SocialEngine Blog

Announcing SocialEngine Cloud

About a month ago I announced our upcoming hosted community platform. This resulted in a couple of hurricane of comments from the SE community, mostly because of our decision to name the new platform “SocialEngine 5″. After reading through all these comments and speaking with dozens of SocialEngine site owners directly, I now clearly see where everyone is coming from. Calling the new platform “SE5″ implies that it’s a replacement for SE4. It’s not. Both platforms help you build an online community, but they do it in really different ways. We are going to continue building on both platforms and have no plans to discontinue our PHP products. The name of our new service needs to reflect that, and “SE5″ failed to do that properly.

We’ve decided to finalize the name of our new platform as SocialEngine Cloud. The new service is built on Amazon’s cloud hosting technology, and I think the new name helps people understand that it’s a hosted service, unlike SE4, which is a PHP script that you host on your own server. To make the distinction even clearer, we’ll be referring to the self-hosted PHP product line (including the current SE4 version) as SocialEngine PHP.

So aside from SE Cloud being hosted, and SE PHP being self-hosted, how are they actually different? Here’s a super high-level overview with some of the key benefits of each option.

SocialEngine PHP (SE4):

  • Includes 100% unencrypted source code. This is a big benefit if you’re a developer (or you’ve hired a developer) and you have an extremely custom social concept in mind. It’s also great if you’re using this as a corporate intranet that needs to sit on your own server.
  • Offers a relatively more traditional social interaction format that’s a bit more like a “walled garden” by default. The focus is more on member profiles and simple, chronological status updates, and less about sharing content to and from other websites.
  • Includes very nuanced member profile design options and membership levels. SE4 has dozens of pre-built profile field types (Birthday, Gender, Relationship Status, etc.), plus the option to create any kind of custom profile field you want (text field, pull-downs, checkboxes, and many others). You can also create multiple custom profile types (Owners and Pets, Teachers and Students, etc.), and each type gets its own set of profile fields. SE Cloud gives you custom profile fields but not nearly with this level of complexity.
  • Has custom membership levels. As the site owner, you can assign moderators on different levels, or charge members for premium access. Membership levels are totally custom, so you can make as many as you want and label them any way you want. SE Cloud is slightly more rigid with just Admins, Moderators, and Members.
SocialEngine Cloud:
  • Has very easy-to-edit HTML/CSS themes and templates. It’s much more designer-friendly than SE PHP, but a little less flexible in terms of customizing exactly how features work from the inside. Themes can be downloaded/installed with just a few clicks.
  • Offers a forward-looking social interaction format that’s more like an open forum. The focus is more on making it really easy for members to share stuff from around the web or content they’ve hosted on other services (like YouTube, Flickr, Soundcloud, Vimeo, and others). Members spend more of their time browsing posts and comments rather than other members’ profiles. It’s inspired in part by some of the amazing interest-focused social communities like Reddit, Pinterest, Canvas, Quora and Chill, that are now emerging around the web.
  • It’s less competitive with mainstream social identity providers like Facebook and Twitter. It actually works with these services in every way possible, going way beyond social login.
  • Has a major focus on simplicity and performance. The built-in themes are really simple and designed to guide your members into a sharing mindset without overwhelming them with tons of links and content sections. It’s also insanely fast because we host it for you on high-end cloud servers that we’ve configured especially for our software.
  • It was built with SEO in mind. We’ve learned SEO best practices and have baked them into the new platform. It’s designed so that posts are highly sharable and should generate some great link juice for your site.

So which one is right for you? Should you hold off on buying SE PHP?

If you’re currently considering buying SE PHP but you’re waiting to see what SE Cloud is like, I definitely suggest that you go ahead and buy SE PHP, especially if you know that you want to host your community on your own server. They are really different platforms, and if you like what you see in SE PHP, then it’s right for you. There will also be some major incentives in place for those of you that want to switch from SE PHP to SE Cloud, especially if you buy SE PHP close to the launch of SE Cloud, so there isn’t much risk in starting with SE PHP. Details on that coming soon as we work out the details internally. If you still have questions, get in touch with us and we’ll help you sort out which one is right for your community.

I hope you all like the new name, and I hope this clears up the confusion around how we are moving forward with SE Cloud and SE PHP. Stay tuned for more updates on this blog about both platforms. Thanks to all of you for your candid feedback. It worked. =)

  • Shawn Ye

    Highly support!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/SocialBrella SocialBrella

    sounds great. We would love to hear about what this will do in the Mobile Platform -

    J. Philip
    Founder | SocaiBrella.com | SocialBrella • Mobile

  • P LaFargue

    Thank you, I bought SE4 recently and have many hours of work into it in prep for my own launch, I was a bit confused when I seen what was called SE5 come out . I like what you put out to clear the air. SE PHP is a good product, keep up the good support and promotion f plugins. P LaFargue

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      Thanks @plafargue:disqus for the support!

