After 10 years, I'm done with IPS

Pete

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That's just it: they are. The Marketplace is a good thing - but creators are going to adopt it as their primary (and in some cases only) method of distribution. Existing creators have less reason to abandon their third party sites (because 4.4 and down still have a viable market) but new creators will not bother, and just sell via the Marketplace.

Was it always the case that you had to be subscribed to get third party plugins? Because going forward that is going to be a deal, unless creators are willing to give you files outside of the marketplace.

Also note that not everyone buys plugins at the same time as renewal of their main licence or ties their renewal of plugins to the renewal of core.

Me personally, I don't see a fundamental problem with this approach - just call it what it is and be clearer about it; it's evident from this thread that not everyone has understood the nuances here.
 

Morrigan

I put the Cute in Exe"cute".
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Was it always the case that you had to be subscribed to get third party plugins? Because going forward that is going to be a deal, unless creators are willing to give you files outside of the marketplace.

You've always had to be an active client to get even free plugins from the marketplace.

An active license has always been required that I've known of. It's just more transparent now. Now I may be incorrect on that but I've never not been an active IPS client.
 

ibaker

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If IPS had any consideration of the customer, any consideration at all, they would have just simply enhanced the marketplace to include it in the application as well as keeping the same system as they had. There is absolutely no reason to remove the existing system they had unless they simply don't care about their customers...they could have had the best of both worlds but chose not to. What does that tell you about the company?
 

Pete

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As for the 4.5 marketplace changes, I question the motivation for this. I've read numerous statements from several IPS staffers, each and several claiming changes were driven by improvements in reliability, quality and so on. But, each one leads me to the same conclusion - time would have been better spent refining and bug fixing IPS core.

I haven't spent *that* much time prodding IPS but so far I haven't seen any obvious signs that an unmodified IPS is obviously buggy. 4.5.4 to my inexperienced-at-IPS eye seems stable enough, well within what I'd expect for the price point. There are far more expensive platforms that are substantially inferior in the quality department.

But as we've collectively agreed (I think?), maintaining marketplace integrity is a challenge. Who for example can claim what is or isn't, valid or desirable functionality? Let alone at current pricing levels, having the resources to test that functionality for every new release. But, that's not to say it can't, or shouldn't be done. It's just a question of resource and to that end I'd happily pay double or treble for an app that's been installed and thoroughly tested by a third party, preferably the marketplace operator themselves. But I am one of a very small group that feel the same - I'm convinced most see $30 products as 'not cheap' and the thought of paying $100 for the same thing, minus a few annoying bugs, is of near zero interest.

Consider it: $30 for a product is heading towards half the price of some of the core IPS modules, and I'm pretty sure most plugins for IPS at that price point aren't comparable in size or scope to that from what I've seen.

I think it's worth bearing in mind that IPS's reviews, by their own admission are looking for major issues and fundamental breakage, not full on in depth analysis, which is a reasonable compromise for resource power, if clearly advertised as such.

Yes, themes are more than just the odd template change and what the dev sees as a snazzy pallette. From my perspective, I see themes more as browser Apps, working largely on the client, pulling what they need from server side resources.

I've seen themes in products do things that themes should never be responsible for - when I've seen entire 'gallery systems' be part of a *theme* I have to object. But most IPS themes look more like skins and recolours with fancy CSS rather than big template rehashes, which is good for compatibility, but lacking in the imagination department.

There's a couple of theme 'devs' on the IPS marketplace that if you are taken in by what they say in their theme descriptions, would have you thinking they've produced functional and aesthetic works of art. Until you see what they've actually done. To balance this out, I've had the pleasure of meeting a couple of superb 3rd party plugin devs responsible for producing some really nice functionality.

Maybe I hadn't found those 'devs' yet, but I've definitely seen nice third party functionality available.

I've been coding for almost 40 years - Assembly, C native and x compiled, LISP, Pascal, Prolog, 6809, 68k, 88/86/N86,V20/V30/SPARC, RISC/CISC, OS9, Unix, Xenix, CPM DOS, QDOS, Windows, Embedded/standalone, Comms, Drivers, OS, TSRs :ROFLMAO:, JS, and for 15+ of those years I worked in an environment where using (or copying) open source code would get you fired and walked out the same day. And for a time I bought into that. Until I realised that no corp was ever going to produce ubiquity and utility in the form of Linux, jQuery etc.

