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Core and Addon Upkeep, Maintenance, and Support

fienenfienen Pittsburg, KS New

So, I've been working on looking for a platform to take over the workload from a BuddyPress+bbPress site that just hasn't worked out the way we wanted it to. I've been going from forum to forum, open source and paid, looking for something that I think has some staying power, stability, and support to make it a good solution. Reason being, I don't want to be going through this process in another year or two. Forums are a bit of a sticky wicket as a tool - helpful for user communities, but tough to maintain, customize, administrate. In the past decade, there really hasn't been much in the way of new, breakthrough features.

So, my quest has brought me to Vanilla. So far, I feel like it's winning out. vBulletin was close, but expensive, and there's a lot of debate over how good it is under new leadership. phpBB is a nice forum, but still seems like a PITA to customize, and feels like they haven't really come very far in the past 5 years. But with a little effort in Vanilla, and I was able to migrate content out of bbPress, set up the site, and use a couple plugins to get things adapted enough that I think I have a good solution at the moment. So, that brings me to my next question for the community.

How do you feel support is for the development cycle for the product and addons? For instance, one thing that seems a little bothersome to me are the number of addons that seem to have not been maintained in a while, or "approved" addons that have threads discussing how they are broken. That's a little scary to me. If you're running a Vanilla forum (which I assume if you're here, you are), what do you wish you'd known before you went live with your site? Would you choose Vanilla again, if you were making the choice now versus when you got into it? Do you feel good about the future of the product and the roadmap the core team have? Maybe more importantly, do your users like it, and what are their common complaints?

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Comments

  • vrijvlindervrijvlinder Papillon-Sauvage MVP
    edited May 2015

    For most people who are code savvy it is a breath of fresh air to work with the extensible Vanilla software. Which was created to be so because of what you have mentioned and maybe other issues as well.

    If you want a tight experience, I suggest you go with the hosted by vanilla solution and avoid any of the issues you mentioned about the OS version.

    what do you wish you'd known before you went live with your site?

    It depends who you ask. I tried several other forum software before I decided this was the most user friendly and the one with the most community support. Which is why I became a member here and wrote a shitload of add ons.

    It is true that some things are not perfect with addons etc even if they are "approved". But that should not hinder anyone since the issues plaguing those are fixable by anyone who knows some code langs. Not perfect but near perfect for being something free.

    Maybe more importantly, do your users like it, and what are their common complaints?

    Why did you not switch sooner to this new Vanilla platform... ? is what they say.

  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator

    I think Vanilla is awesome if you are a developer.

    I think Vanilla is awesome if you are a user.

    I think Vanilla is awesome.

    I may be biased

    @fienen said:

    How do you feel support is for the development cycle for the product and addons?

    I think the core product has great support. I think addons made by the Vanilla team are currently in limbo. There are working versions, but not necessarily in the addon repo due to a mismatch of core requirements.

    ...what do you wish you'd known before you went live with your site?

    I wish I would have known how to make my own application. It is stupid easy and gets rid of things I consider hacky. On my original forum site, we had a micro-blogging app that served has the home area, some game stats pages, and then the forum. If you know how to make your own application, it is trivial to integrate with other great software.

    Would you choose Vanilla again, if you were making the choice now versus when you got into it?

    Yes. It looks like PHPBB has gotten much better, but why stick with a product always playing catch up?

    Do you feel good about the future of the product and the roadmap the core team have?

    Yes.

    Maybe more importantly, do your users like it, and what are their common complaints?

    Their common complaints were "why don't we have this feature." My answer is either, "that is a pointless feature for the size of our community," or "I didn't realize anyone used this, here you go."

    As @vrijvlinder pointed out, putting a minor amount of effort into understanding the framework pays off huge when it comes to customizations.

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    BleistivtShadowdare
  • R_JR_J Ex-Fanboy Munich Admin
    edited May 2015

    How do you feel support is for the development cycle for the product and addons?

    I get 20 notification mails per day from the Vanilla GitHub repo, so I see there is a lot going on. When I make a pull request I see it is getting considered and either accepted or an explanation why it is rejected. Questions over there at GitHub are always answered very promptly by the official developers and the community support here for the OS version is invaluable!

    what do you wish you'd known before you went live with your site?

    I must admit I have no community on my own: I'm simply here for the fun of it! :)
    But I can say that I have taken a look at a lot of dedicated forum scripts, as well as social network scripts and CMS with some "social" extensions and I fell in love with Vanilla because of the easy understandable framework it is based on.
    The scripts I looked at before would either require you to be a die hard coder or to not being scared of hacking core files.
    There is nothing I wish I had known before. I only wish I would have found Vanilla earlier ;)

    Would you choose Vanilla again, if you were making the choice now versus when you got into it?

    If I would build up a small company that requires a more neutral communication tool and no community, I would go for something plain and simple like FluxBB or PunBB. No private messages, no avatars, no mentions, no social interaction at all. Only barebone forum functionality.
    If I would build up a bigger company, I would consider a hosted solution. It is critical that the interface to your customers doesn't look like a building lot so I do not want to let it be maintained by someone inside of my company who just likes to do it. Let the professionals do that job.
    If I would build up a hobby community - no matter which size - I would go with Vanilla OS. You can achieve a lot with ridiculously few lines of code and you can do everything you like. Only your imagination (and/or your skill/budget) is the limit.

    Do you feel good about the future of the product and the roadmap the core team have?

    Most other forum scripts are "only" maintained by hobbyists. Vanilla is maintained by hobbyists and employees of Vanilla Inc.
    For certain I don like every decision they make, but the principle is always: small core, functionality by plugins. As long as that doesn't change (and there is no sign it will), I'm fine with their roadmap.

    Maybe more importantly, do your users like it, and what are their common complaints?

    I have no users, but I am a user here, so here are my complains: quotation sucks. But I'm a fan of BBCode and maybe I'm just to dumb for using Markdown. I hate Markdown... wait... you can choose to BBCode as a formatter in Vanilla! So I do not really have Vanilla complains ;)


  • hgtonighthgtonight ∞ · New Moderator

    @R_J said:
    But I'm a fan of BBCode ... I hate Markdown

    O.o I am so disappointed to hear this!

    j/k ofc

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    Check out the Documentation! We are always looking for new content and pull requests.

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  • R_JR_J Ex-Fanboy Munich Admin

    Oh well, there is one more user complain: when you start a discussion you have:

    [Post Discussion] [Save Draft] [Preview] [Cancel]

    but when you answer to a comment you have

    [Preview] [Save Draft] [Post Comment]

    You **must* confuse that sooner or later...






    I should make a pull request because of that - and here we are at the good news again: I'm really convinced that this will change as soon as it is addressed accordingly!


  • x00x00 MVP
    edited May 2015

    Yes. It looks like PHPBB has gotten much better, but why stick with a product always playing catch up?

    phpBB is not really playing catch up, hell they froze new development for years. Their aim is super stability. I submitted a extension ages ago it has still not been approved. phpBB2 and phpBB 3.0 were terrible true, phpBB 3.1 is rather good actually, and their standards are high, but still has legacy parts (there are three incarnation of architecture and they are bringing everything under Symfony based version). Dependency injection FTW.

    phpBB is just different than Vanilla. It depends want you want, and phpBB has a legacy of an outdated way of doing thing, even though architecturally it is quite modern now.

    grep is your friend.

    Bleistivt
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