I am developing a website for my business intelligence company and have been looking for a solution that would enable my clients to choose between several membership plans, as well as to purchase and download electronic documents.
I’ve looked at all available subscription managers for Joomla (and have even purchased and tested the leading commercial solutions) and finally chose AEC as the most versatile and feature-rich one.
The AEC Tour on valanx.org (including the video tours of frontend/backend) was very helpful during the component selection/comparison process – it provided a comprehensive and clear overview of all the key features and capabilities – something that most other websites lack when presenting their software.
I found the cost of support subscription more than reasonable – and a great value for money. The software itself comes free even with the cheapest plan. After that you can choose the period of support that would suit your particular needs. I ended up choosing the two months option, as I knew I needed some custom work done. For those who do not require customizations (and most users will not), AEC will actually end up being cheaper than any of its main competitors.
There are a number of features that make AEC stand out among other subscription managers, but I will focus on the ones essential for a business website like mine. First of all, it is very important that Valanx team can themselves develop additional payment gateways, instead of referring you to third part developers. I have had problems with the latter in the past, and felt more comfortable letting David develop a gateway for HSBC ePayments (my company’s online payments processor). The initial choice of supported processor is also rather impressible, given that 80% of other subscription managers only support PayPal.
Secondly, the number of built-in integrations in AEC is more than sufficient for any project I can think of. DocMan, JUGA and Google Analytics integrations are most useful for my purposes – but there are 40+ more to choose from.
Finally, AEC has built-in tools to customize invoices, tax rates for different regions, system emails (allowing to modify/replace the standard Joomla ones) and even a shopping cart feature. Most other components either do not have these features at all (especially invoices and tax rates), or provide them as commercial add-ons or compatible components. Thus, not only will AEC save you money, but it will also enable access to all functions from within a single (and very user friendly) control panel, saving the hassle of installing multiple components/modules and then struggling to integrated them with each other.
Setting AEC up was really straight forward – I followed instructions in the Support Videos. The latter are a great way to get a solid understanding of how the component works – and they guide you through all the potential scenarios. Furthermore, I found the help tooltips in the AEC’s admin panel incredibly useful – pointing over any setting immediately gives you an explanation of what it does etc.
The level of support I have witnessed after purchasing a support subscription was absolutely great. I received regular responses to my support tickets from David – sometimes 4-5 responses per day. I am yet to fully explore the forum, but it looks reasonably well supported by the developers as well as experienced users. Also, to address one of the concerns below (post dated January 2, 2010), there is in fact a contact email on every page of the valanx.org website – which I successfully used for pre-sales questions in December 2009.
I further understand that a User Manual will be available soon. With that in mind, and given the recent addition to valanx.org’s team, I am confident that they will continue to provide fast and efficient service.