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Does vBulletin Cloud support push notifications to mobile phones, and is there an additional cost for this?

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  • Does vBulletin Cloud support push notifications to mobile phones, and is there an additional cost for this?

    We are interested in starting a vBulletin Cloud community. It would have approximately 200 users, with quite low post volumes (0-10 posts per day or so on average).

    Here are three important pre-sales questions that we would need answers to first though before being able to move forward:

    1.
    We would really need it to support mobile phone access with push notifications, and I cannot find any information about whether vBulletin Cloud supports this or not?

    In this thread there is a description about how to activate push notifications in vBulletin (self-hosted), and what I'm asking is: Is this possible to do in a vBulletin Cloud community too?


    2.
    Would there be any additional cost (for us or our individual users) for having our users using the mobile app to access the community, or for the push notifications, as described in the above linked tutorial, e.g. for the Firebase service etc, and in that case do you have any ballpark idea where that could land for the above-mentioned community size?


    3.
    Is there any limit to how many (sub)forums a vBulletin Cloud community can have, within the same monthly price of the normal plan?

  • #2
    Hello,

    At this time neither the download version nor vBCloud offers push notifications to browsers. The thread you linked to is how to setup push notifications to the mobile apps. The mobile apps are available for both vBCloud and the Download version, you would need to purchase the VB Mobile Suite. Note, you would also need your own Google Play and Apple iOS developer accounts (which each cost money on their own) in order to upload the mobile apps to each store. In addition for the iOS app you will need access to macOS computer in order to "sign" the app before it can be uploaded to Apple for download.

    The Mobile Suite is an additional $199. At last I checked a Google Play developer account is $25 one time fee and Apple charges $99 a year. Plus whatever cost you may incur buying or borrowing a macOS computer if you don't have one.

    The total number of forums for VB5 (whether sub-forums or not) you want as few as possible, I would recommend no more than 100, though it's not a hard limit. The value doesn't change regardless of which Cloud plan you choose. The only thing higher plans have is included support and higher bandwidth allowances.

    Unfortunately I don't have an answer on the cost of using Firebase services, hopefully someone else does.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for your replies!

      We have some follow-up questions about the vBulletin Mobile Suite that you mention:

      1.
      Is the $199 for vBulletin Mobile Suite a guaranteed one-time fee, or do we run the risk of arbitrarily having to pay more for future upgrades etc in order to "stay compatible" with whatever version upgrades you fancy applying to our underlying vBulletin Cloud community to (even though we are running the community in your cloud, where free version upgrades are a central part of the allure)?

      2.
      How often will we have to re-build (and re-sign) and upload new versions of our vBulletin Mobile Suite app to the Play Store and Apple App Store? Never? Whenever you fancy updating our underlying vBulletin Cloud community, or in connection to which other circumstances and/or events? Or is this some kind of automated procedure where we simply have to initially submit the digital signature you mention + some login credentials or API keys etc to you, and you then take care of the rest forever?

      3.
      Do you have some demo vBulletin Mobile Suite app that we can use to try out the overall quality and experience of such an app before going through all the trouble (and costs) of making our own?

      Comment


      • #4
        You're welcome.

        I have asked question #1 to my superiors before and the answer I get is "At this time there are no plans to require an upgrade fee for the Mobile Suite" however they were not willing to give any guarantee. Mobile technology advances quickly and the Mobile Suite is getting constant updates to stay current with Apple and Google standards.

        For #2 you can expect you will want to rebuild multiple times a year, with each release are new or improved features and often updates required by Google and/or Apple. At a minimum you might get away with 2 updates a year but 3 or 4 would be better Some years may be more, some less, of course.

        #3 - You can demo the app as a user by searching for the "vBulletin Community Forum" app on Apple or Google Play and see how the app works with this community. That is the only demo of the Mobile Suite available.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks again! (demo app is installed on my phone now)

          About these recurring re-builds of our vBulletin Mobile Suite apps then, is this procedure automated by vBulletin (e.g. only requiring me, the customer, to simply submit some Play Store/App Store login credentials or API keys to vBulletin when initializing the vBulletin Mobile Suite the first time), or will there be several manual steps for me (the customer) to take during each of these 3-4 yearly re-builds/re-submittals of the apps per year, and in that case, which steps are these?

          Perhaps you have some kind of tutorial for this procedure to refer me to?

          NOTE: I need to clearly know the difference (if any?) between the _first_ build/submittal of the apps and the above-mentioned then-recurring re-builds/re-submittals of the apps.

          Thanks!

          Comment


          • #6
            When you purchase you will create the apps via our "Mobile Publisher" which is a web interface that asks you, step by step, for various information. Step 1 is the basics, your forum URL, Facebook app id and secret if you intend to use Facebook login (not required.) In subsequent steps you choose a color scheme for background and text and menus,in another upload images of very specific sizes, formats, and color depths to be used in the app, if you're going to include advertising in the app (again optional) you give details for that, and when all done you press a button and the app will be "built" by the server. This takes a little time and you will get an email when it is done. You come back to the Member's Area and there will be a link to download the apps. On the download page there will be links to download the iOS and Android app as well as instructions for creating iOS and Android developer accounts and submitting each app, step by step.

