Launch.Forum is a new forum software still in alpha but it looks really good. It looks kind of like Xenforo (http://xenforo.com/) but more basic. This software has the potential to be the best software of them all if they work hard but they will have to prove themselves to be the best and show the passion and time of what it takes to get that far. I have decided to write a review on this blog for the software... I have to say I can not tell you much as 1 I do not want to give the software away too much even though I am a beta tester there I have not got a license yet so I can not say much about it. My Interview- How do you plan on this software been different than others? Our focus is extreme "ease of use". We love developers but we also want to build software that *everyone* can use successfully. People who have the same passion for starting a community but lack technical skills have a very difficult time with setup, customization, and administration now. This can get to the point where people are interested but just too overwhelmed to try to start a forum at all. Forums, up until now, have relied on a lot of technical ability to understand and make the most of their capabilities. So we created Launch.forum to remain a "forum" at its core, but we wanted to eliminate the complexity of using the software - particularly for admin users. The best way to do that is to rethink the AdminCP. In our LF Alpha version, the feature that is attracting the most attention is definitely our "Change It Where You See It" admin method. We are also making it easier to set up ads and generate ad revenue than any other forum. In the coming months, we'll be preparing to roll out our CMS (Launch.pages), our Launch.apps, and our Launch.api. To date, we do not feel that adding regular pages of content to a forum has been done in a very user friendly way. We have a new method that will make it profoundly easier to do. Likewise, our Launch.apps will be the most streamlined app system available, and we believe it has the potential to set a new standard for our competitors to adopt. Launch.apps in combination with our Launch.api can be *very powerful* in the hands of developers. Likewise, throughout LF's life, we'll also maintain a greater level of commitment to SEO than has historically been done by many of our competitors. What inspired you to make a forum software so unique to others? We're very pleased to be considered "unique" in the sense that we're doing some stuff differently than usual - and people like our approach. However, our goal is not specifically to find a way to be "unique" or "different" compared to what's already out there. The focus really is on usability. So, for example, if a particular feature is already done in a way we feel we can't really improve on, we'll go with the traditional method. A lot of our features that stand out will really be more of a modernization of existing stuff - or our interpretation of what that means! Consider our "Activity" page as a simple example of a feature that is the replacement for "What's new?" or "New Posts". It's clearly adapting some characteristics that are inspired by social media sites like Facebook and pulling those ideas in. Our "Change It Where You See It" admin method is our most unique feature. Again, we went in this direction because we feel it's a more intuitive way to change settings for stuff that is visible on the page. Drilling down into AdminCP settings and uploading files via FTP just to change a logo is not acceptable usability by Launch.forum standards. So imagine that sort of model applied to the entire AdminCP of vBulletin to get a sense of where we're heading with LF. =) The inspiration behind the whole project came from my years leading operations at vBSEO. The more I would find myself digging through the AdminCP, the more I became convinced there had to be a better way. A few years ago, I even considered releasing a product that was a "replacement" for vBulletin's AdminCP, designed with greater usability. After doing perhaps hundreds of site reviews for vBSEO customers, I also noticed that many we not able to accomplish very much in the sense of customization. The default template was commonly unchanged - and that is the result of difficulty of use and certainly not a lack of desire to individualize their forums, IMO. Why have you choosen self hosted and free hosted versions of this software? We do have licensing or subscription fees and we'll be operating as a business. Basically, I feel that it's extremely unlikely for a product to achieve its *full* potential without having a dedicated team behind it. You'll find all kinds of cool software sitting in open source code repositories. For most users, that might as well be considered the bone yard. Unfortunately, a full time dedicated team really isn't possible long term without cash flow. You can certainly find open source projects that are very successful, but regular non-technical people need more than just software that is continually developed. They also need one that has a full time support team behind it. This means cash flow must be in place. Keep in mind, open source also effectively stops being free the first time you have to go to oDesk or ScriptLance and pay someone to fix or modify it! A cloud hosted free forum is not the way we decided to go. Obviously, the more forums we would host, the greater our overhead for server space and maintenance which would not be effectively offset without imposing ads on the users. That is something we really wanted to avoid. We consider LF a premium forum offering and we really do not want to force ads on our users in order to cover the expense of providing a free hosted service. A license will be priced similar to other top forum packages, minus the extra fees for purchasing CMS, SEO, gallery, or other such major systems which inflate the costs right out of the gate. However, we will be allowing commercial *apps* by 3rd parties to be sold in our market (in addition to free apps). Overall, LF Pro will have a pricing advantage for our customers over most commercial forums. LF Lite will be significant cost savings compared with Pro. Subscription pricing for our hosted customers will cost more than a self-install license over time *if* you do not consider hosting expenses. However, if you consider the value of a quality hosting provider that is saved, LF subscription will be a preferred option for many customers who do not already have their own hosting account or server in place. There is one way to sustain a free model. However, that requires a significant capital from an investment. We'd love to be in the position of the Twitter guys, with a 4 Billion valuation and $100 MIL in funding with very little revenue and no clear idea how they will make any yet! However, we are more in the 37Signals camp. Our thinking is that we need to focus on building a software app that is truly valuable enough to our customers that they will happily pay a small licensing fee to use Launch.forum and get great support from our team. =) The software is paid, why have you choose this and how much money will each license cost? Lean is a big part of our approach. We want to avoid bloat at all costs. However, the key thing to remember is that what we are showing to the world right now is Launch.forum Lite in the alpha phase of its life. It's not a finished product right now, and it doesn't include any of our coolest features that are coming. When those things arrive, LF will still be lean but certainly not basic. Very powerful stuff await. =) By the way, I wrote up a feature overview that gives some insights into what's next for us here. Many people find your software too basic. What do you plan on adding to the software in later versions? We know that experienced forum users and webmasters want to maintain their own hosting and servers. They want to see the code, get hands on, and be able to modify things to suit their needs. Too many "social media era" developers seem to want to take forums *only* to the cloud where it's much easier to control the code base and manage deployments of new versions, etc. Of course, that model is very efficient, but we can't ignore the needs of the people who live and breathe forums by locking them out of a blackbox solution no matter how good it is. On the other hand, many non-technical users want nothing to do with setting up or managing hosting. They want to communicate and interact without any technical mumbo jumbo. For them, the hosted version is absolutely essential.