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Vanilla & Higher Logic - An Update!

AdrianAdrian Wandering SpiritMontreal MVP
edited May 2021 in General Banter

Hey Everyone,

We meant to have something yesterday and I apologize for the delay. As you can imagine yesterday was a bit a big day for us, with lots of things going on. There was no intention to leave you out and I 100% understand the concern.

I can tell you we have spoken to the team at Higher Logic and Vanilla itself will continue to be maintained and we have no plans to discontinue our open source releases. I hope my words assure you, even if slightly delayed.

Thanks for all you do and the amazing communities you are building 🙂



  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP

    Thank you, @Adrian. Congrats to the team!

    A good start would be to update this topic: Vanilla 2021.003 RC2 is now available, where a broken version is up for download for weeks now. It's missing the /addon folder. A simple fix would take a lot of frustration from new OS users.

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  • AdrianAdrian Wandering Spirit Montreal MVP

    Hey @phreak - I'll make sure the team is alerted! I don't normally play with the release candidates, I have stayed on the gold builds.

  • Thank you for the info!

  • AdrianAdrian Wandering Spirit Montreal MVP

    just a quick update: "We just branched the new release, yesterday. I'll be putting it up on the OS community either today or tomorrow."

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP
    edited May 2021

    @Adrian: Great to hear. I know, in general, that is not our piece of cake, but if the Team could let us know (when the time is right) what the future brings for OS would be interesting.

    In none of the announcement played OS a role. Was the OS scene in any way part of the discussion or negotiations in the merger?

    Who will stay on board or leave after a grace period (are Luc, Tim, etc., staying)?

    Who and what is driving Vanilla forums strategically now?

    Will the name Vanilla Forums remain (how long)?

    What is our say in the process? Can we expect the same as before or any improvements for the OS scene?

    What part plays the OS scene in the general future (short and long time) of the merger?

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  • TimTim Operations Vanilla Staff
    edited May 2021

    Hi phreak.

    The communications were completely focused on the two business entities, which is why Open Source did not play a part in them. That said, there are no plans to discontinue or cripple the open source offering in any way, and in fact we are making some changes that should increase the frequency of open source releases.

    I can't share too many details about internal employment information, but I can tell you my own situation - I am still around.

    Vanilla and Higher Logic are now a single entity and so Vanilla's product direction is governed in the same way as Higher Logic's products - through product management within the Product organization, based on numerous inputs such as market direction, customer feedback, internal initiatives, etc. Pretty much how it was before, but with more stakeholders.

    Vanilla's name is still around and there is no timeline on that changing.

    As I mentioned, you can expect some improvements but you have almost no say in how Vanilla and Higher Logic businesses operate.

    Vanilla Forums COO [GitHub, Twitter, About.me]

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP
    edited May 2021

    Hello @Tim,

    Thank you for your answer. It didn’t hold too much clarification on a long term perspective for me. As a OS community I guess many here need an outlook or at least a few more corner stones of what the future of the software they are working with will bring.

    Could you get an answer from Higher Logic to this question:

    • What is the long term reason for Higher Logic to hold onto a Vanilla Open Source version?

    Thank you.

    • VanillaAPP | iOS & Android App for Vanilla - White label app for Vanilla Forums OS
    • VanillaSkins | Plugins, Themes, Graphics and Custom Development for Vanilla
  • CaylusCaylus ✭✭

    Disclaimer: I'm obviously neither involved with Vanilla Forums nor Higher Logic so the rest of the post is pure speculation

    I'd assume it'll be hard for anyone involved with Vanilla to give definite answers, as it'd involve promises about the future they wouldn't necessarely have the authority to make. However, I personally don't think we've got to worry about the OS version for the following reasons:

    • The OS version doesn't compete with the paid version all that much. Vanilla inc doesn't sell software as such - they sell expertise with said software. The OS is more like a free trial version for largely non-commercial purposes, while anyone who would be willing to spend money on forum software will pay for the cloud version, simply because they need reliable technical support. A lack of expertise while self hosting leading to significant downtime would cost tons more for commercial customers than paying Vanilla a few bucks each month.
    • The OS version serves as free advertisement. The more forums that run Vanilla forums, the more people interested in the paid version. If the OS would compete with the paid version it would be another story, but as long as they're two seperate target audiences (individuals vs. business) free advertisement through the OS for the paid version is great for Vanilla/Higher Logic.
    • The OS version serves to increase security and stability. We're free testers. If we notice a problem and communicate it to the devs, it's one less problem that paying customers might run into.
    • Not to mention the great themes and plugins that the OS community develops, which are only available because Vanilla is open source.

