It's been a while, so let's get right to it: today marks the availability of Vanilla 4.0 RC1.
There are more than 900 fixes and features in this release. For now, I won't attempt to list them all here. If you're dying to know, you can checkout the current change log over on GitHub: Vanilla 4.0 RC1 change log. You may also download a built copy of Vanilla from that page (ProTip: search for "vanilla-4.0-rc1.zip", under Assets). For now, I'll hit some key points:
- This is an RC (release candidate). It is not intended for use in production environments. It is pre-release software. Install it in some kind of sandbox and go nuts, but avoid overwriting your existing Vanilla installs. Once we're confident in Vanilla 4.0 on open-source community sites, we'll drop a production-ready release. Future updates probably won't need an RC cycle, but given the length of time since the last release, it seems prudent.
- Vanilla 4.0 requires at least PHP 7.2. It's also the last version that'll support PHP 7.2. Future versions of Vanilla (5.0+) will require PHP 7.4+.
- MySQL 5.7+ is required, starting with Vanilla 4.0.
- Full-text indexes have been disabled by default. You can enable them by adding a
Database.FullTextIndexingkey to your config and setting it to
true. Failure to do this before upgrading to Vanilla 4.0 will result in your full-text database indexes being dropped.
- The Reactions addon has made its way to the open-source project.
All that talking about self-building Vanilla from the sources, the lack of "official" support and some personal annoyances made me think about better alternatives.
But at first: which annoyances are there from my side?
- I hate searching for the correct config debug setting if people ask about "Whoops" errors
- I hate telling people which of the features in this forum are not available to them
- I hate telling people that I don't see any claims for official support ;-)
- I hate seeing releases made only annually
- I hate having outdated addons available although there are newer versions on GitHub
- I hate the addons sections layout
- I hate seeing an Activity log full of spammer
- I hate seeing a meaningless "Best of" page
- I absolutely hate the bitchy "Rich" Editor!
Do I see better alternatives? Yes, for each and every single point in my list. Some of them would be quick wins, some of them would require much more work.
- Auto Answering (quick win)
2. False promises (quick win)
Showing people features that aren't available might be a way to acquire new customers, but most of the time it simply is disappointing for curious people. Features not available to the open source version shouldn't be available.
3. Big one, I skip it for now and make it the last point
4. Community releases (quick win)
Anyone can create a "release"! I did it today by running the build script. I made a test install, found one thing to fix, but after that I could have uploaded it so that even the people who do not feel like they would be able to run the build process can profit from my work. All that is needed is some work from somebody who has time, ability and credibility
5. & 6. Addon section rework (major change)
The addons section gets no love and I think that's for a reason. From my point of view it needs a complete reboot. Strict rules for all new plugins enforcing standards and most important: no uploads. Only links to GitHub repos from which all info about current version, last update time and so on will dynamically be fetched and certainly you will find a download link there. I love how it looks at ProcessWire.
I would even go one step further and only allow the plugin repos README.md as description.
But that alone would fill a discussion. I just wanted to share my vision
7. Profile Spammers (might be easy, not sure)
Two of the profile fields here allow links. That's rubbish, but even if I allow links, I would vote for a short profile for new users. Only allow normal profiles for users with somehow defined "reputation". Yes I know this is very vague, but my preferred solution would require a new plugin which allows a community to build up a "trusted" user base.
By the way: the biggest Activity log "spammer" is the minion which is somewhat awkward and has no benefit at all.
8. "Best of..." (quick win)
As of know the best post here consists of four letters "Done". As long as there is no flood of posts where it is hard to make out the good posts, that feature is useless. Just switch it off.
9. Bitchy, glitchy "Rich" Editor (quick win)
It has been too early. That thing is not production reads. Please release us. Replace it with Advanced Editor.
And now the last one which is the main reason for starting this discussion
3. "Official" Support Forum
This is the official support forum run and owned by Vanilla Inc., run on their official domain - but it is only for the open source version. I understand why everybody expects support by the official developers here. But that only leads to disappointment. Disappointment also comes from people who see this forum and get something different when they install their own forum.
Personally I don't see a benefit of the OS support forum being hosted by Vanilla Inc.
It just came to my mind that it would make much more sense to run a open source Vanilla forum for the OS support.
People would really see what they get, because their should be a discussion telling which plugins the page is using.
We as a community could influence in more detail how our community would work (e.g. there are some of you amongst us which I would have already given moderator rights)
I would get rid of bitchy "Rich" Editor 😎
The downsides are, that it would cost money and time. Time for setting it up, time for keeping the forum up to date, time for testing the most current master branch, time to implement a better addon section. And last but not least: I think it might be against the will of Vanilla Inc. which I could understand in some terms.
Some of my points from above could be done without creating a second inofficial official support forum. It would be sad to loose reactions, though. Keeping them and creating a "@Vorgo YAGA" might be a good compromise.
Maybe this just came out of frustration: I never imagined I would ever experience "lockdown" and "curfew" in my own country and I have the impression, it has a bad influence on my temper.
But anyway: I took the time to write my frustration down and I am eager to read your opinions on that - the more the better!