How come Elgg fails to provide a coherent solution that a $200 Phpfox product provides?

I have been playing around with Elgg for a couple of years now. I am not an Elgg expert. To my perception, Elgg's strengths are:

  1. extendable architecture
  2. open source
  3. many plugins
  4. community

Elgg is great for customized social networking solutions for companies, organizations who can afford to spend (tens of?) thousands of euros. But if a school with a low budget wants to create a social networking software, Elgg could be just too cumbersome to deal with.

To start with, although Elgg has many great functional plugins, on the theme side, Elgg is pretty poor. Most Elgg themes look so amateurish missing any artistic beauty in terms of graphic elements, making them unsuitable for any serious presentable site, including some commercial plugins. There are better ones but they are also mostly half baked/unsupported. 

Looks like, if you are a school with a low budget, you'd better forget Elgg and go for a product like phpFox. It has a facebook-like theme that actually works in all corners, a "share on activity" box (allowing status, photos, blogs, videos etc shared at the same point) that Elgg'ers always talk about and can only dream of even today. a video upload module (reputedly) easier to install and configure than we are used to and some other stuff that 90% of the sites need right out of the box and working coherently. No issues like suddenly "x not showing up on the profile screen with this x theme" or so. And all this for $200 or so. Check for yourselves:

If you wanna do all this with Elgg, you will really need to scratch the gound with your nails. You will need to spend a lot of time finding, matching the plugins, most likely end up spending much more money and I doubt you would still get the same coherent look and work that that $200 phpfox provides.

Yet I feel that, with phpfox, you would hit the wall after a point if your requirements go out of mainstream social networking site. But what phpFox provides is the basic level and Elgg needs to provide it so comfortably, yet it does not.

Why is this the case? Why does Elgg fail to provide such fundamental coherent solution? Is it the lack of unified elgg market for commercial plugins? Does exclusion of commercial plugins from site hamper availability of such solution? Or some other reason? What is the reason that, say "ultimate cool theme" or "Proskin_theme" developers left their work half-baked/unsupported?  

Those basics that mass market require and Elgg miss can be critical to the mass acception or eventually survival of Elgg.

Best Regards.



  • adc

    elgg beats every other platform handsdown. you want safe networking? the elgg plugin knrestrict is exclusive to the elgg community and enables law enforcement professionals and site admin to impose and manage real world type licence restrictions on users where want fund raising? again, other options, exclusive for the elgg community, enable you to raise many thousands of dollars/yen/euros/pounds etc without very much effort, whilst discouraging spammers and regenerating your local economy, wherever you are in the world. you want extendability? plugins and themes are not too difficult to produce, test/install, and this community is an excellent place to get technical support. believe me, if you have an idea, you can realise it here. either build it yourself or commission an expert. schools on a low budget could perhaps do what we old uns used to do pre internet days?.. why not create projects for your computer department? get students (and teachers) to learn about elgg and php and get them to put forward their solutions..? and get teachers from all departments to put forward challenges.. in this way schools can build and share large plugin libraries whilst providing students with excellent IT skills, supporting their education across the board and building a full featured, always evolving, always fresh network .. the kind of engagement which leads to a well supported long lasting online community. oh.. and you have the option raise funds for the school, secure the long term financial security of each and every teacher and student and turnaround your local economy to boot.

  • Thank you so much for this feedback. We really value hearing about the pain points that potential users are facing. I basically agree with you on all points and think we are improving, but slowly.

    The reason is very uncomplicated: resources. The core team doesn't always have the resources to accomplish everything we wish we could. And plugin developers don't always have the resources to provide support. It's all a labor of love.

    We've considered the marketplace idea, but we have veered away because we want this to be a place people know they can come get help without being solicited at every turn.

  • I really agree with the point about community theme availability, most of them aren't that great... I think the majority of elgg devs are like me - much more interested and comfortable building functionality than making things look pretty.  I can implement themes, but I'm pretty bad (at best) at designing them.  It's a completely different skill set.

  • Elgg is good platform for educational purposes. The main problem is that you need to put in paper what do you want, what do you want to accomplish and what you want to offer, specially for educational purposes. Once you get your requirements on paper, you have to consider which software is better.

    PhpFox is a great software, and so is elgg. It depends of the needs that one will suit better than the other one.

    I think I agree in the theming part, I like the themes we develop because it is sort of a spin of what you usually see.

    Rodolfo Hernandez

    Arvixe/Elgg Community Liaison

  • I'll just add that a great secondary theme is making it's way into core right now. Backporting it to 1.8 should be trivial, too.

  • Ive also seen this from long time ago not only phpfox, but also their are so many social cms do.