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UNA vs. socialengine

I am looking to set up a new social platform for my business.  There is so much information out there.  I was seriously considering socialengine, but then stumbled across UNA.  Anyone care to share their experiences with SE and how UNA is better?

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  • Socialengine is more like our old Dolphin was - a CMS, while UNA is closer to a framework, allowing for greater flexibility in setting up a unique website. Another benefit is a more permissive MIT license. 

    Socialengine founders started a couple of years after we launched Dolphin and a few years ago sold their business. I’m not familiar with the new owners, but they do keep the company going, which is a good sign. Anyhow, if you do end up using SE and later change your mind, we have a migration tool to transfer data between SE and UNA. 

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    • Thanks for the input.  It is greatly appreciated Andrew

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      • I would be interested in what specifically you consider the advantage of UNA over Social Engine?  It seems that it is a more out of the box ready platform but perhaps not as flexible.  Would you agree? 

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        • I bought Social Engine and I was impressed with the overall performance. It has some awesome plugins.
          Elgg is not a bad alternative either.

          What I like about UNA, is the immediate accessibility and ease after the learning curve. But then all the problems start. If you want special features as a non-coder, you're in trouble. UNA is not very well documented, when opening the files. There is no coding roadmap. Geekgirl explained why this is and that worried me because it means that the current team, doesn't really know what is inside of UNA. We are fumbling in the dark. Also both Elgg and SocialEngine were very quick to make mobile apps. UNA is still developing. To me it seems that the UNA team is spreading too much over too many areas, instead of making a focus and finish it. My concern is the survival of UNA, because in many areas, UNA is way behind the others. Quality is a concern. Security is a concern.

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          • UNA is best understood as a website framework. It is far more sophisticated and capable than SE or Elgg for building unique experiences. Our Dolphin (Legacy) platform is similar to those and we have designed UNA to address some challenges that SE, Elgg and Dolphin presented. For example:

            1. You can build, not just customise.  In UNA you can create custom pages, assign visibility permissions, insert blocks from system and external modules, create reusable navigation and action menus, manipulate forms, etc. In effect you can build a unique combination of pages, features and permissions that would be absolutely different from a vanilla UNA-based site. Whereas with SE and Elgg you are limited to their specific choice of functionality with some preset customisation options. You can ovverride that with custom coding, breaking the site upgradability. we Have been through this with Dolphin - thousands of cooki-cutter sites that look exactly the same and a few customised networks that run on ancient version codebase due to custom modifications they can’t merge. 

            2. Separated configuration and administration layers. Putting content management and site management into one interface is only going to work for small websites managed by solo or small teams. When we talk about scalabilit’s, it’s not just about using remote storage and allowing for database cluster - theres much more to think about in terms of site management. In UNA you can create membership levels like Admins, Moderators, SuperModerators, Assistants, etc. - then create custom dashboards for each one, tuning for their specific task set. SE and Elgg are simply not designed for, say, a team of 1000 admins. 

            3. Account and profile separation. This is a very important feature that mustn’t be overlooked. A user may have one account and multiple profiles with different form fields. Then they can switch personas. This capability allows for really interesting configurations, like when a user can have their personal profile and their company profile, using either one depending on situation. Say, a Real Estate agent and Agency. An org profile may have multiple associated accounts and may be relinquished. Think of cases like Teacher/School, Parent/Child/Family, Team/Employee/Personal, Doctor/Hospital/Patient, etc, etc. So far, this feature alone brings more unique ideas to our ecosystem than anything else. 

            4. Content and contexts. UNA has a context/content/object data model, which is followed closely in UX development. You can post a discussion to a group, space, event, profile and it would have privacy setting governed by the context. Context types can be configured in different combinations, allowing for really unique structures of subcommunities. Say, you can build a site with public subcommunities attached to a location to contain local content, while also have ad-hoc groups for interest-based subcommunities. 

            There is a lot more, but I’ll stop here for now. Point is that UNA is a much more ambitious platform, closer to Drupal than to Elgg or SE. It is still in nascent state, because actual “field” tests with Large active communities only started to happen and we took a lot of time to build the core system, but it is quickly improving and will feel much more polished in coming months. 

            It does take at least twice as much effort to build a platform like this, but once the bases elements start ticking it proves to be 10 times more capable. 

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            • Well i find good things with UNA and good things with the core of Phpfox for example. Social Engine i think is moving toward a cloud based version only and planned to ditch the old php self hosted version. I would say that SE and UNA at two very different stages of their path. The only thing with UNA is that they are at an early stage and we feel lots of security features, analitycs, modules of all sorts as well as themes variety are missing yet....UNA needs more time, time always time. 

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              • I had successfully created community sites for few schools, temples and small business. I worked in Oxwall, which is kind  of dead now, then tried OSSN, I would say a clone of Facebook, u can have a copy of Facebook with out naming Facebook including true blue color too. Then comes social engine, having more plugins comparing With UNA. Highly scaleable. Support Was not good, Now what I like in UNA, first and Foremost the support provided by the UNA team developers and the community members, there is literally no questions unanswered, even if your are not a paid member. They lack number of apps in store. little disappointed with the timelines, there is documentation available the challenge I felt is it’s little too technicaly written..

