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Author Topic: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?  (Read 224018 times)

Orstio

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What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« on: May 07, 2008, 07:36:24 AM »
As the CMS bridge developer, it's no secret that I spend a great deal of my SMF time outside the SMF project.  I see a lot of other communities and projects, and what is making them successful.  Of course, I can't help but draw a comparison back here to SMF.  I'd like to see some of the types of successes from other projects here as well.

One major part in the success of many other projects is the facility of third party developments (3PDs).  I see entire thriving businesses based solely on the creation of themes/templates of a single CMS, for example.  This is something that we just don't have here at SMF -- we never have had it.  We have some great themes in our themes site, and we have some very talented people who read this board for new paid work each day, but I just don't see the same kind of commercial development community I see elsewhere.  Of course, with commercial development in a community, there is always a healthy segment of OS development as well.

Keep in mind that for now, this post is solely for the purpose of gathering some information.  It doesn't necessarily mean that anything that is suggested is going to happen immediately, or ever.  It is simply a matter of putting out some "feelers" to see where our current 3PD community is at, and what we can do to help it grow.

So, the simple question is:  What can Simple Machines do to help make your SMF-based 3PD projects grow?

Offline Night09

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 08:16:16 PM »
I cant believe no one else has had anything to say regarding 3PD's but after the way a thread worked out I figured I might post this to see what people say.Heres the general thing that got me,what came before it was just some ideas on the issue and yes before you say the post was also in the wrong thread.


Kindred:
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We support the baseline SMF here. Sometimes we can help with general questions on mods...  but specific support for mods needs to come from the mod author.

physicshelp4u:
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yes fine but no one helps there lol...

Kindred:
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and we do not support that mod in here....

So basically said there was only the mods creator or specific forum like wwwsmfarcade.com or whatever can answer a problem with a mod. Straight away this says if its 3PD's sod off.

If he had replied 'sorry but this thread is in the wrong place and also you should check the specific forum as well' this would go a long way towards selling SMF for 3PD developement. To me it was a bit of a nasty arrogant reply and makes it look like SMF has no interest in 3PD other than basic mods.

I wonder how many SMF faults are fixed on other forums like Arcade ect and dont basically tell people trying to make an integration to bog off.

I have used this as an example and the thread is now irrelivant but the very thing your looking for your also nipping in the bud.If the mod or 3PD developer doesnt mind people fixing their software which im sure they dont you need to open up to more general SMF issues other than SMF only.

If somone fails installing a 3PD on SMF and succeeds on another platform like phpbb then its another person gone.If people cant find the help they need for specific software then they will use other software thats easier to get help for.SMF as a whole has good support but look further out at anything other than standard and your almost snookered before you begin.

No matter who writes it you need to help support it,If a mod author got 40 different issues a week how is he expected to answer and fix it all alone? Half could be theme problems , mods , settings and may not be their issue either but they get the headach of sorting them out.

See the point ?  ;)

Offline metallica48423

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 08:38:04 PM »
I tend to agree, but I disagree on another point as well.

On one hand, it is difficult to support a codebase one isn't familiar with.  The benefits of doing so, in my view don't necessarily outweigh the risks of that particular scenario.  Doing this can detract from the overall quality of support and lead to increased frustration.   Conversely, greater support for modifications MAY tend to increase both the pool of potential mod authors and people that work with and support them.

Theres also the fact that, we simply don't have the manpower to do this at the moment.  Who's problem is this? Well, it is my problem mostly.  There are a good number helping with support, but very few might be considered for a team position.  This is a complex issue as well.  One might say "well, why not lower your standards" and others might think that theres more to it than pure skill and knowledge.  Truth is, both might be right, but there are other things to consider aside from standards as well.  It goes right back to quality vs. quantity.  As this project grows, however, it is becoming more and more evident to me that we need a balance of both, that we need to take potential and work with it to mold it into something more.  It is a delicate balance.

In the end, theres really no way to know what would come of it without doing it.  I do not disagree with your opinions, simply giving some of my own.  It is not due to closed-mindedness that support for third party things isn't a priority here, but a conglomeration of other things, such as establishing a solid base for such things of which 2.0 is much of the result.  None of us doubt that expandibility is one of SMF's finest points. 

So what do I think?  I think with increased manpower behind support it may be possible, and it'd be something that others in this market just don't do.  But in the situation right now, I don't think its entirely feasible RIGHT NOW, but rather, should be something that is changed gradually... a goal, rather.

