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Hi All,

We just launched our site AstronomyConnect.com not to long ago as open beta and I was wondering if I could get some feedback on what you guys all think. This is my first time at developing a community site so any feedback is welcome.

Primarily I develop tools for Magento so I was somewhat familiar with Zend Framework in general. I also enjoy developing on the Laravel Framework so much of the custom features and api are built upon that.

I've written a simple XenforoBridge, you guys can view it on GitHub if you like but this will probably be completely reworked again in the near future don't exactly like how I originally structured it. The XenforoBridge package allow us to push parameters and render a native Xenforo Template and return the response through the Laravel Application. Originally we were using 2 different templating engines until it was decided to make things simpler we should just standardize on using Xenforo's renderer.

Xenforo sits within a Laravel Application which stores our custom reviews and item database. The item database has a faceted filtering system much like Magento's layered navigation. We plan develop a number of new features built upon this database which is why we decided to decouple the application from Xenforo in the first place. This way application development and features are not dependent on Xenforo itself in the long run. But the bridge allows us to easily interact with Xenforo when we need to.

The theme has undergone a few iterations starting from Metro Theme by Pixel Goose to what it is now. We completely scrapped the original design and have started from scratch with the original Xenforo Default theme. The navigation was for the most part thrown out and replaced with a custom module for controlling location and ordering of all tabs in what I think is a more consistent way than was was possible with other addons. It also allows us to further develop onto the navigation while keep everything for the most part backwards compatible. Personally styling Xenforo was a bigger pain point than I would have liked and there is still much to be done but I think it is coming along nicely.

I'd love to hear anybody thoughts and or feedback the site. My partner and I have really put alot of time and thought into the site.
Thanks my time with Xenforo has been a love hate relationship :). At times I'm like oh yea that's pretty cool, then I come across other parts and I'm like WTF was this person thinking. Overall It's been a decent experience there hasn't been much I haven't been able to figure out. But I sure wish there was a little bit more organization when it comes to development resources.