SocialEngine PHP (SE PHP) Retirement Looms Large

On February 22, 2019, Webligo, the company behind SocialEngine PHP announced its plans to retire the SE PHP platform at the end of 2020 in an Open Letter from the Company’s CEO. This announcement came just eleven days after the company introduced us to SocialEngine Unite – A new platform marketed as being somewhat of a marriage between the very popular SE PHP and the not so popular SE Cloud platforms.  These two platforms are a world apart, with the former being the superior of course. Although the new platform is still in the beta phase, SocialEngine Unite – a cloud-based or software as a service (SaaS) platform is currently available at the starting price of $9/month. SocialEngine Cloud is no longer available to new clients and SocialEngine PHP will remain available until SE Unite moves out of the beta phase and has a self-hosted option with a free import tool available for those looking to migrate from SE PHP.

SE PHP End of Life – Very Little Uproar, Where’s the Backlash?

The sudden end of life (EOL) announcement of SocialEngine PHP left a very sour taste in the mouths of many, especially those who just purchased the platform or those who recently purchased third-party plugins. This EOL news, however, did not cause as much uproar as one would expect given the circumstances. I mean SE PHP is still available for purchase and was promoted in marketing/Ad campaigns less than three months before the EOL announcement. Prospective SE PHP buyers may not be aware of the fate of the platform. As it is right now (03/12/2019 at 8:35 PM EDT) there are no posted disclosures, at least not on the product information page, price comparison/price option page, client dashboard or product checkout page.  According to the letter from the company CEO, SE PHP will remain available for purchase until SocialEngine Unite moves out of the beta phase. Any clients purchasing the platform until then will be given what can be presumed to be free access to SE Unite along with what’s being called “special credits”.

Will SocialEngine PHP Still be Sold and Maintained?
…SocialEngine PHP will continue to be sold until SocialEngine Unite is released as a stable version for both SaaS and self hosted clients with a free import tool. We will continue to support and maintain SE PHP until it reaches EOL and is retired.

What Can I Expect if I Buy or Own a SocialEngine PHP?
If you own a SocialEngine PHP license or purchase one now, you will have access to Unite with some special credits. These credits will only be available to those that purchase before we launch the stable version.

Should You go with SE Unite? What Lies at the End of the Road for SE PHP?

As I mentioned earlier, there are plans to develop a self-hosted option of SocialEngine Unite as well as plans to develop an import tool that will allow for SE PHP migrations. I’m cautiously optimistic about SocialEngine Unite. I love the platform, but not as a replacement for SocialEngine PHP as it stands now. In its current state, SE Unite is a major upgrade from and more suitable of a replacement for SE Cloud. I should remind you that SE Unite is still very much in its infancy and there’s a lot in the way of development planned for the platform. However, SE Unite has a very long way to go before it can see the likes of SocialEngine PHP.

SocialEngine PHP is a fairly robust platform straight out of the box but third-party plugins like those from SocialEngineAddOns and SocialEngineSolutions turns the platform into a real powerhouse. SE Unite will become a force to be reckoned with if the platform makes it to the development level of SE PHP.

Thankfully, no one will be forced to migrate from SE PHP to SE Unite – This is according to the open letter from the company CEO but I take this bit of information with a grain of salt and here’s why; The sun will eventually set on SocialEngine PHP. Wibligo will be ending support for the platform at EOL which is scheduled for the end of 2020, or after this timeframe, as soon as migrations are possible from SE PHP to SE Unite. This doesn’t mean that your SE PHP site will stop working as soon as support ends but lingering and newly developed bugs and security issues may cause headaches bad enough to make you call it quits. So, while Webligo may not mandate migrations part of their policy, sooner or later you may be forced to abandon the platform due to the lack of support for the platform. Of course, there’s the option of paying third-party developers to maintain the security and overall framework of your SE PHP site but going this route may prove to be very expensive.

There are other caveats about migrating from SE PHP to SE Unite. For one thing, the migration tool will only support the migration of data from native SocialEngine plugins. It will be possible to migrate third-party plugins but that may come at a premium if you’d like to import your data associated with third-party themes and plugins before the respected third-party devs develop import tools. I can almost guarantee you will have to repurchase the necessary third-party plugins. Hopefully, they’ll be offered at discounts to those who have active licenses for their desired plugins.

Another caveat – Those opting for the self-hosted version of SE Unite may have to pay subscription fees for plugins not included in the core of the platform. I love the modular idea of providing a super basic core and giving clients the power to choose other functions based on individual needs, but subscription-based access to those plugins is a bit of an oxymoron for the self-hosted option. The current cost of plugin subscription range from 0-$5 a month. That’s pretty low but the costs add up to be quite significant for the user who wants it all (+ $31 at the current prices). Let’s hope that Webligo rethinks their plan and offer a subscription for plugin maintenance on the self-hosted option of SE Unite rather than mandating subscriptions for use of the plugins.

A platform overview of SocialEngine Unite is in the works. Stay tuned!

Best Regards

UPDATE: On June 14, 2019, Webligo announced that it will continue to support and develop the SocialEngine PHP platform. Stay tuned for a follow up post.

Ex Creators Dot Com