The open source thing has been an interesting lever for change in recent years; my company has been evangelising 'open source solutions' for 20+ years at this point and slowly it's working out. Head office mandates no-one has *any* proprietary software on their machine without written permission from a director; pretty sure the only people who have that are the art folks who all use Photoshop.

It is interesting how deeply it has become rooted; macOS/iOS and all their flavours are just derivates of open source software in the form of FreeBSD (albeit with layers on top); Android's core is open source.

The open source forum market is... oddly stagnant though.

But in saying that, even now I am wary of using any code that doesn't have an SLA attached to it. Which ultimately is what this entire thread is about - when you buy a product from XF, IPS or any other forum/community vendor, what exactly are you getting? It's not so bad with Discourse because you have the choice of using it for free. But when there's a fee attached, if we pay 100c in the $ for a product, then I believe we have the legal and moral right to expect same in return in terms of the product doing what it says on the tin.

So that's one of the interesting aspects to my professional world: the (core) code is produced by an organisation, which has no SLAs of any kind attached, only a licence guaranteeing its openness (GPLv3), and my company provides hosting and warranties around uptime (and thus, an SLA) for hosting, with some provision made for certain kinds of bugs.

The question: are you really paying for a product, or a service (or collection of services)?

There is one IPS dev who is trying to get his fellow devs to adopt a uniform and unit tested approach. I don't think he has had any takers.

It's also my understanding that IPS does not unit test its code.

I haven't done a deep dive, but products that do unit test usually have certain design hallmarks around testability even if the main framework structures aren't there; if you use PHPUnit you will have classes that extend the core PHPUnit classes for example, with a raft of dependency injection habits; if you see solid DI thinking across the platform, chances are that it was built with testability in mind.

XF has openly said they do *some* testing with a framework even if they don't ship the framework themselves - and their engineering clearly sets up for doing so in a meaningful way even if the framework struts aren't present. There's no need for them to be generally because you wouldn't normally ship all of your testing framework with your application when shipping a blob to be deployed into production.

In my world, you have the testing frameworks themselves and the widgets that use them; the testing frameworks don't get deployed to production, but do to CI environments for running the tests - which also means the same toolchain required to validate the core platform is also directly available to all plugin authors. Though it helps if your platform ships literally everything as a plugin using your plugin APIs.

You are way above me with regards what's available. But from a first principle point of view, I believe all code should be capable of being self testable. And by that I mean, on demand, running a reserved internal routine that self tests its own functionality. Apart from that, we were always taught to write use cases first, unit tests second, code third. And fourth, to test any given app, you'd assemble series of use cases, run their unit tests and evaluate from there.

I don't know how far down the Agile world you've been but modern thinking talks about Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) and Test Driven Development (TDD). BDD usually starts from a user story and models that in something like Gherkin to be parsed by Behat; a well rounded environment will take well-formed user stories directly as the test that has to pass (and then write steps to be able to be followed). Similarly, TDD works from the writing the test itself.

The reality is that a lot of places don't bother with much of either of the first two and even if they do, they tend to start with the code and then back-fill either/both kinds of tests as supporting evidence of completeness and correctness. It's certainly doable and I'd love to see more of the forum world making it an option but it is one of those reasonably high costs with seemingly little payoff.

Much of this would come part and parcel with a versioned API, which has an inherent need to test for well formedness of request and availability of requested functionality. Plus, the response is guaranteed (assuming no core API errors and correct method call) to return the expected well formed response. Add permissioning, for example dev class 3 can use class 3 API requests and you have the start of a framework that whilst not as rigorously considered as a use case -> unit test -> code -> application test approach, at least allows ad hoc growth in functionality to be matched with a similar level of functional surety.

In a microservices world that's exactly how you'd do it; components are given interfaces and treat everything as a blackbox to everything else. PHP apps tend to work as monolith apps where you don't (so much) think of components as having rigid interfaces/APIs to code to, but if you look at least at XF's code, they try to work broadly that way. Haven't deep dived into IPS yet (though I have a licence, I probably should sometime once I figure out why my test install Docker container isn't running cron properly)

As an aside, I do feel that theme presentation could be improved using some simple techniques relating to meta layers. For example, getting devs to use vendor defined CSS constants rather than ad hoc literal CSS selectors. I appreciate some of this is already in place with client side controller references, but it could go further still.

