What is your opinion on switching the forum to Discourse?

Hey everyone,

As I’m sure you’re aware, the forum has several issues, and after looking into it and having Irving (our developer) explain it to me, we’re not able to fix them unless we change/upgrade the forum software.

I currently have Irving setting up a test environment and importing the forum over there to see what we might lose in the process of migrating, but just from purely a usability perspective, would you guys be okay with switching to Discourse?

If you’ve never used a Discourse based forum before, the Twitter Community Forum is a good example of one: https://twittercommunity.com/

Please provide your thoughts below, we’ll be sure to take them into consideration!

I going to check it out before I lock in my vote

I can’t say I’ve run across Discourse used in any of the forums I’m a member of, but the layout looks similar to those I visit. Without being a member of the one you linked it’s difficult to say how the functionality would be.

  • Ease of site navigation for user.
  • Ease of uploading files or jpg images?
  • Ability to customize layout by you guys? (Can’t say I’m fond of the appearance of the one that was linked. Needs better visible separation between user posts)
  • Private messaging (PM’s) to other users (conversation)?
  • Embed videos or other media?
  • Clean professional look that reflects the image of SingularSound/BeatBuddy(?)

The most common ones I see in use are vBulletin, phpBB, xenforo. Examples below…
https://www.vbulletin.com/forum/ (purchase)
https://www.phpbb.com/community/ (free)
https://xenforo.com/community/ (purchase)

A couple vBulletin based music forums…



My bottom-line-upfront. Although the poll is geared toward whether or not this forum should convert from Xenforo to Discourse, I have an entirely different view a business identifies and then sticks to what’s important. Just what are Singular Sound’s priorities? I understand that there’s a fine balance between how a business makes money while meeting customers’ needs and expectations:
[]Does Singular Sound want to migrate the forum to software that increases product exposure? Will this reduce forum users’ frustration with the BeatBuddy User Forum - Error and lack of robust forum search capabilities e.g., finding results based on three-letter words?
]Or should Singular Sound try to meet user needs and requirements by updating the BeatBuddy Manager (BBM) software and the firmware?
[]Can they do both concurrently? This would be ideal.
]The BeatBuddy is Singular Sound’s bread and butter. Without it, there would be no need for the MIDI Maestro or a looper. While development of new products is important for a business to thrive, it should not neglect sustainment and improvement of the bread and butter product.

If the poll were reshaped to ask whether users would prefer to have updated BeatBuddy Manager (BBM) vs. changing to a different forum software engine, I don’t think I’d be too far off in saying that users would probably prefer the long overdue updates for the BBM and firmware. I believe that moving to another software platform should take second place to updating the BeatBuddy Manager (BBM) software.

Moving along to my review of Discourse. I reviewed the https://twittercommunity.com/ link and it left me shrugging “so what?” I visited several other Discourse-powered sites. One that I frequent is Keyboard Maestro’s and I still had the same neutral impression. I was hoping to find a forum that was much more musician-centric such as the Xenforo links in post #3. Can the forum support users while serving as a marketing platform leveraging social media?

Some pluses and minuses after more surfing for feedback and reviews on Discourse:
(-) Discourse is resource intensive on the server; https://d.wifo.org/t/why-use-the-discourse-forum-software/11
(+) Can be hosted by Discourse developers. Can probably be migrated by Discourse for one year of Business Hosting for ~ $3,600
(-) Javascript places demands on the user browser and computer—might not play friendly with Safari (Mac browser; yes there’s always Chrome)
(-) Users may not have a good experience over a bad net connection.
(+) Mailing list; for those users that don’t log on to the forum regularly, they could choose to get an email digest
(+) Seems to have a better search capability than Xenforo
(+) Mobile app supports iOS and Android

Some thoughts and questions to consider: What about ease of migration from Xenforo to Discourse?
[]One of the existing forum shortfalls is that the server is not backed up. I think that any change should require a backup server (the Discourse Business Hosting would probably meet this requirement).
]Migration of user profiles such as user_joe has 300 posts and 149 resources? If this can’t be done, don’t bother.
[]Ability to remove all existing Resources that lead to BeatBuddy User Forum - Error? If this can’t be done, why bother?
]Migrate Youtube embedded links as well as attached files, screen shots, etc?
[]Security of user accounts?
]Can a Discourse forum be made to make current BB forum users comfortable or like there’s a substantial improvement?

[]Plan on forum being offline during the migration for at least 2 days (to be expected)
]ArsTechnica admins (these are the IT pros) do not like Discourse and opted to continue to use phpBB
[*]Here’s a guy that’ll help you migrate (for a fee) https://www.literatecomputing.com/discourse-migration/

Here’s what’s being worked on now:

  1. New Song Matching tool, this serves 2 purposes: First, it acts as a backup for the content here on the forum (anything uploaded will live on our servers independent of forum software, and thus, we won’t encounter the same issues as we have in the past) and second, it’ll just be way easier than using the sheets or searching the forum for custom songs. Current progress towards this can be found here: http://songmatcher.singularsound.com/ Though it’s a very early version. He’s working on the uploading functionality today, though there’s no ETA for completion yet.

  2. New Forum, This is relatively easy when compared to fixing the BeatBuddy Manager software and so we’d like to knock it out first before putting our heads down into the BBM software. We’re actually in the process of testing migrations ourselves to see what all we can keep and what might be lost in the process.