Thats enough from the peanut gallery for now :)
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Orstio

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 08:51:19 PM »
Thank you, Nightbre. :)

Offline karlbenson

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2008, 08:57:13 PM »
The problem with smf team members providing support for 'mods' is that they are unlikely to have used most of the mods.
Statistically speaking ;)

But as a mod author I notice a large number of mod support questions asked often turn out to be 'general' smf issues
- Installing mods manually
- Installing mods on custom theme
- Languages with other mods
- Problems applying it (chmod permissions/server restrictions on webfetch).
those are questions that the team should be able to help with (In the mod support topic).

But for others issues, really the only people who may be in a position to assist is a) mod author, b) users who have installed the mod. (and unless the smf team members have used it, they are unlikely to be able to assist with these).
[I do appreciate the support already given by smf'ers for my mods, and I'm sure other mod authors feel the same]
« Last Edit: May 13, 2008, 09:36:17 PM by karlbenson »

Offline Night09

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2008, 09:18:52 PM »
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Theres also the fact that, we simply don't have the manpower to do this at the moment.  Who's problem is this? Well, it is my problem mostly.  There are a good number helping with support, but very few might be considered for a team position.

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[I do appreciate the support already given by smf'ers for my mods, and I'm sure other mod authors feel the same]

This is one of the problems.You shouldnt assume that the SMF team or a mod author are the only people who will try to answer thats the point. The thread I used for example wasnt answered by the team until it was effectively servered in terms of the replies.Even if SMF were not prepared to look at the issue ,it and others similar could be answered more tactfull.

If a mod author doesnt mind others answering it can alleviate a lot of burden if they have a few mods released like Karl for instance.Im not saying everything could be fixed but some of the basic stuff that Karl listed would be found by others or resolved if its just how to install ect.

Open a New board entitled Unofficial 3DP support so If people are willing to try to fix problems they can.If I make a mess of SMF its reinstalled and ok again but its my choice to try.You cannot police people on how or what they reply to or what they try on their install, you just make it clear if it gets messed up its not SMF's doing.

I have some ideas for pretty big addons for SMF and im sure others have ideas as well.But if something like Arcade is developed for SMF at least show the courtesy of allowing SMF users to try and resolve issues.Hundreds of threads get answered and resolved by non SMF staff a week already so whats the difference.

Its not a case of adding burden to the staff more of one that SMF should open up a bit to things other than itself.I dont expect any team member to need to do anything particulary bar answer any posts if they feel like as normal but it will give outside SMF sources a focal point here and also people who want SMF as the core to add other things to it not particularly thought of here.It would work like any post,if you dont know the answer you maybe suggest where you can find it on another site ect.Staff shouldnt at all feel pressured into answering sice it would be a kind of voluntary board for support.

I know what you guys are saying over SMF 2.0 and issues directly with SMF but just be that little bit welcoming to outside things even if kept at a distance with posts to explain its purpose.I love SMF and am still learning a lot but people like me are the makers of tommorow and anything I make will be for SMF. It is amazing some of the sites you see then see SMF at the bottom and think wow because some of the features are uber.

Dont sell yourselves short guys SMF can go far.  ;)


Offline karlbenson

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2008, 09:39:04 PM »
My only point which maybe I wasn't 100% clear.
My opinion is that EVEN if smf team members provide support for mods. It should STILL be done ONLY on smf.org via the Support Topic for that mod. Not creating other new topics.
It keeps all related posts together and related.

Orstio

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2008, 10:15:52 PM »
This is all good feedback, thanks guys.

I think I'm looking for something bigger than just boards and topics here on this forum/site, though.

Let me show an example from another project (Xoops):

http://www.xoops.org

I can, in just a few clicks, find a number of 3PD communities that develop Xoops-related products.  These have nothing to do with the Xoops team at all -- they operate independently offering Xoops modules/themes/extensions:

http://www.marcellobrandao.eti.br/
http://www.bezos.cc/xoops/
http://www.e-xoopsfr.com/
http://www.chronolabs.org.au/articles/Xoops_Modules___Hacks/X_Soap_3_0_1/
http://xoopsforge.com/

And many more.

Keep in mind that these sites are all independently owned and operated by 3PDs. 

How do we get SMF to that point?

Offline metallica48423

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2008, 10:28:55 PM »
@nightbre:  I see what you're saying and agree, but we don't and never have said that the community can't help each other out with such things, either mods nor support.

Perhaps i'm not fully seeing the point you are putting across?

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Offline Night09

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2008, 05:37:00 AM »
The point is likes of arcade and Tiny portal are 3PD's  that have their own site on the internet but it should not make a difference if a problem is resolved here on SMF.Most of the replies say goto xxx site instead for support its not supported here.

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I can, in just a few clicks, find a number of 3PD communities that develop Xoops-related products.  These have nothing to do with the Xoops team at all -- they operate independently offering Xoops modules/themes/extensions:

Like I use eqdkp but their support forum is so poor it makes you cry.All the problems ive resolved with it have had the answers found on other sites bar its home one.So if i was to ask a question here and be told goto the official forums it would be easier to bang my head on a wall and hope the problem goes away.

