October 20, 2013

For the past couple months we’ve been receiving questions from some of you, and gathered the answers in the following FAQ regarding our company.

Q: Why are you forcing Artisteer users to have online connection when using the product? Don’t you realize that many customers will stop using Artisteer? With a good product you will have loyal customers who will pay for it.
A: This is not really a question of choice. When hackers released cracked version of Artisteer the same month our sales decreased by more than 50%. This also had put financial dent in our ability to continue supporting Artisteer. The end result was that we had to consider scaling down our effort and the work put into this product. Almost all companies discontinue selling and supporting unprofitable products, or focus on more profitable products, no matter how loyal is the following. However, we do appreciate having loyal customers and we wanted to continue developing and supporting Artisteer as long as our customers want us to, as long as we love it, and as long as this makes financial sense for us. We understand that we may lose some customers due to implementing online protection, but at the same time we believe that that is a better solution than abandoning the product. Some customers may leave us and that is not a good news, but the good news is that Artisteer will be there for others to use. We also complained about complex activations and re-activations of some products we use, but in the end we start understanding some issues that many software companies face, while we are happy that we can continue working on Artisteer.
At the same time we simply refuse to work on products that are being stolen and distributed for free. When someone comes to your business and robs it, you will also look for ways to protect yourself, even if it may become more inconvenient to some customers (unless you just enjoy being robbed).
Many companies have disappeared or stopped developing their products due to hackers, while no one seems to be talking about this. Some people say “I will just use another product” and then they look for products that don’t have financial stability. What many people may not realize is that many small companies disappeared or stopped developing their products because of rampant theft in form of cracks (although of course that’s not the only reason).
The fact is that there are no statistics on companies put out of business by hackers, while we wanted to make this obvious and clear – because this deserves attention and all newspapers should be writing about how hackers destroy products that they want to make free. Sure such products may become free for a short time, but then they disappear and people wonder why. While we tell you why. We also tell hackers that piracy causes damage to the product that they steal. And even though some of our customers believe that it’s enough that we focus on fixing bugs and making the product better, we have very clear data showing that it may not be enough and that hacking indeed is a clearly defined problem with clear consequences. We also tracked the identity of the main hacker who cracked Artisteer and we’ve discussed those issues with him.

Q: Are you then financially stable? Are you still actively developing the product? And why aren’t there are as many updates to Artisteer as in the past.
A: As we work on multiple projects/products and have multiple income streams, we have some level of financial freedom where we can put more effort into Artisteer when it makes sense. And currently it does make sense. We are steadily recovering from the hacking event, while we use Artisteer and love working with it. The hacking hiccup has put some delays on our work but some of the delays are also caused by more complexity of Artisteer and more time needed to make certain changes. Sometimes we need to rewrite large parts of code and cannot release minor updates until the bigger changes are finalized and the program is put back together and retested. However, moving some of the export functionality online should allow us to fix bugs faster in the future, directly on our server and without updating Artisteer.
And we do plan to support and develop Artisteer as long as we have customers who want to use it. The more customers we have the more resources we can assign to the product, and right now we are increasing our efforts by starting to work on e-commerce features and templates. More than 20 of us are directly involved with Artisteer, including support.

Q: Is it safe to send information to your server while exporting templates? Is that information stored somewhere?
A: It is absolutely safe and we do not store submitted information anywhere. Our “export server” only contains parts of Artisteer code needed to generate web templates, while templates themselves are not stored anywhere.

Q: What will happen if you go out of business? Will I be stuck with a non-working product that requires online connection to your server?
A: By implementing the online protection and keeping developing Artisteer we show that we care about our customers and about Artisteer, therefore we won't simply allow for the product to stop working completely. In case we’d have to decide to stop developing and selling Artisteer we’d release a version of Artisteer that works without an online connection. However, we don’t project to have to stop developing Artisteer at all, while even putting more effort into it when needed.

Q: Do you plan to move to a subscription model where I can no longer own the product but will have to pay for using it.
A: We do not plan to move to subscription plans and will never charge subscription fees. We will continue offering annual upgrades like previously, but you will always be able to use the product version you purchased without having to obtain an upgrade.

Q: Why did you spend time working on Tumblr templates instead of fixing bugs?
A: Tumblr templates were very easy to support and didn’t take much time when comparing to some templates that require up to a year to support. We received requests to support Tumblr with sample implementation, and it simply worked The Tumblr market is also difficult to ignore: http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=tumblr%2C%20%20wordpress%2C%20%20joomla&cmpt=q . In the same way a few years ago someone could ask us why we added support for Joomla since Artisteer worked well supporting WordPress, yet we then had many Joomla users happy with our decision.
At the same time we work on fixing other bugs and improvement that may not always be appreciated or seen. As Artisteer become more advanced there were a lot of internal code issues that required rewriting certain parts of the code, which often takes a while before we can release new bug fixes. Some bugs may not be easily fixed because they can affect other functionality. Some people ask us to remove a line of code without realizing that it was placed in there for specific reason.
We also deal with a problem of maintaining a list of thousands of user suggestions and sometimes the number of suggestions for “less important” feature or bug fix may highly exceed the number of requests for a small but possibly important fix. Sometimes we may miss those smaller issues.
However, overall we believe that we are getting back into position to address future issues faster.

Q: Why are you not participating in your forums? Why are you not allowing just the customers on the forums? Why don’t you moderate your forums? Why do you moderate your forums and remove my posts?
A: We offer direct communication with us via our support at http://www.artisteer.com/?p=support. The user forums are provided for Artisteer users to exchange information and aid each other. If you do have questions directed to us please submit them direct to us. We definitely listen to our customers and have open communication with many. Please feel free to speak to us directly.
There is also a lot that can be misinterpreted on the forums because when we post an answer for one person then many others join in and say "me too", even when the original question or answer doesn't apply to them. This makes both the support and answering any other questions much more difficult than communicating with just one person at a time about a specific topic. There are also confidential topics that we cannot discuss openly, etc. Sometimes we see that people gather in our lobby (forums) to gossip and speculate, without actually asking us a question, while we receive many more questions submitted to us directly and we are busy answering them. Most companies also don't publicly discuss their business via forums and don't make announcements via forums, though they have moderators and some power users helping other users mostly with product usage and some of the technical issues. While again, please always feel free to contact us and ask question(s).
Some customers ask us to cleanup and moderate our forums, while others complain when we remove some posts. We received suggestions to allow only registered users to use the forums, but at the same time we think that people who’d like to try the product could especially use the forums. Please note that the user forums are our lobby and we reserve the right to remove anyone who is disrespectful to other customers, or to us. However, , we welcome everyone to come inside and talk directly to us.
At the same time we realize that we realize that we could work closer with our community via designated volunteer users like Microsoft does with MVPs and Apple does with Apple Distinguished Educators. Such users get a bit more inside information, early Beta releases, free products, more influence on the product, and possibly other benefits. We could also use help of an independent moderator. If you'd like to help and be more involved with us please feel free to contact us via the product support and let us know your ideas and expectations.

Q: What are you currently working on?
A: We cannot discuss all our upcoming plans, but one of the features we're working on are e-commerce features in Artisteer, to support e-commerce templates. This task turned out to be very complex and slows down some of our regular work and updates. We are also experimenting with a simplified version of Artisteer that can customize the web design for custom HTML & CSS in WordPress and Joomla templates. Please contact us if you are making substantial changes to Artisteer templates or have a custom template framework that you think would be worth supporting within Artisteer.
Please also feel free to submit new feature requests to us.

Artisteer Team