it would communicate to users that Macromedia is an honest company that can be trusted. We can say with assurance that right at this moment, there are many people out there who do not feel that they can trust your company. Macromedia has some bridges to rebuild with its customers. In the end, UltraDev should be a wonderful product. We believe that the process of getting there should be as important to your company as the product itself.
As Drumbeat users who depend on your product, we hope that Macromedia will take the appropriate step to support its users and release a Service Pack that provides Windows 2000 support. We believe that this effort will, in the end, be a positive decision for Macromedia and for all of us who rely on your products. We hope that Macromedia will also take the important steps to accurately advertise Drumbeat between now and the end of its selling date. I and the other members of the Drumbeat development community look forward to hearing from you regarding your thoughts on these matters. Please respond to me at the above address or by email and I will forward your remarks on to other developers.
Stuart Hudson - @pounce.co.uk
Comments from Drumbeat Users:
I appreciate and support your effort. A smooth transition to the new product would restore a lot of lost goodwill, and probably
income to many as well.
I fully support a new service pack.
I agree with everything you've stated in the letter. I am not opposed to UltraDev, but as with learning Drumbeat (which I think I've just finally done), UltraDev will take time to learn and will not have all of the features that the previous Drumbeat supported. Also, we have been waiting as patiently as possible for the existing bugs to be fixed, MM decides not to fix it but to come out with another new product. Any new product, as any developer knows, will have bugs as well - at least initially. We need Drumbeat Support to last longer than announced, and we need another Service Pack to get us through the transition.
Haul me up on your bandwagon. I'm a Mac user, and I had to purchase a Windows machine just to use Drumbeat, and I haven't had either of them an entire month yet. $2,200 down the tubes!
Thank you for being ambitious enough to take this task to hand. I would like to add my support to your endeavor.
Please include my name, address and information in your letter to Macromedia. I have 23 projects that I have developed exclusively with Drumbeat 2000 and would expect continued support for this product. I thank you for the footwork that you are going through on this matter.
It came as a big a blow to us today to find that Macromedia is dropping Drumbeat. Like you we have a number of sites built and developed in Drumbeat and a number of projects in the pipeline that we were hoping to use Drumbeat for. We support your stand and would like to include our team names, emails and city. It seems incredible really, we use a number of macromedia products and only in September at a Macromedia Developers Seminar here, Macromedia were heralding Drumbeat s the product of the future! We are a very small company only 5 developers, 3 of us using macromedia products and we just can't afford these kinds of decisions by Macromedia. Thanks for writing the letter.
We support the letter to Macromedia in its entirety!
What a wonderful letter to Macromedia! I would be proud to have my name on your letter as well. Thanks so much for putting so much into this. I will forward your message to other Drumbeat users.
I support you 100%. Especially, the request for a new service pack that can fix some of the bugs. I think its the least MM can do.
I've been following everyone's remarks on the newsgroups regarding these developments closely, and am grateful for the open
discussions (i wish MM would be as open as the general community is!)
I feel like we have been slapped in the face by Macromedia. I purchased Drumbeat 2000 a few months ago and have always felt that Macromedia lacked the support for this product that they have always had for their other ventures. Please include my name in your Message.
I like the emphasis on the Windows 2000 issue. This is instrumental. I would add some emphasis on the portability of drumbeat sites into Ultradev. I need to be able to not only import pages (we all know drumbeat was very bad at importing stuff), we need to be able to work with the files we created in DB. Otherwise the work WILL be double as we'll simply have to develop under Ultradev again.
I have to applaud your efforts--I too am "exhausted". I got into web development specifically because I liked working with Drumbeat 2000. Web development wasn't my first choice, as I had been trained in Visual Basic and C++, but with Drumbeat I found a tool that I can use and enjoy using. Drumbeat's power blows away anything on the market. Drumbeat's extensibility leaves Dreamweaver behind. We have nowhere else to turn except may Microsoft when they release Visual Studio 7. Nothing else comes close to Drumbeat in my mind.
I make your words to my words. We expended money to buy a good software to develop, and few months later this will be
discontinued. I hope the Macromedia's team still support Drumbeat, this still a great development software. Sorry about my English
I fully endorse the letter that you wrote. Yes, Drumbeat has many deficiencies, and UltraDev will undoubtedly delight the web
development community. However, we still need a smooth transition to maintain our current sites while we convert to new
technologies under a controlled, planned basis.
Is there no means possible to sue Macromedia for false advertisement. I mean, let's face it, it's as clear as water that they were
I hope this works. My main concern is the interface. As I am still in the learning phase of Drumbeat, I don't have as much to lose. I have been using NetObjects Fusion and was really hoping to switch because of all the Drumbeat has to offer. I hope that UltraDev keeps Drumbeats "drag & drop" style vs. Dreamweaver's Layers method. It sounds to me like MM is creating a product to compete with NetObjects Fusion. As that product offers "components" to integrate databases and e-commerce. If this is the case with MM, then I will go back to NOF because of the interface alone.