Quote
So, the simple question is:  What can Simple Machines do to help make your SMF-based 3PD projects grow?

These 3PD's were not neccacarily developed here but people using SMF will still look here for help when the creators site isnt answering problems because they are still SMF based.Im Saying show that SMF supports these creations, I know not officially but it would give a good impression and maybe tempt more shall we say proficient programmers to extend SMF via 3PD's.

If I as a single individual write for instance SMF auction portal.I set up a support site to my module.But I then get hundreds of support questions and struggle to answer them.I may be tempted not to make updated versions if I cant cope or just abandon it as some mods seem to do.This then leaves anyone using the module stuck to find any way of fixing it unless they can work it out themselves or find alternative info on the net.

Thats where SMF could bridge the gap in terms of showing willingness to help but not neccasarily as the official help.Maybe agree with the designers to answer problems here if they dont object.From what I have read most mod makers welcome help from others and I dont expect Large project makers would mind some unofficial help for some of the easier solutions.Although these projects are large standalones they were still written with the intention of SMF being the crux of it all.Some of these may end up going commercial once they have beta tested and get the confidence up to do so.




Offline Kindred

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2008, 11:02:34 AM »
nightbre...  Your complaint seems odd to me...

the problem is: Support questions for 3rd party things, (mods, themes or other expansions) do not belong in the SMF 1.1.x or SMF 2.x suppoort area.
There IS a board (on simplemahcines.org) dedicated to supporting those 3rd party things. The mods board has a thread for each and every mod.
The themes board has a thread for eahc and every theme.

Questions about those mods or themes should be posted in those threads.

I provide support for a number of mods. Ones that I am familiar with...  and ones in which I have marked the mod support thread as something to regularly check. You are also much more likely to have someone who has either encountered the same problem with the same mod, or is familiar with the mod when you post in the mod specific support thread.

So, it's not that I don't provide support for the 3rd party stuff...   it's that the question should be asked in the appropriate area, not in general support, which is primarily for SMF base-code related questions/issues.

It is, as always, the author's repsonsibility to support anything that he writes. If SMF support staff or SMF members are familiar with the mod or can help debug it... then great (and many of us do so) but my point remains, support for 3rd party stuff does not belong in the general support area, since third party mods changes the baseline code, sometimes away from the simple answers (like the guy who has 103 mods installed...).
The other point is that people apparently don't like to read previous threads or use search... because 75% of the questions that are asked regarding mods have alreayd been answered in the support thread.
Please do not PM, IM or Email me with support questions.  You will get better and faster responses in the support boards.  Thank you.

Offline metallica48423

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2008, 12:38:19 PM »
Kindred: i don't think its so much a complaint as it is feedback, to be fair.

both of you present some very good points.  I do feel we need to be more open to third party development.

To be fair as well, some such mod authors ask that support inquiries go to their individual sites.  We aren't just offloading it because we don't want to do it.
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Offline Night09

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2008, 01:30:38 PM »
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nightbre...  Your complaint seems odd to me...

You are the odd one sorry m8..., If you read the thread properly you would understand what its about and its just feedback to see how SMF can help 3PD's.

I cant be bothered to make much of a reply ive said all I think SMF needs to know,mods were used as an example.

Offline Eliana Tamerin

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2008, 02:53:26 PM »
I think Kindred has a definite point. You do as well.

Some of the 3PD are so big (like TinyPortal, Arcade, Shop, etc) that their developers have seen fit to create an entire support board for them. Registration is generally open on those forums, so those that feel comfortable with offering support for those mods can become a member on those forums as well.

I think your point about overwhelmed mod authors is valid. So, too, is Kindred's point about every mod having a dedicated support thread here on Simplemachines.org. There are many mods where the authors are infrequently active, and so support is mainly handled by experienced users of the mod, rather than the author.

Also, I think it's important that we continue to stay positive about comments in here. Everybody has a valid point and should be considered without simple dismissal.
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Offline Kindred

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2008, 03:49:31 PM »
right...   I wasn't trying to say nightbre was "wrong"... I just don't understand the insistance that support for 3rd party mods should be handled in the general support area.

3rd party stuff needs support, no question about it. The primary support should be the 3rd part author. Secondary support should be users and/or staff who have experience with coding or with that specific mod. However, I believe that 3rd Party support does not belong in the general support...  nor should it be the primary task of support staff to support the thousands of mods that are available.

We don't even do that (officially) for Charter members.
Please do not PM, IM or Email me with support questions.  You will get better and faster responses in the support boards.  Thank you.

