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Why upgrade my forum?


IE 11 without Compatibility Mode is available to all Windows 7 & 8.1 users.
 
What does this mean? It means that your current forum software may not function as well as it used to be, and with this new browser, you no longer have the header compatibility trick to make IE work with your forum software.

No matter how well v2 / v3 ASPPlayground forum has served you, people are upgrading their browsers faster than ever (browsers upgrade themselves automatically without asking), so they'll soon run into compatibility issues with the older forum software.
 
Not to mention people today have new expectations for the forum because of the newer, more flashy web apps they see elsewhere.
 
Very often, people can get frustrated and leave without letting you know anything about it.

V2 / V3: What are the common issues people have?

The following is a short list of complaints I got from V2 and V3 users:
  1. WYSIWYG Editor:
    1. Strange formatting issues. The editor no longer works well with newer browsers.
    2. Hard to find attachment button. File uploading is not intuitive.
    3. Users have to resize their photos before uploading. This becomes a barrier because some people don't know how to resize big photos on their computer.
  2. Mobile Access Difficulties:

    Today, as much as 20% of your traffic can come from mobile users, and even more so in the future. Check your website stats and you'll see a steady increase in mobile traffic.

    The issue: the mobile theme in V3 doesn't scale well on smartphones, and it doesn't auto detect mobile devices either (users have to find the switch themselves... some users don't know it exists).

    Not to mention total lack of mobile capability in V2.
  3. Losing Track of 'Read Status'

    The thread read tracking feature in V2 / V3 is session based, meaning all unread thread indicators are lost when you close the browser. The read status tracking also gets lost if you leave the browser idle for more than 20 min (without clicking on a link, e.g.), due to the built-in session expiration trigger.

    In addition, read tracking also doesn't work across browsers and devices. For example, if you use your tablet on the road to visit the forum, you'll see all threads marked as read. This can lead to major inconvenience for your users.
  4. Performance issues with Email Notification & Search:

    Some people experience significant delay after posting because the software is busy sending out email notifications. In addition, the search function sometimes times out (showing error messages / no results).

    These are all due to the fact ASP.NET has resource limitations set for each application, so emailing and lengthy database operation (like search) can cause major problems for busy forums. APG vNext has asynchronous / multi-threading capabilities which solve these problems for good.
  5. Spam Problems:

    Increased spam activity is a major headache for forum admins. And the all-or-nothing moderation limitation in v2/v3 makes it difficult and time consuming for admins and moderators to manually approve posts and delete spam.

    And for V2 users: lack of captcha protection in V2 to protect against spam bots makes controlling spam very difficult.
 
APG vNext (version 5) solves all the problems above with a redesign of the software backend, and gives you a modern UI that meets users' expectations today.
 
 Click here to see pricing information, if you're ready to upgrade your forum to the latest.
 
 
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Improvements you get with APG vNext (version 5)

We recently passed the 20k member mark and I'm happy about that.
 
What I do think makes a key difference is how easy it is for prospective members to join in vNext. Combine general usability and presentation, the improved search function, all of it, and it just makes the forum function all that much better.

Scott B. | armyairforces.com


In addition to fixing usability problems above, here are some of the biggest features in v5:
  1. Instant Blog Creation:

    You can label threads you find important and show them on a page specifically designed to have a blog look. This allows you to highlight important information instead of letting them drown in a sea of discussions.

    With this feature, you don't have a separate software to manage, and you don't have to copy content somewhere else that gives you maintenance headache.
  2. Tapatalk Native App + jQuery Mobile App:

    We're the only .NET forum that has official Tapatalk support. And don't worry, if you don't want to use third party apps for your forum, we also have a brand new mobile web app built with jQuery Mobile (the same framework Disney uses). Both apps are cross-platform and can detect mobile browsers automatically.

    These apps provide superior touch experience and are optimized for fast loading. They are feature rich, too, so you won't miss the full, desktop skin experience.
  3. Social Media Sign-in:

    Your visitors are likely to have existing social media accounts, so why not letting them join your community with these existing accounts? We support sign-in with Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

    People today don't like to create accounts anymore (password management headache), and this feature simplifies the entire sign-up process for them.
  4. Revamped WYSIWYG Editor:

    The new WYSIWYG editor is compatible with all major browsers, providing a consistent user experience for everyone. And you can attach multiple files using the new HTML5 drag'n drop functionality and visually embed attachments in your post.

    The editor also resizes itself to fit the content in it, and saves draft periodically for your users to prevent data loss (much like GMail).

    Other enhancements: easy-to-use Youtube videos embedding, Slideshare embedding, and instant preview below the editor.
  5. Streamlined Top Navigation:

    Users can access all the important info, like latest posts, forums, photos and private messages, right from the top navigation menu with a single mouse click. 

    In the AdminCP, you can customize the menu (adding links to your site, e.g.) using the menu editor, without touching the code.
  6. Content Slider For Highlighting Community Content:

    In this new version, you can highlight important posts for your members on the home page, using the built-in content slider. This feature lets you grab visitors' attention by adding visually attractive images and headlines on the slider.

    In contrast, the traditional big forum list UI keeps important threads several mouse clicks away.
  7. Easy Page Creation (simple CMS capability):

    Your forum may need additional pages like About us, Contact Us, a thank you page, or a page that explains the benefits to join (instead of just a dull sign up form).

    With APG vNext, you can create these pages with keyword optimized URL outside the forum and blog system, right from the AdminCP. You can also add these pages to the top nav menu to make them easily accessible.

