XenForo mastered the forum software. Now is time to go beyond with a road map.

Discussion in 'Forum Software' started by palhanow, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. palhanow

    palhanow Enthusiast

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    Hello TAZ Community.

    I'm dealing with Forums all my life and you guys can see my background in my previously posts if wanted.

    First, i don't want to go in XenForo official community for discussing this subject, because i don't feel that we, clients, are generally welcome there. I don't know why but i have this impression. Don't get me wrong, they have a good support but i really don't feel like a "home" for me. And i know many other people around here that feel's in the same way.

    Maybe some of the Staff need to participate in some 'sensitive training' or something like that.

    But this is another subject for another thread.

    After some reading and some experience with forum software, in my humble opinion, i can tell that XenForo is the best Forum software in the market. And i said FORUM system.

    They really have all features for a Forum system, like:

    - Good features for the Forum system in general speaking, like good (can be better) admin panel, moderation resources;
    - Embeds;
    - Media upload;
    - Emojis;
    - Reactions system;
    - Alerts;
    - Feed/Stream;
    - And some very expensive add-ons with more expensive renew licenses prices.

    They really nailed the Forum software aspect, real mastered, very secure, very low bugs and everything is very functional. But that's it.

    What is the point to keep supporting XenForo if we don't even know what is going on for the next years? We, Forum Admins have to know at least some road map of the development.

    With planned updates, we, administrators, can be prepared for the future. With this kind of information we can compare with the competitors, calculate the price, calculate the next steps for developing each of our own communities, calculate the investment needs for new features, etc.

    In my case, I'm trying to merge my website with my Forum, but XenForo don't have anything like a CMS manager. The Resource Manager (another paid addon) is a option, but is not a CMS. Limited to articles and that's it.

    Why not a blog management feature? Would be great. I can pay for this if the price is ok. And i know many others forums administrators who want this feature too.

    Just offer the possibility for implementing a static page for some information is not good enough. They need to expand their possibilities.

    And i really don't know if their approach on suggestions for implementing new features is the best thing to do: They offer a section in the Forum for people offer suggestions. The thread with most likes will get some implementation. This is really the best way?

    After one year using XenForo, i never be able to participate in some case study of marketing research from XenForo. Never ever i participated in some SurveyMonkey research. I never replied to some question from XF like: "What's are your feelings about your experience with XenForo?".

    The competitors are offering more and more resources along the time, specially CMS options.

    Yeah, XenForo really mastered the Forum Software in the last update (2.1) and what now? Where are you guys going? If you guys look at the main website it looks like was made in the 90's and never changed one single line:

    upload_2019-6-17_1-14-11.png

    Now look at Invision Community website:

    upload_2019-6-17_1-15-15.png

    Almost of every feature on Invision i have to buy third-part add-ons for doing the same thing. I feel so much more "secure" to use a native solution than using a third-part plugin for doing something. Yeah, i know, most of this resources are paid ones, but they are official and i can buy without any single weight on my conscience.

    Now let's see vBulletin:

    upload_2019-6-17_1-21-42.png

    The desired CMS/Blog features:

    upload_2019-6-17_1-22-49.png

    My site is growing (thanks God!) and is requiring me to plan more and more ahead. I need to see what kind of product that I'm buying.

    I'm criticizing this aspects because this is not a new discussion about certain issues and i really want to see XenForo growing more and more, the team is very competent and i know they don't have a big team like some competitors.

    But maybe is time to think outside of the box for one moment and really understand the necessities of the costumer base.
     
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  2. Penguin

    Penguin Aspirant

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    Indeed. I currently have XenForo because it was suitable at the time. I am now moving to IPB because it supports external database login (MySQL Login) which XenForo doesn't. There's a suggestion for it, but these feel like they are not read, and sometimes can sit for years without a response. Knowing my luck, they'll add it after I've moved everyone over, but a roadmap would indeed be helpful here...
     
  3. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

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    DDCF55A9-0F44-49C2-BE4A-AB75C04F4928.gif
     
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  4. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    Couldn't you use the API introduced in 2.1?
     
  5. Penguin

    Penguin Aspirant

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    No, IPB allows direct integration, which means that should someone update their details in IPB, it will update the master database. I have looked into the API for 2.1, but it doesn't have the flexibility that the MySQL login handler has imo.
     
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  6. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Adherent

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    There is a term in the NBA: "coasting".

    It is when a good player (usually LeBron) coasts whole year in the normal season, where he doesn't care much about the games. He still dominates, but plays like in gear 2 mode (which is still top 3 of the league). And then the playoffs start and he switches to gear 5 and annihilates everyone.

