Post by Matej on Jul 10, 2020 15:10:32 GMT -8
Where we’ve been
ProBoards turned 20 this year! First and foremost, thank you for your continued trust and support in our service and our employees.
It’s been a while since we wrote directly about v6, but that didn’t stop us from progressing far along and come closer than ever to the next steps.
When we last talked about v6 we thought we were just about ready to give everyone access to play with it on their own forums. Sadly we were wrong. During this time we took a deep dive into the foundations of our service and have drastically redesigned and reworked some of the core functionality. This will allow us much greater freedom and flexibility in the future to bring features and abilities that have long been requested.
If you are not interested in the technical background, feel free to skip this section. However, if this intrigues you - here’s what happened in the background. Very few of the changes have been visible when just browsing v6 on this forum, unless you went and explored the actual underlying code (you know who you are )
- Added support for service-wide SSL (https addresses), including granting certificates on custom domains
- We’ve talked about this in a separate announcement, but it is important to note that as part of the v6 changes, this took a tremendous amount of time and money to implement. Our current offering for custom domains is provided by us at cost, and we actually lose money on every sale. For the sake of our customers, we opted to take the loss to keep this important feature affordable to everyone.
- Privacy framework improvements
- As part of our continued commitment to privacy, and to ensure compliance with new privacy laws, we overhauled our systems to give you more control over your data and how it is used.
- We implemented an upgraded GDPR privacy consent system, allowing fine grained controls on what is and is not allowed
- This meant major re-code of massive segments of the forums and v6, with additional necessary changes made in v5
- Easier and deeper plugin integration - while the plugin system will be very similar to the existing v5 system at launch, we will be able to build on top of the foundation with ease. We will provide more information about this in the future
- Support for React
- Forum administration pages can now be built in React, with advanced features and smoother flow. Not all pages will be available in React at launch, but we will update them as new features are added and we hope to improve the administration experience significantly as time goes on
- The new plugin and theme editors are built entirely in React, for extremely fresh, fast and usable applications, with the potential to release them as standalone applications in the distant future
- Initially this is only accessible to us, but will enable us to bring the powerful features of React to the front end of the forums, and into your hands. This feature will not be available until a future v6 update.
- Potential for future support for custom apps for forums that retain theme modifications and where your plugins work inside the app - we can’t make a promise or a timeline for this, but it’s something we’re definitely trying to make a reality
- New payment and subscription system
- We had to develop a new system that will support establishing a market place, where in the future our fantastic theme and plugin developers will be able to sell premium themes and plugins, getting paid for their hard work
- Our previous payment system was old, and required significant changes
- Significant deficiencies of the old system - inability to update existing payment methods, no way to upgrade existing subscriptions - the system had to be upgraded for future use
- Data Center Migration
- Our hosting provider (IBM) announced the closing of certain data centers where we have servers.
- This has necessitated the migration of many legacy systems into our latest framework, at significant time and expense.
- Sadly this was not a decision we made by choice, but we did try to use this opportunity to improve and update old systems.
- While taking up a tremendous amount of time, this has come with added benefits of much faster load speeds, higher capacity servers and the ability to resolve issues much easier than before. Sometimes it’s possible to make the best of an unlucky situation - and we tried to at least take the time to improve the experience for everyone.
The non-technical details
Not everything that happens is solely technical. The biggest event of all was of course the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to protect the safety and well being of our staff, we have transitioned to an entirely remote work flow. This presented several challenges, as we have all been accustomed to work in our office building. Previous workflows included in-person meetings, presentations, research and peer-development. I’m very proud to say that we have successfully completed the transition earlier this year, and we believe our work speed has actually ultimately improved, although it did temporarily result in a slower-than-desired progress.
Unfortunately, a major side effect of the pandemic has also been a dramatic drop in advertising revenue. Combining the rate of ad-blocking with the devastating drop of income has left us in a very unfortunate position where we had to make significant cuts to our spending and re-adjustments of our work. While our service as a whole is not under threat of closing, our employees have been significantly impacted by the change in revenue.
We continue to provide health-care benefits and sick pay to everyone employed at ProBoards as part of our commitment to our employees during these extremely difficult times that we now live in.
Where we’re going
Transparency, trust, and a thank you
I would like to take this opportunity to first thank everyone who has reached out to us offering assistance in many different ways and means. Your support and trust mean everything to us and we understand that we have broken our commitment to transparency by staying silent on the developments behind the scenes.
Starting immediately, we will be providing everyone with regular updates, beginning with regular posts with information about v6 leading up to and beyond the release of v6.
We also cannot forget our wonderful staff members on this Support forum, who have been helping us keep this forum a friendly, clean and organized place for everyone to enjoy while we focus on the behind-the-scenes work, especially in this time of a world crisis. We appreciate all of you!
ProBoards: v6 Phoenix
Our original mistake was announcing v6 far too early. While it was announced with the best intentions in mind - trying to show everyone what the future holds and to showcase what we are actively working on, we did so without enough of the work being completed, resulting in a very long stage of little to no information. We hope to rectify that, and keep everyone informed as much as we can. As always, please do not hesitate to ask any one of us questions, directly in PMs, or by creating a thread on the Support forum. As long as we can, we are always happy to answer almost anything about our service, and provide information as needed. That being said, please keep in mind that v6 is not launched yet. We continue to receive feedback and make changes based on input from you, the community. Therefore, it is possible that our answers to questions can change over time.
Within the coming weeks we will be launching a new page where members of the ProBoards community can help ensure our ongoing success by making a contribution, and in return will receive many unique rewards. These range from rewards for yourself (IRL!), your forum accounts, and your forums. There are even gifts that you can give to other forum members just to make their day better. More details will be coming soon!
As an aside, I would also like to ask everyone, if it is within your means and abilities, please white-list our forums in your ad blockers - it is by far the best and most effective way to help us in these times without any cost to you. Ads keep our forums free, and pay for the well being of all our employees who continue to develop v6 as well as provide you with some of the best online support - completely free of charge.
If you’ve read this far you might already suspect what all the work means for v6 - it’s almost ready and I am very happy to confidently say many of you will be able to get your hands on it before the end of the year as we move towards beta.
Once again, thank you for your support and continued trust.
Please stay safe and healthy,
Tl;dr: We’ve made a lot of changes, upgrades and progress, but we are also facing financial challenges and other difficulties attributed to the pandemic. V6 work continues and looks better than ever, and will be available soon.