Exclusive details on the upcoming rocketgenius plugin

42 Comments

Today at day one of WordCamp Philly I received information and a quick demo about the next plugin from the team at rocketgenius: Gravity Charge. Carl Hancock was at the event and showed me just what they have in store next. The landing page for the new plugin is up, though you won’t glean too much information from it at all.

Based on what I saw, Gravity Charge is a very specific sort of e-commerce experience. It’s intended only to control content memberships and digital downloads. It’s the rocketgenius answer to membership sites, and will be in direct competition with options like Wishlist Member and non WordPress-based solutions like aMember.

As Hancock described their goals, it became clear that they were building something that, first and foremost, they would be able to use themselves. In fact, they plan to use Gravity Charge to run sales and support memberships for their products, once it’s finished. In fact the plugin seems to be uniquely suited for theme and plugin sales as much as typical membership sites that restrict content access.

Charge’s user interface still needs some work and polish, based on what I saw today.ย Even so, the workflow looks interesting. Charge uses what it calls “Access Rules” to determine who can access what and when. These rules could be used to hide portions of content, custom posts and taxonomies, widgets, shortcodes, menus โ€” the works.ย Recurring prices, renewable subscriptions, and one time payments were all in place, which he said would be somewhat based on what payment gateway the user was using.

To be clear, Gravity Charge is not intended for e-commerce of physical goods. It literally can’t handle them: there’s nothing in there for shipping and handling, quantities, or any way of browsing a list of available items. It’s entirely intended for those who want to run a content or access based membership site, with digital downloads.

There are still plenty of questions about just what Gravity Charge will be able to do when it’s finished. It sounds like it will still be a couple of months or so before the first release happens, so add your email to the list they just set up so you’ll be notified when it is. Please do use the comments below to discuss the next official rocketgenius product, whether it will be as successful at their Gravity Forms product, and whether you plan to pick up a copy yourself. Right now I have a Philly after party to attend.

42 thoughts on “Exclusive details on the upcoming rocketgenius plugin

  1. Signed up. Looking forward to see more. Not a whole lot of membership style plugins out there for WP. Should be interesting.

  2. I love Gravity Forms and have used it on such a wide range of sites. I’m interested in exploring this plugin because up until now I have generally said no to clients wanting eCommerce. Too much headaches. Curious to see how they’ll make it nice, smooth and easy to use!

  3. Sounds promising, looking forward to trying it out once it’s ready for some projects I have in mind. Just noticed a small typo in the post:

    It literally canโ€™t handle theme:

    should read them, not theme ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. For a completely free 100% GPL membership option with similar functionality available NOW, please checkout our Paid Memberships Pro plugin in the WordPress repository:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/paid-memberships-pro/

    We have the same design philosophy of providing a payment solution specifically for memberships and digital access. Developers are also encouraged to fork and contribute to the code via GitHub: https://github.com/strangerstudios/paid-memberships-pro

  5. Oh wow, yet another membership plugin. I feel that the membership plugin market is just as competitive as the ecommerce plugin market, but is half the size. If I were making a new plugin, I’d steer away from membership plugins. But rocketgenius guys seem pretty good at what they do, so who knows.

  6. Thanx for the article! I had hoped for a bit more though, so the release would be really soon… When I read a couple of months so that means spring next year or what?

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe it will be a top-notch product by Rocketgenius but would have hoped for some screenshots, demo or feature overview ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • The cynic in me was thinking the same thing. They have a good team, but speaking from experience depending on where they are at now it may take more than 2 months to finish up.

      At last year’s WordCamp Philly I had a working version of our PMPro plugin running memberships on a live site. I announced that I hoped to have it in the repository by the end of the year. It took me until the following June to get the polished version in the repository.

      Of course, they could fork an existing plugin, change the icon, and get something launched quickly and reviewed on WP Candy ๐Ÿ˜‰ and carry on…

      But I think Rocketgenius has their own “style” that they’d want to maintain with this plugin. Lots of folks use Gravity Forms already to do membership stuff, and they’ll want to cater to their existing user base.

    • We’ll try to have more looks at it before it’s out. Right now one of the features they are still working on is the user interface — so I’m sure any screenshots or video wouldn’t be a proper picture of what they will deliver.

