DOTW: Goodbye Upfront and what actually matters to you? (Participation = 3 Hero Points)

You may have already seen that we are saying goodbye to Upfront. James’ post and comments there cover it well(we are still supporting it), so I won’t go into a lot of detail on that, but I do want to focus on the last sentence of the post for this DOTW:

please do let us know what you’d like us to be doubling down on and also, now that we’re out of the theme game, making sure we’re beautifully compatible with.

1. So, what actually matters to you? What do you want to see us doubling down on?
2. Who do you want to see us become compatible with or work on deeper compatibility with? (doesn't have to be a theme) Listing products and some usage examples would be helpful here too.

I know for a small group the answer to what actually matters might be “Upfront” and as James says in his post, we can really only apologise :slight_frown: and assure you that our support team will continue to support it ongoing, we aren’t just flipping the switch and abandoning it completely. Hopefully, the other products and services we can focus on now will help make up for it too!

Looking forward to the responses :slight_smile:

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-At least one comment = 3 Hero Points(must participate within 7 days of thread post date)
-DOTW = Discussion of the Week
-Last DOTW: What WP plugins or services have you replaced and why?

  • Fabio Fava

    Well, that's a very interesting move...

    I actually never used Upfront (had never-ending loading issues and didn't try it again), mostly because I got into WordPress via the X Theme from Themeco, wich I still use nowadays and even have as Default Theme for all new blogs under any of our networks.

    I would love it to be extended in some way the colaboration of WPMU DEV Developers and Themeco Developers, in a way to keep WPMU DEVs plugins compatibility with the X-Theme. I believe they're open to cooperation with other developers for compatibility.

    At the WPMU DEV side of things, maybe the efforts that aren't any longer being applied at Upfront could be oriented to improve Snapshot. And specially launch The Shipper that will be the cherry of the cake for sure (as long as it works properly), wich I assume are based on Snapshot backups to work.

    I can imagine the big challenge is about how to connect all the APIs (WPMU DEV, Jetpack, etcetera) without making a big mess with site management at those service providers. Maybe a good Tutorial about disconnecting and reconnecting all services APIs before a First Sync per example... I hope it can be managed in some way by our SuperHero Developers!

    Hope those things can be put on the Developments To-Do List, cheers!

  • Jaxom

    Hi Tyler Postle

    I agree with Greg and am actually rather glad that you have decided to direct resources toward a more developer based approach.
    It is always a shame when you have to stop development on a product but sometimes it is the right thing to do.
    On the things to be more compatible with, it would be nice if Smart Crawl would learn to ignore WP Bakery code like Yoast for my clients that use the page builder (sorry Greg clients like it and the client is always right :rolling_eyes: ) other than that I love the direction you are going.

    Jaxom

  • PTaubman

    As a member since 2011, I have never used any of the themes. What I love about WPMU Dev is the community and the plugins.

    I know you have been working on the Community forum (adding better search capabilities) and would love to see additional support be added here.

    On the plugin side, there have been times when more technical information was needed to find out what the plugin does, or how it works. It seems like several of them (maybe the older ones?) had great marketing videos, but fell short of how they actually work. Configuration information/set-up advice fell short and required a support request just to see how to get it to work.

    Thanks for providing the community and for the plugins!

    Paul

  • djohns

    I think that James' focus on core plugins and stellar support for all things WordPress is smart.

    That said, if resources are pulled back from UpFront, perhaps a poll(s) would help delineate what additional plugins people would find useful. It would be great to see most of the plugins rated as best in their class, e.g. as is "Smush".

    In the short term, I'll be needing some help with Ultimate Branding. I was using another custom login plugin because it has placeholders including icons, and works with social login. However, I just discovered that it conflicts with a BuddyPress registration form that I've been using. So perhaps that plugin could get some upgrades.

    If it were just me, I'd ask for good BuddyPress targeted plugins. There just aren't that many out there.

    Finally, I get a lot out of WPMU DEV's tutorials. Can't get enough of those, and they are also good advertising for WPMU DEV.

  • DigitalPowerups

    1:
    I use WPMUDEV primarily to manage my client base. So I'd like to see :
    a super functional hub. Some features that could be cool would be clicking the admin button and being dropped right into the admin area instead of having to log in.
    I'm consistently having issues with failed updates and backups from the hub (I know support can help) But I'd like to see special care taken of the hub.

    The Academy I think a lot could be done here, I fall more into the marketer camp than developer and have found the courses VERY helpful. I recently finished the WP DEV for beginners and plan to keep going but I think there could be plugin development follow alongs and more courses added.

    2:
    Thrive themes - Love them
    Elegant Themes (Divi) - Use for many clients
    Mythemeshop - Several clients on these themes too.

    • Tyler Postle

      a super functional hub

      Anyone wanting more Hub functionality(it's been a common request) should be very excited about The Hub 2.0 :slight_smile:

      You may have seen us mention it occasionally in the forums. All the designs for it have taken months of work, it's getting close to starting development! We'll add it to the Roadmap with more details once we have a better idea of an ETA, still a ways out right now but will be worth the wait.

      Here's a little DOTW exclusive teaser, couple of the mock-ups:

      Website list:

      Grid style:

      You can see there we plan on adding more management features - filtering, labeling, favouriting, etc.

      There is a lot more to come with Hub 2.0 than that but yeah we'll share more as it gets closer :wink:

      As for the Backups, we're working on adding an Incremental Backup method to Snapshot(and making it the default) which should resolve large majority of the issues coming up with backups.

      ^There is a couple examples of current projects that freeing up Upfront resources will help with :smiley:

  • Greg

    Tyler Postle

    1. Snapshot - creating, moving, staging, site without hesitation within multisites, out of multisites, into multisites (where single installs or not in all scenarios and needs). See here https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/closing-a-stuck-restore-the-window-messed-up-my-multisite/ (need to be reliable in all aspects so that we are not scared to use it). I have no issues mostly but sometimes crazy stuff happens making me skittish.

    2. Membership 2 Pro - A staple for all kinds of business models services and sometimes products .

    3. Pro Site - A staple of WP Multisite Networks (obvious one )

    4. MarketPress - Selling products

    5. WPMU Dev Videos - To keep updated regularly for ongoing relevant instructionals for folks

    6. Domain Mapping - To ensure stays flawless

    7. E - Newsletter - Tighten up and modernize and make sure captcha is built in.

    8. Subscribe By Email - Continue to modernize and please add a captcha that is built in (this should be a given on a plugin like this)

    9. In Post Ads - Modernize and tighten up . . .

    11. Multisite Content Coper - Staple for network admins.

    12. Not going to name them all but any plugins that are related to WordPress MULTISITE Network management and usefulness.

    13. Generally, any other plugins that help WPMUDEV clients to directly generate revenue would be good to focus on (i.e. pay with a like, etc etc etc)

    13. All plugins that accept payments, integrate allowing payment with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash, and others.

    Integrations:

    1. Divi and Extra themes and/or Divi Builder plugin (just to be sure your plugins work great with theme)

    2. All plugins that accept payments, integrate allowing payment with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, bitcoin cash, and others.

  • Greg

    Tyler Postle In addition to https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/dotw-goodbye-upfront-and-what-actually-matters-to-you-participation-3-hero-points#post-1314695

    Also, being able to generate and create unlimited API keys (for example Elegant Themes does this but they do not have a way, yet, to add a note for what each one is for) here https://premium.wpmudev.org/hub/account/ and https://www.screencast.com/t/zs6T9fq9hP (of which we can add a note to each key as to what the key is for would be good). This way we do not have to invalidate the single key which would invalidate a ton of sites. We could invalidate select keys if needed on select sites as we wanted. I think this is a great idea. Thoughts?

