Author Topic: Here Goes Nothing  (Read 461 times)

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Offline bdacus01

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Here Goes Nothing
« on: May 06, 2018, 04:16:56 PM »
Hello All:
Looks like not many frequent this forum..  It's a bit like HostBill's long and tattered past..  I have read a lot of the Available posts out there.  Seems like everyone got mad and left around 2013.  Since they raised prices.  Anyway here are my questions.  Forget the money part.  I want to know about the software...

Does the standard software work well in general? 

If it breaks will they fix it?

How often did you really need support?

If you need support did it take hours, days, months to get an answer?

I have been corresponding with sales for about a week now.  They seem to answer questions but mostly once a day.  I understand if there is only 4 people.  I have tried Blesta, Clientexec and WHMCS.   I own the first 2 they are way behind WHMCS.  However WHMCS is subscription.  I would Prefer to own the License.  Which brings me to the next question

How does Upgrading work?  example If I own Enterprise Edition 2018.  Will I have to pay to Upgrade to Enterprise 2020?  Or is that included in the $99 for support and Upadtes? 

Stay well
Thanks,
Brent Dacus

Offline BRJP

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2018, 04:37:47 PM »
Hi Brent,

Welcome to the forums.

You ask some challenging and subjective questions!  There are people with good experiences, neutral experiences and really poor experiences.  We had a good experience with HostBill but my technical guys moved us to WHMCS.  Although I was personally happy with HostBill at the time, I can genuinely say that we are really happy with WHMCS since migration and would not go back.  We just found the software more scalable and reliable.

My personal view (in line with your questions) from when we used HostBill is this:

1. The core software worked well but could be brittle during upgrades.  We raised quite a few bug requests.
2. They did fix the bugs but prioritised paying customers.  We had a good OpEx budget so did not suffer here.
3. We needed a lot of support in the early days but once we got right, we left pretty much as is and only used support for bugs.
4. We got very fast support - but again, we paid for support packages so experienced no response delays.
5. I cannot provide an update on the upgrades as we never did this.
6. WHMCS is subscription based, but it is certainly not the same cost as HB Enterprise.

Obviously, the SaneChoice experience with HostBill was some time ago.  So you need to temper some of these comments with more recent ones from other forum members.

I hope some of this helps.
Kind regards,
Bradley Porter
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Find out more about SaneChoice Services at: https://www.sanechoice.com/

Offline bdacus01

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2018, 04:57:34 PM »
Bradley
Thanks

I noticed you switched to WHMC..  I checked out your site a bit ago since you were on here.


1) During the weekly updates?
2) If you bought support every year. You reported a bug didn't they just fix it?  What was the budget for again?  Why would that cost a customer anything?
3) When you say "got it right" you mean you customized it a lot?  Example If I install it and set it up stock no custom stuff will it just work?
4) So if you paid the $75 dollars they helped you until it was resolved?
5) If you never upgraded was it because there was not one around?  How long over all did you uses HB? 
       I am wondering does it cost money to go between major versions? example  version 3 to 4 or 5 to 6. 


Thanks
Thanks,
Brent Dacus

Offline tallship

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2018, 04:01:32 PM »
Hello All:
Looks like not many frequent this forum..  It's a bit like HostBill's long and tattered past..  I have read a lot of the Available posts out there.  Seems like everyone got mad and left around 2013.  Since they raised prices.  Anyway here are my questions.  Forget the money part.  I want to know about the software...

Does the standard software work well in general? 

It's weird. Short answer. Yes, in general, it  works well.

The developer is a talented and capable programmer. Some things work a little oddly, but once you get your head around some of the bass-ackwards way in which things are done you get used to it and just learn to shake your head.

Quote
If it breaks will they fix it?

Not neccessarily. There is no regression testing that anyone could ever confirm - the developer just codes and pushes, and many times things are broken. Have fun getting those things fixed if you're infrastructure is dependent upon those particular features.

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How often did you really need support?

There was a forum hosted by HB, and when Kris stopped tending to the needs of his users, and other users and developers stepped up to fill the void, it angered him and he deleted the forums. This effectively left the entire community without any support whatsoever, since there weren't really any direct ways to get support without paying for developer time - I'm talking about bugs.

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If you need support did it take hours, days, months to get an answer?

E - All of the above. Sometimes never. And this  is after you pay for the tech support incidents in advance. I still have a few of those banked, but it was pointless to use those prepaid tickets.

