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Mautic is a box o’ bugs (We need Mautic Stable – LTS)

A few months ago, one of our fellow Mauticians just made an interesting remark on Mautic’s #General Slack channel:

Mautic is a box o’ bugs: Anyone know a stable release of mautic?
*most stable (bc apparently nothing is stable)
went thru 2.11.0, 2.12.2, 2.13.1 –> no dice
in one release test emails are breaking, in another campaigns don’t work, and in another you cannot even save the config page, it’s like a whole new box o’ bugs with each release.

This was my answer to the post above: Yes you are right @somemautician, in several previous versions the priority for the dev team seems to have been geared towards testing new code rather than making it stable, this has been pointed out many times by different people before, however 2.14.0 and 2.14.1 specifically try to address known problems rather than introducing new ones.

I should’ve known better! Right after that, 2.14.0 Included the refactoring of the campaigns engine, which was an awesome idea, sadly this introduced a whole lot of new issues, some of them pretty serious cause these where preventing campaigns, the core of Mautic, to work properly. Now we have 2.15.0, has anything changed?

Truth is, since I saw this post, I’ve been wondering myself the same. Nothing seems to really change, for every bug fixed another one comes along!

But this is really not news, I joined this awesome community 2 years ago and the oldest memory I have is how one guy was trashing everything and everyone because of how tired he was about every new release being filled with new bugs. I remember thinking, at the time, what an ungrateful person…
At the time I thought, well, it is getting better, each new release fixes a whole lot of bugs. Little did I know at the time about his suffering, our suffering… 

The worst part is now the this has gone beyond the community, in every major site around the Internet you will find the exact same opinions, all over the place:

a) Mautic is awesome.
b) Mautic is filled with bugs.
c) Support is barely OK and documentation is lacking.
d) I had to quit Mautic cause I was unable to deal with all the bugs.

Numbers speak very loudly, 2 years ago we had over 3500+ people in the #general channel, today we have 5600+, If you discount the churn rate, we are at best, stagnant, and this will become very painfully obvious the moment the Slack channel is “turned off” to enforce the move to Discord.

Currently, net growth of this community is actually negative (as the move from Slack to Discord will make obviously painful), we have some 25% growth per year in the number of people subscribed to the (mandatory) #general channel, yes, but we lose more than that every year! people leave faster than they arrive. SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG HERE! Growth should be over 400% per year. C’mon this is the only FOSS Marketing Automation platform that merits the name.

Here’s another comment found on the slack channel a few weeks ago:

“Well, to be honest? I am in the midst of giving up on Mautic after several years now. This is the second MAJOR issue and I am unable to trust it – and the level of community support seems to have dropped. So. I am stuck in the mud and having to find alternatives. This makes me sad.”

How can we fix this situation?

The community doesn’t need headless services, the community doesn’t need a new website, the community needs a “stable edition” where new and widely un-tested stuff is not included, so people can choose if they want the latest features, but they can also choose a stable version that does not bring more problems than it solves.
I proposed exactly this a couple of times on the Slack channels and on the #core meetings (as well as individually to some core members) and it was dismissed on the spot because according to the community leadership “The latest version is the stable version”. Which is a huge pile of bullshit!

I will add, many of the problems faced by users seem to be related precisely with updating an existing codebase rather than introduced by the releases by themselves. I think this is also a very solid reason to consider a version that’s aimed at stability, only stability!

As an example of how a serious Open Source project works: This very site currently uses the Joomla CMS, yesterday a notification appeared on my admin panel… ” Joomla 3.8.12 is here, update now”  with a big green button which read “Update”. I didn’t even have the time to blink and I had already clicked on the damn button… Why? because I trust Joomla. Why?, I never had any issues since the automated updates system was introduced, several years ago, upgrade after upgrade, release after release, and there have been lots of them…

Don’t you want this for your own Mautic installs? Don’t you want to be able to trust every new release?

Well, the good news is this already exists, on Mautic Inc’s servers and on the servers of most of the other SaaS companies offering Mautic, in fact, it’s as simple as not using the latest release but use an older one and patch it when required. The bad news is they won’t share that with us because they need us to be their guinea pigs.

Now compare that with our current installs, the notification appears… “New Version available, upgrade now”  NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!! The message stays there for weeks, months sometimes!. I advise all my clients to NEVER run a Mautic Upgrade until it’s been largely tested on a test server first. You know, find all the bugs, learn how to fix them, fix them, apply some patches and test everything again one last time on the test server and then repeat all this process on production. NOT FUNNY!

Mautic needs a stable version! We all need a Stable Version, it will be good for the community, it will be good for Mautic’s business including Mautic Inc and all the HUNDREDS of companies selling it as SaaS with some other name.
Don’t we want this for ourselves? Don’t we want this for every newcomer that decided an Open Source Marketing Automation solution could be the right choice? Don’t you want to be proud of being part of Mautic?

FACT: What separates this dream from reality is just “ONE YES”. If the right person at Mautic just said, OK, let’s try this, the next minute we could have it available for download. Truth is, even if Mautic doesn’t do this, several other companies have the power to do it too, It is really that simple, and whoever does it, not only will get unsurpassed amounts of new leads, followers and sales, they will also become the heroes of this community.

Why is it not happening if it’s that simple? 

Some people believe making Mautic harsh and difficult is in their own interest, they believe their SaaS businesses will benefit from the free publicity of being Open Source but they also believe that by making the Mautic self-hosted a difficult piece of software, clients will come knocking to their doors when problems arise. Hence trimming the community, Matrix-style, is in their best, commercial interest.

To a certain point, they are right, however, they are not taking into account the churn rate this strategy is forcing down the community, which means the community suffers, the “Internet opinion” about Mautic suffers, Mautic adoption suffers and in consequence, their business and income suffers too. In the early days, maybe this was a smart strategy, but these days are long gone… 
A smarter and much more productive strategy would be to give strength to the community, invest in it and let it flourish instead of trimming it, let Mautic shine. What the heck, make sure Mautic Open Source shines so strongly that every marketer craves for it, then monetize this influence, but this is never going to happen while there is no stable release, especially not if the community keeps getting trimmed every few months.

If this community is ever going to grow as much as it deserves, we have to re-think some of our strategies, I reckon the stability of Mautic would be among the most beneficial of them all for community growth.
Cause this community is never going to grow to its full potential if we don’t fix these organizational problems and strategic issues first.

Yosu Cadilla

My name is Yosu Cadilla, a Systems Administrator since year 2000. I discovered Mautic on 2017 and since,
I’ve specialized in running Mautic for Marketing agencies and other large Mautic deployments.
Currently, I run a very specialized and fine-tuned cluster of Mautic-optimized servers called m.Runtime.

If you are planning on deploying Mautic on a large scale, let’s have a chat!

Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it useful. If you have questions or comments, share them on the comments section below. I do my best to reply to every single comment.