Making the case for a XF native app

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
Yeah I know of it, it's a great idea. Just feels like these things take far too long to come to fruition. If you think about it, and you sort of start counting it from when smartphone popularity kicked off, we've had push notifications now for over 10 years. We shouldn't be sitting here in 2018 wondering when people like Apple (who pretty much popularised the concept in the first place) are going to start following the standards that everyone else does. I love Apple products, but honestly I'm starting to feel like they're comparable to Microsoft back in the day in terms of knocking out proprietary software that either follows their own standards or takes forever to follow the same standards everyone is.

Heck, even Microsoft Edge on Android has push notifications and if not already, Edge on Windows won't be far behind. Doesn't make sense to me :D

/rant over.
 

AndrewSimm

Well-known member
An app would obviously be great, but many challenges would prevent a lot of websites from using it. I've created add-ons on my site to display articles, sports schedules, recruit rankings, and etc. All of these features would be unavailable on a typical app.
 

RobinHood

Well-known member
Apple have started blocking electron apps in the app store making it even more difficult for devs to create decent cross platform solutions.


While browsers like Chrome and Opera are available in the App Store, they must use Apple’s Safari browser behind the scenes to render web pages, rather than their own. That means Apple has a monopoly on how iPhone and iPad users access the web.
Apple’s subtle, anti-competitive practices don’t look terrible in isolation, but together they form a clear strategy: Make it so painful to build with web-based technology on Apple platforms that developers won’t bother.
 

snoopy5

Well-known member
Apple have started blocking electron apps in the app store making it even more difficult for devs to create decent cross platform solutions.
But we can not sit there and do nothing, just because Apple does stupid things. Life goes on. There are enough non-Apple users out there, so focus on them. Not everybody wants to have an iPhone and the more apps are available for android and not for apple, the more likely Apple users will switch.

Xenforo is at a decision pathway and has to think about what will keep them in busines in 5 years from now. The competition is not sleeping. A native app will be for many Forum-admins a "game changer".

Invisioncommunity (IPS) is close to release its native app, maybe still in 2019:


I do not believe that Xenforo can afford to miss that train. There have been two experiments with Xenforo addons from third parties. Both stopped now (one stopped and the other one has no development for over a year and users complain all the time)

If IPS is releasing its own native app and if there will be no sign of the Xenforo team for its own native app for Xenforo with a schedule when it will be available, many Xenforo admins will switch. Especailly now as the prices are very close (200$ vs. 160$) and the renewal costs of IPS are less than the ones from XF [50$ (=2x25$) vs. 55$]. This adds up if you are running several communities.

No admin can afford that a forum in the same niche will have more traffic just because they are able to offer an APP for the smartphone.

All the problems with mass-emails etc. are gone with a native APP. This is the reason why FB, IG, Snapchat....you name it, were able to grow in that fast pace.

Ignoring this is like suicide for Xenforo.

Although this is a suggestion forum only, I do think that the Xenforo team has to address these concerns since it is directly influencing how many customers will upgrade to XF2.x from XF1.5 over the nexte 2-6 months.

At least I will look very close into this once I am able to upgrade from 1.5x to XF2.x (depends on other plugins).

Why should I invest money in a expensive XF-upgrade with no future for an app, if I can at the same time use that money to switch to IPS with a native app on the very near horizont?

Of course I spend then more money at the beginning. But just because of the cheaper renewal cost, I get this additional expense back soon.
 
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snoopy5

Well-known member
I just found this addon from truonglv as an App for Xenforo. It seems to be good, but it is expensive if you add all costs together.

So there is definitely a need for an XF-app as an official Xenforo plugin.
 

Kirby

Well-known member
If IPS is releasing its own native app and if there will be no sign of the Xenforo team for its own native app for Xenforo with a schedule when it will be available, many Xenforo admins will switch.
I pretty much doubt so, especially as price is not a primary factor for choosing one platform (at least for me).

Monetizing a forum app is hard if not almost impossible.

