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How about a "known conflicts" forum for 3rd-party apps?


LiquidFractal

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I seem to have one of those sites where getting everything exactly the way I want it has led me into a couple of disappointing conflicts, I was wondering: why not create a forum for people to log their (confirmed) experiences of conflict with 3rd-party Invision applications?

Obviously, this would not be intended to vilify or single out specific apps or authors for criticism, and of course it wouldn't be intended to shame coders into resolving every single existing conflict.  But I think it would allow people to go into the Marketplace with somewhat more information before they buy.

For example, I know that @opentype's SuperQuotes crashes if you have @Kevin Carwile's Album Link field enabled.  Two great apps from two great coders.  But had I known this it might have influenced my purchase of one or the other (or both).  Thankfully, I figured out that I can still use SuperQuotes - I just have to disable Album Link Field when I'm entering new quotes into the database.   Similarly, Ive realised that Collabs and @TAMAN's Advanced Footer don't play nice either.  No disrespect to anyone - this is bound to happen sometimes when you buy third-party apps.

But this kind of information could be useful to people before they splash down hard-earned cash for apps and plugins.  Then it's up to the coders - some are proactive in resolving some of these issues, others couldn't care less (names withheld because I'm a nice guy).  But then the information is out there.

Maybe a Bug Tracker-esque interface would be useful for this kind of thing?  Just a thought.

Drawback: I know that such a forum could get inundated with reports from people who simply don't bother disabling/reenabling appls or plugins to isolate the conflict, but I'm hoping that just as people ask for verification when posting bad reviews about webhosts on webhostingtalk.com, maybe there can be some community regulation of some sort so that doesn't happen?

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25 minutes ago, Joel R said:

You can always post a review in each of the respective Marketplace file.  

True, but if A conflicts with B, and you post this in the Marketplace topic for A, then the conflict would more likely only be seen by people considering purchasing, or who have already purchased A.  It may not be seen by people who own B and are considering A but don't read every Marketplace topic considering A before buying (although it's more than likely a good idea).  It seems to me that a thread with A and B in the title for example would be a more direct way of illustrating a conflict.  It also saves having the post the same thing twice.

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  • Best option: Have these issues resolved.
  • Second best option: Let the contributors state it on the product pages. (That’s the only place where people have a chance to see this stuff before making a purchase. I don’t think a separate section will be used.)
  • Third best option: If the contributors ignore the first two options, state the problems in a review.
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19 hours ago, opentype said:
  • Best option: Have these issues resolved.
  • Second best option: Let the contributors state it on the product pages. (That’s the only place where people have a chance to see this stuff before making a purchase. I don’t think a separate section will be used.)
  • Third best option: If the contributors ignore the first two options, state the problems in a review.

I agree with the first point.   But come on - easier said than done.  I've pointed out several conflicts and very, very rarely do I even get a response (some prominent coders in this community are notorious for either not responding or simply saying it isn't their problem without lifting a finger to at least suggest possible resolutions).

As to the second, realistically I find it hard(er) to believe that contributors are going to pay attention to all known conflicts and take the care to list them on their product pages - again, virtually none of the contributors have even bothered responding to the conflicts I have for my part pointed out, much less posting it on any public page!

Call me cynical, but leaving contributors to take care of posting known conflicts is overly optimistic and, if we're capitalists about it, I'd bet there are some out there who wouldn't be interested in that simply because they may feel it would cost them sales.

As to the third, there are many people who don't bother reading reviews.  To be fair, caveat emptor of course - it's their problem if they don't.  But if there were a heading in the Marketplace which made people aware of the "Known Conflicts" (resolved or not) it would at least empower consumers a little more and remind them that conflicts can be a palpable issue when purchasing third-party apps.  Who knows?  Maybe it will put a bit of PR pressure on contributors to work toward resolving issues, which I agree is the best option.

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I think Reviews are still the #1 option.  