      Going to try and get their crew together for an interview this week, so more info will be forthcoming.

      • That would be awesome to hear from them in an interview. The amazing thing about WordCamp is we get to see the man behind the curtain so to speak. Would be great to see what they have going on. I plan to check out paid memberships pro, and have also been seriously digging into s2member lately. I tried wishlist and couldn’t get past all the encoding they were doing and got a refund. I love Gravity Forms and look forward to see what they come up with. I disagree with the people saying membership plugins are dead. I can hardly think of client I’ve had over the last year or so I couldn’t have used a great membership plugin in some way.

    • Yeah, and a good one. A lot of theme shops use aMember for subscriptions but aMember’s affiliate features are lacking (no “link to any page”, for example).

  7. Carl shared a demo of this with me a while back and it’s solid and will 100% provide a solution Membership/Restricted Content/Digital Downloads for WordPress users. Add to that that it’s from RocketGenius and it’ll be a top seller (stellar support and a stellar dev team)

    From the moment I witnessed the demo I’ve been literally begging Carl to release this thing as soon as possible and plan to start using, and recommending it, the second it hits the WWW. So, SO glad to see this finally hitting the light of day.

  8. [This is a repost of a comment I submitted 24hrs ago but which appears to have been stuck in moderation because it contained a link that I thought would be useful].

    Carl has mentioned, in the Gravity Forms forums, his excitement about their next plugin but this is the first time that its purpose has actually been revealed.

    I must admit to being surprised by the choice, it’s not immediately clear to me that this need is not already being served by a lot of different plugins, some of them very good. Then again, back in 2009 I would have said that there were already more than enough form plugins but Gravity Forms redefined that space.

    The main danger is not that Gravity Charge won’t be a solid product but that it will be relatively easy for the established e-commerce plugins, which are getting pretty slick and already offer a wide range of payment gateways for many countries, to create add-ons that replicate the content and download access functionality.

    If you think about it, this subset of e-commerce would act as a pretty good bridge to encourage Web developers to start dabbling in the wider area of e-commerce, so, it would be a no-brainer for them to heavily market these features, especially if the publicity surrounding the release of Gravity Charge is already generating interest in them.

    The question facing a developer will be whether to invest their time into a product that includes this functionality but which also offers the possibility of progressing onwards to more advanced e-commerce sites that sell physical items or Gravity Charge, which specifically excludes that possibility.

    What is indisputable is that Carl is a smart guy who knows how to execute, so, at the very least, Gravity Charge will be a solid product that will make a splash and re-invigorate WordPress e-commerce but I suspect it won’t become a blockbuster product in the way that Gravity Forms has.

    A far more tantalizing prospect, however, is Carl’s suggestion in the forums that Rocket Genius have plans to create a plugin that would apply Gravity Forms-like flexibility to bookings, appointments, reservations, rentals and events. This will instantly transform the level of site and time-saving functionality that WordPress developers can offer their clients and I have no doubt that it will become one of the best-selling and strongest WordPress plugin franchises of all time.

    It’s a mystery to me why no competent WordPress developer has, so far, spotted the potential but that is the great thing about working in a fast-moving arena such as WordPress, there are still plenty of opportunities to make it big if you simply pay attention to what people are asking for and Rocket Genius seem to be interested in tackling this at some point in the future.

    • Toward the end of your comment, I have to chime in…

      We’re still developing, but making very good strides with the bookings, appointments, etc; it is a very complex project and we’re getting better all the time. Social Media Week and some very large customer along with lots of the general WP user base trust us for event registration and ticketing.

      Have you tried Event Espresso: http://eventespresso.com?

      • Hi Garth,

        It is good to see that established plugin companies, including yours, are starting to smell the opportunity and converge upon bookings, reservations, appointments etc. It has taken a lot longer than I expected but it now appears that there will be several options competing for this massive market, which is good news for everyone.

        I was aware of Event Espresso but, following your comment, have taken a good look at your site and forums. It is clear that bookings are very much in the same territory as what you are already doing and, indeed, some of your customers are already trying to make your plugin handle resource booking but the suggested hack of using the recurring event manager add-on (treating, say, an apartment as an event that re-occurs every night) seems less than ideal.