Ad-hoc literal CSS selectors, one of the banes of my life.

One other thing which is troubling my colleagues and me is how IPS is going to deploy plugins into its much discussed phone/tablet App? From what I can see and have read, the App only supports core functionality. What then does that make of the introduction of the ACP marketplace? It seems the promotion and claimed increased uptake of Apps via the marketplace is only going to lead to the question of why don't they work in the App? Which they won't be able to do until and, or if, IPS reworks its architecture to support the seamless rendering of 3rd party App functionality. Perhaps I've missed something. Would be interested to hear IPS' position on this. Will the App support 3rd party plugins? And if so, does that in turn mean a rewriting core -> plugin interfaces.

So what usually happens in other environments, and what I presume IPS is doing: the core functionality is supported by a robust and rich API that the app is called - presumably third party plugins can expand on this and declare additional endpoints that the app can know about, by declaring to some internal system "hey, I exist, I'm part of the navigation menu, I declare these routes/endpoints" and the endpoints can return templates that can be rendered client side. Least, that's what plugins do in other environments where you have complex components that include super detailed mobile app functionality (consider a learning management system that has an app where 'download and use offline' is conceptually a pluggable feature without requiring new builds of the app for every occasion)

That isn't for the faint of heart however.
 

Morrigan

I put the Cute in Exe"cute".
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If IPS had any consideration of the customer, any consideration at all, they would have just simply enhanced the marketplace to include it in the application as well as keeping the same system as they had. There is absolutely no reason to remove the existing system they had unless they simply don't care about their customers...they could have had the best of both worlds but chose not to. What does that tell you about the company?
This isn’t the best of both worlds from a business perspective. This is catering to the minority despite advancements and essentially doubling up on the work.

Unfortunately for most here on TAZ you are in the minority known as power users. Not all forum administrators are in this small group known as power users and are in fact just normal administrators that just want to press a button to install an app instead of figuring out that pesky download button.

By providing both options you would further confuse the majority (the non-power users) because “well I bought this and downloaded it but I already installed it in my admin panel. Did I do it wrong?”

I appreciate that as a power user, you want power user options but that is not the best way to do it overall.
 

ibaker

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This is catering to the minority
Really easy words to say in a post but absolutely nothing to substantiate it...no facts or figures, no reference to any poll, nothing to believe...sorry.

What I believe is of the 13 addons and plugins that I have installed, ONLY 1 developer likes the new marketplace...only 1. PLUS of the 2 site owners that I discuss things with and who both were going to move to IPS after me telling/showing them the Pages/Database feature have decided to reinvest in Xenforo and drop any thought of IPS simply because of the Marketplace changes, the IPS company and the licensing constraints.

What no one knows is how many other site owners have also decided not to go the IPS route because of this...well, the only way i know how to answer that is simply if IPS is such a great product, why does it have such a small market share compared to Xenforo?

These are facts that I know of and what I can use as a clear indicator to myself, not some thrown around statement in a post, sorry
 
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Pete

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Do "normal users" have a tendency to religiously stay subscribed without a break in their renewals? Because if not, they might find it harder to deal with than not.

I don't know, this is the first time I've actually been noodling with a paid platform for real rather than just having a licence to see what they looked like for the spirit of experimentation (seeing how I'm formerly from the dev team of open source forum platforms in my misspent history...) so while I'm genuinely a power user, I'm very unfamiliar with a lot of the real dynamics involved here and asking questions to understand everyone's position better.
 

LeadCrow

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The open source forum market is... oddly stagnant though.
New age opensource software has no issue both releasing code and charging really high prices for a SaaS-hosted troublefree installs (nodebb starts at 250$/month, discourse at 100$/month - with foss and educational communities qualifying for major discounts naturally or even free hosting). Its the legacy scripts that arent, mostly due to funding issues.

If you remember the landcape from around 12 years ago, ipb went paid despite being initially a free script, while others like mybb and smf remained free and since struggled to gain contributors. The market spoke, focusing on acquiring a large number of budget-concious hobbyists or doing lifetime support licences is not very viable. Consider that even Woltlab (once priced competitively against xenforo after humbler beginnings as BurningBoard) now more closely matches and can even exceed IPB's pricing (due to addons being priced as separate independant apps rather than cheap additions to the base forum with degressive renewal fees).

