The Future of esoTalk

18 January 2012

A couple of months ago, I released the "new version of esoTalk", known as esoTalk gamma. It was relatively well-received by esoTalk's small community; I was quite confident in the product, and excited to keep developing and see where it went.

A short time later, I realised that I had made a huge mistake, and had wasted months of development on a product that would ultimately need to be rewritten—again.

Fatal Error: $coding_ego too large

So, what did I do wrong? To summarise it in a few words: I reinvented the wheel. Many times.

When I rewrote esoTalk, I wrote it from scratch, using no frameworks and no libraries. I wrote all of my own code to do things—database, MVC, session, JavaScript, etc.—when there was already code out there that was free, open-source, actively maintained, and most importantly, better.

Why did I do this? I had some kind of prejudice or bias against frameworks and code that other people wrote. I shallowly assumed that all PHP frameworks were big and clunky like CakePHP, and I didn't want to have anything to do with them.

Stupid preconceptions aside, I started to discover the power of frameworks and libraries, and the amount of time it would save. I mean, you get all this stuff for free! Code, development, documentation—a whole bunch of stuff taken off your hands that you don't have to worry about anymore.

Cair Paravel... er, Laravel

Then I discovered Laravel. Laravel took all my concerns about frameworks being slow, complex, and clunky, and threw them out the window. It is beautifully easy. I immediately decided that I wanted to rewrite esoTalk upon Laravel.

Since then, I made a small start on the conversion to Laravel, but it's unfortunately quite a mammoth task at hand and I wasn't getting very far. I decided to take a break from esoTalk and dedicate my time to other projects I'm working on, including ones that use Laravel to increase my experience with it.

Through these projects, I also discovered Twitter Bootstrap which I think will work very well for esoTalk. I'm sure I'll discover more handy libraries now that I know that I should be looking.

Now, as I wrap these other projects up, I'm approaching the start of my university course. This quite simply means I will have very little time to work on esoTalk.

Inactive Development

I'm sorry to say this, but... Consider esoTalk on hold, indefinitely. Again.

Note, though, that I said "on hold" instead of "abandoned" or "given up." And I said "indefinitely" instead of "forever" or "for 20 years."

I think esoTalk is an amazing, unique piece of discussion software. It throws out all of the archaic forum conventions and provides a modern solution for discussion on the web. Rest assured that one day—perhaps a year from now, perhaps more—I will release an esoTalk that will blow all other forum software out of the water.

I will continue work on esoTalk as a hobby whenever I get the chance. I'll still be around on the support forums. Just don't expect any releases or updates anytime soon.

Of course, feel free to fork the project on GitHub and make your own improvements. The current version isn't horrible, it's just not what I want esoTalk to be in the long-term.