        So, yes, to actually have an add-on specifically designed to handle this stuff would be great for your customers, there are clearly a lot of synergies between event management and providing, say, accommodation or other set resources to the people attending your events.

        I would note, however, that Event Espresso is not well-positioned in terms of price, you won’t be benefitting from the much larger, mainstream market who want booking functionality but not the event features: your Advanced license for one site costs $179, while your Developer license at $499 is limited to just 5 sites (quite unusual for a “Developer” license), and then an ongoing $5 per month for access to upgrades. Those prices are obviously great value for anyone running events but would totally rule out your product for anyone who just wants regular bookings without all the event features – there is already a WordPress booking plugin that prices at those levels and is largely disregarded as a result.

        For that reason, if you are thinking of using your company’s existing expertise in this area, I would suggest creating a standalone, non-events version and sell it for around the same price as, say, Gravity Forms, where the usual, unlimited sites meaning applies to the concept of “Developer license”. That will make you a viable option for the majority of WordPress developers and allow you to compete against whatever Rocket Genius and others release during the coming year.

        Gaining the lion’s share of that new market, with a special standalone plugin, would also protect Event Espresso from some other company occupying that position and using it to start encroaching into your territory of events.

        I look forward to seeing what you come up with and, yes, I very much appreciate how complex a challenge it is, good luck with it.

  9. I’m curious to see the finished product. I’m much more eager to await their in-development Authorize.Net plugin for Gravity Forms. Developing mostly non-profit sites, a beautiful, integrated way to handle donations without the overkill of full commerce has been hard to find.

  10. Hope to see a Payflow Pro gateway plugin soon. I have had to move to formstack while we wait for Gravity gateway plugins. Amazing what you can do with payment pages.

  11. Thanks for the comments everyone. I’m not going to go into details as to the specifics of what we are planning on doing, that will come in due time, but I will address a question that came up in a few of the comments above.

    Why a membership plugin?

    Easy, for the same reason we developed a form plugin despite the fact plenty of form solutions existed… we don’t like the existing solutions and we aren’t alone.

    There isn’t a single one we would want to use ourselves and there isn’t a single one we would feel comfortable recommending to a client. This is the exact same scenario that played out when we got into developing Gravity Forms.

    The fact that there are a lot of solutions in this space just further proves that the demand is there. Not only is there plenty of competition, but it’s a well established commercial niche where people are comfortable paying for a solution. This wasn’t the case with forms. The fact that there is a niche that has high demand and there are so many sub-par solutions make it ripe for being disrupted.

    I can’t tell you how many times Gravity Forms users have asked our advice on which membership plugin they should use or flat out asked us to develop one because they were unhappy with the existing solutions. It happens on a weekly basis.

    Factor in an established customer base to market to, a niche where people are used to paying for a commercial product and one that is prime for disruption and I think we have a winner.

    I’ll also add that this is a very specific type of eCommerce. Membership solutions designed to sell and protect digital content and shopping cart solutions selling physical goods are entirely different animals. The feature sets and the functionality are not the same. Anyone that truly understand both knows how very different they truly are.

    If you want to keep up to date on Gravity Charge be sure to sign up for our mailing list at http://www.gravitycharge.com. Thanks!

    • I certainly wouldn’t claim to have any understanding of how different the various forms of eCommerce are but, then again, neither will most of your target market.

      You make a convincing case as to the difference, I do agree that this is a particularly important niche and I certainly identify with the frustration of not being to find a solution that you would feel comfortable recommending to a client.

      Even so, my point is still valid: unless you can get your potential customers to understand the relative unsuitability of existing eCommerce solutions for this purpose, you are going to be vulnerable to those companies simply releasing copycat functionality as an extension, marketed as part of a greater whole … and that is a very compelling selling point.

      I am not suggesting that their solutions will be as good as your dedicated one and, obviously, you are right that those of us who are already your customers will be the first ones to buy Charge, but there are just as many people who are, say, WooThemes customers who will be predisposed to buy a WooCommerce extension.

      I hope you do disrupt this niche and, in the future, many other parts of the WordPress landscape, I’m just curious to see whether this particular project will be manage to be as disruptive and as successful as Gravity Forms.