    • Tyler Postle

      Greg hmm what would the usage case be there? Like why would you want to invalidate select keys.

      If it's to remove a bunch of sites from the Hub then perhaps a Bulk Delete option in the Hub would be better for this? Where you could select all the sites you want to remove. Removing a site from the Hub will log you out of the Dashboard remotely and that removes the key from that site.

      I could be missing a different use case or situation here though :slight_smile:

      • Greg

        Tyler Postle

        If the bulk delete was added in the hub . . . maybe . . . would they have to login again (which they would not have) in order to activate right (which would mean no more access)?

        Even still though . . .

        Oh . . . right. That opens up another related request. Elegant Themes allows access to plugin updates etc via API key too without having to expose username and password on the sites. I think that is brilliant. What about allowing API keys to be authenitcation credentials of which multiple could be added with a note? Then, if we need only a group or select sites to be removed then we could deactivate the associated API key. This would effectively allow us to stop exposing our main login credentials (keep in mind we can not now barely change our passwords either because we would have to login to a ton of sites to re-validate when is not going to happen with me for sure . . . too many sites). So, not being about to change my MAIN WPMUDEV password is security risk over time. Allowing validation via multiple API keys I believe is a awesome solution in both regards.

        Elegant Themes is already doing this here https://www.screencast.com/t/bYYFEH6EiQl1 and allowing multiple API keys to allow plugin updates etc to validate the site being authorized. They are working on adding a place for us to make a brief note on each API too I believe. If you or a associate has a Elegant Themes account you can see this here https://www.elegantthemes.com/members-area/api/

        Thoughts now?

        :slight_smile:

        Greg

        • Tyler Postle

          If the bulk delete was added in the hub . . . maybe . . . would they have to login again (which they would not have) in order to activate right (which would mean no more access)?

          Greg Correct, they would need to login again with your WPMU DEV credentials.

          This would effectively allow us to stop exposing our main login credentials (keep in mind we can not now barely change our passwords either because we would have to login to a ton of sites to re-validate when is not going to happen with me for sure . . . too many sites).

          The validation is more with the API key rather than your DEV login credentials. Once you login to the Dashboard it sets your API key in the db and as long as that API key remains valid you should stay logged into the Dashboard. You can change your WPMU DEV password without losing all your sites from the Hub, but if you reset your API key then they will be gone.

          So given the above, it seems like adding an option for multiple API keys w/ notes would be more to organize sites in this case? That's part of the direction we have planned for Hub 2.0, being able to custom label your sites, sort them, and then do bulk actions or whatever you like with that group :slight_smile:

          If it's entering your DEV credentials on other sites that is still a concern then perhaps an option to "login" to the Dashboard with just your API key could be added as you suggested above, but I still think the organizing of sites would be better to stay in one place via The Hub? Thoughts?

          • Greg

            Hey Tyler Postle

            If it's entering your DEV credentials on other sites that is still a concern then perhaps an option to "login" to the Dashboard with just your API key could be added as you suggested above, but I still think the organizing of sites would be better to stay in one place via The Hub? Thoughts?

            Elegant Themes verifies or logins via API keys. So, yea, that would be perfect. This would then also give the side benefit of allowing us to actually change our main WPMUDEV password regularly. Right now we can not do that at all if we have a lot of sites because we would have to relogged on hundreds and sometimes many more than that. Also, it would be perfect for organization as well those too with the notes. So, both really.

            What do you think?

          • Tyler Postle

            Greg you can change your main WPMU DEV password without losing any Hub sites :slight_smile: It's only the API key you can't change, if you reset that then you will lose all your sites. Logging into the Dashboard with your DEV credentials is what sets the API key and we validate against the API key after that point so no worries on changing your DEV password.

            Have you had issues with losing sites from the Hub when changing your DEV password? I tested this now just to double check, and I didn't lose any of my sites from the Hub.

  • Jessie

    I actually first signed up for WPMUDEV because of Upfront. I was just starting out with my WP business and optimistic that Upfront would provide me great flexibility in designing custom sites. I found Upfront to be very buggy and not especially user-friendly nor flexible and I never ended up using it. I had been looking out for you to release new themes but looks like you will no longer offer any. That's cool, I'll stick with Studio Press for themes.

    I kept my membership because of the quality of your plugins and member support. Support is the most important service provided by WPMUDEV.

    I would like to see more training for your plugins. It would be nice to have tutorials that help users understand all of the capabilities and how to best utilize them. I've taken some of the Academy Courses, but have better lessons elsewhere.

    My Favorite Plugins Are:
    Hummingbird
    Smush
    Defender
    Hustle
    Membership 2 Pro

    Thanks for focussing on what you do well!

  • jetmac

    OK, you asked for it... WPMU has tons of viable IP and products. A lot of very good ideas that just need that extra effort and a comprehensive vision. Here's my advice to you, in detail. Warning, it's lengthy.

    Top Level Stuff
    Better (and smarter) Plugin Integration
    Make WPMU plugins more of a cohesive ecosystem that work together. For example, MarketPress as a payment backbone for all financial-based plugins (CoursePress, Pro-Sites, Membership, etc, and possibly Forminator) in addition to a purchase system. This means a user could enter payment credentials once and have it work across multiple purposes on their site.

    In the same light, if MarketPress could be a financial backbone, perhaps Google Analytics could serve as in information backbone, automatically collating metrics/information on visitors, page views, sales, SEO, social clicks, etc and presenting a comprehensive dashboard/report of meaningful business metrics with modules for each installed plugin.

    Other such compilations might be site branding (combining Ultimate Branding, Pretty Plugins, Custom Sidebars, etc). Or a modular marketing system (Hustle, subscribe by email, social, eNewsletter, mailchimp integration, in-post ads, admin area ads, etc).

    Bug Squashing
    WPMU plugins have a number of errors or omissions that simply don't get fixed or addressed. Sometimes for years. This is BS. Either shrink your catalog to better manage what you have, increase your rates to better support them, or just have more focus and less distractions. But this is a real weak spot for WPMU and it needs to improve.

    Documentation
    Each premium plugin needs comprehensive and usage documentation. This is not new, but is very slow to be implemented. There used to be good video tutorials on YouTube, but those are now largely out of date.

    White Labeling
    Premium plugins should be white labeled. Period. All Stop. No more discussion. Clean this up ASAP.

    Major Theme/Plugin Compatibility
    You've already named them, but make sure your plugins work with the major Theme systems such as StudioPress, Divi, Beaver Builder, Gutenberg, BuddyPress, etc.

    Individual Plugins and Integrations
    WPMU Dev Dashboard - I'd like to see "Reports" be a module in the Dashboard. Something that can provide the Admin with a complete view of what is going on in their site: traffic stats, security, speed/performance, new members, social shares, etc, etc. Make it easy and a one-stop-shop for premium users.

    Forminator Pro - As a stand alone forms plugin, I don't see the purpose of this. Other alternatives are so powerful and capable, there is no reason for another entry into this space. However, as a way to expand and augment other WPMU plugins, this could be a very strong business case. For example, it could provide a custom form solution for signing up new members when combined with ProSites, MarketPress (for payments), and New Blog Templates. Similar for Membership 2 Pro or CoursePress. If it tied to MarketPress for payments, if could expand on the ability to take donations (something my clients have been asking for more and more lately). If Forminator is used as a means to customize and leverage WPMU systems, it could be really super. If it's just a competitor to Gravity Forms, let it go.

    Defender - I like it. Just keep an eye on bandwidth, as it can bog down sites on shared hosting.

