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Some "Add-ons" Should be part of the default Vanilla release

edited August 2006 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I realize that Vanilla is aiming to be a light, extensible application, and I like it. I am considering using it, but there are just too many extentions that I would have to install. It's not that installing them is a "problem", but it is too much upkeep for a forum. I'd rather see about the 20 most popular extentions come "pre-loaded" in Vanilla or even built-in. Then have a simple configuration menu where you decide which ones to activate. This would make Vanilla much more attractive out of the box.

Here's the extentions I'd say are pretty much necessary: (more than 30 of 'em)

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Comments

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    Not true. These are necessary for you, but I'd say only a handful is necessary for my one install of vanilla, and another totally different handful more my 2nd install. The point of Vanilla is to not weigh it down with a bunch of extensions that are no necessary for everyone. Instead, its totally customizable to your needs specifically.
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    1. There's no way to keep them up to date
    2. It favors certain add-ons over others
    3. Users may never discover the add-on site unless they have a need to.
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    I suppose if enough people wanted certain extensions in the core someone could host an archive containing a vanilla install 'preloaded' with those extensions.
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    That wouldn't solve any of those problems.
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    I don't think all of those are necessary, but I do agree that some should be built in so they get more polish and attention. A lot of things are kind of ... well half-working right now and I think it'd help to build some in.
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    edited August 2006
    Why is it so hard to just upload your own extensions? In the time I spent writing this post, I could have added all of those to my Vanilla. I think customizing Vanilla is the best part.
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    ToivoToivo New
    edited August 2006
    There could be a link "download all extensions" here How much? 1Mb total? http://lussumo.com/addons/
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    Disclaimer: I am not trying to flame or be obnoxious. I truly like Vanilla, and want it to be the best it can be.

    Originally posted by garvin

    Not true. These are necessary for you, but I'd say only a handful is necessary for my one install of vanilla, and another totally different handful more my 2nd install. The point of Vanilla is to not weigh it down with a bunch of extensions that are no necessary for everyone. Instead, its totally customizable to your needs specifically.

    I think a lot of these are pretty "necessary" or usable by a majory of people. I don't think it would weigh Vanilla down to have these built-in, and have a simple interface for the admin to enable/disable the ones she wants to have on any particular forum. C'mon if you add *all* the 100+ extentions there are right now, it'd up the download from what, 350k to 375k? It's still a 3-second download.

    Originally posted by Bergamot

    1. There's no way to keep them up to date
    2. It favors certain add-ons over others
    3. Users may never discover the add-on site unless they have a need to.

    Right. Keeping all your 30+ installed extentions up-to-date would definitely be a headache at best, and a nightmare at worst. That's why I'm suggesting building-in some of this *rudimentary* functionality.

    Originally posted by SirNot

    I suppose if enough people wanted certain extensions in the core someone could host an archive containing a vanilla install 'preloaded' with those extensions.

    I agree with bergamot, that wouldn't really fix anything.

    Originally posted by jeffbax

    I don't think all of those are necessary, but I do agree that some should be built in so they get more polish and attention. A lot of things are kind of ... well half-working right now and I think it'd help to build some in.

    I agree, although almost all the extentions I mention would be very useful on most forums.

    I don't want to compare vanilla with other software, because it really is a fresh look at things with whispering, tagging etc, and I really like it. But I think it shouldn't be quite so *vanilla* out-of-the-box. It should have a bit more polish and functionality, so that you don't have to figure out the whole plugins thing just to get a working forum.

    I have even illustrated what I'm saying right here in this post where I have to add emphasis to a word my resorting to the 1980's technique of adding asterisks on each side of the word, instead of bolding it. Oh, right I can use HTML, but what if my concept of HTML is, "oh, that's a program they use to make websites" lol.

    There should also be built-in quoting so I don't have to copy-and-paste and insert my little greater than signs to indicate what is quoted I took a few seconds to make prettier quotes. Luckily, there's a preview button below where I can see how this post is going to look, so I can see how all my homemade formatting is going to work. Oh, I forgot, that's another extention too. :) <-old-fashioned textual smilie because 'normal' smilies are not available in the default Vanilla install.

    See also my disclaimer at the top :)
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    Originally posted by takai

    Why is it so hard to just upload your own extensions? In the time I spent writing this post, I could have added all of those to my Vanilla. I think customizing Vanilla is the best part.