      • I’m not worried about copycats. Our customers and the WordPress community as a whole knows the quality of our work and support. Gravity Forms features are regularly copied by some of our competition in the form plugin space and that hasn’t posed any kind of issue for us as a company. It’s going to happen, we aren’t afraid of it.

        Just like forms we are building something that we fully intend to use ourselves. We’ve learned a lot in the last 2 years selling Gravity Forms what we’d like to see in a plugin for selling digital content online. What we sell with Gravity Forms and soon Gravity Charge is really no different than most membership sites. Content and digital downloads.

        So we aren’t just building a product for a niche we have no experience or interest in getting into ourselves… Gravity Charge will be fully capable of being used to sell plugins and themes and control access to the content (documentation, support resources, support forums, etc.) that comes with purchasing the plugin or theme. So we will be selling the product we use to sell the product ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I can confirm Carl’s right. We’re launching a premium plugin as we speak, and we inevitably ran into this problem.

      We toyed with Shopp, Woocommerce and all of the main membership plugins. None of them do the job. We’re inclined do it in-house. We don’t want to be stuck a year down the road.

      Carl, get in touch, we could be the ideal guinea pigs.

  12. I am curious as to what will happen with the tight integration of Cart66 Pro and Gravity Forms. It appears to be the two products will face a fork-in the road. I’d like to know if I need to start planning on changes because I have a lot of stores and order forms tied into the Cart66 / Gravity Forms scenario.

    Any idea on how that will play out in the future? Personally, I don’t care what kind of products either company develops or for what target audience, etc. Both products are the best in class and do exactly what I need as is now. I recommend them both to clients, friends and members of Chicago WordPress Meetup Group. I just want to know if a solution now that is in place will be there in the next few months or so so I can make adjustments. Or at least know that I will need to make them.

    I hope you address that at some point in this dialogue.

    Thanks and much success to the new Gravity+ Charge.

    I think this will help many artists that were on TuneCore.com who feel they were ripped off when TuneCore.com raised their prices from $19.95 to $49.95. With your new product artists can setup a digital download of their MP3s and bypass TuneCore.com altogether and keep all the sales from their music and songs.

    Dante

    • Gravity Charge has nothing to do with Gravity Forms and Cart66 integration nor is it a direct competitor to Cart66.

      Gravity Charge is not a shopping cart plugin. It is not intended to be used to sell physical goods. It is a product specifically designed for creating and managing membership and subscription sites using WordPress.

      It is designed to have full control of what users can and can’t access on your site based on purchases they have made. The type of digital downloads it’s geared towards and digital goods that are paired with site access and resources. An example of this is selling a plugin or theme that includes access to support resources, forums, documentation, etc.

      So as far as Gravity Forms and Cart66 goes, it has absolutely no impact on that integration.

  13. Carl, will the Gravity Charge plugin share the same users database as the WordPress users db? Interested to know. I pretty much think its dumb not to but there are a few membership/ecommerce plugins that currently do not :S

  14. Pingback: Lusting after Gravity Charge | Make My Calendar

  15. This really is great news, I have tried quite a few and I have never been that happy with the products ive tested out. Would be great to see something with the same quality and development roadmap as gravity forms. Would it be fair to say that Gravity charge is a little bit off any release date? Maybe early next year? I am praying here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You are correct, Gravity Charge is a little bit off as far as release date goes. It will most likely undergo an invite beta in Q1 of 2012 and then a launch in Q2 of 2012. But it’s already December and time flies so that really isn’t as far away as it sounds.

      • Thanks for the update Carl, definitely the Q1 of 2012 aint far away at all ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a project based around subscription and membership for support and it would be great to through my hat in the ring as a beta tester if this was at all possible maybe. Best of luck with the development.

  16. I am really excited about this plugin. I wish it were here now because I could really use it for my ReciPress site. I have full confidence in Carl and Rocket Genius that they will turn this market upside down just like they did with Gravity Forms. Would love to be a beta tester if you are looking for that, Carl.

    • We will certainly be looking for beta testers. I’m sure you’ll hear about it once beta invites are available. Thanks Tammy!

      • Certainly a need in the WP marketplace. We’re actually engaged in building this ourselves. Great work and good luck. Tell me though if you’ve got an automatic updates API figured out.

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