Most contributors are simply unable to test compatibility with other apps because they don't have unlimited access.  A lot of them also have varying levels of coding skills, so while some adhere to IPS coding standards and are quite familiar with the code, the others code anyway they can as long as 'it works.'  Some of them also just don't care about ensuring compatibility with other devs (which is the IPS approach: if it doesn't work with the core software, it's not our problem!  And that messaging is probably the heart of all this lack of community synergy.) 

Reviews is the best way to warn other clients. 

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24 minutes ago, Joel R said:

I think Reviews are still the #1 option.  

Most contributors are simply unable to test compatibility with other apps because they don't have unlimited access.  A lot of them also have varying levels of coding skills, so while some adhere to IPS coding standards and are quite familiar with the code, the others code anyway they can as long as 'it works.'  Some of them also just don't care about ensuring compatibility with other devs (which is the IPS approach: if it doesn't work with the core software, it's not our problem!  And that messaging is probably the heart of all this lack of community synergy.) 

Reviews is the best way to warn other clients. 

To be fair, IPS is starting code review for submissions to make sure they are following IPS standards, at least when overloading methods, etc.  Granted that only applies to new submissions, not updates, but it's something.

And I'm sure if you had a problem with something along those lines, and you reported the file as broken, etc... It might kick of a review of the file.

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2 hours ago, Joel R said:

Reviews is the best way to warn other clients. 

Yeah, I think it's certainly one possible avenue, but how would you rate something like that?  Do you give an app fewer stars because it conflicts with X, which could be for any number of reasons?  My issue would that would also be that the Review interface doesn't allow members to discuss compatibility and conflicts and share their experiences (which may include ways around conflicts, my turning off Album Link to use SuperQuotes being one of them).

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4 hours ago, liquidfractal said:

Yeah, I think it's certainly one possible avenue, but how would you rate something like that?  Do you give an app fewer stars because it conflicts with X, which could be for any number of reasons?  My issue would that would also be that the Review interface doesn't allow members to discuss compatibility and conflicts and share their experiences (which may include ways around conflicts, my turning off Album Link to use SuperQuotes being one of them).

I don't think it's about the star ratings so much as it is about the description of qualititative factors like:

Extent of incompatibility

Willingness of developer to fix

Consequences of incompatibility

Etc etc.

These can all be discussed in file reviews.  

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56 minutes ago, Joel R said:

These can all be discussed in file reviews.

I disagree. That’s not the purpose of a review (I can’t post replies; only one, without notification, etc.) and it’s a pretty subjective matter: I can review one resource with 1 star because the other it’s more important to me. On the other hand, it cannot be for dozen of other users but still the incompatibility lays in the first one.

Support topic is the right way. No topic? PM to both. No solution? Contact marketplace moderator and report the file as broken. 

When both devs developed the resources they didn’t had the chance AND COULDN’T test their resources against everything in marketplace. Review is meant to be an evaluation of the resource alone.

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1 hour ago, Adriano Faria said:

Support topic is the right way. No topic? PM to both. No solution? Contact marketplace moderator and report the file as broken. 

I agree with what Adriano has said about the Review interface not being the right place for these sorts of discussions.  But I'll reiterate my reservations:

  • "Support topic": this means posting the same thing twice across two support topics (hence potentially two conversations) if you want to address both sides of the conflict
  • "PM to both": again, this doesn't promote any dialogue and exchange, which may well go a lot further to resolving the issue (not to mention allowing people to share fixes)
  • "reporting the file as broken": a conflict doesn't necessarly mean it's broken!  As Adriano says, it's impossible to check an app against all possible scenarios!
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8 hours ago, Joel R said:

Reviews is the best way to warn other clients. 

Sadly there is an edit time limit for marketplace reviews. Often if you use an application you will find bugs, malfunctions or conflicts with other apps way after your given review. So you don't have the option to change your review because the editing time is over. 

In my experience, the overall quality of the applications and plugins is not really cool.  I had smaller or bigger issues with 25-35% of all installed plugins / applications. Some don't follow IPS coding practices, for example user group permissions or they are buggy and I find me in the role of a beta tester. Sometimes you find the craziest malfunctions in your forum and have to test out what app is causing this. It is really no joy to handle with all of this issues and reduces my overall enjoyment with my IPS forum (sometimes) a lot.

