I am being so careful about this because the selection of GT Forums is the final entry in a long list of new software. You see, I’m selecting new software and implementing a series of major enhancements to my site all of which are designed to increase its ‘stickiness’ and of course, visitor loyalty. When I'm done, I expect my site to be by far the most sophisticated site of its type on the net!
Like most potential users, I still have several open pre-sales questions. Here are my remaining questions:
First, one of the pending enhancements to my site is the replacement of our current Forums software (IkonBoard) with a product that is more capable and flexible. That’s where GT Forums comes in... In addition to using GT Forums to replace IkonBoard, I would also like to use it to replace the ‘message board’ of the large Yahoo egroup we sponsor and support. Naturally I was pleased to find that you (wisely I think) offer conversion utilities for users of Ikonboard and several other Forum products. I think supporting conversions is a smart move on your part and one your competitors (like UBB) have completely overlooked!
I’m also curious whether you’ve given any thought to offering a tool that’s capable of converting a Yahoo Groups message-base to GT Forums? Or better yet, do you have such a utility already? In my case, our Yahoo message base already contains roughly 4,500 messages that we’ve accumulated over a 2 year period and I really don’t want to leave those messages behind!
Although Yahoo’s message board is more primitive than most Forum products, there are literally tens of thousands of similar groups hosted on Yahoo and many of us who’ve managed a large group for a while using Yahoo’s inadequate tools (and lived under the unpredictable rule changes imposed by Yahoo’s ‘benevolent dictatorship’) would gladly reach in our pockets to find a replacement solution.
I’m sure there must be thousands of other Yahoo group hosts who feel as I do. But as you might expect, none of us wants to lose our existing message-base either! If you don’t already have a Yahoo Groups conversion tool, can you give me any idea about what it might cost to develop one?
Second, I want to add my positive vote on the side of those who’ve encouraged you to expand and enhance GT Forum’s image attachment feature to include the option to display either thumbnails or images ‘in-line’ on messages where posters attached gif or jpg image files to their postings. This was a popular feature of the Yahoo Message Board until they decided to lobotomize it by deleting all the message-attached images they had captured & stored in all their groups. I too would like the ability to capture, thumbnail, store and display images associated with messages. In fact, it is one of the things that attracts me to GT Forums.
Although a link to the image is okay, being able to display a thumbnail or the image itself is better, I think.
So, my questions about the image attachment feature are simple:
1. Have you made any progress on enhancing this feature or making it more flexible?
2. It has been months since you first said you were considering enhancing it in a 'future release'. Do you have any progress to report on this?
Third, I have a series of simple newsletter questions. I really like your newsletter feature! I love the fact that it sends the subscriber copies of all new messages in groups they’ve subscribed to rather than just sending them a list of the new messages they may want to read.
However, I can’t yet tell whether the user receives a separate newsletter for each Forum they subscribe to or whether they get a single ‘personalized’ newsletter that reflects ALL new postings in ALL the groups they've subscribed to?
I also can’t tell what happens in the newsletter if there were images attached to the postings? Are they included? Or is a link to the attached image included? Or what?
Finally, can the user control the time period and delivery frequency of newsletters?
For example, could my newsletter subscription be weekly or monthly rather than ‘daily’?
And now for one final question that has to do with application integration... First I'll explain my problem... then I'll ask my question.
Although my site is a members site, I expect to make all of my new software tools available to users who visit the free side of the site as well. The present list of new software tools I'm presently implementing includes:
GT Forums Software
BrandX Image Management Software
BrandY Free Email Hosting Software (Sorry, I can't cost justify GT Mail yet)
BrandZ Java Chat Room Software
BrandQ Instant Messenger Software
BrandV Links Librarian and Search Engine (Sorry, I can't afford GT LinksSQL yet!)
BrandM Mailing List Manager
I addition, I already have:
- A unique custom-written document library manager
- Site Wide Unix Groups Capable Membership & Security Management Software
Obviously several of these products do need and expect users to register... and each of them presently has its own registration component... I hope to eventually enhance them all in a concerted effort to convince them to share a single central Member database. Of all those databases, I like the one in GT Forums the best... I particularly like the way you handle the registration email! But I have also considered using the member database for my Membership Management Software which uses a flat-file database and lets me add new groups and custom fields very easily.
So, my question is, do you know of anyone who has successfully implemented the GT Forums member database for another software product... or as in my case for SEVERAL different software products? Can you point me to any existing posts on that subject or do you happen to have any other tips or suggestions to offer in this area?
Thanks very much for all your help and advice. I'm not sure which impresses me more... the quality of your products, your excellent support services or the loyalty and overall positive attitude of your user community. But you guys are doing one helluva job! Keep it up, please!!!
Best Professional Regards,
Any sufficiently advanced technology is essentially equivalent to magic [or witchcraft] to those who do not understand how it is accomplished...