The first major benefit is the fact that Kunena is a Joomla extension. It's not a separate product which needs a bridge to keep the user profiles in sync. That fact alone was a God-send... keeping phpBB3 synchronized with Joomla was a constant chore.
Beyond that, Kunena comes with everything we need in a forum. When something is missing (like Private Message functionality), we can just add it with another extension (like uddeIM). It's super easy to upgrade, integrates perfectly with all the other extensions we use, and I've had nothing but excellent service from their support team.
In fact, I was so happy with Kunena, I ended up joining the team!
If you're looking to add a forum to your Joomla web site, avoid the headaches and pitfalls of a separate bridged forum software. Try out Kunena first and save yourself all kinds of time and effort.
But the real power of SobiPro becomes evident when you start to work with the templates. These aren't convenitonal templates in the sense of "appearance" like Joomla templates, although that's a part of it. These are full fledged XSLT templates that control how your data is presented to different users under different circumstances. With XSLT, you can mold your directory to suit any purpose. By combining PHP with XSLT, the SobiPro templates are the most flexible framework I've ever worked with.
All that power and flexibility would be completely useless if I didn't know to work with it. Documentation is key! And that's where SobiPro shines. The documentation at http://sobipro.sigsiu.net is top notch, it covers all the information I need to use the SobiPro framework to its fullest. While documentation was scarce during the RC phase, it's now been fleshed out to cover all the important specs, and continues to evolve constantly. The only exception is documentation on XSLT itself, but that's very well documented elsewhere on the web anyways.
The best part? SobiPro itself is free! Being a paid member has a lot of benefits, but even the core component has all the power and flexibility you could need.
And the icing on the cake is the paid support forum, which is fast, friendly and helpful. The members of that forum won't hesitate to come up with a custom snippet of code to get your templates to do exactly what you need them to. Even for some very complex functions. I've already renewed my membership for another 6 months, and I'll probably upgrade to Gold membership when this one nears its end. This is money very well spent.
The downside is that this extension has some very high end requirements for full functionality, and most normal web hosts won't have these requirements in place. Since we manage our own web servers, we were able to get everything to work fairly easily, and that results in some very advanced functionality. Also, if you're not willing to get your hands dirty with XSLT and PHP, then you'll be dependent on just the functionality exposed in the backend and through existing pre-made templates. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just more limiting.
SobiPro is one of the best extensions we've added to our site, and will probably end up being the biggest draw for visitors in the near future.
Based on my experience with AutoTweet NG, I plan to upgrade to the Pro version ASAP.
I do not have any experience with their support since nothing went wrong with our installation, so I'm afraid I can't comment on that.
We're deploying this extension on a community geared towards photographers. Installation was as easy as it gets, and administration is simple and straightforward. With very little effort, our members are now contributing to our site's content while building their own audience (which in turn becomes our audience).
The main component is flexible and includes many features that are usually only seen on full-fledged blog applications like WordPress. It's easy for all your site's members to associate their blog with their Twitter/Facebook/Feedburner/etc accounts so all updates get broadcast automatically. The available modules are convenient for featuring your members' blog posts throughout your site. And integration with popular community extensions like Community Builder, JomSocial and AlphaUserPoints is a welcome addition.
There are still some minor issues that need to be improved. A more seamless integration with a Joomla site's appearance would be welcome, for one. But these minor issues are all being worked on by the developers, and progress with each release looks fantastic.
One point that might discourage some potential customers is the price. This extension isn't free. However the support we've gotten for that price has been outstanding. Every time we come across a problem, there's someone there to help us. Whether on the forum, via email, or through their support ticket system, customer support is top notch and worth every penny. In light of this, I consider the price a bargain.
StackIdeas recently introduced a lower-priced "Community" edition of this extension. While I applaud the concept, I think the price being asked is a bit much. It's almost the same price as the regular version. The word "Community" itself kinda implies "free", so maybe that wasn't the best thing to call it. I think they'd attract a lot more potential customers if they offered this edition at half the price of the regular version, and called it something that doesn't imply "free".
In the end, we're very happy with the choice we've made for our community, and we look forward to seeing what StackIdeas has in mind in the future for this extension.
Thank you very much for the feedbacks and we'll definitely look into our subscription scheme.
Here's a prime example. We needed to display some modules on all Kunena pages except for one. There was no way to configure this through menu assignments. There was no easy way to do it through Kunena (except modifying the source code). The only elegant way to do it was to pull a variable using the JRequest function and create a condition based on the result. Metamod managed this flawlessly, and the result is upgrade-proof (future upgrades to Kunena or our site template won't destroy the result).
Another great example: during site development, we needed to have modules show up just for us in our office. Using the IP address feature, we were able to do just that. This way we could work on development without interfering with daily site usage by our customers.
The documentation on the site is very useful, especially the "Recipes" which provide a great baseline for figuring out how to get the module to do what you want.
We've never needed to ask for support, so I don't know how good or bad that aspect is.
While Metamod itself is an excellent module, I highly recommend the Pro edition for those who want maximum flexibility.