    I think XF is coasting since version 1.2.
    It knows it is still the best thing while coasting, so why care? There is no real threat, like we do have in the NBA with the playoffs. We see here and then some flashes, but haven't seen any real annihilation since Kier went awol.

    But I am repeating this whole shtick over and over. To answer the topic. XF and a roadmap? :D
     
  7. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

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    Completely agree with you, palhanow. I run both XF and IPS.

    There's a different level of comfort and confidence when investing myself & my community into first party VS 3rd party addons, regardless of the core platform.

    Yes, there are some equivalents in the XF ecosystem of differing quality. But as you say, 3rd party addons will never meet the same level of consumer confidence.

    I've been in the forum game for over a decade.
    I've been burned by addons whose authors disappear.
    I've sat impatiently & frustrated while waiting to upgrade because my 3rd-party addons aren't compatible "yet" (ever?).
    I've been burned by members investing time & effort into addon features I've "advertised", only to lose them later.

    At best, 3rd party addons are functional. More typically, they're an inconsistent look & feel that we adapt to.
    And when they go away/break? We (admins) take the heat & pay the price, not authors.


    XF / IPS / Woltlab / etc are a business.
    If Kier disappears... Mike - and a business - and others - are there to pick it up. We have that comfort.

    If Bob/Jaxel disappear... well... Bob/Jaxel disappear (insert any addon author for any platform here). There's no backup that we can realistically, and comfortably, rely on.


    IPS isn't perfect. I use some 3rd party addons on my IPS suite. But it's far less of an investment - and risk - than on my XF site.



    The real question/conversation is: Does XF even want to be a community/suite solution?

    XF has a small, effective team to produce a great forum script. Signs point to them being content with this, and this isn't "wrong". There's benefit to doing what you do, and doing it well. XF appear content with being a focused forum solution provider, which is exactly where forum solution seekers want to be. It would do more harm than good if XF stretched their resources into Blogs, CMS, Commerce, etc.


    IPS, Woltlab, etc have broader goals, and are staffed to provide them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  8. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    Surely this is a typo?
     
  9. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Adherent

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    Steve, man, what is your problem with me? Anytime I say sth. about XF, you jump on me like a dog, excuse me for my words.

    No, it was not a typo.

    If you compare the engagement and development of XF from version 1.0 to 1.2 and then with the development from then on to now, it is vastly different.
    Kier was making videos, explaining stuff, implementing on-the-go requests. And then... He disappeared and Mike went into "fixing bugs" mode, which he kept up for years, until 2.0 version. And now he is also away, gone.

    By my defintion they are coasting since then. Chris said last October that there mainpage is still running the 1.0 version of the software.
    Not sure if they updated it now or not. But let's take October as the end point.
    8 years past and they had no time, no reason to update that part of the website? I mean that page is basically the frontpage to the customers. That page sells the forum software and that page runs the oldest version for 8 years now. Are you really gonna tell me that in 8 years there was 0 reason to update their core mainpage, when anything else got updated? This is for me an indication of coasting, one of many. I explained in other threads, for years, that the dev progress is too slow and listed my arguments and reasons.

    You don't have to agree but I miss the old early days. I didn't have a forum license then, but was actively watching and observing and it was great. When someone asked a question, you got tons of replies and specially from both senior devs. Kier has 6.1k messages. I can't check the stats, but I would say 6k of them between 2010-2012. If that is not good enough for you as an indication, then nothing ever will. They stopped engaging with the community years ago. They are coasting since then on their success of developing such a great product in those first 3 years. Of course the popularity of forums declined a lot since then, so I give them the benefit of the doubt from that angle. I can understand that the hype and activity from the early days can't be replicated again. But seeing that more and more forums switch to XF and that they probably have more licenses sold than ever, I don't see the same level of echo when it comes to their progress. Again, I appreciate the new framework with 2.0 and 2.1 was a good start, but the progress is still too slow. The internet moves a lot faster than them, that is the problem. They are still behind. Of course the other forum softwares are worse than XF, but I don't care about them. I love XF and I am unsatisfied.
     
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  10. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    It was a simple question that looked like a possible typo (1.2 -2.1 ?) - and no I won't excuse the words actually.

    Your expectations belong nowhere near software development.

    Tell me, when you hit the Buy now button for XF what did you think you were buying? If it was anything else than what was in front of you at that time then you were buying XF (Forum software) for the wrong reason.

    I'll leave you to it though, you're dead set and the chip is getting bigger.
     