                If you are loooking some thing you can customize and grow over the time, stick with UNA.. 

                looking for something not to manage build and go... ossn. but people will tell you irs a clone of fb.... but no need of telljngg users what is what and where it is...

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                • Thank you for the mention of ossn. I did not know it. I have seen a fb clone community and wondered what framework it is. Now i know :-)

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                  • As a newcomer to UNA who has used Joomla before, I do find a conflict between UNA being a framework and the documentation (or lack of!) when it comes to figuring out how to do things.  The only documents I have found so far mostly cover the really obvious stuff.  I know programmers tend to love coding and hate documenting, but to make this a usable platform it really needs some decent documentation.

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                    • Hello cnayl !

                      May you please specify what sections from this Wiki https://github.com/unaio/una/wiki aren't clear enough? It would be very helpful for us to improve it.

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                      • LeonidS, take inspiration from Laravel Documentation, it is awesome! Your documentation lacks of examples and insights.

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                        • Things like it says "create a database" but no mention of which collation to use. Also there is no general overall configuration description to allow you to get a basic system up and running (I still can't get the location part to work despite eventually finding info on that in the FAQ)

                          Then there is things like the 2FA which when I tried just gives me "Unknown control type
                          Error Occurred"

                          I also sort of hoped that the "Principles" section of the documentation would explain the overall concepts around pages, forms, menus, blocks etc.

                          I've been playing around for over a week now and slowly starting to get to grips with it but that's just by trial and error.

                          I did watch the full length video but that is confusing as it doesn't make it clear which features and included, which premium etc. 

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                          • A further comment is I wonder about development times for UNA as I posted that the Google connect app no longer works since it doesn't follow the Google design guidelines (which were updated around April when G+ was closed) and I see it has been marked for fixing not until version 11!

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                            • 1. You can build, not just customise.  In UNA you can create custom pages, assign visibility permissions, insert blocks from system and external modules, create reusable navigation and action menus, manipulate forms, etc. In effect you can build a unique combination of pages, features and permissions that would be absolutely different from a vanilla UNA-based site.

                              Oh, just like we did with Dolphin.

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                              • There is a lot more, but I’ll stop here for now.

                                No, by all means please continue; four is a rather small number..

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                                • 3. Account and profile separation. This is a very important feature that mustn’t be overlooked.

                                  This can also be a rather bad thing depending on the type of site one is creating.  For your business site; you probably don't want it structure this way.  The feature is very clumbersome as well as far as new users are concern.  I haven't seen such on any site that I have joined.  You join and your profile is there.  With UNA you join and then there is this confusing thing about creating a profile or an organisation and it just doesn't make sense.  I suggest that if you are going to use UNA you have it so that when they create an account it automatically creates the person's profile and disable the creating an organisation.

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                                  • There is is an option to create profile from account immediately, which would make the site work like any other. Yet, we now have a few custom sites that rely heavily on ability to choose multiple profile types after joining - i.e. patient/caretaker/nurse/doctor/hospital or student/parent/teacher/faculty, etc. not just roles but completely different ‘personas’. It’s definitely not for a typical social network, but it makes a great difference for more specialised sites. 

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                                    • Simple is always best. True, UNA is simple for the most part, by it's design. But perhaps there is room in UNA for even some further simplification.

                                      Take Messenger for example. Some would wonder what the difference was between it and JOT Messenger. When you go to Messenger - you see the word TALKS in large letters. Elsewhere in UNA there are CONVERSATIONS. Not to be confused with DISCUSSIONS or FORUM.

                                      Most users want only one name for one thing. 

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                                      • I agree with otherperson. Because I am otherperson. I think multiple identities is a cool thing, btw. OK, where were we?

                                        Yes, I see that Conversations has been changed to Mailbox in the Menu on this site. But when you open the page it says (as before) "Conversations".

                                        Please consider my comments to be taken as only suggestive and constructive. That is the spirit in which they are offered. I am frequently mistaken in my views and regard it as a favor when I am shown a better way. 

                                        Peace out.

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                                        • I cannot find anything really new on UNA - but it looks like it is send back with a time machine in the years before google & facebook. No SEO, No WYSIWYG

                                          I f could get the module i need for social engine, i would not even thing a minute about using it. Una is not for cms end user - more like a point & click adventure.

                                          Just one expample: When i get a response to a diskussion thread - it will see the answer but not the whole thread and if the answer is an answer of an answer the thread subject changes and thats confusing.

                                          What a CMS needs is a customer friendly design and functions. UNA is for specialist and enthusiasts.

                                          I remember long time ago dolphin was a "install & run" game

                                          And i decided to use dolphin with the lot of modules out there, so i do not have to run UNA as CMS and wordpress embedded for SEO purposes.

                                          Maybe in 2-3 years with UNA 27 we will have the best solution
                                          Or we will get Dolphin 8.0.0 :-D

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                                          • its fair to point out that the Social Engine - UNA migration costs $1000 on the market so even if you find you want to migrate in the end it will cost you $1000

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                                            • I've currently spent about 3 days using the wiki along with a huge amount of Google searches trying to get the mobile app to work.  The instructions on the wiki miss a lot of info and even now I still can't get it working properly. This is a great example of how more documentation and work throughs would help.

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