    It's not that it's hard, nor that it's overly time-consuming. Vanilla should be something usable out-of-the-box. Why should I repeat a bunch of steps when it can be automated/built in? BTW, I doubt you truly could add all those extentions in the time you specify. First you have to download them (one by one) from Lussimo, then uncompress/upload them all, and do any necessary configuration, and also make sure they work with your version of Vanilla etc.

    Originally posted by Toivo

    There could be a link "download all extensions" here
    How much? 2Mb total?

    http://lussumo.com/addons/

    Good idea. I think the total download would be more like 150k - 250k LOL.
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    edited August 2006
    To be honest, as an extremely regular user of this forum, I'd *much* rather see asterisks around words than tons of bolding/etc, and I'd definitely rather see a traditional smilie than a stupid little gif. Quotes could be useful on this forum but we've been getting by pretty well without them so far.

    There's the other issue that a number of the extensions you listed slow the forum down and might give people the impression that vanilla is slow which it certainly isnt.

    And vanilla is something useable out the box. That's *exactly* what it is.
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    OK, I'll try a post with out quoting someone :)

    @Minisweeper, I'll give you the fact that it's more of a sylistic choice whether you want asterisks or ascii art instead of HTML formatting/ gifs. I don't mind the simplicity of plain text at all. But a majority of users/people who would download and use Vanilla and spread the word, probably want these features. I suggest having these things built-in, but with the admin option of turning them on/off. If they're turned off, that file is not even included and that database table is not queried, thus the forum won't slow down. Not to compare, but another major forum software company's product (based in the UK, whose name is not unlike that of gelatin based snacks), is not noticeable slower than Vanilla, despite all these features and more.
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    I still think you're missing the point though. Mark made vanilla because it *isn't* other major forum software. Packaging extensions with the product would defeat the point of them being extensions. If Mark wanted it to have all of those features then he would have built them into the core (with the ability to turn them off, naturally). Vanilla is still very much a baby of the forum world but I believe it's got off to an excellent start and packaging all sorts of bells and whistles with it would be pushing it in the wrong direction for future development. Mark's been known to say that v2 of vanilla will have even less as part of the core (note the vanilla tagline 'now with less features than ever' or similar) but I dont doubt that the extension system will become better and better as part of that development.
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    People, we are not the ones to be making decisions here, from what I've seen, users here are competent and technically savvy. Putting asterisks around a quote or starting it with an @ is very, um, geeky and what puts novice users off computers and participating in forums to start with.

    As a Mac user, interface is important to me. Novice users want to click a Bold button, they don't want to have to remember starting and ending tags.

    As for not putting in these bells and whistles so as not to give the impression that Vanilla is slow, that's a lame argument. Why not get people to use a basic text editor instead of MS Word? (Not that I use Word, I despise it.)

    Speaking for myself, I want to encourage people to take part in the discussions, that's where the value is. Now once I get them to visit and register and take a look around and maybe even post a comment or a question, I want the wow factor to keep them coming back, the geek factor always scares them away.

    What should be built-in or core? Don't get me wrong, you guys do a great job at writing extensions, but they all seem to suffer bugs or issues with other extensions or break with upgrades.

    Certain functionality should be core, the basics to make the forum useable and pleasant for everyone...

    - The Preview extension (already is core?)
    - Quoting
    - Basic formatting (including basic smilies)
    - Who's Online
    - Bulk emailer for admins
    - Page management for admins
    - Comment/discussion management for admins

    This list is off the top of my head, possibly I'll think of more later.

    Now I know this seems contrary to Mark's manifesto for Vanilla, but I believe the "market" will be bigger for it if it came a little less plain-flavored out of the box. Not every thing needs to be activated perhaps but certainly there and bug-free.

    Not all admins or forum managers have the time nor the inclination to dabble with extensions, not to mention the skills. And the prime objective is not always to play with code and scripts as a hobby as most people here seem to enjoy. The forum itself is secondary to the subject or area of interest being discussed.