  • Kenny

    If we choose to upgrade from SE4 to Social Engine cloud how easy or hard will this process be? Most people have custom layouts so will the custom designs still be ok? If you upgrade will SE4 plugins which were already installed onto your site still work?

    • http://www.socialengine.com/ Alex Benzer

      We’ll be creating an import script that will help you import your core member data to SE Cloud if you want to migrate. Your custom designs will need to be reapplied, unfortunately, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=630827641 Peter Luis Venero

        Would we still be able to add third-party add-ons, as some of these will be very unique IP and value added offerings to our communities.

  • http://www.hire-experts.com/ Hire-Experts Team

    Thanks Alex! It really helps to avoid confusions. Waiting more updates :)

  • Ward

    Instead of having two products, why not combine them into one and use cloud as a plugin? If you follow the trend Alex, people want to get local aka, geo location. MySpace failed and Facebook succeeded for a reason. Honestly, you guys need new management. I could of made SE into a multi-million company by now (five years later) but you guys refuse to listen and it has cost us a lot of time and money (and frustration).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=583974084 facebook-583974084

      why not start your own company then and hire devs to make you your millions? either put up or shut up is my option of people like you

  • http://twitter.com/WebHiveTeam WebHive Team

    Thanks for hearing clients and developers, Alex!
    That’s definitely a better name for SaaS

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      Thanks @twitter-56680067:disqus

  • Dan Waddingham

    I’m completely new to all of this, HTML and the like. I know what I want my social engine to do but my developer is a little slow for my needs and seems to have problems keeping up on my requests.

    It sounds to me like SE cloud is a little more like what I need, how easy will the switch be and where can I get some reliable help without paying an arm and a leg?

    • http://www.socialengine.com/ Alex Benzer

      SE Cloud may be a good choice for you. Once it’s rolled out, we’ll guide you through the transition process. It shouldn’t be a hard switch.

      • Dan Waddingham

        Thanks Alex, as for developer help, any ideas?

      • http://www.facebook.com/shain.ziyad Shain Ziyad

        whats the aprox launch time?

  • Osei

    Great decision

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      Like the new name?!

      • Osei

        or Enterprise

  • Morne

    Thank You :) At Last It Seems Some One Is Taking Note Of Our Concerns

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      You’re welcome @morneb:disqus . We take the concerns of our customers seriously and I personally want to thank you for your feedback over the past few weeks re: SE Cloud. Thanks again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shain.ziyad Shain Ziyad

    So its SE’s hosted service. Hope its affordable. Social and SEO considered is good news!

  • http://SocialEngineExperts.com/ SocialEngineExperts.com

    Thank you for the listening guys. It certainly helps SE to continue being best and best known social platform out there.

  • http://www.socialengineaddons.com/ SocialEngineAddOns

    Great news Alex! This will help SE Clients in making the right choice. The clearly distinct names of the 2 products seem very appropriate.

  • Guest

    I’m just wondering when you’re going to fix all these erratic parse
    errors with the language file and the themes on SE4, especially on lines
    that are properly formatted. I would certainly love to hear that:

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_STRING, expecting ‘)’ in /home/user/public_html/test/application/languages/en/en.php on line 3549

    • http://www.socialengine.com/ Pamela

      That en.php file seems to have a typo somewhere I would taking a look at the file on that line number and make sure there isn’t a missing end parenthesis ) somewhere.

  • http://twitter.com/MeisterGlenn Glenn Ochoa

    Thank you very much. I was one of the first people to suggest to call it something else other than number versioning as a concern to the uproar from others. I am glad you considered. Hopefully SE PHP is a “reboot” of the current SE4 – meaning a much improved SE4 that can begin as SE PHP v1

    • http://www.socialengine.com/ Alex Benzer

      Glenn, thanks again for sharing your opinion. It definitely resonated along with others, and led to this decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philippekyprianou Philippe Kyprianou

    A good decision! No more confusions, and it give us confident on your actual product and we can be sure that you’ll support both models.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514389340 Leem Leem Version II

    calling it se5 was shiddy :-)

  • Dan

    Thank you Alex for listening to your userbase on this matter.

  • Godrifle

    Yes, this makes a world of sense.

  • Godrifle

    BTW, I *love* the organizational change towards better transparency, communication, and customer support. I hope it continues forward in the form of a Webligo-supported forum.

    • http://www.socialengine.com/ Alex Benzer

      Thanks Godrifle. We are serious about this :)

    • Ed Ferrigan

      A forum would be excellent. I often have simple things that show up I don’t know what to do with and my only option is $50 again to get a simple question answered. Kills the environment for support or knowledge. Like right now…I have no idea why I cant get an email when someone is cued up for approval to be on my site. With a forum I would probably get a simple answer in 5 minutes…..