            Once you've done this once you generally only have to click "Rebuild App" and the app will be updated to the latest version and you follow procedure to upload the apps to each store again.

            However sometimes you will need to provide a new image, for example if Apple changes the dimensions of the required image, then you will need to submit a new image before the app builds, but if the requirements don't change your previous entries are saved. You don't need to redo them.

            It's been some time since I've built the mobile app myself, if you have any specific questions I would urge you to email sales@vbulletin.com.

            Comment


            • #7
              It's important to note in order for the Mobile Publisher to work there must be at least one forum on your site visible to guests (users not logged in) with at least one post in that forum. If you are going to have a private community you still need to make forum visible. This can be done for short periods of time when rebuilding the app but it's best if you can just keep 1 forum visible with one thread, it doesn't have to say much, it can say "This is a private community" for example but it needs to be accessible.

              Comment


              • #8
                Hi Joe et al, continuing this thread on push notifications, I've installed the test app from the Android Play store but I'm not sure how to test the capabilities of push notifications. is there any documentation you could point me towards that specifies how much these notifications can be configured, both by the user and admin?

                Comment


                • #9
                  secondly, i noticed when using the app to access the vbulletin forums it's often very slow to load even though I'm on a fast connection. if i made my own apps as per your instructions above, would they be as slow? On the test app it often takes 10-15 seconds to load a thread or perform a search. thanks!

                  Comment


                  • vbNostalgic
                    vbNostalgic commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yeah, the extremely long/slow loading times in the vBulletin Android app is a big concern of mine too. I'm on the verge of buying the vBulletin mobile pack with the mobile apps, but this is without doubt my main concern and last obstacle, since I cannot know if this is specific to this particular site (which is the only one that can be tested in the app before buying the mobile pack for your own site), or if it will be the same when I get the apps for my own vBulletin messageboard? I'd be VERY interested in a reply from vBulletin regarding this too!

                • #10
                  In my experience the mobile app is usually more responsive/faster than the forum for me for vBulletin.com. I just opened the app on my Samsung Galaxy S7 and went through random threads and they were opening in less than 2 seconds. That said performance will be based on your own server, not on anything vBulletin controlled unless you use vBCloud.

                  For Android go to your Settings icon (for the device) -> Notifications -> Apps and enable notifications for the app called vBulletin. That should enable Push Notifications. (I personally hate push notifications so I keep them off on everything but email, so I don't use them myself.)

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    I'm sorry, but what you're saying about the loading times has never been even remotely true for me either (and also, the vbulletin.com forum is actually quite snappy, and typically loads in about 1 second for me, so even the 2 seconds you mention yourself for the app loading time would be a factor 2 slower than the web browser version).

                    Here is a very clear side-by-side video comparison of loading this very thread that we are discussing in right now here at vbulletin.com, first in the web browser, and then immediately in the Android mobile app:

                    https://streamable.com/7vg1i

                    As can be seen in this video (and also verified by me through the video timer clock when playing the original video on my computer), the web browser loading time is less than a second (note the loading bar at the top of the browser window), while the Android app loading time is about five seconds.

                    To make matters even worse, the web page version begins to display immediately when it starts to load in the browser, while the Android app displays it only after having loaded it completely, which amplifies this problem even more (although this factor does NOT affect the measured times mentioned above, which can also be verified in this video!).

                    What is the best place to file and discuss these kind of bugs/shortcoming with the Android app dev team at vBulletin?

                    Speaking of which, I finally also noted a bug in the Android app when posting the comment to Hal Greenham's last post above, where my comment is abruptly cut off when viewing this thread in the Android app (without any scrolling options etc), while it displays just fine here in the web browser, as can be seen in this screen dump:

                    vBulletin Android app GUI comment cutoff bug

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      I appreciate your comparison, however I noticed you were logged out of the forum... I am always logged in. When logged out you receive a cached copy of the page, not a freshly created on demand version you would get if logged in. You should compare loading times when logged in on both, but especially via a browser.

                      Either way however, as I said, the performance of the app for your site will be tied to your server, not vBulletin's.

                      Also I am comparing the browser on a desktop not a mobile device. Not sure if desktop browsers might be faster. Probably are.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        The technology used for data download will affect your mobile apps as well. Currently LTE is the fastest protocol that is widely available. Using 4G or 3G will limit download speeds. We have no control over this.
                        Translations provided by Google.

                        Wayne Luke
                        The Rabid Badger - a vBulletin Cloud customization and demonstration site.
                        vBulletin 5 Documentation - Updated every Friday. Report issues here.
                        vBulletin 5 API - Full / Mobile
                        I am not currently available for vB Messenger Chats.

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