In his post on CRE Loaded Clutter , Chris at oshelpers.com describes FDMS as inessential clutter in the course of presenting what is essentially an explanation of why CRE Loaded 6.3 is so overpriced for the feature set.

I beg to differ on this specific point.

Perhaps, as the system designer responsible for FDMS and the Chief Operating Officer of the firm which sold the system I have a few biases of my own here.  Download related issues in CRE Loaded accounted for a respectable portion of system complaints before FDMS development.  The existing download system lacked some pretty obvious marketing tools and capabilities.  The reporting systems sucked.  Those issues were just about enough by themselves.  Add to them the negative impact of the “Zero Weight Guessing Game” in the checkout and shipping routines which affect 100% of all cart users and the development of  FDMS  and its eventual inclusion into the core distributions was completely justified.  The market demand was also more like 20% than the 0.2% Chris estimates off the cuff.    The system also made it a lot easier for shops with physical products to offer product related downloads such as instruction manuals, user guides and brochures  — pushing the number of potential benefactors even higher.  The list of reasons why FDMS is both essential and “A Good Thing” goes on and on.   Inessential is not justified here – though it is certainly fair to say the system is  over-priced when considered against other needs clammering for attention in the CRE Loaded code base.

CRE Loaded actually did a splendid job of selecting contributions for inclusion in the cart up to the 6.2 release.  In fact, it came very close to continuing that streak in the 6.2 release itself.  Ugly story there that I might tell someday, but not today. Fact remains that the top features in any CRE Loaded distribution can still be found in the top downloads of all time for osCommerce contributions and most of them remain in the top 50 if not the top 10 out of over 5000 candidates.

What Chris missed,  ignored  or chose not to  communicate there is that beginning with 6.2, CRE Loaded was no longer to be a “loading project” but a development project. Not a secret at all.  I certainly mentioned it in the CRE Loaded forums as I drove development in a new direction and I am pretty sure Chris was there to see it.    It was the right course then and a better one today.

The problem is that Chainreaction has an issue with steering a course that  calls on building a development company.  A problem with any course that relies on providing value to the community for which the community feels a need to pay.   The fact that so much clutter of any type remains is a reflection of this problem as much as anything.   That 107 of 114  feature requests made over the past 3 years remain open, many of them unanswered much less un-implemented is a clear sign of the weakness of Chainreaction Ecommerce ‘s  commitment to meet community needs.

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