Offline Night09

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2008, 05:28:57 PM »
Quote
the problem is: Support questions for 3rd party things, (mods, themes or other expansions) do not belong in the SMF 1.1.x or SMF 2.x suppoort area.

I fully agree they shouldnt be posted in the support area and each mod does have its own thread for help in the mod section which is true.

Quote
and yes before you say the post was also in the wrong thread.
  ;)

I just used the mods as an example but what is meant if I can make it sound simple and right is this.

If a large modification like Tiny portal even though it has its own home site ,SMF should have some provision to allow for problem solving and feedback on it.Were not talking the mods threads here with 1 topic and 900 pages of fixes but a sub board if the modification maker wishes or allows.You could add a section to Customising SMF calles 3PD Modules then allow a child board inside for a qualifying Module.

All normal mods made by users will stay in their normal places.A topic for a module would only be opened at the request or with permission of the maker.This means that only those who agree to allow it will be allowed to use SMF 3PD forums to help with issues.

If somone looks up Tiny portal or Arcade for that they inevitably need to come here to SMF for the forum software to run these things.But the thing is they get to the site and are exposed to SMF even though they originally didnt even consider it!. They will be helped when they have install issues and config problems then get to a Tiny portal problem and we have the issue where they are told go look on Tiny portals site for support.

The issue here is like I say go try get support for EQdkp and you have more chance of proving E=mc2 is wrong.Not all people good at code are good at supporting large user bases and if your very small in terms of staff it  can be impossible almost.Just one member of SMF team answer all the posts on here in a day and see.  :P

SMF needs to extend the hand that says it does endorse the developement of Major modules and provide a small space where they can be discussed properly. All this stuff is written for this software made here on SMF and you need to look further out than just fixing the forum itself and mods to make developers feel that SMF is worth investing a lot of time into 3Pd developement.

It wouldnt and shouldnt fall down to SMF staff to actively fix issues but it would provide a kind of hub for developers alike as well to maybe see each others issues first hand and learn from it as well.If something is abandoned or has poor support in general it may help because SMF users are trying to integrate into the same kind of software rather than different answers mixed because users have different forum requirements.

The current mods show how people are willing to help if they can and are allowed to.I see it as finding a balance where 3PD's can be discussed here and maybe some issues resolved but not to the point where SMF staff feel they have some active role to play.

I know SMF is a biggie in itself to maintain. :)

Offline Kindred

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2008, 05:55:12 PM »
alright then.  :)

We're apparently on the same page.

Mind you...   it's pretty much the mod authors that say "Please address support issues to my own site..."
Please do not PM, IM or Email me with support questions.  You will get better and faster responses in the support boards.  Thank you.

Offline Eliana Tamerin

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2008, 06:07:55 PM »
So what criteria should be used for granting a mod a subforum? How does one determine what is "large enough" or whatever criteria is used?

Most of all, why should the SMF team be responsible for supporting a modification? Isn't it complicated enough to support the numerous features and settings, along with everything that can go wrong with them during normal usage, not to mention installation, upgrading, moving, and converting the default software? Now you want to add knowledge of these mods and dedicated support for them?

I wouldn't mind a place where current 3PD projects can link their sites on. Many of them have that in the form of records on the mod site. Others, like TinyPortal, don't have any current files in the mod site because the project isn't yet mature. But I think that's asking a bit much for mod authors to transfer their sites to the SMF official site and congregate there. For me, it seems like that's forcing the community into one place, instead of allowing them to expand outside of the official site.

How many resource sites are there for vBulletin? For Joomla? Those sites follow a similar philosophy, mods are listed in a repository, and then linked out to each mod author's site. Sometimes those sites are just threads on the official forum. Other times, they are actual websites those authors have made to give dedicated support for the mod. I don't see SMF needing anything more than this, not much more than it already does, at least.
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Offline Night09

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2008, 06:12:47 PM »
Quote
Most of all, why should the SMF team be responsible for supporting a modification? Isn't it complicated enough to support the numerous features and settings, along with everything that can go wrong with them during normal usage, not to mention installation, upgrading, moving, and converting the default software? Now you want to add knowledge of these mods and dedicated support for them?

Quote
The current mods show how people are willing to help if they can and are allowed to.I see it as finding a balance where 3PD's can be discussed here and maybe some issues resolved but not to the point where SMF staff feel they have some active role to play.

Allow discussion not move the whole site...



Offline Eliana Tamerin

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Re: What can we do to help grow our 3PDs?
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2008, 06:35:35 PM »
So just duplicating what's already there? We have mod support topics, and many of the 3PD authors have their own sites. Discussion could not freely exist on either of those two mediums?

I'm afraid I just don't see the point.
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