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RM 1.0 Resource Manager Feedback and Thoughts

Discussion in 'Resource Manager Support' started by Mike, Feb 1, 2012.

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  1. Mike

    Mike XenForo Developer Staff Member

    There has been a considerable amount of discussion and comments on the Resource Manager since it has been implemented... not all of which has been positive. ;) However, I do want to mention that it is still early days and what you're seeing borders on the "minimum viable product" (MVP) concept and will be improved. You can't develop a product solely in a vacuum -- you need to see how it works when people use it and that's when you discover things that need to be changed.

    We have taken a lot of feedback on board, and there are various features that we're looking at. Some of these include:
    • Purchase support for resources (both for a "single owner" like a shop and "app store" style)
    • Custom resource fields (by category, ideally)
    • Category hierarchy
    • Review support for ratings
    • Better limits on who can rate
    • And some others :)
    Conversely, there are some suggestions that we don't necessarily agree with and some considerations that need to be taken into account that might not be immediately obvious. I want to cover some of these suggestions to let you know what we think and to try to foster some in-depth discussion. I feel that a lot of the initial thoughts that have been posted have not necessarily thought about other perspectives or what the purpose of X is.

    The Resource Manager is a "general use" add-on

    This means that despite it only being used on XenForo.com, it's designed to be used by other people with different requirements and desires. As such, when we implement something, we can't just hack in something specific for XF.com. It needs to be approached in a more generic way. Sometimes this way is obvious and most ideas can be spun into something more generic, but it always means more work -- the amount more is what varies, sometimes orders of magnitude more.

    The category sidebar should be on the right to be consistent

    I find this a slightly weird suggestion and one I don't really understand completely.

    First, you'll note that the right sidebar you see on most pages contains less important information. In most cases, if it weren't there, you'd still be able to get around. The category sidebar is the primary navigation system within the resource manager, so it deserves a more prominent display. Most sites either use top- and/or left-based navigation system; I can't think of one with primary navigation in a right column.

    Second, it's not actually inconsistent. There are various other places in XenForo that use left-column navigation: Help, the account pages, and automatic page node navigation.

    The Resource Manager is a shop front for digital downloads / discussions in resources

    (I'm aware of the irony of me calling it that when you can't sell individual items directly, but as we've repeatedly said, it's something we want, but wasn't part of the MVP.)

    The talk about whether discussions should be in resources gets to the heart of what the purpose of the Resource Manager is. Foremost, the RM is designed to be a shop front for digital downloads - like Amazon (they do digital downloads :)) and your pick of app stores. The primary purpose is to make it easier to discover resources and to keep up to date with them.

    Going back to just using threads means that updates to resources are intermixed with general questions, so if you're running add-on X, you have to watch the thread if you want to be informed of updates, but then you're forced to wade through the other stuff to find updates. The RM solves that by allowing you to watch a resource and be notified whenever it's updated, not when there's a comment. Always keep in mind that there are a large number of people that don't post in the add-on threads at all; they just use them. (The same way we have plenty of customers that never post here and probably haven't even registered and have never had "human" contact with us.)

    So, this leads me into a few philosophical sounding questions...

    In the context of resources, what are discussions? Is it saying that you love it or it worked well (or you hate it)? The reviews system (which would display within a resource) seems to handle that. Is it saying thanks (or other form of appreciation)? The like system and possibly reviews can solve that, but regardless that doesn't make for compelling reading for most others. :)

    So, then we have functionality questions, support, and suggestions. (Anything else I can't think of?) So if the thread is made up of that, what is the distinct value of including that in the resource? Keep in mind that you can always watch the thread if you're interested in more than just the resource (which a lot of people aren't). As a matter of fact, doesn't using the thread system make it easier to work with the comments on resources if you feel they're very important? They keep the visibility via new/recent threads, whereas they wouldn't be there if they were in the resource. There's also the question of whether it's actually worth it to implement all the additional functionality when we have a thread system, though that may vary on a case by case basis.

    I do take that allowing the resource author to moderate their own thread would be cool.

    Then, the next philosophical question, what is in a resource? Is it just keeping the layout? Is it showing when you view the resource from the list? I'm genuinely curious about this. In theory, we could make the resource threads not show up in what's new and only be discoverable via the resource system. You'd only get updates to them if you watched them. While that would appear to be "in" the resource (the technical implementation notwithstanding), but what's the benefit?

    I am after some serious discussion on this, as I'm trying to understand the mindset -- the discussion just seems to pale in comparison to the importance of the resource (for people looking for resources), and the fact that I don't need to ever visit the resource itself to keep up with the discussion means that I don't see a disadvantage to the thread system.

    Resources as a "forum" (multiple discussions)

    I understand this idea, and it's not unreasonable as a general concept, though it isn't a priority based on what I mentioned earlier: the focus of the resource is on the resource and keeping up to date with it. It's also a big undertaking. :)

    In terms of XF.com, there are some add-ons (in particular) that it'd be useful for, but there's nothing preventing authors from setting up their own areas that consist of more than one thread. People will have different approaches and desires with this, so I don't think they should necessarily be shoehorned into a particular approach. You might say that the thread is a particular approach, but the thread isn't required--we have locked one as the author requested support via his site--and there may be some changes to emphasize that down the line. I'm not sure yet.