    Hummingbird - Also a positive and helpful plugin, but it needs a LOT of documentation to help users and admins set it up and run it effectively. There are so many options/capabilities which often overlap with what themes/plugins/hosts provide that it's important to explain how to enact each module, what each one is for, and how to best integrate with existing capabilities.

    Hustle - Can still use a few tweaks to help with presentation, but fairly solid. However, the fact that there is no MailPoet integration is extremely disconcerting to me, personally, as I've been asking for that from the beginning and no one at WPMU seems to give a sh!t. Being a long term paying member evidently does not have privileges at all. Also - integration with custom forms such as Gravity Forms and your own Forminator.

    Snapshot Pro - I'd consider improving the site migration capability inherent to this plugin, instead of building a new plugin for that (ie Shipper). People are already using it for this (I know I am) and it would reduce the number of plugins you have to manage, which is already too much for your team.

    WP Smush Pro - this one is the best plugins you have, so no changes necessary that I can see except for white labeling.

    Custom Sidebars Pro - could use a UI/UX upgrade and some better documentation, but pretty solid offering and a useful plugin.

    SmartCrawl Pro - Also a great plugin, but one that needs better fidelity in what it does, specfically with Social (OpenGraph and Twitter Cards). There are residual aspects of the Social function residing in the Title/Meta module, which need to be removed from there and placed exclusively into the Social module. The reason is that several themes (StudioPress, etc) already have Title/Meta tailoring and don't need the duplication, but they do need the social capability. Sadly, to assign social aspects for the entire site (especially the home page), I have to enable the Title/Meta module - which causes confusion and conflicts when writing pages and posts due to having overlapping capability. So - more defined modules.

    Ultimate Branding - a solid plugin that is well used. If anything, I would really like to see an easier ability to apply an admin area theme and specific admin pages, in addition to the back end metaboxes/widgets (which is really helpful). The Admin CSS is nice, but it's a lot of work to do. I think it would be great to provide some starter admin themes. The Landing Page function is confusing and needs more work to be useful, consider an integration with Hustle to allow for lead generation.

    Google Analytics - a solid plugin that could use more analytics in the dashboard, as well as integration with "Reports" and a collation of business focused metrics. It was great when it first arrived, but since then there has been very little improvement or innovation aside from stability releases. It should interact with other business-based WPMU plugins, such as ProSites, Membership, Hustle, MarketPress, CoursePress, etc and provide combined Google Analytics information with conversion/sales information from the plugins.

    CoursePress Pro - This plugin still needs an immense amount of work. The backend UI is dated and clunky. There still is no re-ordering of "Unit Sections" which has been requested since the plugin was first introduced. Also, more focus on the user assigning pages/posts/etc for classes than on the automatic/custom-post approach. MarketPress has greatly benefited from allowing users to assign and build their own store pages, and I feel CoursePress should follow a similar approach. It's a great idea - and a good entry into the online course space - but it needs some serious attention as right now it is NOT easy to use or set up.

    Pro-Sites - it does the job, but not that well. Its interface and features are almost unchanged since its inception. It should integrate with Forminator & New Blog templates (for onboarding), MarketPress (for payments) in addition to Google Analytics and "Reports" as a starter. UI/UX needs to be re-examined as it could definitely benefit from the "Super Hero" facelift your other premium plugins have received.

    Membership 2 Pro - similar to my comments on ProSites. It needs a general UI/UX overhaul and integration with other WPMU plugins to create a richer and more capable product.

    MarketPress - Needs integrations with Amazon Payments, Square, and possibly BitCoin. It also needs to be fully integrated as a common financial backbone with your other plugins, specifically ProSites, Membership 2, and Forminator. It does this already with CoursePress, but it could all be better and smoother. Perhaps even isolate MarketPress' Payment Aggregator and Storefront functions (though probably not necessary). It needs to be able to handle subscriptions, donations (via a Forminator form), and services/invoicing (which many have been asking for).

    Support System - a great plugin that needs to be updated for the modern use environment. Specifically being able to connect individual sites instead of only Multisite, possibly via the Hub. With the Hub, I now manage a lot of sites that are individual sites, not multisite. I would like to offer them a support ticket system, as getting requests via email, twitter message, FB message, etc gets confusing. Support, with Hub Integration, could be a great way to make that happen. Again, many have been asking this of late.

    Appointments+ -- This plugin needs to have Booking capability for those wanting to have a dedicated website that works in conjunction with AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, etc. I've been getting a lot of requests for this and the booking/hotel plugins currently available on WordPress are a total PITA - way too complicated, lacking key features, and inflexible page templates. Appointments+ is already 85-90% there, it just needs some options to allow it to use the existing infrastructure in a slightly different way. Also, integration with MarketPress as a payment backbone.

    Events+ - Similar to Appointments+, it needs a little modernization.

    AutoBlog - Solid plugin that gets used a lot by my clients. Update the UI/UX and keep on plugging. Might even be able to adapt it to be an RSS feed reader in the back end, replacing the abandoned "Reader" plugin.

    Domain Mapping & Multi-Domains - OK, this one is really important. Currently, domain mapping works fine, but there is a definite need in the Multisite space that is not being addressed and this plugin might be able to do it, and that is enabling HTTPS for mapped subdomains. No one can do this right now, but if this plugin could be made to fully integrate LetsEncrypt in a way that allows MS admins to provide HTTPS security to mapped subdomains it would be a total game changer. I had to recently close down a community for this exact reason - I couldn't provide HTTPS to clients that needed it. HTTPS causes all kinds of cookie transfer problems with services like eCommerce because mapped storefront pages can't accept payments without disabling mapping - which barely works and causes all kinds of confusion with users on what the actual link to their storefront/products are. The Domain Mapping plugin could be the vanguard in this aspect of site management.

    eNewsletter - this could be a good plugin except it doesn't allow for any real simplicity with users. What it needs is commonality of mail transmitting architecture. It would be amazing if I could set up mail transmission via Amazon SES or SendGrid and have individual sites in my multisite network be able to use those credentials while maintaining their own name and email address. MailPoet 2 (but not 3, currently) did this and it was great. I stopped using eNewsletter and switched to MailPoet for this specific reason. I don't want my users to have to fumble around with mail transmission - it's confusing and pointless to them, they'll just use their own system. But, if I could offer email newsletter as a platform asset (for a premium price tied to ProSites), that would be a value added. As it is now... eh, not really. eNewsletter could be the jewel in a premium communciation suite, with smooth integrations to Forminator, Hustle, Ultimate Branding (Landing page module), Prosites & Membership 2 Pro (for internal member lists by member level), MarketPress & CoursePress (customer follow up), and maybe a couple of others. But, currently, it doesn't integrate with barely anything and core functions are long ignored. Top that off with no auto-message/Drip compaign capability (requested for years) and it's just a waste. Maybe one day...

    Missed Opportunities
    Easy Blogging - Specifically the "Wizard" of Easy Blogging. This plugin should be reincarnated and made to work with pretty much every plugin. I mean it. It was so powerful, I can't believe - to this day! - that you did't make this a flagship product for WPMU. Onboarding new members is, literally, the hardest thing. The HARDEST THING! I imagine a system that can welcome new members and provide them a series of "Get Started" tutorials with key WPMU plugins right off the bat. Many of the new ones have a decent "set up and get started" panel already, just nothing that pulls them together. I would love - absolutely LOVE! - to have an onboarding system that had pre-built modules I could strong together to help new members get set up. Something that led them down the path to setting up their plugins (MarketPress, Hustle, Sidebars Pro, Forminator, eNewsletter, Google Analytics, SmartCrawl, etc) and use their sites (settings, new pages, post, customizer, Support Tickets, etc). It could include videos from "Integrated Video Tutorials" and more. You have the content. You have control of the other WPMU plugins - you just need something to tie it all together. Easy Blogging could be it.

