You're right -- many are centered around the forums, but many don't want that to be the case anymore. I don't want to speak for @CheersnGears - but his site seems to largely revolve around IP.Content (now Pages) and I'd bet it's been a struggle to work around the confines of IP.Board wanting to have its way as the true core. In IPS4, you don't even need the forums app and even if you want it, it doesn't have to be the centerpiece that all content revolves around. There's many that do "just forums." We decided to break away from that in the sense that while there's still a strong market for forums, it's not a sustainable market for IPS if that's all we were to do and focus on. Most come to IPS for the suite these days and that's what we're going to focus on a complete and true community solution. It will, however, take some time for longtime users to adapt but if we stop seeing "forums" and see "community" (even if the forums app is the only app you have) - I feel it will make better sense. That said, remember, IP.Board isn't dead. If your site is more suited for IPB 3.4 then there's really no reason to upgrade - though we're only going to do critical updates for IP.Board.
Oh I love auto analogies. The ability to have topics would be the equivalent of wheels. Something like displaying post numbers would be the equivalent of an ashtray. Yes, some might have used it - a select few might even deem it "vital" to their morning commute. Most, however, wouldn't use it and would just declare it wasted space / clutter. As the engineers, we determined the latter and thus it was removed to lend to a less awkward interface as we prepare to add more features in the future that can better use that space than an arbitrary number. For those that do find such things super important, they can certainly use an aftermarket ashtray to accomplish their smoking receptacle goal.
I believe the term minor had no demeaning connotation. If you take the fact there's seven applications and the scale of what we've done, the fact that a few are disappointed because the traditional member list is no more (as an example), is in fact a relatively minor thing. Is it important to the few that heavily used it? Yes, of course. Is it "minor" in the overall scheme of things to the majority of users -- many of which disabled it to begin with? Yes. What's major to one is minor to another. We're not taking away from frustration that people have over changes and has been noted several changes have already been improved upon or based on feedback, reverted. Changes nonetheless occur though. Apple changed the function of the maximize button in Mac OS X Yosemite. I personally hate it to my very core and to me, it was a major deal that disrupts my workflow. To Apple and others, it's a minor thing. I've read many other users like the way it works now - I may be in the minority, but the moral of the story is, there's many other things to love and I recognize Apple didn't build Yosemite specifically for me. I'm but one user in a sea of many - clearly others prefer the full screen mode that button now toggles. There's more important things in life to worry about. We can't keep everything from the last 13 years while still chiseling and carving out room for current and future modern features and trends. Some things have to go and again, what's major to one is minor to another -- and vice-versa.
We will indeed be featuring various sales options for cases like this. These have not yet been announced, but we will work on making this available as quickly as possible. In the interim, please submit a request to my attention and I'll be happy to devise a solution for your client now, if needed.
Thank you for your inquiry and your interest! It is difficult to answer your question without further evaluating your specific needs -- if all you want is a forum, there are indeed free and even other paid alternatives. IPS views itself as a community solution provider. A purchase with IPS gains you the stability of a 13yr old company, top tier support and an ever-evolving product platform. With an active license, you're never going to be at the mercy of the open source community to assist when something goes wrong - you're going to have access to the people that wrote the software within a matter of hours, often minutes. You're also going to have exclusive services such as a central spam mitigation service that screens every registration to your community to check for known spammers, blocking them before they get to your community. Only you can decide how much that is worth to you and your community, however, please note we have monthly cloud based plans if you'd like to minimize your up-front investment. I hope that helps and thank you again for your inquiry. You're right to perform your due diligence and I certainly didn't find anything disrespectful in your post. Please let us know of any further questions or concerns. You may also contact our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
Immediately after the IPS4 release and stabilizing the platform we have a few key goals. There are things we've discovered through the betas and RCs that we can do much better, but it's not appropriate to rip apart at this stage. An example of this would be search - that will be one of our first priorities. We're not quite ready to print a roadmap but we have many cool features including things like social engagement earmarked for IPS4.1 and no, it's not years away! It took longer than expected to create a solid platform we can build upon for years to come, but we are ready to roll and trust me - the next chapter is exciting.
Great question. Personally, I knew John, the creator of vB. He was a great guy that brought a lot to the industry and had he not left it, I often wonder where we would all be. Several of our staff knew several of then-vB staff (in fact, one of them attended an IPS meet-up years ago) and I think there was a healthy amount of rivalry there. Over the years, we went our own way and others went theirs to the point I'm not sure I'd really consider them direct competitors. With obvious overlap in the forum specific market, we largely serve different markets and have different higher level goals. They focus primarily on forums as there's still a solid market for that and they do a great job at reaching it. We made the decision many years ago to focus on an overall community solution and I like to think we do that well. I might have a slight bias. The industry is ever-evolving though, there are companies always on the radar and one can never become complacent and discount competition -- after all, much of IPS' success can be attributed to the fact that in its infancy, then-competition wasn't paying serious attention to us.