  11. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Adherent

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    The question is simple and one might think that it was a typo. That is not the problem here. The problem is, I feel like you are gatekeeping anytime someone says sth. about XF, specially when I do. See:

    Like why are you defining who's expectations belong to near something? That is gatekeeping for me. You might think like that, that is your opinion about it, but anytime someone criticizes XF a bit, you come to provoke. Specially considering that the thread owner himself criticizes XF in his own thread as the initial post, I don't think the term "nowhere near" is placed correctly here. Considering that this kind of topic wasn't raised the first time here also, I believe there is enough substance to say that one might have some problems with the current approach of XF.

    You haven't addessed any points I made. Like the stuff I said about Kier or the early time of XF or the mainpage being not updated. All valid points in my opinion. So I talk based on arguments, not based on my imagination.

    I bought XF seeing the progress of 1.0 to 1.2 and t was wonderful. The community was great and there were 10 times more developers than we have now.
    Also, when I buy software, I expect progress, WHEN there is a yearly fee.. Because we not only buy the initial software, but we can get upgrades in exchange for money. The yearly renewals are for what again?

    Did I say anywhere that I am unhappy with the base software? I am not sure how much and how often I praised how great the core is. I haven't criticized that. which is worth every penny. You have to understand the nuance. What I am criticizing is the progress about it. Like building on top of the core, and that lacks. Years of time and not much to show for in my opinion, except now for the 2.1 version finally. As I said, they were coasting on the success of the base product. The RM is still the same thing it was in 2013 or 2014. In 5 years nothing impactful was added to it. The MG same thing. Read SonnB's MG thread to understand how much the MG lacks. I don't use or own licenses for those two, but I see the comments and the product itself for years now.


    I don't understand what that means. Is this a threat? What does the chip is getting bigger mean?
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  12. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    No, the fee is for support (tickets) and UPDATES (security and stability) not upgrades, nowhere does it promise upgrades though I can see how one could expect some.
    upload_2019-6-17_18-23-5.png

    [​IMG]
     
  13. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Adherent

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    So, you are saying, when I buy windows 8 or 10, in one year later, I should pay the update fee for security and stability updates? I have never heard of such thing where I pay the renewal fees for the security and stability updates. I thought, wait, I just don't think, by EU laws you have to provide me for 24 months for FREE any kind of guarantee stuff (securit and stability), at least for tangible things. Non-tangible things will be from 2021 and on union-wide.

    Also, I do think the words UPDATES and UPGRADES have the same meaning or the gist is the same, as they can be used as synonyms.

    upload_2019-6-18_1-29-24.png

    upload_2019-6-18_1-29-43.png


    Yes, nowhere do they promise any updates/upgrades. But I think it is faily trivial to expect updates/upgrades, when they charge you a fee for that stating it is for updates, too.

    So, my expectation being "nowhere near software development", is fairly comical, don't you agree?

    It is like I pay for Netflix, and they tell me I pay for the "security and stability" of the Netflix app, and I don't get to see the newest movie releases they have in their sortiment. I only get those from 2015 because that was the time I paid for it the first time. That is your angle right now making for XF, telling us that the fees people pay are for that (of course not exclusively, apart ticket support).

    And I still don't understand that saying, can you explain? Not American/British here.
     
  14. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

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    Can we split the thread to allow conversation around the OP?
     
  15. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    It probably could/should be but I'll leave that to another admin/mod because someone decided it would be fun to spike my drinks with alcohol and I'm completely s***faced (I'm on heavy duty medication that specifically rules out alcohol :rolleyes:)

    Anyway, hopefully this is on topic but I'm sure I'll find out in the morning.

    I came to the conclusion years ago that forum developers were never going to meet my expectations. I guess the real question is why. Could it be that my expectations are not shared by other forum owners or could it be they are not shared by the developers. Perhaps they are shared by everyone but they simply can't be achieved because that amount of work won't provide a healthy balance sheet.

    Forums have a limited market, there's a lot of competition including free products. I think I understand why my expectations will never be met and it's frustrating but unless you have the wherewithal to build your own platform you really have to work with what's available to provide the best fit for your needs.

    I feel the same and honestly I don't know why. I agree that the support is second to none but I really don't feel comfortable posting there so it's read only for me.
     
  16. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Adherent

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    And I was getting laughed at in another thread, when I said, that people are afraid to talk directly. Maybe the term "afraid" was not perfect, but you get what I mean. You see here alone in this thread 2 people saying that they don't feel comfortable.