    Communities - there is a big need in the corporate space for viable intranet capability and "Communities" could serve that need. I imagine Project Management modules, file uploading/sharing, company policies, company message boards/announcements, even HR functions or timecards. Communities could do all of this - it already has the framework to do 60% of it. There is nothing else in the WordPress space that provides this function very well. I have had several enterprise clients express interest in this capability. I would reconsider this plugin.

    Status - could have been HootSuite for every site, but now it's nothing. Was a nice idea, and several clients expressed interest, but with a dated, inflexible UI and lack of integrations its now long dead and forgotten... :slight_frown:

    BuddyPress Plugins -- ah, BuddyPress. We love you and yet we hate you... True, new capabilities with the Nouveau template pack could make big improvements in BP, but there are still some solid additions that WPMU could have brought to the party. BuddyPress Calendar, BuddyPress Group Email, Activity+, Social Marketing, Chat, InPost Ads (updated for an option in the Activity Feed), and MarketPress (for Group Sales channels) could have all been amazing commercial enhancements to a limited service. But, alas, twas not to be...

    Jobs & Experts - All I really wanted was a service directory that could be integrated into the site for my clients to have access to and to rate and recommend. This plugin could never provide that, as it was too focused on a job board system. Skip the jobs and provide the experts, that's all many of us asked. Over and over and over... Combine it with MarketPress to receive payments for promoted placement or listing fees, possibly Membership to provide more access/services and you could have really had something. As it is now... Wasted opportunity.

    Ads (InPost Ads, Admin Ads, Simple Ads, Ad Widget, Ad Sharing) - tons of potential here. TONS. Combining it with MarketPress, Forminator, BuddyPress (for placement in social stream of BP) a comprehensive, enterprise level ad system could have been used to promote various user generated content and services (ProSites, Appointments+, Events+, CoursePress, MarketPress Products, Expert Service Listings, etc). Imagine if it could even accept ads from an external central source, allowing for a distributed advertising network! But alas, no. Too bad.

    The Just Plain Dead
    Everything else in your plugin catalog is dead. You know it and we know it. Many of their capabilities have already been included/absorbed into other products (Cloner & Copier -> Snapshot; Slider & Pop-Up Pro -> Hustle; etc). Just remove them all and get rid of the bloat. Seriously, clean house. You'll feel better.

  • joe

    No doubt that the response from jetmac was harsh, incredibly so.

    However, it could have been borne out of a deeply felt frustration at some of the problems encountered as a member. Let me be clear, I'm not defending and I'm not in favour of stern criticism as it rarely prompts an atmosphere of cooperation, but the key is to remove the bad manners and aggressive tone and see the essence of the message.

    Equally so, gushing sycophantic tributes should be treated in the same way as we need to get to the core of the issues facing all of us who choose to remain as paying customers.

    For example, I personally think the cartoons are ridiculous and childish, but I can see beyond them and unless they are distracting from core development I simply dismiss them as harmless.

    Unfortunately some members do not realise how fortunate they are to have someone at the helm of the company who is actually willing to stick his head up over the parapet and allow others to have their say directly. Do not mistake this as an invitation to hurl abuse.

    Yes there are lots of problems at WPMU, the recent outage at the data centre is one of them, but finding solutions should be the prime directive.

  • jetmac

    joe , Jaxom , and Team WPMU,

    I didn't think I was being overly harsh, but I do want to call out repetitive behavior at WPMU for fixes that have been requested both by me, and many others, over the years with these plugins. I've put my two cents in for each one above, and the team at WPMU can take it or leave it at their leisure. But, the thread asks, specifically, what each of us as individuals want WPMU to focus on, so I feel very safe and secure in posting exactly that.

    You may look at my comments above and say I'm "harsh", "angry", "frustrated", or overly critical. I see it as very straight and direct talk. I don't put my emotion to it, but, as always with written correspondence, its' easy for readers to assign their own take on written words.

    That being said, while I am not angry, I am frustrated and, in several ways, disappointed in the direction WPMU has taken, both towards us paying customers and towards their plugins in general. It is my sincere hope that this thread turns the tide. Maybe it will, maybe it won't, I don't know.

    I've been a paying member of WPMU since 2009, back when it was $79/mo and there was a phone number you could call for support. Every plugin was well supported, current, and white labeled - and, yes, white labeling was a big selling point back then and I still consider it to be one now. I had to spend a little while recently figuring out how to remove the "Gigolo" Hustle hero from a website for a church recently - their pastor didn't appreciate the humor. So, yes, white labels still matter and I'm still old school enough to believe that a premium plugin should be clean from external logos and labels.

    Also, Jaxom, I can see that a plugin is dead as each plugin page provides the downloads for each, it's changelog, and the support forums show the activity and interest. Like I said, I've been here a while and you learn to read the signs. But, that's not really important to this post.

    So, let's put aside the emotions for a minute and consider what WPMU plugins would be like if there had been more focus on them and more consideration to how they could integrate and work together, which is what I outlined in my response above. Here's a possible scenario:

    I'm a business owner and and web developer who's noticed a niche in the market that I could build a business around - managed websites for small businesses. I decide that I'm going to offer this as a multisite network where users can sign up, pay a subscription fee, select some options of what they want in their site, and I will quickly set it up for them. The idea is they would pay an upfront set up fee based on their desired options and I would set it up for them. Support, etc would also be provided.

    To do this, I become a premium member of WPMU and buy the all-in pass from StudioPress to have access to all of their themes. I pick a dozen solid ones for my niche and I set them up, assigning them categories and such via New Blog Templates. I also install ProSites, MarketPress, Hustle, eNewsletter, Forminator, Defender, Hummingbird, Admin Ads, EasyBlogging (currently defunct, but this is a dream), and Ultimate Branding from WPMU.

    I used Forminator to build out my sign up page. I put in categories for small businesses to help them refine their site template. Since Forminator integrates with ProSites, eNewsletter, MarketPress, and New Blog Templates, once they select their options and finish signing up, their site is created according to their chosen template; they have been issued a one time charge for the specific plugins, options, and template they've selected (not a generic flat fee); a recurring subscription charge for ongoing hosting and support has been issued, and they have been signed up for multiple email lists according to their interests and their member level. And, thanks to the newly updated eNewsletter plugin, they have been sent a welcome email and their "make the most of your small business website" email class is scheduled to automatically start in three days.

    When the user goes to their new site's dashboard, they see a custom dashboard experience that puts their needs first, with customized menu items and pages in the admin area. The first item they see is a large, targeted message (via the revamped Admin Ads) at the top of the admin area that directs them to "click here to start your set up process". They click the button and it activates a set-up wizard that smoothly leads them through the process of activating and initializing their WPMU plugins, with helpful tutorial videos and links to detailed documentation.

    Because I have the updated MarketPress plugin that can act as a common financial backbone, the user is only prompted once to set up their payment system during the Set Up Wizard Tutorial. The client is then cheerfully informed that if they want to sell products, start a membership site (via the new Membership 3 Pro), start offering courses (via the latest CoursePress 4.2), offer consulting appointments (via Appointments+ 3.1) or just take donations via the pre-made form in Forminator, it will all just work - they'll never have to touch that again and they can start right away by activating those modules. "Would you like that activate these plugins now or wait for another time?" the Wizard asks.

    During the tutorial, it asks them to connect their own domain name, via the Domain Mapping Plugin, and gives them a nice tutorial on how to do so. Once their domain is mapped, it asks them if they want to activate HTTPS ("Don't worry," the wizard says, "it's totally free via the safe and publicly maintained LetsEncrypt protocol, the same system used by WordPress.com and the New York Times!"). Of course, they say "yes" and do so.

