Is WHMCS Getting Worse? Bugs, Feature Requests, Updates
I'm using WHMCS since 2007 both as provider and developer.
I still think it is the best software to start a hosting business but things are getting worse year after year. I promise I still want to work with WHMCS but they are making it very difficult.
The success factor of a software like WHMCS heavily depends on whether the software is able to attract developers willing to add more value.
Even though WHMCS is not open source, it managed to attract developers. This thanks to API and action hooks that are an integral part of the software.
I recall many software companies working on WHMCS. Today the situation barely resembles what we was a couple of years ago. There were many active developers while now there are less than 10 companies left.
Not to say that most of them are gradually flying away to other softwares. At this rate, within the next few years there will be almost no one left.
As a developer who spent 14 years coding on this platform, I think can say a few words on the matter. But my thoughts are not facts so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.
Below I'm going express opinions on why the rate of developers abandoning WHMCS is so high. And also why end-users blame us developers for the same reasons like:
- Not answering to support tickets and pre-sales questions
- Not updating modules or abandoning them
- Not creating wide-ranging and exhausive softwares
- Not writing documentation and changelogs
- Not refreshing products' pages
- Not reporting bugs to WHMCS
- Not partecipating in BETA of WHMCS
- Not reacting to new releases of WHMCS
- Not caring about backward compatibility
First let me start with a bit of background.
WHMCS has changed. Nowadays, WHMCS doesn't care about anything that is relevant to customers.
They pump out updates full of bugs that sum to old ones. They add poorly designed features no one asked causing more harm than good. They keep hardcoding variables and scripts that make the life of developers miserable.
But this is the tip of the iceberg. Even worse, their decisions make me think they have no idea of what they are doing. I'm speaking of critical topics like billing, SEO, affiliation networking, domains (yes, even domains!), privacy, user experience etc.
To me it looks like they don't do research and barely test their features.
I have a pile of notes about WHMCS bugs, hints, hacks, workarounds and secrets. I bet every developer has one but the thing is that WHMCS staff doesn't seem to care. All they do is insisting with their frenzy of releasing bugs emh... sorry, updates.
There are so many critical bugs and missing features that I could write a book. For now I settled for a post about specific WHMCS bugs that give me anxiety. If you like horror movies, you could find that post very entertaining.
In my opinion things got worse few years after cPanel acquisition of WHMCS. Since then they started to commit theirself to the «release early, release often» approach. Developers and providers can't keep up with this forced march. A release of WHMCS goes from beta to end of life at the speed of light.
I built a career on «Please, submit a feature request» of WHMCS (it's their nicer way to say no). They gave me enough material to work with. Especially thanks to their bugs, poor decisions and the fact they ignore 99% of requests.
That's how I ended up creating complex modules. Let me give you an idea of what I am talking about:
- Turn WHMCS into a CMS with blog, news, docs, feature requests, comments...
- SEO for WHMCS including SEO URLs, sitemap, GeoIP, OG Tags...
- Track sales with Facebook Pixel and LinkedIn Insight Tag
- Reduce invoices by 80% and transactions fees by 18% with monthly invoicing
- Provide support based on Service Level Agreement
- Cash flow for tracking inflow and outflow of money
- Customer Retention and Churn Rate
- Advanced Invoice Data Snapshot that includes currency rates
- Integration with VIES that actually works
- Issue Credit notes
- Stop issuing unnecessary invoices thanks to invoice suppression
- Automatic Batch Invoice PDF Export via FTP and email
- Affiliation Network with multiple Attribution Models
The list goes on but I think you've got the idea. All these features require more than coding namely documentation and a solid framework. I've something to say about that.
The antimated gif below shows SorTable in action. It's a technology I created from scratch to let people easily view, filter and export data. It took me a couple of weeks but it was well worth the effort. In the meantime WHMCS is still forcing people to rely on phpMyAdmin and the very limited Reports.
