June 10, 2007 in Feedback
First of all, your software is very good feature wise, code wise and in general customer service is much better. Now that that is out of the way let me share my concern as a business
In my view there are plenty of IPB developers, you just gotta look into the right places and know the right people. I know plenty of people, programmers, etc and even companies that will develop for IPB even on a large scale. I know it is hard to find good developers, and have expereicned that quite a bit in my years working with IPB but when you do find someone that is good, they are "good".
I have found that it is very hard to find someone that can make major modification to the software and there are only a handful and when you find someone can they are usually too busy.
If someone was able to offer reasonable prices, great customer service and a great reputation than they would get a lot of business in my opinion. Not all businesses have the ability to hire someone full time.
@kewlceo (perhaps this topic was moved?) It seems to me that he's suggesting that IPS reopen their CS services to all customers again. Thus the relevancy to this forum?
Interesting topic! I think one issue is the fact that many (most?) 'Developers', both here and on other IPB related boards, are mainly hobbyists and simply do not have the time to get involved in a 'serious' project. Quite apart from the time it takes to develop good 'bug free' code, to the customer specifications/satisfaction, there may also be a medium/long term support requirement.Just look at some of the support forums for many/most mods and you will see that support is expected and given for long periods of time AND mods are also expected to be upgraded when IPS releases a new version of its software
I totally agree with you on all points. The biggest thing that holds me, at least, from being able to continue to work as a full time developer is the price expectation. Availability of work isn't too much of a problem but, as I made mention to before, I spend time consulting customers free to find out later that they are not willing to pay a "decent" price for the work requested. After spending a day or so consulting the customers and getting nothing in return it further eats in to my costs.I've been, basically, working full time as a developer for a few months now and can no longer afford to do so. I CAN take on larger projects. I've had requests for some really big projects. These hurt me even more because after spending a week or 2 trying to get all the projects details outlined, I send the bill and get rejected. The largest bill I've ever sent was $3900 for a project that was completely custom and going to take me 2 months, full time, to develop to testing state, which is very competitive if you knew the details of the project. If you also take that total and break it down to hourly (assuming 8 hours a day or 40 a week) you would see a basic (pre-expenses) idea of how little I'd of made anyway. People just want far to much for far too little and I cannot live on my own with such payment much less grow my business. I want to continue to try and grow my company. I want to be able to offer a wide range of services to my clients, but I cannot afford to charge the same as the hobbyist willing to work for $4/h, or even free. I want to offer products that can be purchased, but I need income to sustain me during the development of such products. I want to work with IPS products because I like the community, but every day it just gets harder and harder to continue doing so.I will say though that a lot of the customer expectation doesn't come just from this community. I saw the same issues when I worked on sites like rent-a-coder.com. You've got the same hobbyists, outsourced people willing to work for pennies on the dollar, and people like myself trying to make a living. Customers seem to care less about how it works, as long as it works. Until they find out that the former 2 options will not provide the same type of service that I do, usually after the work was completed. Then I get to be the one to clean up the formers' mess :rolleyes: It costs them more in the long run, but people don't see that. They see price and, to most that are undereducated on the subject, that is all that matters. Which is unfortunate to them and me.So will things change? I would hope so, but I won't hold my breath. :)
When I mean reasonable I meant to say that I shop around. And there are not that many people that do major modifications... it is not that difficult to compare. For example, I had someone who wanted to charge me $350 to upgrade a skin from 2.1 to 2.2 which I felt unreasonable since it was not similar to what other people were quoting. Sometimes people think that just because one is a business they do not compare prices. Anyways, for my last modification I went to different people who offer modifications on their site and was prepared to pay what they quoted but something came up with them and they could not complete the work.
I'm thinking of going into paid for products and development for IPB over the summer.Did some BBCode (helped encourage me to do more work with IPB due to the popularity of my code), dug through IPB's code, really like how it looks and how components work. Already know OOP PHP pretty well. Going to look into how IPB does transactions and such and make a full store component. :PThough as you can see, I'm looking into writing software to sell, not so much custom projects. $300 projects usually suck due to how much time is poured into just developing an outline of the software, let alone programming it.As for modifications, I don't really like the idea of modifications, it's why I left PHPBB.As for seriousness: I work part time at a highschool doing programming for small projects and mostly technical work with networking. I go to school full time working on my major in Computer Science. When I'm doing neither and working I'm trying to kick my company off (links in sig), so all software I write that isn't custom is released under my company very seriously, and custom work is done through the company too.
Though as you can see, I'm looking into writing software to sell, not so much custom projects. $300 projects usually suck due to how much time is poured into just developing an outline of the software, let alone programming it.