    So honestly, it's not impossible that Higher Logic will get rid of or neglect the OS version in the near future, but I'd say it's pretty improbable. It would make very little business sense IMHO.

    Of course, if Tim could get an official statement of Higher Logic that would still be awesome!

  • edited January 10

    Sorry, I've been off on an island for a while (figuratively speaking).

    It looks to me like the latest software release here is Vanilla v2021.009 from May of 2021. Is there a new place from which to download? Is this no longer the repository of all things Vanilla Open Source?



  • LincLinc Detroit Admin

    May 2021 was the last time anyone from Vanilla / Higher Logic communicated on this site. There have been no official / pre-built releases on this site since June 2021, either.

    You can find the raw source code release on GitHub, but most community members have been unable to run them. I suspect this may be, in part, due to the tooling assuming access to a private repo, but I haven't investigated it myself. The last time a community member shared a successful build they managed to create was in this discussion (May 2023).

    The words in this discussion were hollow. This open source project was effectively dead within weeks of when this discussion was created.

  • I'm trying to build it. If I succeed I will share every update they make in this forum.

  • That's sad; Vanilla was a great open source project. Goes to show there is NOTHING corporate greed can't corrupt. Sigh ...

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin

    Goes to show there is NOTHING corporate greed can't corrupt.

    It's more complicated than that. In the end, taking the investment that spurred Vanilla 2 into life was the same force that doomed it as an open source project. If we're being honest, the open source project had been neglected since late 2014. Higher Logic simply bought Vanilla for its corporate customers & enterprise direction, which was a reasonable business choice. (Full disclosure: I held stock options in Vanilla so it directly benefited me.) The business model required to make money from small communities and open source software is many times more challenging than going for the large corporate customers, which is why Vanilla followed that course explicitly after 2014. The pressure to be able to return the investors' money led to following the less-risky strategy, which ultimately led to a buyout by a company with the same strategy.

    It's an outcome that is probably more disappointing to me than anyone, but I was also at least witnessed many of choice made along the way that got us here, and I understand why it happened this way. It was less about amorphous "greed and corruption", and more about the natural outcome of operating in a system that only values control + financial outcomes. Each person individually can personally care about more, but the system will eat you in the end if you follow its rules.

    With perfect hindsight, do I see how there could have been a different outcome? Sure. But at the time, the stress and risks involved drove the decisions and none of us had the experience to see another reliable path forward.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to be an apologist for Higher Logic. It wouldn't cost them much to build a release and ship it. I just think no one cares enough to do it and there's little incentive to do so, while sales & marketing can come up with a whole list of reasonable-sounding concerns to not do it, which will dissuade casual interest in it from succeeding. You'd need a good plan & business justification to execute on it and I doubt anyone there has the combination of experience and belief required to do it.

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP
    edited January 22

    I and many other said it from the beginning, Vanilla Corp. is digging it's grave. But they the fu** did know sooo much better all the years.

    The Vanilla lead team was utterly shitty to it's most active members seeking to support.

    The Vanilla dev team was mostly high-nosed and ignorant.

    The Vanilla community tried to be helpful in their limited possibilities.

    It's becoming clear that most of the people involved after Mark dealt absolutely unprofessionally with the community. It happened all in hindsight. Remember these "be happy that they OS it at all." comments – narf, I can only laugh at that. We the community built Vanilla to a good extend, but the Corp. was stupid enough to kill that richness month by month.

    @Linc: It wouldn't needed a lot to give us a forum that's not hidden away from the main page, to give us more access to fix the addon repo (at least sort old extensions out), etc. this simple helping hands were just not given because of unprofessionalism of the acting people. Helping us a bit was not as "complicated".

    Time to build a new frontend.

    • VanillaAPP | iOS & Android App for Vanilla - White label app for Vanilla Forums OS
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  • Do you know how to build a release? Can you help me please? I dont get It.


  • K17K17 Français / French Paris, France ✭✭✭
    edited February 14

    I follow you on this path. It simply shows they never really cared about the open source release, except maybe as a marketing strategy. Who knows ? And I belive that no, it ain't that complicated. The place of the investors should've been clear way before Vanilla was bought by Higher Logic. Making financial investments with hopes for a ROI is stupid and dooms the project you're betting on.

    It should all have been donations only, otherwise you're just trying to live on the work of people who work for free. Vanilla is still partially built by it's community. In the end, they all simply contibuted to personnal money gains.

    We were f*cked since the beginning and we couldn't have known....

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