My guess is that IPS code is very complex and it does not forgive the smallest error made by a 3rd party developer. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Ramsesx said:

Sadly there is an edit time limit for marketplace reviews. Often if you use an application you will find bugs, malfunctions or conflicts with other apps way after your given review. So you don't have the option to change your review because the editing time is over. 

BUG is meant to be resolved via SUPPORT, which is done via topic or whatever the developer defines in SUPPORT IINFO.

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1 minute ago, Adriano Faria said:

BUG is meant to be resolved via SUPPORT, which is done via topic or whatever the developer defines in SUPPORT IINFO.

Sure, that's not what I meant, I don't want to report bugs in a review. But if a products overall quality is not so cool and / or the dev not willing to fix it, there should be the option to change the review on a later time.

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3 minutes ago, Ramsesx said:

Sure, that's not what I meant, I don't want to report bugs in a review. But if a products overall quality is not so cool and / or the dev not willing to fix it, there should be the option to change the review on a later time.

I disagree on the change part. No notifications are fired on edit. 

Replace would be better. So notifications are triggered that there is new review content. 

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1 hour ago, Interferon said:

This should be discussed in the technical support or reviews, not in a new forum that cross-references plugins.

How do you conceive "discussion" working in "technical support" (not sure what that means) or reviews, which actually do not promote any discussion-based experience?

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The Marketplace apps are priced to compensate a developer for their time to develop and maintain their app. Each and every app stands on its own.  There is no guarantee that any two marketplace apps will be able coexist.   As you start adding more and more apps to the mix the more likely there will be a conflict between them.  

If IPB customers were periodically polled about the 20 most popular apps in the marketplace and which of the other 19 apps they would like made compatible with that app it would be a good starting point to determine pent up demand for compatibility with other apps.

If a survey revealed a notable amount of customers wanted App 1 to be compatible with Apps 4, 5 and 11 then the programmers could look at their code and make a determination if they might be able to make their app compatible with each other.

The Marketplace programmers then could enter into a discussion with interested parties as to what would be a fair compensation for releasing versions of their app that could be made compatible with certain other apps.  

Maintaining compatibility with another app does have its drawbacks though.  It might prevent a developer from adding certain popular customer requests as adding them might create incompatibilities with one or more other apps.  Every developer also has to deal with all of the adds, changes and deletions that IPB introduces into the mix with each new release.

It's worth exploring increased compatibility and synergy among other apps but creating and maintaining an app incompatibility list has merit.  Each Marketplace app could provide a link to the incompatibility list and ask everyone to review it prior to purchase or requesting support.  This will allow everyone to make more informed purchasing decisions going forward and lighten the load for the programmers (and IPB support staff) who spend a fair amount of time trying to troubleshoot compatibility issues with other apps.  

This is a great discussion, I hope that it will inspire one or more people to step up and help implement what the group decides is best course of action.

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@Christopher Anderson I agree - polls are a very good idea in order to facilitate collaboration among at least the most popular apps.  These could supplement a forums discussion about all third-party apps.  I know that getting a group of developers together to talk about this sort of thing may be akin to herding cats (simply because everyone is, well, busy coding and has their own things going on), but yeah, the more they talk to each other the better.

And seeing as some apps have a rather hefty subscription fee, this may spur on some (in some cases perhaps much-needed) development.

You know, it almost sounds as if a loosely-knit third-party developer consortium might be worth talking about on some level.  I almost said "federation" but then I had an image of a bunch of developers wearing skin-tight Star Trek shirts with the Invision logo on the breast.  As to who the redshirts would be in that group, I leave to others. :laugh:

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The developer consortium already exists.  It's called the "Contributor Forum," which is a private forum for Marketplace contributors.  There are other private, non-IPS channels for trusted developers too.

IPS already knows what the most popular 3rd party apps and plugins are.  Every client shares anonymous usage statistics with IPS.   Why they don't publish those results is beyond me.  

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