    I'm sure there are more things I'll come up with, but I think that's enough for now...
    Digital Doctor, Saeed, ge66 and 21 others like this.
  2. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    Thanks Mike
    I said it yesterday. XF making this available to clients in the future who have other needs would mean that RM was built with general use in mind.

    So I'm very optimistic that future features will be built so that we can extend them into a product review/job listing/etc.

    The technology will be there, what it can do is limited by our imagination.
    Saeed, pjfry and erich37 like this.
  3. Shelley

    Shelley Well-Known Member

    For one of the developers.

    If the RM is being catered for general use and not primarily catered for the company forums (xenforo.com) will discussions being included with the resource meaning posts in release threads be something you'll include instead of discussions being separated? will this be an option whether you wish to have separate discussions or discussion intact within the release? or is this something your not accommodating something the RM will never allow or be?
    Veer, erich37 and kyrgyz like this.
  4. erich37

    erich37 Well-Known Member

    I have thought again about the RM and it is actually quite a useful system for using it at my own website (which is a Marketplace).

    I am thinking of having the "Resource Manager" as the MAIN-interface of my website (at the Tab named "Home"), and having the "Forums" as a "secondary" interface at the Tab named "Forums". Would this be possible?
    So literally the RM to be shown at the "Home"-page and having also some generic Forums (which are not related to a "Resource") at the Tab named "Forums".

    Whereby the "Resource" would be to also allow to post images of products into the Resource-Blog directly. And having the "Downloads" as additional feature for companies being able to upload a product-catalogue or any other company-files. So simply saying of having the "Resource Blog" as a "Page" for companies or job-postings or it could be even a photo-album, etc.

    In many cases, the RM will not be used the same as here at XenForo.com as not all of the webmasters here are operating websites which are focused onto "downloading of Files". There might be other uses which are not related to "File Download" at all.
    For example something like this:

    - It would be also great to have a link withing the RM to "Contact Resource Author" in order to contact the Author DIRECTLY via "Personal Conversation"-interface.
    - Think about ditching the "Read More"-Link in the Resources, as there is no point of hiding information and users can easily overlook that tiny link.
    - Also include Prefixes: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/prefixes-for-resources.26997/
    - Layout change: http://xenforo.com/community/thread...and-not-in-line-with-xf-easy-interface.26813/

    Mike, please do not take all our feedback and "brainstorming" personally or as criticism.
    Take it just as "valuable" customer feedback in order to improve on it.... user feedback is the most valuable information.

    We all know this RM-product is still "new" and we all know you guys are the best in what you are doing.
    kyrgyz likes this.
  5. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

    I personally think the RM is great, it's just literally how I thought it might be a bit more integrated into my overall experience with the forum as a whole. One feedback for the interface itself would be to have tabs at the top of each resource, similar to how the main RM page is laid out but the tabs could be:

    Notes(Blogs)/Changelog(easy to update changelog from the RM's standpoint)/FAQ's.

    As for the integration, well, I've laid out my suggestion but all I'm getting is a link directing me to the resource manager which defeats the purpose of my suggestion ;p.
    robdog and erich37 like this.
  6. Mike

    Mike XenForo Developer Staff Member

    The blogs likely are the changelog, but that's actually something we've been talking about along with various other ideas.
  7. borbole

    borbole Well-Known Member

    I find the RM very great as well. There was one suggestion that I would also like to make and hopefully it will be taken into consideration. The option for the resource authors to be able to view who purchased their items.
  8. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I think those that might be expecting the RM to become some sort of digital shop eventually need just look at all that was involved for IPS to produce Nexus (this isn't meant to be a criticism of Mike or Kier's abilities). There is a lot more needed to make it a viable digital shop in the true sense and I would think it would also make it a very expensive add on in the long run.
    Forsaken likes this.
  9. Brandon Sheley

    Brandon Sheley Well-Known Member

    I haven't checked it out very long but I like what I see so far. (y)
  10. SchmitzIT

    SchmitzIT Well-Known Member

    I for one love our new RM overlords.

    I cannot wait to try it on an actual site. I have been meaning to set up that site for ages, and the RM is exactly what would make it fly. I am expecting that what we see here is the very basic framework, and that additional functionality will be added in the future (judging by the wording of the initial release statement).

    If this is version 1, I foresee a great future ahead for the RM. It would already allow me to do what I want, and I haven't even seen what is yet to come. It might allow for even more uses that will become apparent after future updates and releases. Bring it on!
    Steve F, erich37 and Andy.N like this.
  11. Allan

    Allan Well-Known Member

    For me, the only questions I ask myself is whether the discussion will be included in the resources and also if it's possible to include existing threads, if these two options are not included in the RM, I would never buy this addon.
    kyrgyz and Shelley like this.
  12. Trekkan

    Trekkan Well-Known Member

    I'm still of the mindset that the thread/posts for a resource should be displayed within the resource. It just keeps things all nice and tidy. I don't have to go anywhere else to find info, and right now it FEELS like I'm traveling to somewhere completely disconnected from the resource when I view the discussion thread on it.

