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Retirement of the Core Forum Module: My Take

If you haven’t heard (or read the details), Active Modules Inc. has been acquired by DotNetNuke Corporation. Since the announcement, there has been a great deal of discussion going on throughout the community. While these discussions cover many different topics and view points, I noticed several people asking about the core forum module team and how they feel. Because of this I figured it was best, as the primary developer of the module since 2004, to respond here.

First, I want to state (in case some of you are unaware) that I am a DotNetNuke employee. However, the response here is my own personal opinion as a long time community member and core forum module developer (not as an employee). Now, on to the fun!

As per the announcement, Active Forums will become open source and it will replace the core forum module in the DotNetNuke product and on the website.  In my opinion, this was a no brainer. To help others understand why I came to this conclusion, I think it might be worthwhile to revisit some of the module’s history.

The core forum module was the first module released as a separate module project for DotNetNuke as an ‘official’ core module. I remember this sparked much debate at the time about how it would impact the commercial option, Active Forums. Well, despite all the concerns, Active Forums was still a Snowcovered top seller for a long time and was accepted as the premier forum module by the DotNetNuke community. The reason why? It was the better product.

I have always stated that Active Forums is a better product. It offered support, had a dedicated team and ultimately had funded development (through the sale of the product). As a volunteer who had a day job (which wasn’t DNN Corporation for the majority of this time), I could not put the time in required to change that. Sure, I feel the core forum module is a much better module today compared to the initial 2005 release and I think the gap between the two modules has decreased significantly. However, while we were bridging the stability/feature gap, Active Modules went another direction and introduced Active Social and integrated it with Active Forums.

So here we are again, another significant feature gap the core forum module has to overcome. At this point (around the time active social and active forums were integrated & released), I felt like I was living the infamous scene from Godfather III. It was also about this same time period that I was having less and less free time to dedicate to the core forum module project. This basically meant that the core forum module would not be adding features to compete with the Active Social integration, due to my lack of availability. It is also worth mentioning, at the time, we had no requirements for doing the ‘social’ thing in our forums on which meant I had little reason to match the Active additions.

Fast forward to modern day. Internally (@ DNN Corp) a few of us start discussing the acquisition possibility and the impact this would have on the core forum module. Besides what I have already covered, a few other key questions/concerns I (and I am sure many others) had were:

  • Will there be a free & open source forum available?
  • Will there be a migration path?
  • Will features of one (the core) be added to the other (Active)?

Once those questions were addressed (and the answer was yes), the only other questions I had left were regarding what was best for the product and the community overall (in reference to the forum module ONLY). Based on the history and the answer to the 3 question I had, I felt that going with Active was the best choice. Why, you ask?

  • Continuing both products is a waste of resources, we had to choose one.
  • Active has historically been viewed by myself, and most others, as the better of the two modules.
  • Active has a better User Interface and theme customization options.
  • Active already has the social integration with Active Social.
    • It is much easier to add a few missing features to Active Forums than to add all the other things to the core module.
    • Active had a better handle on community forum requirements (meaning, they had customers driving requirements. I had as my only ‘client’, with a few suggestions here and there from community members).

I could keep adding to this list, but I think you get the point. So, to try and wrap this lengthy post up, I think the best way to summarize my feelings about the retirement of the core forum module is one word; excited. Not only will the community get access to the better of the two modules (free and open source), but the actual Active Forum product itself will be enhanced thus making it even better. 


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