I have spent the past three days learning this application unaware that it will cease in June of this year. It would have been nice if MM had a notice on their DB page that this was the case. I am under pressure from my clients to implement eComm for them. I now do not know what to do!
I have been hired by a company (as an employee) to create their website and e-com site. I have chosen Drumbeat 2000 to do this, although I am not familiar with the program, yet. I have read reviews and downloaded the tutorial from Macromedia's site. Reading your letter disturbed me. I wasn't aware of Macromedia's plans to discontinue Drumbeat. I think this is a powerful program, from the information I've seen, and am excited to learn it. However, if the program is to be discontinued, why did I buy it? I feel like I've been let down by Macromedia.
In addition, Macromedia uses a blurb from me on the "Hear What Others are Saying" section of the Drumbeat website. I was one of the early adopters of this product, back when it was being advertised by Microsoft on their web site, and paid quite a bit of money for it. Thanks again for your efforts. As I've said many times, I like Drumbeat quite a bit and think it's a very unique tool.
I purchased DB just a couple of months ago, and imagine the disgust I now feel knowing that there are no current plans to allow an easy migration from DB to UltraDev. Basically, I feel like I paid a handsome price for product at the end of its life cycle. Mind you, none of this was announced at the time of my purchase. Furthermore, after encountering many, many crashes, I was told by technical support something to the effect of "sorry to hear you are having problems... we don't." My company has invested a significant amount of money in Macromedia products, and this is the way we are repaid.
I bought my Drumbeat version in Nov. expecting the product to be supported indefinitely. I am not happy at all!
Win2k and IIS5 support are pretty important to me - the rest less so. I haven't run into many of the bugs that everyone talks about as I don't rely on contracts a whole lot. Most of the e-commerce stuff is useless to me here in Canada and I generally prefer to write my own server / database code. (I'm glad that I've been rolling my own stuff given what's happening now.) Drumbeat has more than its share of quirks but I've learned to live with them. I also think that there are some really basic things that Drumbeat is just plain missing! Copy and paste between .edf files? A style editor? Code coloring? Documentation? etc... I like Drumbeat and I hope that UltraDev can pick up where it leaves off. However, I would be reluctant to deal with Macromedia in the future if this transition isn't handled smoothly. Macromedia should definitely bend over backwards to support their Drumbeat customers. I don't think you're asking for anything unreasonable at all.
I hope that any announcement of support comes quickly. I have clients who have begun to hear that my development tool is on its way out, and they're getting nervous. The last thing I need is their retaliation against my word based upon the word of Macromedia, especially if that word changes in the interim before product release. I urge you to stand by your clear commitment to us and to provide us with a feasible upgrade path that encompasses e-commerce support.
I take an even 'harsher' stand. I worked with Elemental Software (as a Beta tester) since version 2.0 of the Drumbeat product. Even though realizing some issues and limitations with Drumbeat, it rapidly became the tool of choice for my work as both Developer and Webmaster for a 'Fortune 100' Corporation. With the acquisition comes responsibility. This responsibility should extend further than 6 months after announcing the 'premature' demise of the product line! Macromedia delivered a faulty Service Pack that many of us have had to deal with - and owes us reparation for the poor QA associated with that pack. Elimination of E-commerce indicates that Macromedia is not interested in honoring the commitments it has made to the former owner's clients. I am forced to see Macromedia not as a welcome vendor providing remarkable tools, but just another player in the marketplace that is using its burgeoning presence as a way to 'force' its 'purchased' clients into a philosophy that may not be appreciated. I am 'extremely' disappointed with Macromedia, and this obvious gamesmanship.
As a frequently Drumbeat user I totally support your campaign, thank you for your effort.
I purchased this program on Mar. 18, 2000 and I feel being cheated.
Macromedia should consider with more care their responsibility as a reputable supplier. I realize the computer industry is fast moving but there is no excuse for such shoddy dealing
I sent this e-mail on the 5th April to MM Tech support regarding Ultradev but never received a reply. I'm a bit miffed having
discovered today that Drumbeat is to be dropped by Macromedia in favour of a new product called Ultradev. I have recently
purchased Flash 4, Fireworks 3 & Dreamweaver 3 Studio, and Drumbeat e-commerce edition so that I can get my teeth into some serious development keeping to a single vendor. I haven't even had time to use Drumbeat now I find that I'll be wasting my time (having already apparently wasted £400 (GB Pounds) in buying the product
I'm another Drumbeat user that completely agrees with you - and looking for another development platform. Any organization that does not care about its loyal customers doesn't deserve to have my support.
I'm still planning to use db2k but the BOSS has given us notice that all our machines are too be upgraded to Win2k...and you know what this means.....I'll have to fork out more dough to use a separate machine with NT4.....that sucks....