My thoughts on the Breakdance builder, its launch controversy and overall standing among modern pagebuilders today:
- Some things are (really) good.
- Some things can use improvement/adjustment.
- I completely stand with the angry users.
- But I also stand with the developer and product.
Let’s get to the details, shall we?
WordPress civil war – Soflyy (Louis Reingold) VS Oyxgen users
Some much-needed background context and drama behind the firestorm Breakdance’s launch caused.
For the people living behind a rock and never heard of Oxygen (because your lame ass is still on DIVI/Elementor/WPBakery)…do allow me to catch you up to 4 years ago.
Oxygen was revered by myself as well as many other developers as a genius product at its launch. It was sold for a very reasonable $160 lifetime price. And offered a completely different approach to the nasty bloated traditional pagebuilders (like Elementor, DIVI, WPBakery).
It was fast, powerful, fun to use, and catered to seasoned professionals instead of blind untrained end-users. It’s combination of pricing and refreshing take on pagebuilders made it the people’s champion despite its flaws.
But people are never satisfied for long, are they?!
As pagebuilders and WordPress’s core Gutenberg builder matured…Oxygen’s users started to make little requests:
- What about this feature?
- Or hey can we do this thing like “such and such” other builder?
- Or “I’ve always wished for this _____ effect.”
The more Oxygen users truly committed themselves to Oxygen for every project, the more they found all its shortcomings, flaws, dead-ends, and annoyances.
And for a while…it seemed like the Oxygen development team was truly listening. Like that boyfriend who goes “uh huh, uh huh” while you’re telling a story as he’s on his phone.
The broken promises
It seemed like Oxygen was truly listening and intending to improve its product for users. Everyone (the users) believed a silent agreement had existed. That users who paid the lifetime fee would be patient for Oxygen to execute those requests at their convenience (since they weren’t paid an on-going subscription fee). And the more time that passed without Oxygen getting improvements, the more users believed Oxygen was going to surprised them with something big.
Hahaha…and boy did Louis Reingold and his Soflyy development team surprise Oxygen users.
The Soflyy completely delivered on all users’ promises….BUTTTTTT….
Louis (I assume it was Louis) didn’t actually improve Oxygen. He completely rewrote a new builder from scratch…and called it Breakdance (builder). With not only all the features Oxygen users had been requesting for months/years…but even more.
And ^&@!%$#*%!@$ packaged it as a completely new product, with an annual subscription price!!!
Hahahahahha….of course, users are gonna be pissed. They feel tricked, betrayed, etc. All these years of Oxygen’s website copy arrogantly proclaiming their business model was sustainable turned out to be at worst (a lie) and at best (an over-estimation of their business experience).
Who does WPJohnny support?
I support Louis Reingold and Soflyy in their business goals. And I also suppose Oxygen users in their anger.
Louis is putting out genius level work and the man deserves to get paid. Oxygen users…especially the ones who complained the most, I felt they all got far more value than the measly $160 lifetime price they paid for it.
In an ideal world. I wish Louis had the sense to be more transparent. I don’t expect him to open his mouth and spill his secret roadmap to competitors. But it would have been nice for him to dedicate just 5% of his time to add essential Oxygen requests (like copy/paste) before dismissing it entirely to focus on his new child (Breakdance). And only once Oxygen users were satisfied…he could have said “Hey guys, upon adding features to Oxygen…I’ve discovered how I can make an even better sitebuilding-experience, it deserves to be released as a completely separate product.”
Louis is making the same decision like Brian Gardner did in abandoning Genesis (a one-time fee product) to pursue bigger and more sustainable money in subscription-model opportunities elsewhere. It’s not a crime at-all whatsoever for anybody at anytime to want more money.
Btw, I think the name Breakdance is both amusing and well-fitting. I was a breakdancer myself and love that name for the builder. Breakdancing requires limitless creativity by mixing/combining an endless pattern of “common” moves. Of course, many WordPress users probably won’t ever get the name. But I do and I like it.
Initial thoughts of Breakdance
Breakdance is fucken cool.
You can’t act like it’s not. It’s definitely a huge improvement upon Oxygen in every way and therefore…stands as both a success story and a failure story. A success because it’s awesome. A failure because the creators deserve every bit of criticism from angry Oxygen users. They definitely took many of the users feedback and resold it back to them as another product. Absolute betrayal, I get it.
Things I thought was cool:
- Better than Oxygen – Oxygen was already pretty good. So to be better Oxygen immediately makes you REALLY good. I understand Breakdance can’t do everything Oxygen does, but I still think it’s a better fit for a wider set of scenarios.
- Editor loads fast – feels like a native WordPress tool instead of another CMS system emulating itself inside of WordPress (an inception of editors, if you will).
- Clean UI – very easy UI to understand, good font size and spacing, LIGHT or DARK editor color mode to contrast against your site colors. Feels easier to use than Oxygen.
- Advanced features – many great features to accomplish complex designs and features. Also to cut down on the number of extra plugins needed.
Things I’m skeptical of:
- Form builder – spam protection and other advanced add-ons. I’d say it’s fine for light use but a serious business will want a dedicated form plugin like Fluent Forms.