    You no longer need additional tools to create adhoc pages for your community.
  8. 3 Different Presentation Styles to Choose for Your Home Page:

    You can choose among the traditional forum listings, the News page (what I use), or the Blog to be your community home page. This gives you flexibility to pick the best style that suits your community.
  9. Akismet Built-in: Powerful, Automated Spam Filtering

    As mentioned earlier, spam is a huge problem for any growing community. It's tough to deal with them manually because spammers have become increasingly skillful and deceptive.

    This is why we incorporated Akismet to help you fight spam. It's perhaps the most intelligent (it learns) and accurate automated spam filtering solution available to date. It's built and used by the Wordpress folks, which means this system is battled tested and gets smarter the more you use it.
  10. Built-in Integration with a Wide Range of 3rd Party Tools

    In version 5, we provide no-code integration with many 3rd party tools. They include: Google Analytics, Google+ Authorship, CrazyEgg (or any other analytics service), Addthis social sharing buttons, Gravatar, FontAwesome icons, and Google's ReCaptcha.

    Also, you can share membership data with your newsletter service provider (like Mailchimp) via the built-in web service / REST API calling feature.
 
 I'm ready to upgrade! Click here to see the pricing.
 
 
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FAQ About Software Upgrade

Upgrading a system that's been running for a long time can make people anxious. The following is a list of common concerns, and how I can make the process as smooth as possible for you:
  1. What's the upgrade process like, and is it easy & reliable?

    Yes, we have already got huge online forums upgraded to the APG vNext already. These are forums that have millions of posts and serve hundreds of concurrent users at any given moment.

    We also have numerous smaller forums that have less traffic and data, but also having great successes with APG vNext.

    What's involved: upgrading involves first backing up your existing forum data and files, and then upload the new files from the APG vNext package to your server, overwriting old files.

    The built in database upgrade wizard will then take you through the entire database upgrade process, and it has the ability to resume the process in the case of error (detailed error message will be available to you).

    Also, you can perform a test upgrade locally with a backup db to get a feel about the process.
  2. Database upgrade - what are involved and can I revert back?

    The database upgrade from V3 and v5 is very simple and straightforward. It takes less than 1 min to complete. There aren't much changed in terms of data structure.

    The upgrade from V2 to v5 is more extensive (takes a little longer), as we will be moving data across database tables. But the process has been streamlined in the upgrade wizard, too.

    For V2 users running the ANSI version of the software (2.4.5 ANSI or 2.5.5 ANSI) or any version below 2.4.5 (2.x ~ 2.4.2 SP3), you'll need to migrate your data to a Unicode db first.

    For V2 users running the Unicode version of the software (2.4.5 Unicode or 2.5.5 Unicode), you can upgrade directly to the latest vNext version using the built-in setup program.

    Note: The upgrade wizard doesn't support reverting back to the previous version, so performing a test upgrade first is recommended (testing the upgrade on a backup database).
  3. Theming - can I maintain the look and feel?

    version 5 comes with a different, more optimized CSS structure that helps make customization easier. Therefore it's not compatible with the system used in the previous versions.

    However, you do not want to keep the old look at all. For 2 reasons:
    1. The old UI is not as user friendly, and looks old school (makes your site look outdated)
    2. The UI on the new version is much more streamlined and intuitive, and users won't experience steep learning curve at all.
  4. Do URLs remain the same? If not, how can I make sure users don't run into 404 error?

    For V3 users, all your forum and message URLs remain the same. Users won't run into 404 error from their bookmarks. All your indexed page on Google stay intact.

    For v2 users, we have a built in redirector (301 redirect) that will interpret old URL requests and send users to the corresponding new URLs.
  5. Can I still use the original forum list page as my home page?

    Yes. If you think the forum list makes more sense to you, or you're afraid that users won't like the News style home page (featured content slider + newest threads on home page), you can switch back to use the forum list any time with no coding involved.

    Or, if you publish content for your community regularly, you can also set the Blog as your home page.
  6. What about system requirements for APG vNext? Any hosting change needed?

    For V3 or V2 ASP.NET users, you'll need to switch to a ASP.NET 4.0 or 4.5 based application pool. We no longer support ASP.NET 3.5 or below.

    ASP.NET 4.0 has been around for about 2 years, so your host should have it installed already.

    For ASP based V2 users, APG vNext (version 5) is an ASP.NET only forum and doesn't run on SQL 2000.
    Click here to see the full system requirements (a system tester is available for download).
  7. Can you help me with the upgrade? I'm not a techie...

    Yes, I can help you with the upgrade process, and answer any question you have about the upgrade.

    You can hire me to perform the upgrade for you, too. See the pricing info below for details.

Thanks to the professional services Sam offers, our migration to vNext went smooth as can be.  The software will practically install itself by guiding you step by step but as a non system admin or software engineer it is nice to have a service available to make sure everything goes to plan.  
 
We have been up and running for a few days now and our users have nothing but complements for the new look and feel of vNext.  Great job!

Mark S. | DFW-TX4WD.ORG


 
 
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How much does it cost? Pricing for license & upgrade service

The upgrade costs $347 per license. With the purchase, you also get 1 year update and support from me. For the second year and beyond, the support and upgrade (maintenance) cost is $15.99/mo, billed annually.
 
Purchase Software Upgrade (from v3 or v2)
(You'll download the software right after purchase.)
 
Purchase upgrade service 
Installation / upgrade service details can be found here.
 
 
 
If you have any question, please write to

 
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