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Where Xenforo falls short...

Discussion in 'General XenForo Discussion and Feedback' started by Bryan Gilchrist, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. Bryan Gilchrist

    Bryan Gilchrist Active Member

    Let me just start out by saying I am not here to bash Xenforo. I love it, I see a lot of potential in it and I am going to use it for a site I am launching on February 1 and, if all goes well, I will be purchasing and using it on many other sites that I run as well. I also understand that the issue between Xenforo and vBS/IB most likely put a damper on a lot of development along the way.

    That being said, since I've had some time to tinker around with it while getting my initial Xenforo site ready and have found a few areas where Xenforo falls short:

    1. Navigation - This is my biggest issue with Xenforo right now. It is nearly impossible to set up the navigation the way I want it because some of the navigation items are trapped in for/next loops, and to extract them would take recoding things, and I really don't want to do that because it may end up screwing something up down the line. What's even worse is that I can edit the Administrative navigation via my ACP (in Debug mode), but I can't edit my front-end navigation menu. Navigation should be straight-forward, not stuck in code.
    2. Pages - Pages should be pages, not nodes, and they should be separate from the node list. In fact, they should have their own area on the Admin menu. 90% of the time, pages will most likely be tied to menu item at the top or bottom of the page, or will be called on their own, so there's no reason to tie them to the node list. What's going to happen when I have 100 pages and 100 forums? I'm going to go crazy looking for one page. Furthermore, pages should be editable just like threads. I shouldn't have to use HTML code. I should just be able to add a title and enter my page using the WYSIWYG edtior.
    3. Help Pages - These should be added under the Pages section I mentioned above. Additionally, I shouldn't have to install an addon or edit templates and code just to add a single help page. It's almost like people are putting these addons out as "workarounds" to core functions that should already be in the software.
    4. Addons that should be Core Functions and Core Functions that should be addons - There are a lot of functions that are built into Xenforo that, honestly, should be addons. On the same token, there are a lot of addons out there for Xenforo that should already be core functions (see #4 as an example). It seems, to me anyway, that there's no real short, medium and long-term projections set up for Xenforo. I get the feeling that it's more like "Hey, this idea looks cool...lets implement it!". For example, in the upcoming 1.3 release we have custom BBCodes and smiley enhancements. I really think many people would have rather seen stuff like navigation enhancements or other, bigger features instead of stuff like smiley enhancements...but I could be completely wrong.
    5. Polls - Polls should be optional and should be able to be turned off on a per forum or per usergroup basis (yes, I know you can disable a usergroup's ability to vote on polls, but that's about it). Polls should not be an option for users for every single thread that is posted.
    6. Applications - There should be an easier way to install applications, like uploading a zip file. Having to FTP folders and then upload an XML file is so 2005. ;) Uninstalling them should be just as easy.
    While Xenforo is advanced in many ways, it seems to take a step back to the old, antiquated ways of doing things in certain aspects when it comes to setting up a forum.

    But, these are just my two cents, though. Take it as you will. :)

    About Me:
    I've ran (and still run) many websites and websites with forums since 1999. My most popular one was a website that I ran form 2004 to 2013 (which would still be running today if I hand't had five hard drive crashes last year). I've used, pretty much, every piece of forum software out there from vB to IPB (started with 1.1 - when it was free) to SMF to phpBB to Xenforo and just about everything else in between. I also own several hundred domain names and host and maintain several websites for myself and a few private clients. I am familiar with just about every Linux based distro (Gentoo, Ubuntu, Debian, RPM, Fedora/RHEL) and also PHP, MySQL, CGI/Perl, etc. I'm old school in the fact that I code in notepad and work from the prompt, but when you got your start in MS-DOS, I guess you're used to that. :)
    Moynal, woei, Veer and 9 others like this.
  2. DBA

    DBA Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a bunch of nitpicking to me...

