The Drumbeat 2000 & Macromedia Saga

  Subject: Phone Conversation with Macromedia about Drumbeat
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 19:15:56 -0400
From: Rick Curtis <rcurtis@princeton.edu>
Newsgroups: macromedia.ultradev, macromedia.drumbeat, macromedia.drumbeat.ecommerce

Here is a summary of the telephone conversation I had last week with
David Mendels, Senior VP, Business Development and Corporate Marketing
at Macromedia. It was a friendly conversation and I appreciated that he
took the time to call me. It was a conversation that confirmed some
things that we knew or suspected about the product and Macromedia's
decision process. I hope that some of this information will help users.

However, I must say the conversation left me with the same feelings
that I have had about this all along. See my final editorial comments

I have added a few editorial comments in < >. 

Please see my other posting "Letter to Macromedia CEO" for the final
letter that was sent to Rob Burgess today. It should be on his desk
tomorrow by noon.


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 said that the developmetn group spent a lot of time
taking to cutomers about features, most of whom are both Drumbeat and
Dreamweaver users. 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. 

<I do know from friends who work in Silicon Valley that there is an
<incredible shortage of programmers. As my friend put it, "they are
willing <to hire a monkey who can work a calculator." This means that
there is <truth to the difficulty of finding staff to also work on
Drumbeat fixes. <Finding staff is s tough adn time consuming job for a
short project on a <program you are planning to scrap.> 

<I don't know just what the Windows 2000 problem is, I have seem some
<reference to the riched.dll. I don't know if it is a DB problem or a
<Windows problem. I do know that everything else that I have seen that
<worked on NT 4.0 still works on Win2k. That's Microsoft not trying to
screw <users and get in trouble for it. I looked to see what MM software
was <certified as Win2K comptaible by MS. ZERO. Maybe it's time for MM
to <program with a longer-term vision of what product compatability

David 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." He said that there won't initially be a version of UltraDev
for Mac OS X and that he expected people to be "complaining about that

<I would note that there is a SLIGHTLY LARGER market share for Windows
2000 <users than Mac OS X - sorry Mac users;)>

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 these
important points:

1, UltraDev does NOT have every feature that Drumbeat has. <He was not
specific on what features UD won't have.>

2. UltraDev WILL NOT offer a one-to-one feature set match to Drumbeat
e-commerce edition on the first release. 

3. Shopping cart technology MAY BE included in the UltraDev at launch,
but it is not for sure.

4. Other third party e-commerce extensions are "under development" and
would be available "sometime after release" but he was not able to
specify when. 

5. David confirmed that Unify Software has an OEM license to distribute
JSP and ASP versions of Drumbeat as an authoring program for their
E-Commerce server package. They do not own the source code. David
suggested, that Unify will lose the right to sell Drumbeat once when
Drumbeat is no longer produced by MM. David suggested that Unify is a
Beta tester for UlraDev. 

<I would expect that they will move to UD as their authoring tool.>

I tried to point out that, based on his own statements, UltraDev was
not, in fact, an upgrade for Drumbeat e-commerce users. It is a totally
new product and as such offers no EFFECTIVE upgrade path for DB 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. 

<For those of us maintaining and developing e-commerce sites, UltraDev
does <NOT qualify as an upgrade.>

Even David agreed that Macromedia "has not done a good job at
communication" to Drumbeat users. He said that he would be talking to a
number of people on the UltraDev project development team to encourage
more communication.

<Final editorial: I frankly find myself exhausted and disillusioned by
all that has happened. I don't argue that Ultradev may be a better
product than DB. I am certainly going to buy it and find out. I am sure
that it will make MM more money than DB. I even accept MM's need for
corporate secrecy until close to product launch. What galls me is NOT
the decision MM had to make but how callously they have implemented it. 
The MM Web Site and MM advertising STILL says things like: 

"What is Macromedia's plan for integrating Drumbeat 2000 into the
Macromedia family? 
Macromedia will continue to market and sell Drumbeat 2000 alongside its
other award-winning products for Web publishing. Because true product
integration is important to Macromedia, the next generation of Drumbeat
2000 will contain a greater integration between Drumbeat and
Macromedia's existing products." - with all the concern about the FCC
and what MM can say about UltraDev, it is interested that they are
advertising Drumbeat in a way that clearly can't live up to their

It's this, "Hey, we're going to give them a better product in June. In
the meantime let's sell more DB copies. What the hell, they'll get a
free UD upgrade in June. We don't have to tell the new DB people things
like there will NEVER be Windows 2000 support."

This type of attitude shows a blatant disrepect for ALL USERS and a
critical lack of corporate integrity.


I have now stepped off my soapbox (until the next time).

Rick Curtis