    Every three days, there is a targeted admin message (sent via Admin Ads that recognizes their member level) letting them know that there are some advanced features in the Premium level they might be interested in, and would they like to learn more?

    Every week, the next lesson in the small business course is smoothly delivered. This week's class is about how they can use targeted email to grow their business, with information on tutorials for using Hustle and eNewsletter, including friendly links to the Wizard in their site's dashboard that leads them through the process to set up those two plugins. As eNewsletter's transmittal system is through my central SendGrid credentials, that set up is super fast and, since they don't need to pay for an external mail delivery service, the client appreciates even more the value they get for their monthly fee.

    After three months, the client decides that they will upgrade from Basic to Premium. As soon as they make their change in ProSites, eNewsletter recognizes that they have changed their membership, removes them from the "Upgrade from Basic to Premium" list and ads them to the "Premium Member" lists. Likewise, Admin Ads automatically shifts that client's message profile from "upgrade" prompts to "educational opportunities" prompts. And, CoursePress now recognizes that the client is a premium member and changes their status so they can access all courses for free. Of course, eNewsletter sends them an email that lets them know this.

    And, to top it all off, I can look up that client's record in "Reports" and see what internal ads they clicked on, what emails they clicked on, how long they took to upgrade, what options and plugins they've activated, the number of support requests they've filed (and which of my team members responded, maybe I'll give them a bonus), the courses they've taken, and their site's traffic since they first joined. I use that information to better gorw my business and serve my customers.

    Sound like a fantasy? For right now, it is. However, WPMU has control over all of these tools. They can craft them to work together to create something powerful and (so far) unseen in the WordPress space.

    There is no need to chase ManageWP, nor WooCommerce, nor WP Ultimo (rapidly catching up to ProSites). Now WPMU offers real, integrated, and well thought out solutions in a way that no one else can offer.

    I don't know about you, but I would dearly love to see that.

    I'm not frustrated because I'm dissing on WPMU. I'm frustrated because I'm deeply involved with them, and have been for years. I want them to grow. I want them to succeed. Because when they succeed, we all do - them, us, and our clients.

  • jetmac

    And, hey, maybe you want solutions for that single site owner, and not a large MultiSite powered business/SaaS? OK, let's look at that scenario.

    "I'm a personal trainer at the local gym. I decide I want to offer a better, richer experience for my clients that enables me to take charge of my personal business and not be so dependent on the gym for clients. I decide to build my own website and I want to offer appointments at first, but later I'm thinking about courses, maybe some t-shirts/merch. I also hear that email newsletters are really important, so I want that as well.

    I get a basic WordPress theme (2017) and I get cracking. I hear about WPMU from another trainer at the gym, and she says they have great plugins and support - best of all, they all work together and it's for one annual price. I take a look, and it seems like the answers to my (non-technical) prayers.

    I install the WPMU Dev Dashbaord (v5.2) plugin to get started and it asks me what I want to do in my site. I answer the prompts and it tells me what to get (with small descriptions about why). So, I download MarketPress, Hustle, eNewsletter, SmartCrawl, and Defender to start. My WPMU Widget in my Admin dashboard now gives me prompts for setting up each one. I click on the first one (MarketPress) and a wizard appears and takes me through the process. Awesome!

    Encouraged, I go through all the rest and everything is set up by the weekend.

    All is going smoothly, and I decide to start putting together that Online Course. I download the CoursePress v4.1 plugin and follow the Set Up Wizard in my dashboard. Imagine how happy I am when it recognizes I already have payment stuff in MarketPress and lets me know it's already automatically connected to it. Fantastic! I build my course and show it to some friends. They have some recommendations to the order of the units and I log into CoursePress and change that in seconds via drag-and-drop. No coding or rewrites necessary.

    Since eNewsletter automatically recognizes members that sign up for Appointments and Courses , my client email list is growing pretty well. As the holidays are coming up, I decide to offer a special 6 week training package. I create a product for that in my MarketPress Storefront, and send it out to all of my clients via eNewsletter. I also create a special promo in Hustle for it. And, thanks to the great Social integration in SmartCrawl, the blog post announcing it is sharing pretty well, too.

    After the 6 week training promotion ends, I go to my dashboard and look up in "reports" what my clients are responding to. I also look into my site metrics, including post views, sharing clicks, and how my online courses are doing. Uh oh, looks like only half are getting through the online course on nutrition. I'm going to send a targeted email via eNewsletter to the students of that class that got stuck - luckily, since eNewsletter works so closely with CoursePress, that's super easy for me to do! Maybe I'll also send all of the students of that class a poll in Forminator to see how I can improve it.

    My business is booming and I am loving it! I think after the holidays I'm going to offer more services - and a new line of workout clothes!"

    This scenario, while a bit of a fantasy, is still completely possible - provided the WPMU plugins are built to work together and complement each other. Right now, most are not. But, just imagine if they were.

    It is that coordinated, integrated, "whole more than the parts" vision that I want WPMU to focus on. It's that type of thinking that elevates this from a bunch of individual plugins to a set of powerful solutions.

    • jetmac

      joe ,

      Here is the thread in the forums where that was covered: https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/how-to-white-label-hustle

      Nithin and Rupok did a great job helping on that one, and I had a small refinement further down the thread. It's slightly different for each plugin, though, so you have to dig around.

      I used Ultimate Branding's "Admin CSS" module to add the CSS snippets instead of the MU plugin method.

      I think it would be awesome if the Premium version of Ultimate Branding had a "White Label WPMU Plugins" module that could be activated. Maybe one day they'll do that. You can see in the thread that many wanted this ability. If you search the Support Forums for "white label" you'll see hundreds of request threads.

      Sadly, WPMU hasn't addressed this yet. I hope they do soon, though.

    • wp.network

      So, James Farmer, lets have a little chat about Domain Mapping, shall we?

      To start, I totally agree with jetmac that solving SSL deployment for mapped domains is beyond a big deal, however, its also obviously non-trivial to make this work on *everyone's* server/cloud/whtevr...

      I'm working on removing the manual touches from my current frankensolution to this, have chatted with enough coder folks who've rolled their own to know that its viable at respectable scale and, again, think its probably rather difficult to generalize a supportable fits-all approach...

      (fyi, for any who care to know, currently I use an amalgam of acme.sh + cPanel's AutoSSL + bash scripts + *stuff* to make it happen... its pretty hacky in sooo many ways, yet it seems ok at the scale I'm running it atm... :stuck_out_tongue:)

      ...its a little self serving, but it does seem like cPanel might be a reasonable place to start esp because its both so widely used and accessible - and because its relatively a highly standardized environment, with an API.

      The foremost thing I'd like to see from WPMUDEV is re Domain Mapping in addressing issues with multiple networks (eg. there is no site_id column in domain mapping table, so its just needlessly stupid about things --> displays all mapped domains at all network admin panels).

      (edit: to be clear: DM + Multi-Network = mapping works very well; issues are mostly apparent only for network admin, can mostly be worked around)

      That said, imo, as it stands today, for more than 80% of use cases, DM is simply hands-down, the best domain mapping plugin available (most else being either only use core to map or use mercator).

      Yeah, actually esp considering all the true-enough points raised about the current (and past) product catalog, this seems a good way to assess current DM in context of WPMUDEV:

      WPMUDEV's Domain Mapping is a respectably stable, mature product that is uniquely dominant in its niche, and as such is especially well positioned to attract multisite admins seeking a supported, polished product; as such a cornerstone/flagship product, seems to merit prioritized dev resources.