    What exactly are you trying to accomplish with the navigation/navbar? (I've made extensive changes to mine without issues)

    How many of those have anything to do with the end user's experience, which is what really matters.
    Adam Howard likes this.
  3. Brent W

    Brent W Well-Known Member

    Its his thread to nit pick at if he wants to. I mean, they are his suggestions and opinions. Geez.
  4. yavuz

    yavuz Well-Known Member

    I share the remarks made in 3-5-6 expecially on how addons should be installed and managed. I know there are two addons out there which already does this but this should be something the core product offer.
    whynot likes this.
  5. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Well-Known Member

    My biggest issue with core XF comes about because the forum I'm involved with is large and has very many Moderators each of whom is allocated to one or more nodes. XF doesn't handle Moderator permissions (by which I mean, those permissions that apply to Moderators ONLY when they are within their alloacted node/s and not elsewhere) at all well. Any change to Moderator permissions which will apply to all Moderators but only within "their patch" (whether a policy change or a new add-on/feature) requires a separate checkbox per Moderator-Node combination. In our case, that's well over 100 instances.

    What's needed is a single place where Moderator-Allocated Node permissions can be set globally. These are distinct from true global permissions (i.e those that apply across the board).

    I attempted to describe what I consider would be a better approach, which would handle Moderators (as distinct from Super-Moderators) far better than XF does at present here: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/moderator-permissions-scalability.59107/

    If XF is to be a truly commercial-grade product capable of supporting more than merely small sites with small Moderation teams (with absolutely NO disrespect to those), it's going to have to revisit this.
    SneakyDave and HWS like this.
  6. RoldanLT

    RoldanLT Well-Known Member

    This :)
    Example is (and I really want this as an option to install or not):
    • Development Mode/Feature
  7. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    One person's essential core functionality is another person's add-on, and vice versa.

    It would be impossible to please everyone in terms of core functionality, lack of bloat, add-ons, etc.

    Take the smiley improvements in 1.3; personally I will never use them but it was one of the most liked suggestions.
  8. dutchbb

    dutchbb Well-Known Member

    I can see a few potentially valid points, but mostly I see personal preference in what you call 'falling short'. You're never going to find a solution aimed at thousands of admins that fits your preferences 100%. The developers do check the suggestions forum here, so if you think your suggestions are better for everyone, you should post them there separately. The popularity of your suggestions will then decide if they're worth considering.
    jmurrayhead, DBA, Alfa1 and 1 other person like this.
  9. HWS

    HWS Well-Known Member

    You made some very good points. Fact is that XF, in its current state, is a perfect product for small to medium sites with a need for a forum. Bigger sites, who have to earn money with it's visitors, have to customize a lot to get happy with it. Not because XF won't be able to handle the load (like it was with vB) but because f usability and administration issues. It still misses a lot of necessary features for serious large forum management.

    Fact is also that XF is a very solid piece of software which expands very easily due to the way it is coded.

    Give 'em time. I am sure XF will be an very impressive software for all kind of web sites in a few years. And XF + several add-ons is already a very impressive software today.

    It is no wonder that XF developers aim primarily for the thousands of small forums and less for the several hundreds of large forums out there.
    fEaRz likes this.
  10. rainmotorsports

    rainmotorsports Well-Known Member

    He already posted in another thread how he wants his navbar with his current setup and we told him exactly how to do it. Unfortunately he is correct its not quite how it should be. For his scenario he needs to move forum to the members position and members to the end section. Some of his plugins need to have the listener php edited for middle and then in debug mode the execution order may potentially need to be adjusted. He can do it and he doesn't want to so thats on him I suppose.

    In the natural order of things a nav manager plugin is limited to home, middle, end and its own execution order. But I was actually thinking I wonder if its possible to read the output to manage by, should be able to hijack the template write altogether. But where that gets messy is keeping up with changes in plugins as option changes, installs and removals have to be handled.
  11. Sadik B

    Sadik B Well-Known Member

    Very constructive criticism... And some very good points. Thanks for posting.
    jmurrayhead likes this.
  12. SchmitzIT

    SchmitzIT Well-Known Member

    I'd love it if we could get some extended functionality for the navigation menu. Ideally something where you can just drag-and-drop tabs into the location you want, and the ability to easily define what's on the tab (I.e. text/phrase, or an image, or both).