Maybe part of the problem is finding a way to get good customers and good modders together.The OP also forgot to mention all the developers that essentially get removed from the pool. Many of the really good developers have been swallowed up by IPS. Not that i have anything wrong with IPS hiring and people getting jobs, but obviously a lot of good modders no longer do custom jobs because of it.As feedback to IPS, i would think there are ways to encourage more custom work/development and the community as a whole. For example, IPS could sponsor modding challenges or something. Competitions for small to medium scale mods. It's a win for IPS, because it highlights the community and their software. It's a win for the individual who wins because it shows off what they can do (basically future business for them). The prize could be money or free license or whatever.Anyways, there are obviously many other ideas that IPS could try that could get the community more engaged. I'm glad the OP brought this up.
Digi,Yes, I would like to think/say that the price issue is industry wide but it actually goes beyond the IT industry and is probably
Both ian and spacs make good points. The only issue that always comes up with rating forums (or any poll for that matter) is that they become popularity contests. As soon as the "top 10" are found, few others will get much play and it becomes as difficult a path to travel as it is now. Even the limited "free" community sees this happen. To further on that, the typical customer I've dealt with couldn't define "quality of product" accurately if they tried. To be able to do this would require an understanding of the field the product is categorized (ie php or html, plus optimization, and other related things). If they had that they wouldn't be coming to "us" in the first place would they? :PI did suggest something awhile ago to implement on IPSB for each submission to the database there. Perhaps this could be used to better differentiate between a past customer's idea of quality and real quality. What I suggested was for IPS to charge a service to pass modifications or skins as "IPS Certified" (or even IPSB certified or something similar). Basically all this would allow is that hardcore folks (free or paid) wanting to get their products more view could pay a fee to have their product evaluated to QA-style standards. Passing such standards, they would receive the mark on their download denoting this, thus putting them above the others available. Failing means they lose the cash, and I personally think number of failures should be noted as well. Profile pages with this information, extra benefits on higher numbers of certifications (percentage), perhaps invisionpoints increased in multiples, and so on would help get this used more often.Another idea I had for IPS developers to make use of was a certification, something like the various things expert rating offers, that qualified you as an IP.B, IPB.G, IPB.B, skinner, etc expert. This could be yet another way for developers, free or paid, to "advertise" their skills within the community.
@Digi:Components that I sell to the general public are going to be way cheaper than $300 a pop. :P TBH: I would really like to sell them for like $10-25 a pop, depending on how popular they are, and anything that takes me a day or two of bored time to slam out would be free (say if they do the PHP processing of BBCode idea, I have a lot of codes that would be free).As for custom stuff released to one customer only, where I need to listen to your needs, plan them out, listen to you change it again and again, along with the actual coding. Usually $300 isn't enough. I can make more hourly flipping burgers.Mostly what I want to get from IPB component development:- My name out there- Learn some new techniques and apply what I already know- A few bucks to go towards schooling
Digi,Yes, you are of course correct about a rating system and I hadn
I don't know if it's something you've considered or tried, but you may want to look at sites such as eLance and RentACoder for a freelancer who wants to take on your project. Of course, since sites like that are frequented by professionals, you have to be prepared to pay the proper value for the work you want :)
The number of mods built around a point system is defiantly symptomatic of something unpleasant in the modding community. Honestly, I think it's invisionfree and sites like that which make the brand popular with 14 year olds who then turn around and mow lawns all summer for an IPB license. Shut down the free hosting sites if there is any way you can. Directly and Indirectly they are doing damage to the invision brand and trademark. As long as IPB is commonly associated with arcades and porn, IT manager types are going to skip right past it.I inherited my IPB board from a co-admin who was the first owner. It wouldn't have occurred to me to use it, though I'm glad things worked out as they did. I was lobbying for FUDforum.
I've got so many comments on this subject, but I think I'll keep them to myself and listen for now. :P
I would love it if this were really feasible, if I could have a job where I could just create custom mods all day and still make enough money to pay my bills I would do it in a heartbeat. The problem is, as others have stated, most customers are unwilling to pay that much. There are a few customers out there that will pay appropriately for our work, but they are few and far between. Until that changes, I have to spend my days at my current job and code a mod here and there for extra cash in my few spare hours.
Strange_Will, your comments are valid but would you say (maybe/possibly) that you are actually devaluing your ability and that of other programmers as well. If people come to expect quality mods and skins for pennies then that is all you and others are ever likely to make. As for “I can make more hourly flipping burgers” – it may be a true statement but it makes it sound as though you are not serious about what you are trying to achieve. Getting your name out there is one thing but getting your name out there AND being associated with HIGH QUALITY code as apposed to ‘burger flipping code’ is entirely different and high quality costs more, or at least it should!
