More Features or reworked "Pro" Version?

HomeForumsFeature RequestsPTA Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet – Feature RequestsMore Features or reworked "Pro" Version?

This topic contains 21 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Charles King 8 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #14390

    Stephen Sherrard
    Keymaster

    I’m interested in finding out how many of the users of this plugin, particularly those of you who post feature requests, would be interested in supporting or purchasing a re-designed “Pro” version of the plugin, or if you would somehow offer support for the development of more features for the current version of the plugin.

    Please reply with your comments, thoughts, or suggestions.

    Below is some of my ramblings on why adding even more features to the current plugin is challenging and probably not worth my very limited development time.

    The PTA Volunteer Sign Up Sheets plugin is definitely the most popular of the free plugins I have released, yet the super cheap paid extensions don’t sell enough to cover the development time, nor are there enough support donations to cover my time (maybe 4 donations in 4 years). This is the main reason why new features for the plugin are very low on my priority list. The WooCommerce plugins are my main focus because many more users are willing to pay for those plugins. I understand that most people who use the volunteer plugin are non-profits, and so don’t have much extra money to spend. However, development and testing still takes time and I do have a family to feed.

    The second main reason that I’m hesitant to add a lot of new features to the plugin is because the plugin really needs to be rewritten from scratch with a much better data structure foundation to make it much more flexible and easier to add new features. The main PTA Volunteer Sign Up Sheets plugin actually started its life as another plugin that is still available on WordPress.org (and has a “pro” version). It was the closest fit I could find for our school PTA web site’s need when I took over the web site. But, there were things we needed to do differently, and we needed some additional features, so I created my own version of the plugin and heavily modified it to fit our needs. Later, when my son left that school and they switched to another system, I released the plugin on WordPress.org as a way to help out other volunteer organizations, and hoped that some of the cheap extensions I created could help cover the time I put into development and support (unfortunately, they do NOT generate enough to cover the time I spend already). Right now, the code is a bit of a mess, and the core plugin structure leaves a lot to be desired.

    At this point, I’m pretty much stuck with the data structure that was set up initially by the original version of the plugin that I started with. Although I have created some new database fields for some of the features I added, the whole database structure really needs to be reworked in order to allow things like true recurring/repeating events (like on Google calendars), and many other features that people have requested (such as volunteer time tracking, for example).

    I have thought about creating a new volunteer management system from scratch many times, but always come to the conclusion that it most likely would not be worth my time since the type of people who want these plugins also do not want to (or can not) pay for them. So, I mostly focus on my custom WooCommerce development projects and the extensions I sell. I have a database structure in mind, and the beginnings of a much better object oriented approach designed and notated, and may get around to it eventually, but it’s still very low on the priority list.

    So, as stated at the top, I’m just fishing for comments to try to determine if there is enough support to even attempt a completely redesigned from scratch volunteer management system, or if I should simply continue to trickle out a few new features and updates to the existing plugin.

  • #14417

    Ulf Skogeng
    Participant

    Hi Stephen,

    I understand that you need to focus on work that is profitable. The PTA Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet with the Groups extention was exactly what I was looking for, but of course there are some features that I would like, so I have already made som feature requests 😐

    What is unique about the PTA Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet is that it’s light weight and integrates into the homepage (being a WP plug-in). Most other online systems that offer these features are proprietary systems that lives outside WordPress/not integrated. You will most certainly not be able to make customizations like what I’ve done showing the different teams in our football club what volunteer work has been assigned to their team directly on their team-page. Example here: https://storhamarfotball.no/laget-mitt/lagssider/g2005/

    Storhamar Fotball Club with approx 800 members http://storhamarfotball.no is willing to pay extra bucks for your work, and I’m sure other organizations like us will do the same. The PTA Volunteer Sign-up sheet saves the administration in the club a lot of work, and makes it easier for the parents that are “assigned” volunteer work for the club.

