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Kunena 5.1.18 Released (30 Jun 2020)
The Kunena team has announce the arrival of Kunena 5.1.18 [K 5.1.18] which is now available for download as a native Joomla extension for J! 3.9.x. This version addresses most of the issues that were discovered in K 5.1 and issues discovered during the development stages of K 5.1.
Question Kunena lacks panache
It works with K2, they have a plugin that allows you to remove the K2 comments, add an easydiscuss comment box and this auto creates on an article - something that K2 users have constantly requsted here and on the K2 forum for a least 2 years - to no avail.
While it does not come with a mobile template it is easy to style to fit across multiple devices, Kunena has never been simple to do this, why on earth would any user want to have to install yet another level of templating, scripting and/or complication to make their native forum work on a mobile? It is illogical.
Other forum softwares over the years have embraced new technologies, their styling has come on in leaps and bounds, sadly Kunena has not and still looks as dated IMO as it did when I was helping with the development of Fireboard.
Where are the native social media functions? Facebook connect or opengraph integrations? The web changed, other softwares changed with it and are trying to keep on the same curve, it will be another few years before Kunena has got fully up to speed and this is (again, sadly) too long.
Although this is fairly negative I must stress that it is not just an issue with Kunena, the same problem seems to be occuring with a number of the primary components within Joomla - Virtuemart is just a shambles since they rebuilt it into 2.0 - many core functions removed or changed so much they are unusable. The first releases were so bad the userbase haemorraged faster than I had seen before and the forum is pretty much a deserted wasteland, K2 forum, same thing and a totla joke for novice users to try and find a modicum of assistance from anyone other than what appears to be a singular, overworked moderator.
The way Joomla manages its extension providers needs to be looked at, I recently did some work for a client on Wordpress and found that all the plugins in their repository were accurately rated and have worked as expected. I would hope that the only real native forum for Joomla would be a jewel in the crown, the most well known ecommerce software should be equally as impressive and the same for what was once the only CCK style component should equally set the standard, they do not.
Kunena devs, it is time to incorporate some kind of paid support level to make operating and developing the software a little bit worthwhile. I understand that a community and volunteer led software can only move at a certain pace, my only fear is that if it does not move forward fast enough - will it be worth continuing? A number of other people I have spoke with have expressed similar sentiments, if the number one software in each category of Joomla's extensions does not live up to expectation, Joomla will suffer through loss of users.
My experience of Kunena has on the whole been an OK one, not dazzling, unfortunately because it seems that despite being patient and awaiting functionality to arrive it would never work with K2, it would never work on mobiles, it wouldnt communicate with Facebook - things already highlighted above.
The main issue is that forums have had to evolve, visitors used to be PC and Notebook based and forums catered well for them, Facebook arrived and suddenly offered a more centralised area for people to meet and communicate and this drove people away from using more traditional forum functions.
If the switch from desktop based to mobile based visiting had been done recently I would understand large softwares being caught napping but we are more than a few years down the line and Kunena has had a new version number which should have introduced all the features a modern forum needs to have, instead you have to blink to see the difference between the old version - not that I am saying there have not been any huge changes or improvements, more that the template should have been totally revamped to make Kunena feel new, at the very least.
From my perspective, I was happy to pay a small fee for software that did what I hoped, I am unwilling to pay vBulletin prices but then I would expect everything I had ever dreamed of in a forum if I had. Similarly I know how difficult it can be to donate free time with families and dependants taking your free time and, lets face it - you want some ACTUAL free time too. So it would seem the only way to create and maintain a totally professional product and spend the time needed is to get paid for it, something you cannot do on a totally free business model.
Those that want the free functions of Kunena should be able to get the forum as it stands for free, but it is how to balance the rest of it that is difficult - how do you charge and for what? Do you set out clear guidelines that mean that the core component is the dogs doodah's to begin with and the chargeable plugins and functions are a satellite feature.
With other components such as Virtuemart it would seem that the new version shafted the old VM 1.1 user to have to rebuild entire sections of their shops because the core function became so mutated from its original that there was no way to migrate it succesfully. Instead you have a program which actually works really well up to a point, then is really, really bad after it - but there are hundreds of different plugins and patches you can buy to fix it. That IMO is a totally inappropriate way to 'sell' a product and it has not done much good for VM public perception on the whole.
During my transition from relying on Kunena to looking elsewhere I have flirted with the idea of nearly every other forum software I could make run within Joomla, from bridges and hacks to standalone and psuedo templating to make it look a little similar it all added up to a huge volume of grief I didnt need, I suspect that a load of other Joomla users go through the same thing too. Realistically, Kunena is the only real choice for a forum in Joomla that is open to all users and as a result it should be able to punch at its weight regarding functionality in order to avoid users looking for increasingly convoluted solutions to having a modern forum or communication tool - which essentially is now what a forum has to become.
I guess all I was really trying to say is that I just wanted Kunena to come out of the corner fighting for version 2.0, with bells a whistles, functions and features to sink my teeth into. Instead I felt like I got a very similar look and feel - a pig with lipstick on, and a sinking feeling that nothing was likely to change. Otherwise I would have stuck with Kunena wholheartedly.
I do not doubt that mobile computing has made a difference to the way that people operate. That having been said, let's not over-dramatise or exaggerate this mobile perspective.
I would also ask you to consider that the mainstream - the corporate, "big end of town" - usage of internet-based technology is largely related to deskbound workers. Discussion forums are also used in the corporate sector as much as they are enjoyed by tech-heads who like to impress their friends with the newest touch 'n' go portable technology. I remember when owning a Blackberry or a PDA was considered a status symbol and look where those technologies have gone!
Anyway, I have pointed this topic to the development team in an effort to motivate their efforts along the lines of catering to the wishes of the Kunena community. This kind of feedback that you have offered is vital to keeping the project alive and responsive to the growing number of Kunena users around the world. Thank you.
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