    Maybe that's the "problem"... it feels like the discussion thread is hacked onto the resource and not part of it.

    Also, you mentioned that there was the difference between watching the thread and watching the resource. Good point and it should remain that way. But I don't understand why it would be any different if the comments were on the resource itself? If the author updates the resource, sent out a watcher email for that. If someone has watched the comments itself, sent one out for that.

    It wouldn't be any different than today, where you'd need to watch two different things anyway.
    Ranger375, kyrgyz and erich37 like this.
  13. erich37

    erich37 Well-Known Member

    I would think that watching 2 different things would be quite confusing for the average user.
    If the user is interested in the Resource and therefore "watching the Resource", I would strongly assume that the user also wants to watch the related "Resource Discussions".

    Those 2 things should not be split.

    "Watch Resource" and "Watch Resource Discussions" should be just ONE thing.

    There would be too much confusion otherwise.
    Vodkaholic and Shelley like this.
  14. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I have to completely disagree with that.

    I am watching all of the resources which I have installed as I am interested in knowing when the developer updates them.

    I have no interest in watching the threads though as I don't need to be alerted every time someone posts on the thread.

    The separation between the two is extremely useful.
    Noobz347, CFodder, EQnoble and 8 others like this.
  15. erich37

    erich37 Well-Known Member

    yes, this might be the case here at xenforo.com , but when the RM is released as an add-on there will be other uses for the RM and then I am sure it will be quite confusing for the user.
    Keep in mind that the users here at XF.com are all experienced web-developers and most of them do not need much explanation of how things work.

    But many of us webmasters here operate forums with a user-base which is certainly not that advanced. Put yourself in the shoes of an average internet-user and you will see things differently.
    Vodkaholic and Shelley like this.
  16. Mike

    Mike XenForo Developer Staff Member

    Except in that case, as soon as they interact with the resource (download it), they'll be watching it (assuming new users are set to watch things by default). If they reply to the thread, they'll be watching it. So it sorts itself out.
    steel_curtain and Bob like this.
  17. Shelley

    Shelley Well-Known Member

    I think if you look at what is happening. The resource (old) here at xenforo.com are in an archive now and all resources submitters are being asked to post their resources to the new system which tells you that discussions and releases will not be part of the resource manager.

    My personal thoughts are it's serving xenforo well enough but the average site whom will have to reply on their contributors to re-post everything is asking alot plus adding additional forums to our sites is also asking alot which is why I think this is more catered and geared towards xenforo.com not the average everyday resource site. The message here is your asking forum owners to abandon all their resources/posts and you won't get those back since alot of resource sites rely heavily on member contribution whom probably will not re-post everything.

    Perhaps if they do include resources/discussions (I can't see them including it in) no reply on this yet from them. There's also other issues for owners that don't structure their resources areas with separation but with integration.

    The seperation of threads and discussions is definitely a concern especially if you have 1000s of resources posted by your members whom are not willing to re-post.
    erich37 and Allan like this.
  18. erich37

    erich37 Well-Known Member

    thinking of some other stuff, not sure if this is possible already ?

    - giving the "Resource Author" an option whether he wants to "enable Resource Discussions" for his specific Resource.
    gordy likes this.
  19. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Why can't the author import an existing discussion thread (or several) to attach to their page per product of the RM?

    I certainly find the sudden amputation of the existing discussions brutally disruptive. I now need to check two places to learn how a product works. Nor is that obvious - there's no route to the previous discussion so how do I know it's there if this addon is new to me?.

    Also it does feel like the discussion component has been tidied away as unimportant. It only shows as one admittedly large button.
    When I assess an addon I look at its support thread as a primary resource - how fast does the coder respond? how clearly? do the same problems keep coming up?

    There's space on that RM left column to have a block listing some familiar looking links to latest and/or selected key posts.
    Shove that bottom box over to the right and this left column could show even more.
    Tabs for different discussions? Like for compatibility to the different XF upgrades. Or addons to the addon, as happens in some cases. Or tutorials.

    On the left/ right column Mike I have my major navigation menu of my node tree on the right so fraid you need to revise the "I can't think of one with primary navigation in a right column." It works extremely well giving my users access to all Categories off all pages.
    But it doesn't challenge the RM menu being on the left because like Help, Accounts, and Pages, these are LOCAL menus within a specific zone. Main site navig on the right in a consistent way balances this nicely.
    erich37, kyrgyz and yavuz like this.
  20. yavuz

    yavuz Well-Known Member

    Had this inmind for a while but dindn't know how to put it. Why wasn't it doe in the first place? With all the importers these days, shouldn't be such a hard thing to do...
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