      Not sure what other WPMUDEV plugins I see as being similarly defining in their 'class'... possibly Ultimate Branding, (& ...idk?).

      Also, fwiw, I'll back my push toward multi-network support: over the next six months I'll happily donate 60 hours into testing/reporting/attempting-to-fix Domain Mapping functionality in multi-network contexts</a> :nerd:

      (hmm, you know, perhaps there are other longtime members who have a special interest in a particular project... perhaps there is potential there for something productive?)

      Ok, its almost sunrise again for me, so I'll be off to enjoy some tea :wink:
      Cheers, Max

  • joe

    Domain mapping...enabling HTTPS for mapped subdomains

    I agree with everyone on this (and lots more too)
    I gave up sub-domain multisite usage due to this issue.
    I would dearly love to have a solution.

    One real positive has come from this for me.
    I have started looking at various other components I use in my setup and asked the question 'what would hapen if it was no longer available ', and I have identified areas where I need to have a Plan B

    Once before I placed an enormous reliance on a huge software package that was in use on 200,000 websites, but it fell by the wayside as it was overtaken by modern PHP based products. The developer endlessly promised the new version was almost ready for more than a year but it never appeared and the whole thing suddenly ground to a halt leaving everyone stranded.

    I don't intend that to happen to me again.

  • Jenny G.

    I think jetmac has plenty of good points, and he sounds like he's been around the bend with WPMU; let the man say his piece even if he was gruff, I think there are gold nuggets for the developers to find and use if they don't get their feelings hurt first. Comm'on guys, lighten up... just sayin:smiley_cat:

    Anyway, I agree with many of the previous posters that focusing on the current set of plugins is highly important; tighten them up, integrating them with one another, and cutting out repetitive plugins should be top on the list of to-dos. Also, combining plugins might be something to think about too, also seeing that the plugins work nicely with popular plugins and themes like Elegant Themes products, and Yoast. Being able to white label Everything, and use https are biggies too.

  • sushling

    1.
    I have tried Upfront, but never used it for clients projects. I'd like to see those enhancements in the future:
    The Hub Automator ->
    Better control for default settings such as changin default-schedules for all sites in bulk, instead of going thru each sites settings
    WPMUDEV Projects ->
    A dedicated page for each of your plugins with comments, ratings, feature request- & voting-tool provided

    2.
    It would be great if Hummingbird (HB) and Defender (DF) would automatically
    - detect other - already installed - plugins
    - recognize if any overlapping features are enabled already
    - prevent HB + DF to enable these features during startup-wizard OR
    - let Hummingbird + Defender warn us about overlapping features
    So I guess this would require HB + DF to integrate with quite a few other plugins such as Caching-Plugins, WordFence, iTheme Security, Brute-Force protecting plugins etc.

    In case you are considering this request: Please include "LiteSpeed Cache" plugin as one of the first to integrate, because I use this on all my sites (since I am hosting my sites on LiteSpeed webservers at macbay.net)

    Thank you and have a wunderful day :slight_smile:

  • Harshay

    I like the overall offering from WPMUDEV. And am currently here for the community and plugins.

    I didn't use Upfront for any live site since I like Divi Builder and themes more, so I am totally fine with Upfront being discontinued.

    I would like to see something done about enabling closely geo-located members having a chance to meet in person or at least know them better. Maybe members on their own discretion could add cities where they usually are in their profile and choose to disclose it to other people who have the same cities on their list. One person should not be able to add more than 2 to 5 cities in order to see every other member's location and not be able to change it 'too' often.

    What do the WPMUDEV team and others think about this?

      • Harshay

        I am not sure I completely understand the concern or at least I feel those could be mitigated. I am talking about a way to discover the fellow WPMUDEV community members who are from your city. We would only know that certain member or members are from the same city. Then it's up to any of those members to initiate a chat to say 'hi' and communicate and meet if they want to.
        So as not be misunderstood, I will make it clear why I initiated this topic, and I know many are in the same boat from Upwork freelancer forums. The whole point I am saying all this is, I have transitioned from a corporate 9 to 5 job lifestyle to a self-employed/freelancer/business lifestyle, and I find it extremely difficult to connect with the old social, professional circle which is working 9 to 5'ish. Everything from their schedule, mindset, etc. and the days they do specific things are different. I can finish errands on weekdays when it's less crowded whereas traditional employees are busy all week and also busy running errands and shopping on the weekend. Hence it is vital for us self-employed/small business folks to have an alternative way to develop a social circle which gets you and you feel more comfortable with.
        Upwork ( the freelancing platform) does and lets premium members hold social meetups, so I am sure there could be ways to mitigate privacy and safety concerns.

        Such a feature is easy to implement and could be an effective way to make this already great WPMUDEV community into a more tight-knit and awesome bunch of people.

  • Jack

    Wow - a whole lot of emotions, thoughts, and opinions above.

    I'll keep it simple. I'd just like to see some of the smaller multisite plugins updated and or merged and updated.

    For example:

    Recent Global posts - GUI could use some work (input fields instead of drops downs for numbers) and it took me took a lot of tweaking to get it to function the way I wanted (Featured Images) and I still have a lot of work to go.

    Advertising plugins - you have several and they could all be merged into one to provide a single solution instead of having different options.

    Sometimes it makes more sense to shore up the foundation instead of rebuilding the wheel. You have a lot of great plugins (especially for Multi-Site) and focusing on some of the smaller ones to bring them into current design trends, or make them more versatile would IMHO add a lot of value to an already valuable resource.

  • Margarey

    I interestingly enough JUST built a website with Upfront two weeks ago. I'm starting a surf school and trying to keep things low budget right now so thought I would try it out seeing as it was free to me. I was SHOCKED at what a great front end builder it is. Never liked any Front-End because they never worked well... It performed excellent. But oh well. Good to know I won't be needing to immediately rebuild that site.

    As for future concentrations... I would love it if you you could develop a type of billing/client info/proposal portal or aspect to the site. Part of what is great about WPMU is having multiple sites in the same place, and that would bring one more aspect of our businesses here.

  • James Farmer

    Hi All,

    I wish I could spend more time reading through and discussing this stuff but life/work/time balance makes it a bit hard... but I have read everything here and there's going to be a lot coming shortly that I think will help to clarify where we are going towards and also some new things that relate a lot to that, but I can't say much about now... bah!

    Anyway, I have read through every comment here and in my limited way here are a few of my thoughts from a CEO perspective, moreorless sequentially from the top of the discussion:

    - We're gona be all about compatibility, and Themeco, why not!

    - Snapshot is going to be massively massively better in the very near future, shipper is going to blow your mind, they are taking a bit longer because they are built on the same incremental architecture that is taking up most of the development time... think basically *no failing*

    - API stuff, hells yes, tutorials on that, double hell yes

    - SmartCrawl should vcery soon be ignoring WPBakery code I think / hope... if not then we should definitely do that thanks for the heads up, shortcode content is now fixed as well I believe so we are good to go for Cornerstone and Divi! Expect an announcement shortly!

