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First impressions of IPS Forums

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1 First impressions of IPS Forums on Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:44 pm

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I've just spent the whole of this week doing a dry-run migration of a vB4 forum with over half a million posts to IPS Forums. I've created a new theme and I've added Adsense ads and all the other stuff that's needed for a successful migration. I've also had a few trusted members take a look at the new forum and received feedback. I thought it would be helpful if I related my initial impressions.

First off, I'm really impressed. Moving from vB4, I can hardly believe how thoughtful the design of this software is. I love the ethos of taking the burden away from the admins and mods and, at the same time, providing a great user experience for everyone who uses it. So, five stars for that.

Second, I'm also impressed how intuitive (mostly) everything is. I managed to do everything this week with only a few references to the support materials. When I did need that support, the documentation was excellent. So, five stars for that too.

Third, I love that IPS Forums looks, feels and functions like a thoroughly modern web application. It's head and shoulders above any other forum out there and I've had some great feedback from my testers - they can't wait to start using the live board.

OK, so is everything perfect? No. I'm going to complain about the two things that annoyed me this week. The first is relatively minor but really should be sorted out. The second is (IMO) significant and ought to be a priority for the next iteration of IPS Forums.

1. Theme Editing: There is some ambiguity when setting theme colours. There are two ways of doing this, the Theme Editor and the Easy Mode Editor but they each offer different options for the same elements. E.g. the theme editor allows the user to select a single colour for the header while the easy mode editor allows for the selection of a colour or the creation of a gradient. So which one takes precedent? It's not really clear and although I started using the theme editor, I soon gave up and used only the easy mode editor to avoid any ambiguity. I think this needs to be better thought through. That's not to say that the Easy Mode Editor isn't brilliant, it is, but theme editing is confusing.

2. Advertisements: This is a significant issue. I know this because even vBulletin 4 got this right back in 2009. Like many admins, I use Google Adsense to support my site but I was alarmed to see that the hooks for the default ads are placed in the global template, meaning that the header and footer ads appear on EVERY page, even those with no content and clearly violating Google's terms and conditions. I couldn't believe that an application, so thoughtful and user-centred in every other respect, would not have considered this. The only safe solution I found was to manually edit the template files to add my own custom hook. It's really out of order to expect all users to take such a deep dive into this application just to satisfy the T&Cs of their ad providers. Of course, there are a couple of plug-ins that will prevent ads appearing on some pages but they are not comprehensive and they appear to work by hiding the ad via CSS. This is not a good solution as the HTML ad code still appears on non-content pages. I did a quick search on this forum and found lot's of examples of admins who had received a warning from Google after adding ad code to IPS Forums. In October 2017, @Lindy said "Just to note, we're aware of this concern and are considering solutions such as an option to exclude ads on login, error, register and pages that guests cannot access." As far as I'm aware, there's been no update on this. C'mon IPS! This really needs sorting out.

Other than those two, one minor and one major issues. it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.

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