    I agree that the current implementation could be done better. I frequently mess with navigation, and while I can get stuff done, I'd imagine that someone with a less technical background, or with less experience in XenForo would have trouble figuring it out.
    trizz, yavuz and Alfa1 like this.
  13. xf_phantom

    xf_phantom Well-Known Member

  14. Lawrence

    Lawrence Well-Known Member

    Not sure what you mean here. I use pages for my training hall, shop and temple services. Having them as nodes means I can move them to any category/forum I want with a quick click, and I have looking for the best place to put them. Also with permissions I can have them accessible to certain groups. Pages, and the way they are implemented, are one of the most powerful features of XenForo.

    Not one of my pages use HTML code directly, they are all handled by a PHP callback, so basically they do what ever I need them to do. In fact, I use one PHP callback to handle all my shops and temple services. If I want to create more shops and healing "pages", it is so simple that it is ridiculous: create the new page, paste in the PHP callback, save, and done.

    The node list shows you what are pages, forums, categories and link forums, so having 100 pages mixed in with 100 forums isn't an issue, I just look for the word "Page".

    One final note regarding the Navigation Bar, they are not trapped, so to speak, just use <xen:comment> to comment out the code and use your own in the template, very simple to do. Heck I been working with the Nav Bar for the last few days for my roster add-on and I can place as many Tabs as I want anywhere's on the Nav Bar, in any order without any template edits, and even set it to remove the members tab.

    Instead of "tinkering" with XenForo, just use it. Think outside the box, and you will see just how powerful XenForo is, and how simple it is to make the software behave anyway your imagination wants, :)

    Over and out.
    yavuz, Amaury, DBA and 1 other person like this.
  15. feldon30

    feldon30 Well-Known Member

    WYSIWYG is insufficient to develop any significantly complex website. I guess WYSIWYG could be offered as an option, but HTML needs to always be available as a choice.
    What you think should be an Addon is what someone else will think should be a Core feature. There will never be consensus by all users, and XenForo development would be paralyzed if they had to wait for everyone to agree on specific features. The XenForo team watch the suggestion forums and, based on the sensible requests of users, implement the most popularly requested features which are a good fit for the product. This is the epitome of good software development.

    Also I just have to ask -- have you documented a specific performance issue with the addition of any functionality to XenForo? If not, then you can safely ignore that feature. I find that complaining about a feature you never use is a nonproductive use of time. There are some examples of stripped down forum software that avoids adding any addons -- Vanilla for example.
    There are at least 2 addons for XenForo that let you install and update Plugins entirely by uploading Zip files. Would be nice to see this built into the product.
    Polls could use more permissions.
  16. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

    The only thing that bugs me about pages is when you save them it takes you back to the node list :)
    smimosmile, HWS and Veer like this.
  17. Enguerran A

    Enguerran A Well-Known Member

    I would love to have a Page enhancement in 1.3 :)
    Veer likes this.
  18. Lawrence

    Lawrence Well-Known Member

    This got me thinking. When I was using vBulletin, the training hall I coded was well over 150K, and that didn't include level-ups or viewing your created character's stats. With XenForo pages the training hall, level-ups and character stats are all handled by the same code, totaling no more than 20k to 25k. And I also included a character editor so that Super Mods and Admins can edit anyone's character. On vB I had one shop and 1 temple for healing. With XF I can have as many shops and temples as I choose, it takes longer to come up with a name for the shop/temple than it does to create one. This is the power of Pages.

    XenForo falling short? Less coding time, smaller files, less resources required. So I guess it does fall short (IMHO of course), :)
    Amaury likes this.
  19. Bryan Gilchrist

    Bryan Gilchrist Active Member

    Your pages work well as nodes because you use them within the forums. However, from my experience, most admins will apply pages for external use.

    For example, one of my pages is for my advertising information. I would never put that in the forums themselves. It would either reside on the top or bottom menu (which I need an addon to put it in either of those locations). :rolleyes:
    jmurrayhead likes this.
  20. Bryan Gilchrist

    Bryan Gilchrist Active Member

    Addons that I refer to that should be core functions are things like having to install an addon to add pages/nodes to menus or having to install an addon to work with the navigation menu (which still isn't quite there yet).

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