    - Forum improvements on the way too... Tyler is your man for that

    - Better docs too... we're working hard on that

    - And there will be a big survey later in this year, just gotta get a certain big secret project sorted first :slight_smile:

    - The Hub 2.0 is going to blow your mind in term sof managing 100s of sites and an entire client base, we're working on it now, see here: https://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/dotw-goodbye-upfront-and-what-actually-matters-to-you-participation-3-hero-points#post-1314702 and that doesn't do it justice at all... just a sneak peek :wink:

    - And hiring a new editor and new writers for tThe Academy so you'll get more and better courses

    - The new CoursePress has now taken waaaay too long, and we're sorry about that, it's been way more epic than we imagined, but the results wil be worth it

    - Expect significant progress on MarketPress and Membership 2 over the next 6-12 months, we get that people want this moreso now than we did before, although we will eb putting in a very specific survey question about these to make sure that we're not just catering for those who shout loudest (although I do really love the shouting... and hey, you are the people most likely to help us grow... so it's not like we're gonna go all brexit here lol)

    - Pro Sites, Domain Mapping also very much at the fore of our minds... e-newsletter not so much, but I can see room for improvement there too, the problem is not trying to replace Mailchimp etc. because that's kinda futile... just go use Mailchimp!

    - Not keen on anything crypto related, I don't hink that really caters to many of our members, we want o help you build, maintain, manage and support lots of high quality WP websites

    - In terms of making us an ecosystem, that's a really really big topic and one that is deserving of it's own massive post, probably on the blog... really simple answer though is that yes, we need to make our stuff more extensible, we need more APIs, we need to better support members who want to extend our stuff and I we are proactively working on that BUT I don't see us becoming a marketplace and, to be honest, I don't really want to become a marketplace (apart form the billions of $$$s that you get from that lol) and I'm not sure how to manage the quality and the commercial imperative, let me continue to think about this and maybe write that post :slight_smile:

    - We have done a GREAT deal of work on bug squashing (and processes) over the last 1.5 years, in fact we have seen our cancellation rates for 'bugs' go massively down (over a 70% reduction) and we continue to be obsessed over this... moving away from the complexity of Upfront (and the bugs associated with such a hardcore plugin) will only help us give you better quality products. Can we do better? Always! But I strongly believe that we are doing pretty well at the moment.

    - White labelling / hiding premium plugins... would a simple solution here be able to hid plugins from the menu (a la the dashboard) from your clients?

    - You should expect to see more things in the Hub than the dashboard in future, including better auditing (it's already pretty cool, have you tried it)

    - Forminator... please wait till we're ready for a formal release before judging us on this. Basically I believe that there ar ea lot of good form builders out there but that they can be made BETTER, especially in user experience, and we can help save our members a lot of cash by providing the same or better functionality here ar WPMU DEV included in their fees... a *lot* of people requested this last year, we'd be idiots not to listen to our members.

    - Snapshot see above... SmartCrawl is now as good as (or better ) than Yoast and we're not stopping there, see same reason as Forminator also Jetmac see above for a few other comments.

    - I *loved* Easy blogging, it was my idea, and we tried it twice BUT it's basically me being a bit on an idiot again and trying to re-invent WP. Both too hard and too unnecessary. I reckon it still does a job though especially for students.

    - Communities... see BuddyPress really

    - Jobs & Experts... does a job, but again it's just not something enough clients of our members are looking for, I thought it might have been, I was wrong... but that doesn't mean we're binning it

    - There ar ea lot of other smaller things that people like that we'll obviously keep, and a bunch of stuff that, as you say, can be rolled into Hustle... cleaning house is good but only when done with *purpose*

    - I must warn you, I am susceptible to flattery :wink: Gushing tributes away lol :smiley:

    - JK re: the above, kinda, maybe

    - Better cross integration between our plugins, absolutely, BUT it has tro be an open integration so that you guys can use your preferred theme framework, booking system, forms plugin etc. etc. We are absolutely going to be working towards that and my blog post was kinda all about that, indirectly

    - Yes, domain mapping, we need to not forget and be the market / thought leaders for MU, after all, it's in our name!

    - Akismet into defender would be great, we actually have looked into this and thought about it quite a lot

    - The plan is to absolutely better integrate, especially Hummingbird improvements, with one click fixes.

    - Meetups would be fantastic, we'll support and back and provide cash and love and promotion for any of those, I don't think we need a Foundation to do it, lol :wink:

    - And yes, I think our breadth of small and specific (and on their own commercially unvialble) multisite plugins are really worthwhile, we should make more and make existing ones nicer... just let me get hub 2.0 and our other kinda enormous project out of the way first, it'll be worth it, we promise!

    • Julian

      We're gona be all about compatibility, and Themeco, why not!

      Yay!

      White labelling / hiding premium plugins... would a simple solution here be able to hid plugins from the menu (a la the dashboard) from your clients?

      I would love an option to remove all traces of WPMU DEV, especially the superhero graphics (sorry lol) from the plugins. I don't want clients or site visitors to see any of that.

      Forminator... please wait till we're ready for a formal release before judging us on this.

      I believe in you :slight_smile:

      SmartCrawl is now as good as (or better ) than Yoast and we're not stopping there

      Not saying you're wrong, but is there any proof of that? Any comparisons? Would be great to read about it :slight_smile:

      Snapshot is going to be massively massively better in the very near future, shipper is going to blow your mind, they are taking a bit longer because they are built on the same incremental architecture that is taking up most of the development time... think basically *no failing*

      Can't wait for that. Snapshot has never been reliable for me.

      Akismet into defender would be great, we actually have looked into this and thought about it quite a lot

      Great to hear. Would be a very good addition to Defender.

    • jetmac

      James Farmer ,

      Thanks for wading in and getting back to us with such a detailed response. It's much appreciated.

      I feel you should reconsider eNewsletter's importance to your customers and your product ecosphere. I don't see it as a competitor to MailChimp, nor is it a "MailChimp killer" (I don't think that exists). I do see it as a valuable alternative system, however, especially when working with other WPMU plugins.

      Most of my clients started with MailChimp, until they out grew the "free" tier. At that point, they all - universally - hungrily sought out an alternative email method. I first attempted to satisfy that with eNewsletter, but due to the lack of functions and difficult setup, I switched to MailPoet, which did a fine job and many were pretty happy with it.

      However, my more sophisticated clients - as well as myself - really wanted something that neither system (MailChimp or MailPoet) could provide. And that is fine detailed list building and automation, which eNewlsetter does not provide, but possibly could.

      For example, eNewsletter has a basic ability to recognize that someone has a website via ProSites, but can't adjust to their actual member level. It can do something similar with Membership and CoursePress, but in both cases at an almost superficial level.

      In addition, while eNewsletter can create a welcome email, it doesn't have drip capability. Nor does it have "latest post" subscription. Both of those functions are covered via separate plugins - and, sadly, all are a bit dated in their functionality.

      However, it would be pretty cool if eNewsletter could be revamped to be a complete solution (drip email campaigns, multiple customized welcome emails, and post subscriptions) in addition to being able to having a closer interaction with the WPMU plugins. The result would be a much more complete, automated, marketing and business solution to a degree that MailChimp - or any external mail service, for that matter - could not match. Provided you use WPMU plugins and services.

      The reason behind this is that you have fine control over everything in those plugins, and you do not have that level of control over MailChimp, etc, no matter how much you leverage an API. A simple example is that MailChimp can add someone to a mailing list, but taking one off of a list is very difficult (I've never seen it done, at least), so when a member upgrades from a "Free" membership to a "Tier 1" membership, for example, eNewsletter could remove that member from the "free" mailing list and add them to the "Tier 1" mailing list, providing a seamless, targeted, and premium experience.

      eNewsletter could also work with CoursePress, and be able to track students who haven't finished a course, or who have finished up to a certain module. This could greatly assist course providers in sending targeted help emails to students. It could also send targeted marketing emails to students who have finished a course (prompting them to buy the next one, take a survey, share with friends, provide feedback, etc).

      eNewsletter could automatically add customers from MarketPress to a mailing list, perhaps even by category of product purchased. There is a WooCommerce plugin to add customers to a MailChimp list, but nothing Iv'e seen to provide targeted listing by the purchase made. As an example, for an author who sells signed hard copies on their site, perhaps it would send all those customers who purchased a signed book an automated notification that the next book in the series they bought is available. Likewise for many other situations.