There's many ways the community landscape could be improved, but for now ensuring the solutions we depend on remain in business and keep up with times is overlooked - many functions that used to require 3rd-party addons of variable support quality are now integrated and supported with equally high standards as the rest of the package. If those shut down, which script would power your community next, would it adequately serve your needs in the next decade, and how many addons would you need to match what you already have today for 50$/year?
 

Pete

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New age opensource software has no issue both releasing code and charging really high prices

That's great and all, but Discourse today looks and feels the same as Discourse did on its first arrival. I'm sure it has a ton of features that didn't exist last time I actively tried to use it but skimming their site, I can't see what they might be.

NodeBB, largely ditto.

Its the legacy scripts that arent, mostly due to funding issues.

As someone who has been a fairly non-trivial contributor to one of the legacy scripts over the years, I don't believe funding is part of the problem. It looks far more like a lack of imagination.

There's many ways the community landscape could be improved, but for now ensuring the solutions we depend on remain in business and keep up with times is overlooked - many functions that used to require 3rd-party addons of variable support quality are now integrated and supported with equally high standards as the rest of the package. If those shut down, which script would power your community next, would it adequately serve your needs in the next decade, and how many addons would you need to match what you already have today for 50$/year?

And that's the part where open source should absolutely thrive, and yet it isn't. Open source is the very embodiment of not having vendor lock-in, where you can modify it yourself, take it somewhere else and have others look at it or take it over or otherwise maintain it.

Open source seems to be dying on its feet in this arena with 'eh, it's good enough'.
 

Morrigan

I put the Cute in Exe"cute".
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Really easy words to say in a post but absolutely nothing to substantiate it...no facts or figures, no reference to any poll, nothing to believe...sorry.

What I believe is of the 13 addons and plugins that I have installed, ONLY 1 developer likes the new marketplace...only 1. PLUS of the 2 site owners that I discuss things with and who both were going to move to IPS after me telling/showing them the Pages/Database feature have decided to reinvest in Xenforo and drop any thought of IPS simply because of the Marketplace changes, the IPS company and the licensing constraints.

What no one knows is how many other site owners have also decided not to go the IPS route because of this...well, the only way i know how to answer that is simply if IPS is such a great product, why does it have such a small market share compared to Xenforo?

These are facts that I know of and what I can use as a clear indicator to myself, not some thrown around statement in a post, sorry
To be fair, your scope is rather minimal. Everyone you listed in your "scope" there all sound like power users. Devs are certainly power users (probably even more than you) and it sounds like your friends are likely power users too.

No I'm not IPS and don't have numbers but it has already been said in this thread that the new marketplace has increased in developer profits for MANY products existing on the marketplace:
While there are some customers who aren't happy with the change, and a few marketplace devs who are not keen on the changes, it's not the overall feedback we're getting.

Our customers seem pretty happy with the new marketplace. The number of marketplace downloads close to doubled on the release of 4.5 thanks to the higher visibility of the add-ons.

Downloads have doubled. That means that likely over half of the IPS users may not have even KNOWN that the marketplace existed in the first place unless they were seeking out something extremely specific to cater to their user base or desire and lets be real. The first thing that comes up when you google IPS Themes is "IPS Focus" which means that most people likely weren't even looking on IPS for themes.

I am putting down facts that I have learned from hosting users that want to administrate their own forums (normally a free software and not IPS). In this case its primarily MyBB and they are so nervous and so newbish that they ask me to install everything. From the forum to all the mods that they want. I'd say probably 8/10 of the users that host with me ask me and my staff to install EVERYTHING for them even though its as easy as "download" > "upload" > "activate" > "configure"

One of my best friends LOVES IPS to death but she's scared to upload a file just in case she breaks something she can't fix and often has me on standby when she does do anything. Its not that for the most part she could work through it herself but she's not a power user. I can guarantee the new marketplace is heaven for her because now she can have the confidence to just press a button.

Do "normal users" have a tendency to religiously stay subscribed without a break in their renewals? Because if not, they might find it harder to deal with than not.

I don't know, this is the first time I've actually been noodling with a paid platform for real rather than just having a licence to see what they looked like for the spirit of experimentation (seeing how I'm formerly from the dev team of open source forum platforms in my misspent history...) so while I'm genuinely a power user, I'm very unfamiliar with a lot of the real dynamics involved here and asking questions to understand everyone's position better.

I mean if you have the money why would you unsubscribe unless a subscription app tells you too?