      • TwilightWarrior

        Agreed. Forum needed :)

  • Host on Cloud

    Thanks for hearing, It really helps to avoid confusions. Waiting future updates on SE PHP and SE Cloud :)

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      You’re welcome @HostOnCloud:disqus ! We’re excited about the new name and the future of SocialEngine Cloud. Updates to come…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1507208140 Bale Zeninho

    I don’t believe that groups still don’t have SEO friendly urls… Or albums… Too bad guys… Fix this in upgrade!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1507208140 Bale Zeninho

      Or events…

  • Jonathan

    NICE! You listened to your clients and I think came up with a much better idea! I’m curious and hopeful… will you have a way to migrate from SE-4, (oops sorry SE-PHP) to SE-Cloud? We couldn’t even consider if not. But if so, I’d definitely like to take a look at it. Thanks!

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      We will absolutely be building an import script from SE PHP to SE Cloud. While it’s not possible to get it done before SE Cloud launch, it’s at the top of our to-do list post launch.

  • Jason

    @abenzer:disqus

    Reading the post seems like you are pushing SE CLOUD. I read it carefully but it just feels that way. This is fine with me. But would there be an migration script? May be with that one day everyone will be in SE CLOUD.

    Since you are hearing our comments closely .. Can you like predict what MAX features will you implement in SE PHP? and how long really do you plan to support SE PHP?

    These question are up because its so hard to trust the business.Decisions are not matured and/or not kept properly. My thoughts could not match others but it was beyond my state of acceptance for paid products.

    But overall, this post cleared up most confusions.

    • http://www.socialengine.com/ Alex Benzer

      Thanks Jason. I’m not trying to push one or the other – my goal here is to show that they each work well but for different use cases. I’m going through SE Cloud in a bit more detail since it’s the new addition, and it’s considerably different.

      We’ve opened up the SE PHP roadmap to the community (see the SE PHP team’s recent blog post) and are about to run an email survey to determine what features are absolutely top-of-mind for everyone. We’ll follow up with another blog entry on this shortly.

      There will be a way to migrate from SE PHP (v4) to SE Cloud soon. This is now one of our highest priorities. More details on that soon as well.
      Glad to hear the post cleared up any confusion. We’ve made a conscious shift as a team to be as open as possible about our development plans with the SE community, and to get everyone involved in the process. You’ll see more of that in the near future.

      • Jason

        Ok Thanks. I hope your positive and kind move stays same. If you could do one thing which is top most important. Release most of the top plugins that 3 – party devs makes and integrate it for a small fee (definitely not free !) than it would be extreme easy. They charge lots of money for simple plugins and at most time it wont work well. This is a huge request.

  • Mark

    Where can I see Social Engine Cloud demo? Is this SE 100% the same look like PHP version or actual SE 4.6?

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      Hey @disqus_PZctIYJvrc:disqus

      Happy to hear that you’re interested in checking out SE Cloud. Head over to http://community.socialengine.com to request an invite to our SE Cloud beta community.

      The beta community is just that, a beta, but you’ll be able to get a feel for what it’s like and what’s possible with SE Cloud. This really is a different platform compared to SE PHP and offers a different feature-set.

  • Halal T

    Seriously guys. Are you gonna really release the so called SE5, now re-branded as SocialEngine Cloud? What is the point of having members sharing stuff from around the web or content they have hosted on other services? Why they should not be able to upload those stuff directly on the site? Saying that SE Cloud will enable people to share stuff from around the web or content they have hosted on other services, is like having people eating and drinking everywhere and then come back to your house to use the toilet. Why can’t they eat and drink at my house? This SE5 aka SocialEngine Cloud does not make any sense to me and I can’t see its future.

  • http://twitter.com/MeisterGlenn Glenn Ochoa

    From what I see is that SE PHP needs an overhaul, but not to the point that it should be another ground-up remake. Improve on current features and plugins and keep them up to date with standards – almost everyone here wants a site with Facebook features plus a VB like forum – SEO friendly urls and most of all improve the search capabilities as well as speed (use BigPipe technology). In fact SE PHP could be the SE 4.5 or “SE5″ people really wished it would be.

    I know you guys can do it!

  • Henry A

    Definitely like the concept behind SE Cloud – it’s great. However, can you help newbies looking to setup a social community decide what product will be best for their social network?

    The key benefits listed above of SE PHP and SE Cloud may be quite understood by those already familiar with programming or social media scripts in general, but not for newbies.

    Something like: “SE Cloud is right for you if you are…. or want to… (Vs) SE PHP is right for you if you want to…or you are…”

    As at now, a newbie would still be confused on what’s best. Hope you understand. Regards.

    Contributor @ AfricansConnect – African Social Network.

    • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

      This is a great idea and is something we’ll look at. We’ll try to break this down even further to make the decision really simple for those out there that just aren’t sure which fit is best for them.
      Thanks for the recommendation.

      -Drew

      • Henry A

        Thanks Drew!

        • http://drewfrey.com/ Drew Frey

          You’ve got it Henry.