@We are Borg - what constitutes a "normal" customer? Only 5-10% of our overall user base visit this community, much less participate in feature suggestions and feedback. What you often find here is a vocal minority that lobby for certain things and there's frustration if it doesn't get implemented as if the entire force of the IPS customer base is pushing for it. In reality, the feedback here is absolutely essential, but it's not always the be-all and sometimes represents a specific segment. As mentioned, we then take feedback garnered through other methods -- support, interactions with customers in sales looking for more, our managed clients, etc. It's then our job to put all of that together for the greater good of the masses. Sometimes things don't work out for all users and concessions need to be made. Sometimes a feature for an enterprise site is not akin to what a small site desires and vice-versa. To be clear, I don't expect you to understand or empathize with the sheer amount of angles we have to cover - that's not your concern to deal with. I'm simply illustrating that some oversimplify the process here -- a public discussion only involves a very small percentage of users. We can't always act on that. Historically, when someone would request something in IP.Board on the feedback forum, it would often just get added without all of these other sides being represented. What we'd get left with is further inflexibility in the platform the more we chocked in, less stability / more chasing down issues with random additions, confusion from users (more support requests) and on and on. IPS4 has brought a specific process for additions and the new platform allows that to happen in a rapid, yet controlled fashion. We're not opposed to adding things - we have many, many things planned after the initial IPS4 release, but gone are the days of adding things just because and there must be a wide benefit to more than just a specific niche, otherwise, it's better left as a modification.
With all of that said, one of our upcoming projects is more community engagement. I think we can improve on communication as it relates to feature requests, etc. I would love to be able to share that a feedback request has already been internally vetted and approved for the next release and we're going to do xyz. We just need to devise a system where we can communicate and have customers trust that the process has been followed and endless debate and disdain will only distract from the bigger goal.
To get back on point - this particular issue is being discussed internally.
I should have been more clear -- "pages and pages" also consist of clearing misunderstanding. Many (if not most) cases are where someone things something has gone missing when in reality, it's still there - maybe it just works differently, or it's been relocated. We have definitely added back a good number of little tweaks and things that people have established solid use cases for. Remember, IP.Board was the end-result of 13 years of adding and adding. There was A LOT that simply was no longer relevant, things that browsers handle on their own now, things that we've found over the years that confuse users and things that frankly, we just didn't feel fit with the direction of the product line moving forward. See, now these types of comments are a little frustrating. Firstly, it is not feasible nor frankly our obligation to give you access to the "big picture." Our job, as a software company, is to parse what our customers, on all levels, are saying and doing and then shape the software in a direction that fits within the needs of as many customers as possible while adhering to our vision of the product as well. We are much different than other companies in that we are very hands on and proactive from a support standpoint. The vast majority of our support comes from our client area, not the support forums - and in many ways, we like and prefer this method. It gives us not only a more personal interaction with our client base, but also allows us the unique opportunity to see how our customers are using the software first-hand. It's not at all unusual for a technician to share with the company an example of a cool thing a customer did with their community -- or a struggle in a support ticket that could be solved with an improvement to the software. We take that, our sales interactions with potential customers, our interaction with our enterprise/managed client base, the feedback from this community and we parse through it, often line item by line item. IPS4 was largely shaped on that very premise. As with anything, there's always room for improvement and while you state there was no open discussion, to the contrary, there's been an immense amount of discussion - one might even argue too much. We had an extensive preview where everyone chimed in. We had private groups of people from all segments representing their respective needs. No, we don't do everything publicly and we won't - what company does? As a consumer, you have to evaluate your own needs, express those needs to the company that you are using or considering using and then determine whether those needs will be met. If not, the beauty of free enterprise is, there's likely other solutions available. We've never claimed to be something for everyone - nor do we desire to be and in fact, one of our goals with IPS4 was to make it less overwhelming for non-power users. All of these "it would only take 5 minutes" settings add up to an overwhelming and confusing experience for novices and the everyday admin. That's not to shut out power-users, of course -- many of the settings only few need have been moved to our constants structure -- so with one simple file edit, you can enable something -- but others who would never use that never have to get confused or overwhelmed by it. Do not confuse not agreeing or not being able to immediately act on a suggestion with not listening. That's all we do -- all day, every day. It's a difficult line between moving forward and keeping things similar and even the big guys struggle with this. Look at the deep division within the user base for something like Windows 8. I like to think we've at least surpassed those expectations.
As has been said many times now - IPS4 is starting with a blank slate from the ground up. Some things have been deemed obsolete. Some things benefit so few users they're better left as modifications. Some things are just frankly overlooked. There's pages and pages of examples of things that have already been added back in based on customer feedback. Other things customers have said "you know, this could be done better" and we say "you're right." Naturally, there's also going to be things we simply don't agree on -- not that we don't appreciate and understand the feedback, but rather, you do not have access to the big picture - the incredibly diverse client base we work with and the requirement to represent the best interests of all, not just one small segment. That said, the door isn't necessarily closed on things like this. We have both this and an internal tracker for enhancements. I'll add this for consideration. In the meantime - please stop with the little personal jabs at each other or the topic will be closed for further comment.