So while I think an App would indeed be nice for regular users, it IMHO isn't a must-have.
 

clubpromos

Active member
My users keep asking for a mobile app and my moderators are desperate to get one as well.
I really wish there was a good solution, either XF team or anything else - and I'm not even trying to find the cheapest solution here.
I switched from VB, they had an app back in 2011 I believe already.
 

Ludachris

Well-known member
No admin can afford that a forum in the same niche will have more traffic just because they are able to offer an APP for the smartphone.

All the problems with mass-emails etc. are gone with a native APP. This is the reason why FB, IG, Snapchat....you name it, were able to grow in that fast pace.

Ignoring this is like suicide for Xenforo.
No, it probably isn't suicide for XF, they'll continue to sell licenses to some admins. But it could be suicide for admins whose community keeps asking for an app and you can't give your customers what they're asking for. It's so frustrating as an admin when you can't take advantage of the phone's built in capabilities when 2/3 of your visitors view the forum on phones. Again, I don't think a native app needs to replicate ALL forum features - it could just be supplemental, displaying alerts, showing a links to popular destinations on the forum, and those links can then open a browser so that the user views and interacts with the content in a browser. But making use of an app for the alerts system makes a LOT of sense from an admin's perspective.
 

Brogan

XenForo moderator
Staff member
I don't think a native app needs to replicate ALL forum features - it could just be supplemental, displaying alerts, showing a links to popular destinations on the forum, and those links can then open a browser so that the user views and interacts with the content in a browser.
That sounds like dreadful UX.

An app should replicate the entire forum feature set (which is impossible due to third party code) or not at all.
 

Ludachris

Well-known member
That sounds like dreadful UX.

An app should replicate the entire forum feature set (which is impossible due to third party code) or not at all.
I don't know, I've discussed this with several big board owners and they tend to like the idea. It's certainly not ideal, but as you said, it's impossible to create a native app that works with third party add-ons, and almost none of the successful forums out there are running no add-ons. I imagine if a native app was created that add-on developers would be pressured to ensure their add-ons were compatible with the app.
 

Brogan

XenForo moderator
Staff member
I imagine if a native app was created that add-on developers would be pressured to ensure their add-ons were compatible with the app.
That's not possible.

Only the app developer can add code for third party add-ons.
Obviously not something XF would ever do.
 

Ludachris

Well-known member
That's not possible.

Only the app developer can add code for third party add-ons.
Obviously not something XF would ever do.
Ahhh, yeah, I remember hearing that before now that you say it. That's probably why I went down the path of a supplemental/shell app idea that would utilize a browser for interacting with the content. Not ideal as you pointed out, but at this point, it at least addresses some of the needs.
 
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Hristo Avramov

Active member
I just found this addon from truonglv as an App for Xenforo. It seems to be good, but it is expensive if you add all costs together.

So there is definitely a need for an XF-app as an official Xenforo plugin.
Did someone try this addon?

The future is definitely on app, most of the people use phones now. As much as I dislike this, I'm still using my phone only to call.
 
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arn

Well-known member
seems like Step #1 would be more fleshed out API support from XenForo. as I understand it the current API can't support a true app. And it gets messy once you start mixing in non-official add-ons to provide more API functionality.

Hopefully with XF 2.2 it gets fleshed out more.
 

Ludachris

Well-known member
seems like Step #1 would be more fleshed out API support from XenForo. as I understand it the current API can't support a true app. And it gets messy once you start mixing in non-official add-ons to provide more API functionality.

Hopefully with XF 2.2 it gets fleshed out more.
Doesn't sound like Step #1 is even on anyone's radar.
 

HWS

Well-known member
I would create and offer a PWA for your users to install.

Looks like an app, can be installed and used like one but just shows your website in a dedicated browser window.
 

Ludachris

Well-known member
I would create and offer a PWA for your users to install.

Looks like an app, can be installed and used like one but just shows your website in a dedicated browser window.
Would it handle notifications like an app? How about being able to access the phone's camera as a sharing destination? Those are the two critical functions we need from an app.
 
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