- Will Soflyy turn and betray users again? Abandoning them and open a new product? I doubt it if this one sustains itself under a subscription model. But regardless, I just don’t trust them to be transparent with me anymore. Sorry, the trust is broken!
Breakdance vs competitors
Breakdance vs Gutenberg:
- For the average person, I’d almost have to choose Breakdance.
- Gutenberg for the average person is almost sadistic.
- Gutenberg for the average (low-grade) developer is almost sadistic as well when attempting more advanced designs and theme functions.
- Beginners and even many “developers” simply don’t understand what Gutenberg is and isn’t. And how to add complex designs/functionality in Gutenberg without bloating it.
- For the average user, Gutenberg is almost always not sufficient enough on its own. You need at least 1 core block library and perhaps a handful more block plugins to really get everything done. Knowing this and knowing how to do this, complexes its “simplicity”.
Breakdance vs traditional pagebuilders:
- Breakdance wins against traditional pagebuilders (Elementor, DIVI, etc) but also against Gutenberg pagebuilders (Stackable, Qubely). Faster frontend & backend performance (clean lightweight code), faster design-building, more fun to use.
- Breakdance is easier to use. Feels like much less friction to start. Easier distinction between what is design and what is content.
The company said Breakdance was meant to compete with traditional pagebuilders, and Oxygen was for devs (competing best with Bricks, although Bricks wins).
Breakdance vs Oxygen:
- Let’s not play around with Soflyy’s claims of Breakdance and Oxygen being 2 separate tools (marketed to 2 separate types of users).
- Breakdance is for me simply superior for the most important things. Oxygen only wins for dev-specific things.
- Breakdance was obviously created upon Oxygen’s feedback, and to me its linear successor. For me, it’s the “new Oxygen” made better and easier to use for both newbie users and advanced devs alike. I expect it to add dev-specific tools and eventually canibalize on Oxygen’s market share.
Breakdance vs Bricks:
- This right here is the REAL fight! (Breakdance is the newer one trying to upseat the current king, Bricks.) Yes…I understand Oxygen is better competition and more directly aimed at the dev-user market like Bricks. But I think Bricks is so much better than Oxygen that Breakdance is its better competitor. For sure I think Breakdance would love to siphon off Bricks’ market share and even Oxygen as well (since Breakdance business model profits more).
- Breakdance even has the same yellow & black theme as Bricks. (Can I declare they copied? Not sure as they’ve couldn’t have had that color chosen long ago in development.)
- Plugin instead of theme – Breakdance is a plugin and can work alongside any theme, whereas Bricks IS the theme. This means Bricks might require more work since you have to build your site from scratch. Whereas Breakdance could use your theme’s existing templates, and also makes it easier for you to migrate an existing site from its old pagebuilder over to Breakdance.
- Features – both seem pretty even for the average user. But serious power users will see a definite advantage for Bricks. Developer-friendly filters, etc.
- UI ease of use – Breakdance feels more polished and “pretty”. But really, both are easy to use. Breakdance has an advantage in appearing easier for 1st-time users and also more familiar for people coming from traditional pagebuilders. But really…both are awesome and easy to use. Breakdance also does a better job of intuitively “teaching” you its available features.
- Style library – Breakdance has a much more polished set of templates. They look professionally done and ready to publish. Bricks library looks like mockups and need more work to look as professional.
- WooCommerce templating – both can a lot of WooCommerce template customization.
- Price – Bricks has a $99/249 one-time price whereas Breakdance has a free version, and a paid version which costs $150/annually. After what happened with Oxygen, I’m not sure sure I’d say the advantage is Bricks. But if $$$ is all you’re counting, Breakdance price for FREE version is better and Brick’s price for PAID version is more attractive.
- Vibe – I freaken love Brick’s vibe. Its 1-man developer Thomas Ehrig comes across as a really awesome friendly community super hero to me. Kinda like Tom Usborne’s equivalent (GeneratePress) against Brian Gardner (Genesis). Breakdance on the other hand, I’m sorry but they’re gonna be seen as dishonest for long lonnnnnnnnng time.
- Community – Bricks has the bigger and more active 3rd-party community. More 3rd-party extensions and addons, etc.
Again, I totally understand that Breakdance is not like Oxygen (which is more comparable to Bricks). But I do believe Breakdance has enough features to tempt devs into its simpler way of working.
Should you get Breakdance?
I don’t see how anybody who loves pagebuilders wouldn’t love Breakdance.
It’s a fantastic tool with incredible features cleverly organized around a super easy-to-use design. Yes…I understand some Oxygen users are still sore about the betrayal but really, paying $150/year for Breakdance is nothing for the value it provides.
I do believe Breakdance finally has a sustainable model that allows them to keep their A-team on its constant development.
Do I trust Louis Reingold to be communicate transparently in his future “surprise” endeavors? Definitely not. He’s never been a public kinda dude and I don’t expect any different from him next time around.
- Breakdance has a free version, that’s fun to play with and powerful enough to create real-world stuff.
- The pro version at just $150/year, I think is worth it.
- So good in fact that I’m willing to step away from my forever hardcode attitude towards future site developments. And I would also definitely recommend it to clients.