    I'll go back to solving a CSS issue now.
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    edited August 2006
    EDIT:
    I'll add an @Minisweeper here, since Wanderer just posted while I was writing this. See the value of just clicking to quote a post and then replying? On busy boards this is a necessity, since 10+ people can relpy while you're writing a response to someone.
    /EDIT

    I don't think the point should be having fewer features than other forum software. The point should be having more features, with a cleaner, more streamlined, easier-to-use UI. Does Google have fewer features than Yahoo! or MSN? No, Google probably has more than the other two combined. The difference is their user interface, how things look/work. Having a logical, predictable, best-thought-out experience. Have you tried the early versions of Google Earth vs. the current version? The old versions look more like the Keyhole interface, with bells & whistles all over the place, the new interface is much more slick, clean, uncluttered, but if you actually look, it has *more* features than previous versions. So I think the idea of going with fewer features is actually the *wrong* direction, but going with a smother, uncluttered UI is the right direction, while preserving and even adding features. If you don't want smilies on your forum, fine that's an aesthetic choice, but I don't think it's a good idea to make the user install extentions just to get CAPTCHA or to add a Preview post button, they should be admin options, and be built-in very unobtrusively.
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    I don't see anything preventing one from packaging a bunch of extensions together and uploading that to the addons site.

    Great project for a non-programmer who wants to revew and periodically check the add-ons for what they feel are must-haves.
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    I don't think the point should be having fewer features than other forum software.
    but that is the point, and it always will be. i don't think you guys are getting that.
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    edited August 2006
    I'm not gonna continue this discussion because both sides believe they are correct (and both probably are, unfortunately they support conflicting views) and I need to get to bed as I'm away at a festival this weekend, but to be brutally honest I'd actually rather (for better or worse - I'm not completely sure of Marks plans for the future and how important the size of his vanilla userbase is) the vanilla userbase remained smaller and sweeter (i.e. more inline with the lussmo philosophy) than huge and...sour. I'll leave you with this though.
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    375k isn't so big for one user, but for the one who hosts it...? Especially if 375k is continually downloaded just to get 20k-worth of extensions that are new. :)
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    edited August 2006
    Keeping extensions synchronized with an elegant core is always the dark secret of products like Vanilla. The paradox is that the more successful Vanilla becomes, the more extensions will be created ... and the more frustrating it will be to integrate them.

    No solution will truly satisfy. However, some solutions may be preferable.

    Here is a suggestion that fits (?) the spirit of Vanilla:

    Let the community encourage developers to package the Vanilla download and 'x' number of extensions that work with that version. Each package will be a vanilla 'flavor'. Flavors can be featured the same way add-on's are, though there will probably only be a handful of them compared to extensions.

    A flavor is not bound to include a new rev of Vanilla or any one of the included extensions. A flavor user can always grab a new rev of an included extension (from add-on's, as before) to test its compatibility with the rest of that flavor - their call. Also, users can integrate any other add-on extension they wish. Nothing changes there.

    This way:

    1. Mark doesn't have to get involved with, oversee or sponsor the extension whirl. Vanilla can fully maintain its mission of elegant simplicity at the core.

    2. Noobies do get more functional versions from the get-go if they wish. I would think it is ideal that literate but non-technical users be assisted to get up-and-running with decently featured forums without having to fiddle at the beginning. When they become more confident, they will probably experiment with extensions.

    3. Although a 'flavor' may have a Vanilla core version and/or some extension versions that are slightly out-of-date, so what? No one has to use them. It's not worse than individual extensions getting out of date. The benefit is that the core-plus-included-extensions is reasonably warranted to work well.

    4. Nothing prevents users from ignoring 'flavors' altogether. As described, all other extensions are still available to be integrated to a flavor at a user's own risk-and-reward.

    5. The community can evolve and 'vote (informally by use and praise) on' various flavors that are most cool. This may also highlight minor (but vital) changes Mark might want to make to the core as well as suggest valuable extensions not yet created.

    @WallPhone: I posted just after you did; before reading your contribution. Mine is basically a highly verbose elaboration ...
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    @Wanderer You make some very good points. Thanks for the support.

    Just to re-iterate:
    Can you imagine a coffee shop that only served plain black coffee and nothing else, and you had to go next-door to safeway if you wanted cream, not to mention if you wanted a latte, cappuccino, mocha etc or a muffin to go with the coffee, and they did this simply because they wanted to be different? Although it might sound cool, do you think it would work?
This discussion has been closed.