    +1 for making the necessary modifications and creating a “Pro” version with these extra features based on the current version. However if you decide to create a new version from scratch, that will also be something that we would be interested in.

    Ulf Skogeng
    Storhamar Football Club
    http://www.storhamarfotball.no
    Hamar, Norway

    • #14430

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Thanks for the comments! As you have already figured out, I’m also more receptive to feature requests for customers of paid extensions (both for new extension features, as well as core plugin features). Busy day today, so didn’t get much programming done, but hope to have some updates released by the end of the week. Several new features coming.

  • #15012

    Carl L
    Participant

    would be interested in a paid version. Already made a donation for the current version. We need only minor tweaks for our current needs, but we have been working with the plugin for only a couple months. We appreciate the new features in the recent version 2.0.

    • #15022

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Thanks very much for the donation and the feedback!

      Not sure when/if I will rewrite and create a much better paid version. As you can tell by the lack of responses here (yet no shortage of feature requests), the majority of people who use this free volunteer plugin are not willing to purchase a paid version or pay for any kind of support or further development. WooCommerce extensions have a MUCH higher return on time invested.

  • #15852

    Jose Carlos Moreno
    Participant

    Hi, just purchased the bundle to help out, a pro version sounds great! Looking forward to get it too. But for the time being I really wish for a tutorial to use it correctly.

    We are a non-profit focused on managing volunteers to reforest in my country, Guatemala.
    I want to use your plugin to register volunteers to our voluntiring opportunities. Registered users can just say that they will go to the next opportunity without registering again.
    I haven’t made anything yet with your plugins as I told before, just purchased the bundle. But you can check out site and maybe you can get an idea of what we do.

    http://www.plantemos1000arboles.org

    • #15857

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Hi Jose,

      Thanks for the purchase and the feedback!

      If you have not found it yet, documentation for most of my plugins can be found under the “Docs” menu on my site. Direct link:

      https://stephensherrardplugins.com/docs/

      Once you read through the documentation to understand all the options/settings, and play around with the plugins a bit, they should be fairly easy to figure out. But, please let me know via the proper support forum if you have any issues not covered by the documentation.

  • #15935

    Glenn Scott
    Participant

    Is there any possibility that a Pro version would include text notifications to volunteers as well as email?

    Glenn
    Webmaster
    Mission Marshall

    • #15937

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Regarding text notifications, I believe somebody asked me about this previously. First, there is no way to send a text message directly from WordPress. That would need to be done through some third party system (another site that has that backend infrastructure setup), which you would most likely need to subscribe to and pay for. Since there are several such services available, all with their own custom API, it would be a lot of work to support them all. Yes, it could be done, but it not natively from your site via your hosting company’s server. It has to connect to one of those services to send the text.

      At this point, there does not seem to be enough interest in a pro version to support the amount of time I would need to put into its development, let alone all the time it would take to code custom interfaces for all the popular text message services. So, it’s not looking good at this point. Perhaps once I get a few other WooCommerce extensions finished up that have been in the works for a while, and if I’m not too busy with custom development projects, I may still take on this project. Based on my schedule this year so far, I don’t see that happening this year.

      On the other hand, if someone wanted to pay me to develop an extension for the existing sign up sheets to send reminders/notices via text message through a specific service that they want to use, that is something I would consider since paid custom development projects always take priority.

  • #16290

    Leslie Baldwin
    Participant

    It took me longer to register and find this link again than to write this – might be one reason you are not getting as much feedback as you’d like 🙂

    I run a barebones nonprofit. We depend on events that include donations/tickets. However I need a guest list of who has registered so I only get one type of business for each slot. There are options such as Eventbrite and other ticket/event management programs but they are either expensive or delay payment until after the event.

    I would pay for a plugin that “Hides” or marks as “Pending” registration until a paypal (or other) button is clicked and payment made.

    Thanks!