I don't know if it's something you've considered or tried, but you may want to look at sites such as
for a freelancer who wants to take on your project. Of course, since sites like that are frequented by professionals, you have to be prepared to pay the proper value for the work you want :)
I think most of the 'problems' have been pointed out. There are numerous reasons developers can't or won't work for-hire with IP.Board, and most of them have been listed already.A large portion of the community is unable or unwilling to spend the type of money it takes to purchase a good quality custom modification. Take me as an example - I have a wife and two kids. I work a full time job, and I have a house (which means I have endless duties to accomplish even when I'm not at work). If you wanted me to code a custom modification for you, that means I need to take my time from my family and devote it to you. If you want me to do that, you have to give me incentive to. I'm sorry, but $300 for a week's worth of effort just wouldn't cut it.Then, you have people who don't *really* know what they want when they request it, which causes so much headache it makes you not want to bother with it all. For example, I've had situations where someone comes and says "I want a list that shows this data from this database table". Great, not hard, a couple hours worth of work - your cost is xyz. You do the work, within your budgeted time frame, and everything looks good. You show it to the client, only to have them say - "Oh, I thought you'd realize, but I also want to be able to moderate it (edit/delete the records), set the default order from the ACP, sort it, search it, add new entries in the ACP, I want the AJAX title editing.....". You do get contracts setup in advance typically (if you have been doing this for any length of time you learn to do this quickly enough) but it still doesn't take away from the stress of dealing with someone who is upset purely because they weren't able to articulate what they wanted to begin with.Then you get attitude for quotes over $20 (largely because kids in high school with nothing better to do are often willing to take those $20 quotes, do a poor job on the work (hey, they're only getting $20 after all) and people come to expect this sort of price range). It takes a lot of time, effort, skill, and patience to program in any language, and depending on what you want it can be even more stressful or time consuming. You have to pay fair to expect to get a fair developer who is willing to back up their work. You think I'm going to spend 20 hours for $20? As someone else put it, you make more than that at Burger King or McDonalds.Realistically, I might have stopped coding altogether if I hadn't been hired by IPS when I was. I love what I do, but I was wearing myself out quickly spending 40 hours on a project to make $100. It just wasn't worth it (in retrospect) and I think a lot of modders trying to make a name for themself are put into this same position. They start off, not charging a lot because their name isn't "out there", and get caught in a trap where this becomes perpetual. People expect good cheap work, and they can't find a way to raise their prices.Some people understand the amount of work and effort that goes into this, and those customers are also generally the same ones that can give you a clear project spec sheet, and expect realistic turn around time frames and quotes. But because of the lack of these sorts of custom modification customers, at least in the IPB (and largely the PHP) community, fewer developers are willing to do this sort of work over something more established and used by bigger businesses (i.e. Java). If more people were willing to pay fair, more people would do the work. Simple as that.
Great points Brandon. :thumbsup:@ Rikki, I know you were mainly posting for OP, but as Strange Will mentioned, those sites are the cause of the hardship for programmers in all communities. PHP, with a few others, suffers greatly by this because it is so "easy" to become a programmer with it. Thus any lacky with a link to the manual can claim to do a project for $20. It is just sickening and not viable to any real business perspective. :(@ Strange Will, I don't want to work at burger king or I'd already be doing so, heh I even had a pizza delivery driver job for a bit to make supplemental income. The results are still the same though, you can develop a "simple" component for IPB and sell it for $10. I'd doubt that the return you'll get from it will be near enough to cover the costs involved. If you are lucky you'll break even, but this has been my experience of it all. Public scripts for sale do have a "global" appeal, but they don't have income. Private custom developments cost less, in the long run, and earn more profit. That is of course if the people requesting them pay the quotes. Either way you end up the same....lucky to break even. However, I do feel the chance of earning more profit lies with custom development. :)
Great points Brandon. :thumbsup:@ Strange Will, I don't want to work at burger king or I'd already be doing so, heh I even had a pizza delivery driver job for a bit to make supplemental income. The results are still the same though, you can develop a "simple" component for IPB and sell it for $10. I'd doubt that the return you'll get from it will be near enough to cover the costs involved. If you are lucky you'll break even, but this has been my experience of it all. Public scripts for sale do have a "global" appeal, but they don't have income. Private custom developments cost less, in the long run, and earn more profit. That is of course if the people requesting them pay the quotes. Either way you end up the same....lucky to break even. However, I do feel the chance of earning more profit lies with custom development. :)
Great points Brandon. :thumbsup:
@ Strange Will, I don't want to work at burger king or I'd already be doing so, heh I even had a pizza delivery driver job for a bit to make supplemental income. The results are still the same though, you can develop a "simple" component for IPB and sell it for $10. I'd doubt that the return you'll get from it will be near enough to cover the costs involved. If you are lucky you'll break even, but this has been my experience of it all. Public scripts for sale do have a "global" appeal, but they don't have income. Private custom developments cost less, in the long run, and earn more profit. That is of course if the people requesting them pay the quotes. Either way you end up the same....lucky to break even. However, I do feel the chance of earning more profit lies with custom development. :)
RATS! There was I thinking that Brandon was going to come out with something REALLY cool.The people I hate most are the ones who just don
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