    Anyway, I also don't think what I have written is off-topic to this thread. The TO posted a screenshot of the mainpage of XF and I delivered a quote stating it wasn't updated for 8 years now. Point 1.

    Point 2 is that the op also asked for a "roadmap" and my response was maybe not clear but in all of these years, there was not a single announcement of a roadmap. So I don't think it ever will be the case as coasting is for real.

    Point 3 is that OP said
    And I backed him up by providing arguments how they lost touch to the community and are coasting since 1.2.

    We lost the fight against Facebook, we lost the fight against smartphones, we lost the fight against Wordpress and we lost the fight against modernazation. Forum softwares need to step up their game, all of them.
     
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  17. MagicalAzareal

    MagicalAzareal Magical Developer

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    They probably won't give you a roadmap because they know IPB will steal it and implement it all in a fraction of the time like they have been doing without one for many, many years. People might even end up rubbing the "roadmap" in their faces.
     
  18. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Some thoughts in no particular order:
    1. One of my personal fears about legacy forum software (and this is not aimed at any particular software, but in general) is that their development will be incremental in nature and never revolutionary. Yes, every major version will give us newer technology, but it's still going to give us the same board index, the same topics, the same posts. They're just reinventing the wheel, this time with a higher php requirement!

    I've begged on the Invision Community forums about the same concerns as you all have about XenForo: provide us a roadmap for the future, give us next-gen features, please help us compete not just with the forums of the past but with the social networks of the present. At the same time, I also see users who complain that their bbcode won't work, who demand print buttons for topics, who get confused on fluid view instead of the traditional board index view. It's difficult for any legacy software that has customers for over a decade to reconcile their legacy clients with clients who demand the features of the future.

    2. The forum software industry actually has evolved. It's evolved into community platforms. Community platforms have become professionalized with dozens of premium software choices from enterprise options like Salesforce and Hoopla to all sorts of niche-related community platforms for nonprofits, for alumni, for advocate marketing, for social networks, for B2C, for corporate social responsibility, for intranets, and all other sorts. There's not enough meaningful discussion on TAZ about these other kinds of software, all of which are flourishing.

    To put it into perspective, the #1 biggest platform for communities is not XenForo or vBulletin or all the other tired names that we rehash over and over again. It's Facebook Groups, with hundreds of millions of groups. Yet there's no dedicated section on TAZ for Facebook Groups, the world's largest community-builder.

    3. I'm sure they have an internal roadmap. Public roadmaps are hard, especially with forum admins who can be legitimately crazy sometimes. :eek::D:notworthy:

    4. To share a private story: I'm personally giving feedback like Amazon's AWS Personalize machine learning service to the IPS development staff. For me, the community platforms of the future need to be smarter, more personalized, and more relevant to the user in order for us to keep pace with the other platforms -- so I make it a point of telling the staff what I want to see. To me, giving me the same tired forums with a higher php version won't cut it anymore.
    If you want these kinds of features, you need to loudly voice them on your feedback forums. You need to directly, honestly, and sometimes forcefully share your concerns with them.

    Nobody cares about your community more than you do. They may not have a survey. They may not have any marketing research. But that shouldn't stop you from speaking out on behalf of your community of what you want.

    Best wishes to the continued success of your community.
     
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  19. MagicalAzareal

    MagicalAzareal Magical Developer

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    I find the Pro 2.1 slant here strange as on other sites, I saw people mocking XenForo for being so slow to implement features IPB had a long time ago. I'm not convinced XenForo is so polished either with how reliant people are on add-ons for basic things, not for a premium product.

    In regards to them not really caring, it takes a lot more effort to start up a business than to run one, a lot of it was likely early marketing to get it off the ground when they had virtually nothing. At a certain point, life takes over and you start doing other things than just working on "the project" all the time.

    A business is run for the sole purpose of making money and it's optimised such that this goal is met. No one is going to run ragged, if they can do a fraction of the work for the same result.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
  20. MagicalAzareal

    MagicalAzareal Magical Developer

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    At the end of the day, forum software are general purpose systems, this means that they have to cater to the lowest common denominator and the largest base of people possible.

    This might even work in a lot of cases, but in some situations, you will want to go for a specialised system, the only problem is that this is either a big time sink or it will cost you dearly. It however will always be the best solution for whatever objective it is that you might have in mind.

    I gave up on building true general purpose systems a long time ago, as all you end up doing is rehashing the same things over and over ad infinitum. If you try to make everyone happy, then you will make no one happy, but no one likes losing a significant chunk of cash either.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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