With MagicInput I notably improved user-experience introducing tens of "new-generation" inputs. This happend years before WHMCS realized we needed more flexibility. Their basic date picker and pretty much nothing else weren't enough.
Lastly we have documentation. Right now our WHMCS modules documentation reached the astonishing number of 100.000 words (222 pages of an actual book). Moreover it is available in english and italian. It could be more extensive than the one of WHMCS.
That said, no one forced me to create all these features. No one put a gun to my head when I decided to solve complex problems and to write such an extensive documentation. Most importantly, I don't think I'm superman.
My only concern is what the heck WHMCS is doing with their time. I mean, apart from releasing bugs, unwanted features and making the life of developers a nightmare. They even fail at updating their documentation.
I don't want to sound presumptuous but I must say it. I find incredible that a company of the size of WHMCS still doesn't manage to fix bugs and add certain features. I'm talking about things I managed to fix and create alone without even seeing the source code.
Ironically, I also keep supporting customers that are still running WHMCS v5. And also modules and templates created by competitors. On the contrary WHMCS puts everything in EOL (end of life) deprecating core features like nothing happened.
I sometimes wonder myself what would they do to integrate electronic invoicing. I know this article is written in italian but it still gives an idea the complexity of this project. Imagine the amount of code I had to write.
Let me make a quick comparison. I managed to complete such a gigantic project in about 3 months working alone. In the same amount of time and with God knows how many employees, WHMCS is still trying to fix their new client login and management. Bugs? Sure. GDPR regulation? They forgot it. Update documentation? Nope. Keep it up!
All while we still have tens of critical bugs. Some are older than my dead Samsung Galaxy S3. But according to WHMCS what we really need is once again changing templates. And of course devliver more bugs to play with.
Joke apart, I think WHMCS is becoming worse. Every software nowadays is turning into Instagram. Although we need to process more data, contemporary web design relies heavily on minimalism with unfortunate side effects.
Let's take a look at the new and shiny twenty-one template of WHMCS 8.1. I have a 34" inch monitor with 21:9 aspect ratio (3440x1440 pixels). Everything looks like a recepit: narrow and too small.
What's the point of having bigger screens when designers keep adding paddings that extend from New York to Rome? As if we create pages to host paddings instead of contents in an ocean of white. Let's move to domain page.
Where do I start? 34" inch display and I can't even see search bar and buttons on the same line. WHMCS fit two values in the same column. In the meantime a gigantic space is occupied by an useless padlock and I can't open rows on a new tab.
I could go on for days with examples. In my opinion this is not minimalism but a shortcut to bad design. I bet one day WHMCS will replace domain name with a globe icon for the sake of minimalism.
We developers must face so many bugs and changes with a frequency that few people can stand. Obviously not all developers are affected in the same way.
Small modules are incomparable to ones that almost matche the complexity of WHMCS. In this context, imagine the face of a developer when WHMCS release a new bug... sorry, an update.
If you're reading this post there's a chance you a provider that uses WHMCS to run the business. Next time you blame a developer for not answering to support tickets, remember this post and how exasperating is WHMCS.
Sometimes end-users can be very demanding and harsh towards developers. Part of the problem is that in the current scenario we are a sort of relief valve. WHMCS refuses to listen and so people put lot of expectations on us. There isn't much a developer can do to keep up with crazy decisions of WHMCS.
As for me, my disaffection towards WHMCS reached a peak. I'm working hard to compensate the lacks of this software. In the meantime WHMCS staff that simply doesn't care about anything that really important. That's not very rewarding.
Taking the blame and bad reviews from end-users because something we can't control doesn't work as expected is even worse. Personally I decided to stray away from WHMCS so that I can reach customers out from WHMCS-channels:
- I removed my modules from Marketplace and forum signature
- I started coding a lot of free scripts for WHMCS on Github
- I focused on SEO where I managed to increase traffic by 462%
Lastly I am no longer in the mood to share my findings with WHMCS. They are filling their software with bugs and skip "fixing days". They don't care. Why should I? What about you? Are you liking the new WHMCS?