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Why isn't Email Notification a Core feature?

edited November 2006 in Vanilla 1.0 Help

I rarely ever request something should be core because nearly always the developer has very good reasons to have some features included (or left out for perhaps an extension).

While Vanilla bucks the trend of other forum software, wouldn't a robust & fully featured email subscription/notification system for new posts etc. significantly enhance Vanilla's appeal? Currently there is a Notify 0.2 extension but that has limited features (and actually doesn't work if you try the WP integration).

When I've made other forum admins aware of Vanilla, they really love the look and feel of it. But when they find out that it lacks a core email notification system (like SMF for example), they resist moving across because it will damage their community. As we know, you can't always rely on extension authors to update or keep developing.

Afterall, there are many communities still dependent on email notifications for a whole host of reasons.

This isn't meant as a criticism of the development path of Vanilla or me making demands on open source developers. Just raising an issue which seems pertinent to enhancing the appeal of Vanilla in relation to its core supported functionality.



  • Agree with need for notification, though wish to caution it may lead to use of the
    forums as an alternative to IM, especially for large communities.

    Ran a big & popular forum once, with email notification. A small group of 30
    started using the forum as an IM/chat tool, i.e. posting many one-liners, forwarded
    to everyone in the community.

    Killed the mailserver queues in no time. Solution for us was to limit notification

    On a related note: I would love to see a "DAILY DIGEST" notification email with
    all new topics, original topic message, and response COUNTS/STATS.
  • MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    edited November 2006
    Vanilla's core contains only the bare necessities required to have discussions. The only feature that is included that can't really be considered "necessary" is whispers, and it's only included because so much work is required to make it happen that when I originally tried making it an extension, it slowed the entire forum down.

    I think notifications are cool. But if the "Notification" extension is the only one available, and no-one else has tried to make a more robust extension for it, then I guess it's not as important as some might think. Maybe it's necessary for you and your colleagues, but there are others (like myself) who don't need it.

    If you really want it, then the philosophy of Vanilla is that you should make it yourself or have it made. The onus is really on you to make Vanilla what you want it to be.
  • edited November 2006
    I appreciate the repy Mark.

    You pointing out that notifications not being developed further does indicate that they appear not be a priority with Vanilla users here. And the 'DIY' design philosophy makes sense. (If only I could code! Anyone else want to donate to develop a fully featured notification addon?)

    Maybe there's a chicken and egg situation here in terms of some potential users being put off because Vanilla comes across as too much as a developers forum software, rather than aimed at ordinary admins (who may not care about problem of forum feature bloat, or simply expect a raft of ready made plugins like in WP).
    The perception of a developers forum is likely to slow down the take up of Vanilla i.e. limit its mass appeal. Here I'm thinking Vanilla is similar to punBB in relation to its minimalist design and appeal to a specific set of admins?

    But the design of Vanilla as a framework and the many possibilities it offers makes a lot of sense, and depends on the community to realise its potential.
    edited November 2006
    It's called Vanilla for a reason ;)
  • there are lots of Vanilla *fans* outside in the woods but not so much *coders*.
  • edited November 2006
    My view is this. Understandably, subsets of users clamor for features vital to them. I have been doing it here. This is fine, but inevitably (inevitably) leads to core bloat which always (always) subverts the original design, whatever the product.

    No ideal solution exists. When features are integrated (or built from the start) into the core, users are given higher confidence in the robustness of those features and the commitment to their maintenance. When features are integrated as add-ons, design integrity is retained and the very reason users fell in love with the product is protected. Trade-offs.

    No doubt, Vanilla could attract 2x (10x?) more sites/users by providing features in core that other forum software offers, but at the cost of not being Vanilla. I not only mean it would not feel like Vanilla to the user, but the changes required to the core would make it so complex that, ironically, add-on development would become nearly impossible.

    The wise course is to make certain you are (I am) satisfied with the core features alone - that they meet the essential (not necessarily desirable) requirements for your community. Stable, cool, add-ons are then dessert. If a new version of Vanilla breaks an add-on we consider crucial (or one add-on breaks another one), recall that no add-on should be crucial. Anyway, one can wait on the new version until the add-on is fixed (or fix it yourself, if by proxy) or uninstall the add-on. When an open source community insists that dessert be mixed into the main dish, all get indigestion - not to say that happens here, or not yet.

    I intuit through the tea-leaves (?) that Mark's implementation emphasis at present is refinement of the mapping between core and add-ons, both internally within the framework and externally to provide cleaner versioning support to developers and users. Perfect.

    Now, about that add-on I crave (optional display of 'x' characters in the leading post of each discussion in main lists), pleaseeee .... I's just gots to have it. And where is Jazzman? Doesn't he owe us dozens of hours of uncompensated free-time each month? We users are consistently ... a pain, but a necessary one.

    Thanks for a great product and community.
This discussion has been closed.