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Developer wanted for lots of changes


ibaker

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Hi

I have been running an XF site for some 8 years and have a user base that is very much against change so when I tried to move over to IPS there was a big backlash with many users leaving. So I am thinking about giving it another chance but would need to get a lot of development done in many different areas of the site to ease the pain to the users. However there is a cost/benefit consideration in this as if the costs are too high then the benefits would not be of a greater amount.

My current XF site is www.recreationalflying.com (XF v1.5) and www.whatsupaustralia.com.au (XF v2)

The first thing that I would like top get a price on is to have a vertical menu system developed for IPS (v4.3.5) that looks and works the same as that on my XF site and is tied in to the IPS Menu System and keeping the IPS mobile off canvas menu system.

Anyone interested

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you would not believe what I have been going through in trying to decide whether to change over or not, I have an ulcer from it. The issue is that the Xenforo software platform provides just a Forum, Media and Resources. It is fantastic forum software but to build a full resource site Xenforo relies completely on 3rd party developers with most of them being just backyarders. So when Xenforo upgrades many of those 3rd party addon developers shoot through leaving site owners without anything the same to provide their users not to mention the many that just take your money and don't provide any support so you are stuck with faulty sections of a site. The minute that Xenforo v2 came out just about all the 3rd party addon developers stopped all support for their Xenforo v1 addons. This is why I had to upgrade to Xenforo v2 early this year. That was also a problem because there are so many issues with Xenforo v2 that I am pulling my hair out.
 

Not that I'm trying to dissuade you from switching away from Xenforo or anything like that, but the IPS community has some of the same problems with third party add-on developers who discontinue support for their products for various reasons.   It's just not possible to force a third party developer to support their code indefinitely.  It's simply the nature of the beast.

Finding a developer and integrating them into your staff is probably the way to go, though.   So you've got the right idea.   

It may be cheaper for you (or even free if you find the right person) to try and find someone with an active interest in your community that wants to help on a technical level.   With recreationalflying.com, for example, it may be easier to find a pilot with some PHP development experience than it would be to pay someone here to do a bunch of one-off projects on your behalf.   

Food for thought.

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I would strongly suggest that you reevaluate your entire approach to your community.  

One of your biggest pain points is that you have too many third party apps that break when the core software updates. That will unfortunately be a problem on IPS as well as Xenforo.  Yet here you are, already requesting lots of customization changes ...? 

I'm not trying to put you on the spot.  I'm just encouraging you to think deeply about not putting yourself into another untenable situation where you're relying on lots of third party customization.  There are only two good ways:

1. Stay with the core experience as much as possible.  (It's fine to add and play around with themes and plugins and apps, but nothing that should change your core experience).  That's one of the benefits of IPS, is that you're getting a suite experience out of the box.  You have pages, forums, downloads, gallery, clubs all officially developed and officially supported.  

2. You hire a developer on private retainer.  Your wallet better be as big as your aspirations to keep a good, private developer on retainer.  

I think most mature admins have all been in your shoes at one point, and learned the painful lesson of relying upon customizations where the Dev has either abandoned or simply given up with support.  We have plenty of examples within the IPS Marketplace.  There are things that you want and things you must have.  I think you'll find that, in most cases, you can get away with using the core suite for the necessities.  

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The difference between IPS and XF is that IPS has all the heavy work done and also provides the means through Pages/Databases to create all the big addons that would be needed...this is the power of IPS. With XF getting many of the big addons developed is a huge risk and one that I would like to stay away from. Another consideration is that many of the addons I need could easily be upgraded or even dropped in future IPS upgrades if they are found to longer work...there would be a couple that would need updating though but they would be manageable compared to anything in XF. For example the vertical menu system is purely css changes which would be easily managed in the future.

An addon that I would have to get developed for XF would be a single sign on/registration between XF and my shopping cart software, but I don't need that with IPS because it already has ecommerce and there are many more scenarios like this. Some of the IPS addons I need would mimic XF functionality so the impact to my users would be minimised in IPS but after a while they can slowly be removed as IPS core functionality is introduced, slowly, to my community.

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15 hours ago, Dan C said:

but the IPS community has some of the same problems with third party add-on developers who discontinue support for their products for various reasons.   It's just not possible to force a third party developer to support their code indefinitely.  It's simply the nature of the beast.

It is indeed the nature of such a market It's difficult to maintain support for versions that are major code base changes, or versions that a have code differences to maintain functionality due to a breaking IPS change, Login handlers for example. While they may technically work from 4.2 to 4.3, the code base for a 4.3 update to leverage full functionality simply won't work on 4.2. So 3rd parties are asked to maintain 2, or more, forks of our code. 

There seems to be an expectation that third parties are the plague for many communities but clients are ultimately asking that 3rd parties must maintain support for all IPS versions that IPS themselves no longer support, if you're not running the latest version of a branch. 

I agree with others, look at what you really need and avoid heavy reliance on 3rd parties. You'll save yourself $ and provide a consistent experience for your users moving forward, after the conversion.

There are of course exceptions to every rule, not releasing updates, etc. But it's worth asking what's the most common issue with 3rd parties, then compare what is being asked of each 3rd party with IPS. Is there a legitimate difference, or are you simply asking more of 3rd parties? 

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Thanks everyone for your helpful suggestions.

I looked at the styles that already have a side column menu (2 of them) and may look at contacting those developers with some changes I need like providing users with a selectable option of having the menu on the left or right. As a lot of the changes I need can be incorporated into a theme I may explore a custom theme however getting any developed theme would run into the same problems that you guys have highlighted.

Some things to consider

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@ibaker

One other thing to consider is core update frequencies. In my experience, XF is glacial in that respect, with very long beta times. Whereas Invision, from what I've seen as an onlooker, updates much more frequently. Pros and cons to both approaches - stability v new features etc.

Wrt to plugins, and this applies to WP as well, best to keep things as simple as possible imo and modify in theme where you can, rather than hoping a plugin developer stays with you for the life of your install.

Either way, best wishes and please keep us updated with your decisions and progress.

 

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