    • #16297

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for taking the time to register and post a comment! Yes, it’s always between having the site get overrun with spam posts, or making it a bit difficult for legit users to login and post. Sorry for that, but I’d rather spend my time programming and providing support than sorting through spam posts every day. BBPress doesn’t make things much easier, unfortunately, but I also didn’t want to waste my time coding my own support system and forums.

      I would pay for a plugin that “Hides” or marks as “Pending” registration until a paypal (or other) button is clicked and payment made.

      I’m assuming you are talking about signing up for a slot on a sign-up sheet, as opposed to registering for a user account on your web site. I’m certainly open to these types of suggestions if and when I decide to rewrite a “pro” version.

      Perhaps (now that you are registered), you could add this to the Feature Requests section as a type of “paid signups” feature where payment needs to be made in order to be signed up for something. That would be a fairly major feature to try to add to the existing plugin, especially when you need to start messing around with payment gateways and processing responses from those various payment systems. But, I agree that would be a nice feature to have in a paid version of the plugin.

  • #17540

    Christina Headrick
    Participant

    I’ve used your product on http://www.glebepta.org, and we would definitely be interested in a pro version with other features.

    We have had two minor buggy things:

    One issue we had is that we have “log in” to sign up disabled because when you log in and come back to the page it does not automatically refresh. Then the user is asked to log in again. It’s an endless loop.

    Another issue we had was the ability to change the date of a signup. And notify the people who had been signed up — rather than having to recreate the sign up and add in all those people again.

    The third feature would be to make placement of the volunteer sign up just a little more intuitive for a total newbie. I think having to find out the number / ID of the signup and insert that isn’t 100% intuitive for one of my users who is new wordpress.

    We are considering adding pages for all of the classes at the school, where room parents can post signups for things the classes are doing. This almost requires a “front end” interface to allow a room parent who has no wordpress experience to be able to do that. It’s probably too ambitious for us, but that was one of our brainstorms. Right now, every room parent uses a different sign up program, and emails are cluttered with 1000 emails from the school. We are trying to help parents feel organized and like they can look to clear places for information and reminders. Just a thought…

    Best,
    Christina

    • #17545

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Hi Christina,

      Thanks for the comments. Yes, there are certainly some things that could be done better (and certainly would be if I ever do a pro version), and there is definitely no shortage of feature requests (but, I can’t please everyone).

      However, I will quickly respond to one “buggy” thing you mentioned:

      One issue we had is that we have “log in” to sign up disabled because when you log in and come back to the page it does not automatically refresh. Then the user is asked to log in again. It’s an endless loop.

      This sounds like an issue with your site, or, more likely, another plugin that handles logins for your site? Perhaps your logins are done with some kind of javascript pop-up add-on so that the underlying page does not get refreshed? Or perhaps you have some plugin that is caching that page to speed up your site, so that when you come back to it, you are still seeing what was displayed previously? Neither of those have nothing to do with my plugin, as it’s working just fine with the default login operation of WordPress, and nobody else is reporting similar issues. I can’t control what happens with other plugins that take over the login process for you, or that are overly aggressive with caching pages. So, not really anything I can “fix” there.

  • #17795

    Jennifer
    Participant

    Thanks for asking!

    My #1 request in a Pro version would be CSV upload for tasks. We create over 100 tasks per month, and doing them manually is tedious.

    • #18323

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Subsidized development of new features is always a good way to get the features you want… especially if you can gather a few people willing to contribute. In the meantime, though, I will focus on projects that actually help feed my family.

      Subsidized Development

  • #20907

    Tina White
    Participant

    You should charge for the basic plug-in as well as the premiums. I used the free signup.com app very briefly. Now I pay $150 a year because I want more than the basic functionality. I could easily justify paying at least that for a pro version.
    Donations aren’t a great way to go with non-profits. It’s easier for them to justify a fee than a donation. (go figure).
    The two features I would most want: 1) one more field for each task – a text field that I could use to add a few notes about that task. 2) ability to someone to easily add new sheets who isn’t a programmer.

    I’m really impressed with this.