  3. BBM Software Bug Fixes and Improvements. This one is tough, but I’ll have Irving do his best to push bug fixes and improvements as quickly as possible. He didn’t write the code originally, and from what I understand it’s not well documented so he’s currently familiarizing himself with it before making any changes.

So I guess we’re technically working on them concurrently, but the order that they’ll be completed is as above. These are, unfortunately, not things we can fix overnight.

We’ve been looking into this a lot already, we’re going to do a test migration on a separate instance to see what all can be or can’t be moved over - There’s actually already an importer written, and it seems like it’d be able to move over all youtube embed links, images, files, user info, etc. But, there’s no real way to know without testing it, so that’s what we’ll do.

I hadn’t heard about some of these points. we’ll certainly research the points regarding JS and net connection further.

Should probably have a “nah, I’d prefer to stick with the current forum thanks” option too

I agree

Thanks to Persist’s efforts (an apt name you chose) its becoming clear the BBM is a major rework and don’t hold your breath …“3) BBM Software Bug Fixes and Improvements. This one is tough, but I’ll have Irving do his best to push bug fixes and improvements as quickly as possible. He didn’t write the code originally, and from what I understand it’s not well documented so he’s currently familiarizing himself with it before making any changes.”
From personal experience (technical side of a major analytical instrument company) this is not encouraging. Older acquired code often lacked wasn’t appropriately structured for “today’s remodeling needs” and had to be rewritten ground up. We can’t expect that to happen soon. Patches may appear but it will remain substantially what we have. From a market perspective a simple Google search shows reviews of alternatives to BB dated from 2015 so BB still owns the hill. No apparent challengers.
From personal experience with BB after 3 years I find thanks to a lack of necessary skills I don’t use MIDI directly and don’t do much crafting. The majority of our band work uses stock beats in ‘traditional’ verse/fill fashion with some outros and intros. A growing segment relies on user built resources with added bass and sometimes keys as they suit our needs in OP fashion. Checking in on the forum daily - quickly scanning topics and looking at latest resource additions - I find the forum is fine. Shortcomings have been addressed by the originators.
The BBM is my critical element and interface with BB. I need better batch behavior (adjusting volumes within drumsets, etc), drag-and-drop and file searching/ordering. For me other changes will largely go unused.

I’ll see how easy incorporating this functionality is and update this post to reflect when I have an answer.

EDIT: Just got a response, it’s “hard af atm”. Basically, the current plan is to talk to the guys on the original dev team to get insights into the code and then make changes. So I can’t give an ETA, (believe me I wish I could, Hell, if I knew more than just basic HTML I’d dive into the code myself!) but I am working on getting these issues addressed as best as I and the team here can.

Can’t ask for more than that. Thanks for the consideration.

I am going to write again, that anything based on Java is a no-no for me. I like my security and privacy too much!

The current Forum works fine in my opinion. I just hate revisiting a stagnant pool when I click on the site. I would suggest putting the effort into the beat buddy itself with firmware and BBM. Building the better mousetrap requires attention to the fact that you’re in the business of catching mice. I think the rest would follow a natural progression with all of the satellite equipment and such. I don’t seem to be sniffing at the cheese very often anymore. And that’s saying something since I’m from Wisconsin. Put first things first.

Why is it that there was so much ability to iron out issues a couple years ago and new versions were popping up for us to use, critique and weigh in on? Now, there is a pecking order of projects that are pulling developers away from the core of the BB. Too many irons in the fire. I don’t want to sound like a dick but that’s how I see it.

For a company to survive and grow it needs to put its efforts into (new) products that help carry the business forward. The BB likely had a surge of sales when it was introduced, but sales probably have tapered off, thus the need to prioritize where the efforts are best directed to maintain a steady revenue and growth.

Regarding this current forum, I don’t see a real need for it change, as it does work adequately.

I have resisted for a long time commenting on this but I just can’t continue to read the responses to this issue from Singular Sound that, frankly, defy common sense. The Beat Buddy is why you exist as a company. Clearly from the comments made in this forum by your loyal followers who are also financial investors to your company, your customers are fed up with the constant excuses and ongoing delays in fixing the BBM software. It would appear that if another company introduced a competitive product to yours, it is a good bet that your customers would dump you in a heartbeat. To invest your time and money into any other project before you commit 100% to fixing the BBM software is just not a smart business decision. For 3 decades I was in Product Marketing and Development for several major Consumer Electronics companies and I hope for your sake the Roland’s and Yamaha’s of this industry continue to ignore the Beat Buddy’s market potential because I assure you that if they made a competitor to the Beat Buddy, they would not ignore the needs of their customers the way that Singular Sound does. My vote is that you forget about Song Matching and forget about changing the Forum and just fix the BBM software while you still have a customer base that gives a damn.

May as well stay right here on this forum. I would rather SS keep working on current software they promised instead on working on a new forum.

I agree with the users advocating for Singular Sound resources to be focused on the BBM software rewrite. Whilst it may be easy to migrate the forum to another software platform, why waste what appears to be a VERY precious resource to perform easy tasks. From a user perspective this just sounds like SS are dodging the difficult issues with placatory offers.

While I’m sure that Singular Sound is appreciative of the effort that users have recently put into making their feelings known, the forum transition to Discourse was completed a few years ago.

Topical and relevant posts can be made to more current threads on the forum.

Accordingly, this thread has been closed for comment.