I'm personally a set it and forget it sort of person, most people are. I still haven't cancelled my Hulu subscription even though I think I've only watched one thing on it in the past month. Hell I have 2 Netflix subscriptions just because my BF doesn't want to cancel his and lose his Netflix view that he's working on for the last decade and I refuse to do the same for the same reason.

Edit: This is even how a lot of "Free trial" things work intentionally. "3 free months of HBO!" then after the 3rd month...... you start getting charged.
 

Nev_Dull

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Do "normal users" have a tendency to religiously stay subscribed without a break in their renewals? Because if not, they might find it harder to deal with than not.
This one doesn't. I'm still running XF 1.5 because it fills my needs and I haven't renewed in a long time. However, I still have access to all the updates and addons for that version, because I do have a licence. If I was on IPS, I wouldn't.
 

Nev_Dull

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But this hasn't changed. Its always been a subscription for support and updates. I've had a license for over 13 years. IPS isn't suddenly making license renewals revolutionarily different.
But the new marketplace and how it works IS causing confusion, as we's seen in this thread. That's why I've said they could finally come out and say "we are a subscription service" to help alleviate some of the issues of the marketplace. Beyond that, I don't care what they call it -- it isn't my company.
 

Nev_Dull

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Open source seems to be dying on its feet in this arena with 'eh, it's good enough'.
This confounds me too. There are plenty of thriving foss projects out there, but in the realm of forums, all we seem to hear are echos. There are plenty of opportunities for innovation. Maybe the existing devs in the current crop of forum projects are just tired and used up.

Side note: I really like Moodle. Just wish I had a use for it.
 

Kevin

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One of my best friends LOVES IPS to death but she's scared to upload a file just in case she breaks something she can't fix and often has me on standby when she does do anything. Its not that for the most part she could work through it herself but she's not a power user. I can guarantee the new marketplace is heaven for her because now she can have the confidence to just press a button.
Your friend is the demographic for the IPS Cloud solutions. If somebody is "scared" about uploading a file then they shouldn't be using the self-hosted solutions, it has nothing to do with being a 'power user' or not.
 

Morrigan

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Your friend is the demographic for the IPS Cloud solutions. If somebody is "scared" about uploading a file then they shouldn't be using the self-hosted solutions, it has nothing to do with being a 'power user' or not.
Even in the cloud previously you still had to download from the marketplace and manually upload the files and she does use the cloud solution. Thanks for assuming though.
 

Kevin

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Even in the cloud previously you still had to download from the marketplace and manually upload the files and she does use the cloud solution. Thanks for assuming though.
The only assuming going on in this thread has been by you throwing around numbers about the IPS customer base, thinking that a "power user" is anybody who knows how to actually admin' their installs, and thinking that because you seem to be only familiar with a certain type of user that it represents a majority. But go you!
 

Morrigan

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First off, The only numbers I've put in this thread have been my experience with a userbase that I'm familiar with and I'd like to note that I specified that it was for a different userbase than IPS. However, I did describe that if that's my regular experience with users that want to run forums, than that is likely also the experience that many forums have. I won't even just say IPS even though this thread is about IPS specifically.

Power users is a definition that is very specific and meant to explain that there is a difference between someone that understands the ins and outs and an average user admin. Whether you believe in the term or not it is a thing just like any other thing.

I wouldn't expect someone that calls in to tech support to know how to do my job. That's why I have my job. Sometimes, yes, there is a person that understands what my job entails and likely did most if not all of the troubleshooting steps I'm going to put out there to resolve their issue but that's rare.



EDIT:
With that I'll just stop replying here. You're a perfect example of why I hate talking on TAZ. I keep thinking we're all adults and have a conversation/discussion and instead its just an insult war on which person has the biggest e-ego.
 
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Kevin

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With that I'll just stop replying here. You're a perfect example of why I hate talking on TAZ. I keep thinking we're all adults and have a conversation/discussion and instead its just an insult war on which person has the biggest e-ego.
As you're demonstrating quite succinctly.
 

Bionic Rooster

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it has already been said in this thread that the new marketplace has increased in developer profits for MANY products existing on the marketplace:
Probably it could be because people are rush buying before their license/subscription times out. I understand there has also been a great loss in new customers signing up due to the changes. So I'm not thinking any of this is a win win for anyone.
 

Nabix

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