      These detailed, targeted, mailings are what has made Amazon so powerful. Other professional WordPress systems can't communicate at this level, neither on their own or through external services like MailChimp. They can't get this level of granularity, because they focus so much on particular lists. But, by connecting the newsletter system directly to the plugins via the site's database, a far more flexible, personal, and valuable mailing system can be developed. Something that does what nothing else can do right now.

      Thinking of eNewsletter as a "MailChimp killer", in my opinion, is the wrong mindset. Thinking of it as a uniquely capable sales tool is the way I would approach it. And, indeed, the way it is presented in the scenarios written above.

      I feel - and have always felt - that a custom mail solution that worked with and leveraged your plugins would be a game changer in the WordPress business space. While incredibly powerful on it's own, I think it elevates plugins like MarketPress, ProSites, Membership, CoursePress, Events+, Appointments+ to a whole new level. A level no one else can match.

      And, for those who want to use it instead of MailChimp, MailPoet, etc - hey, why not? I probably would.

      This is the same for EasyBlogging, quite frankly. I didn't see the need to have that plugin provide a new Admin Area/Theme - indeed, I think that doing so is what caused its decline. But, as something that could provide a flexible dashboard system that could be linked to ProSites and Membership, well, that has real value. Add in a Wizard Function and you start to really have something that no one else has - and that many people really want.

      There are plugins like Admin Editor that provide some ability, but it will likely never be able to communicate with Prosites, so it will never be able to provide a custom admin for each member level. Nor can Admin Editor provide a Wizard for setting up and getting started.

      I would leave the Admin Theme customization to Ultimate Branding and refocus EasyBlogging as a way to leverage and add value to existing plugins, in a way that many people want but that no one else provides. I, personally, would be very interested in having a custom dashboard for different member levels. I can see "Free" Prosites Members having a very stripped down system and "Premium" members having a rich, and highly customized, dashboard. I actually provided something similar to this for members by leveraging Ultimate Branding and Admin Menu Editor and it was very well received (see pic). Sadly, though, it was very static (no member level adjustment), so there were inherent limitations of what I could do. But, simplifying and organizing the WordPress dashboard was a significant selling point for many members who found the many nested menus of various WP functions confusing. I wished I could have made it more targeted and personal, though. I also wished - every day and with every new member - that I could have provided a better onboarding wizard.

      As for white labelling - premium plugins need to be white labelled. Hiding their buttons from the menu frequently ends in problems. Best to simply make them clean. The Superheroes are great branding for WPMU, but not for the clients. They have their own branding in mind. In my experience, the heroes are tolerated at best, and problematic at worst. Best to not have them in the actual plugins, IMO. At least not at the premium level.

      When you say "Crypto" I'm assuming you mean HTTPS/SSL. That is becoming essential. Not because many of us particularly want the complications of it, but because it is. When browsers send warnings to members on login pages about "protection" it has to be considered. When points of sale don't "sale" because of https/http transfer based cookie interference, then it has to be considered. This is circumvented by every site having it's own individual hosting, but that means multisite becomes almost irrelevant in a business context. This issue is why I am now using the Hub to manage individual websites. But, the lack of the pure speed and simplicity of multisite (site building, subscription charging, domain mapping) does hurt business. I closed down my multisite network as a result, and others in this thread have as well. Maybe this issue will be solved by WordPress, but I don't think they are motivated to do so. It's going to have to be a plugin - why not one from WPMU, the most prominent Multisite plugin support house?

      I guess what I'm getting at here is that the value is in providing solutions, not plugins. WPMU has a lot of plugins, that, if they worked better together (and yes, with a few key external services) would provide complete solutions. Plugins ca be gotten anywhere - there is nothing WPMU makes that many other plugins don't already do. But few of those work together, and likely never will. WPMU plugins, on the other hand, could work together to provide users with richer, more powerful solutions that no one else can.

  • Phil Bochi

    The way things are going I think a new light weight template with header and footer options would be great but please keep it light. You should look into page builders Elementor, Visual Composer, Themify, Beaver Builder, etc have taken off. Now a days I look for a light weight theme and use a page builder such as Elementor to design / edit the pages. It has definitely sped up my work. On top of that introducing blocks and templates within these page designers has also contributed to speeding up my work.

  • Manuel

    So, what actually matters to you?

    What do you want to see us doubling down on?

    2. Who do you want to see us become compatible with or work on deeper compatibility with?

    • Just been reading through the feeds in this forum including JF's in quick reply, and as always I learned quite a lot from all that discussed my members.

    There used to be good video tutorials on YouTube, but those are now largely out of date.

    • Clearly an area that needs updating to compete with Divi, Elementor and other major wp Theme-Plugins players
    There is little doubt in my mind, (after going through the comments), that WPMU DEV is geared towards these with already a good solid knowledge about how WordPress functions and reacts. For the wp novice, it is all very confusing (as they can start their learning their WP ''bible'', as actually I did, through wpmu dev membership). I’m still trying to learn how many things function! Lack of basic, good wpmu dev YouTube videos/ tutorials how to add functionality to this and that, is a must for newbies.
    • I have to add though that as inexperienced with WordPress and WPMU DEV as I may still be, (a lot to learn yet), I had the opportunity to play/use Upfront (building websites for learning purposes) and somehow could see in advance that the ‘’drag and drop’’ functionality wasn’t getting learners anywhere fast without knowing some html/css code. Someone else said ''clanky'' James says ''buggy'' I say ''disobedient'' and certainly lacking user-support.

    I found Upfront to be very buggy and not especially user-friendly nor flexible

    • Somehow I knew that I couldn’t trust Upfront and use it for building websites to sell to clients. Much I’ve learned using Upfront. For that reason I guess this isn’t time wasted. I just have to wait for ‘’Guttenberg’’ or try Divi, as some members suggest, including James Farmer. Elementor seems to be another one rivalling Divi.

    o I have to applaud the fact that James Farmer is going to look into so many things and do more about better documentation and improve on the Academy courses content. -

    Hiring a new editor and new writers for the Academy and get more and better courses, icluding - White labeling videos
    Good on you!
    Add to this that wpmu dev operates at an International level and can't solely rely on Machine Translation to deal with support to members. Not only misunderstanding will reign among these members who can't understand English, I also imagine this to be of great economical benefit to wpmu dev if Transcriptions of these Academy courses and of new Youtube tutorials, videos, Plugins and so on, in at least half a dozen of languages other than English could be done.
    Anyway, maybe I will be continuing using Upfront and Builder, (since support continues for now), while exploring Guttemberg and Divi as I do not have to worry about building websites for clients.

    Manuel

  • djohns

    You are smart to concentrate on plugins that are common to most sites -- backups, migrations, white labeling, SEO, forms, image management etc and as mentioned, making sure they play well together, have a consistent user interface, and have enough options to be the top 5 or so of their plugin class. It's very few sites that would not need all those functions.
    Then throw in tutorials, classes, and great documentation to teach noobies how to use them and assist developers in modifying or extending them.
    And just keep up the world-class support.

  • joe

    I may be off base but I can take a stab at why WPMU have difficulty in making plugins that work together and why so many existing plugins seem to have features duplicated in others.

    The dev teams are independent and WPMU literally buys in plugins, rebrands them as WPMU, and pushes the notion they are in-house productions which they are not.
    ----------------
    I wish those ridiculous cartoon characters would simply go away.
    WPMU can keep them, but I don't like them being shoved down my throat.
    White label versions please !

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