    • #20941

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Thanks for the feedback Tina. I don’t charge for the current free version since it started its life as another plugin that I “forked” into my own version 6 or 7 years ago for my son’s school PTA web site.

      But, yes, if I ever do have the time and inclination to create a much better version (starting with a better database foundation), then it will certainly be a paid version, and everything will be in one plugin. At this point, though, it doesn’t appear to be worth my time unless I can aggressively market it to enough schools and non-profits that are using WordPress to generate enough sales to at least cover my time investment.

  • #23299

    Konrad Reardon
    Participant

    Hi Stephen,

    The plugin is brilliant – I would gladly pay for a pro-version. I’d suggest a good avenue for marketing would be medical education which is how I came to find your PTA plugin. I’m hoping to use it to manage a roster of presenters at hospital Grand Rounds and doctors who are in their first two years after graduating. As such, I’ve already bought the Calendar and Customiser extensions and would be very happy if the pro version were to include a functionality whereby a recurring event could be designated with a different task each time.

    I have a recurring education session run weekly and there are approximately 50 different lectures which are delivered as part of a syllabus. I’d like to be able to set up the recurring event and designate a different lecture each week without creating a separate once off event for each lecture.

    I’ll continue to use your plugin in the meantime – expect a donation from me soon.

    All the best and hope the family is going ok!

    • #23301

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Hi Konrad,

      Thanks very much for the kind words and the generous support donation!

      I pretty much suck at marketing, but thanks for the idea.

      Frankly, I’ve just been so busy with huge custom programming projects, as well as some great projects in my recording studio, that I haven’t had time to finish up a couple of other WooCommerce extensions I started a couple years ago. I keep thinking about the Volunteer plugin, though, as it’s definitely my most popular plugin (even though I no longer use it myself for any of my sites). One of my huge custom projects, which is ongoing (new features every year), is a giant extension for the Volunteer sign-up sheets for a big non-profit that works with schools all across the nation. It’s a bit too specialized for their specific needs to be of any use to anyone else, but there are definitely quite a few parts of it I could use for a “pro” version of the core plugin, if I even can find the time.

      Regarding your specific feature request, are you just using it as an event calendar and creating “no sign up” events? So, you are just wanting to block out an event that repeats once a week, but then just be able to edit the “task” to change who the lecturer is?

      I supposed one way you could do it with the current system is to create a single date event for the first week, and then use the “copy” function to copy it a whole bunch of times, and then edit the title and task for each copy you created. Alternately, you could maybe do a multi-day event and then enter all your tasks where you can specify the date for each, and make each task a different lecture? That way it’s still all in one sheet, and you can have as many tasks as your server can handle in one form submission.

      True Google Calendar recurring/repeating type events are actually quite complex to create, and I did search for how to represent those in a database a year or two ago when thinking about the pro version. Lots of conversation out there about how to make that happen, but it’s not simple, and not really possible with the initial database structure I had to start with (would have to create new database tables to hold dates and rules for repeating events, exceptions, etc…).

      It’s definitely something I would still like to do at some point, if my other work even slows down.

      Thanks again for your support!

  • #23823

    Don Barker
    Participant

    I installed PTA Signups this morning and am thrilled.

    I would make sure our org contributes.

    • #23825

      Stephen Sherrard
      Keymaster

      Thanks Don!

      I keep thinking about a total rewrite, and it’s something I would like to do, I’m just so swamped with custom projects, as well as projects in my recording studio, that I haven’t been able to find the time (and still spend some time with my family, at least). Someday, maybe.

  • #24263

    Charles King
    Participant

    Hi Stephen,

    I recently found your plugin, paid for the bundle and have it running. While we are a non-profit, we generally do not hesitate to spend $50-100 here and there to keep our website going and to improve efficiencies.

    The one thing I would really like is for the sign-up sheet manager to be able to enter volunteers into some of the tasks on the back end user their WP user name. And for all their signups to display when they log in themselves as though they had signed up themselves.

    Thanks,
    Greg

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