Many people would open a trouble support ticket and receive a single, one line answer that didn't address, and certainly not resolve their issues (many critical), Kris would not respond a second time and the people were left holding a piece of software that no longer did what it  was supposed to. In my case, a VMware module broke. After loudly complaining he did fix it, but then when VMware went from 4.x to 5.x he released  a new module which again incurred a cost, instead of honoring the buy once own forever promise he tried to erase from all documentation, although those license particulars  are preserved here for you to review.

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I have been corresponding with sales for about a week now.  They seem to answer questions but mostly once a day.  I understand if there is only 4 people.  I have tried Blesta, Clientexec and WHMCS.   I own the first 2 they are way behind WHMCS.  However WHMCS is subscription.  I would Prefer to own the License.  Which brings me to the next question

Blesta is really good stuff, but you are right, it's behind WHMCS yet they're local here in California, answer their phone, and you can even stop by their office with a flat of Starbucks coffees. I like local companies. I like when vendors have actual phone numbers. Blesta has an API for developers and I can't really class actors whether you can take advantage of those features since I don't know what  your business product is, but in many ways, it has a much better and modern design than WHMCS, although it doesn't have all of the available 3rd party modules and development is slow - as a result of this, bugs, you should know, are exceedinly rare.

dunno about clientexec. Looked at it, didn't tickle my fancy, nor did  ubersmith or onapp or a myriad of others.

I have an unbranded, owned forever license of WHMCS too, just like I do for HostBill although the latter is useless. All new features of HosBill were  promised as free for licensees such as myself but that was not honored. This, more than price, paying to communicate with "CEO" for "pre-sales" questions, and bug reports falling on deaf ears is what drove everyone away from HostBill.

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How does Upgrading work?  example If I own Enterprise Edition 2018.  Will I have to pay to Upgrade to Enterprise 2020?  Or is that included in the $99 for support and Upadtes? 

I can tell you this. Kris changes the license and rules as often as you change your underwear.

regular weekly upgrades usually went without a hitch though (like I said he's a competent developer), but often, some module or functionality would break that wasn't even listed in the changelogs as being worked on.

This is what we (the community) did here to  mitigate those catastrophes... We set up a forum topic and took turns (like, drawing straws) being the first to  update HostBill and then elbow checking  it. Kris ended any methods for running developer editions so we  could test (without buying another full copy), and so whoever got picked to upgrade that  week would perform the Friday update, then check everything out and if  they didn't find anything broken (which was often - very often), would report back and then the rest of us would perform our upgrades, usually by Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week.

I don't think anyone ever complained about the $99 dollar annual support and updates subscription. That's standard industry, but yes, licensees were pushed out by new versions coming out with different licensing schemes that prevented most from being able to upgrade without paying all over again - BEWARE!

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4) So if you paid the $75 dollars they helped you until it was resolved?

No. Not at all. usually there was just a single reply (if any), and if you couldn't even understand what he was talking about (because he wasn't talking about the bug  you were reporting or the technical  support to implement a module, etc.), then you were out of luck.  Even opening up another $75 ticket wouldn't assure you of a response - EVER.

Quote
5) If you never upgraded was it because there was not one around?  How long over all did you uses HB?
       I am wondering does it cost money to go between major versions? example  version 3 to 4 or 5 to 6.

Well, He eventually did grandfather me for the VMware modules so I could use the vCloud Director and vShpere and regular VMware version 2 module that support VMware version 5.x machinery. That took almost a year though.

Look, there wasn't anything out there like HostBill back when I adopted it. The invoicing  was wonky, I loved the quote system where the customer could accept an offer and then it would automatically convert it to an invoice on the fly without any intervention on our part, but where all the others were focused on webhosting, HostBill looked at that as a secondary feature set - it's real focus and genius was that out of the box, it  supported VMware, CloudStack, Xenserver, etc., for those of us who focus on providing cloud virtualization in the form of IaaS and PaaS. WHMCS couldn't even compete there, and the 3rd party modules for them that did address those features were buggy, broke when upgrading WHMCS, poorly maintained, and expensive.

All that is a rather moot point now, as there is much greater support for providers out there in both Blesta and WHMCS - Virtualizor, for example, is supported by modules by both of those systems. And of course if you like SolusVM that's always been stable.

HostBill was pretty, and I can say that when there was a vulnerability, Kris did patch it  immediately - and  I mean like immediately. Others might take days or  a  week or so, leaving you susceptible to compromise. What drove so many to HostBill years ago was a major security flaw in WHMCS that they couldn't address for some time, providers could have  (may have) been compromised, and people got scared and ran. That hasn't happened since and they're on top of it.

WHMCS has a vibrant community support forum, and the staff monitors it and will even chime in if need be. If you have an update subscription with them you're entitled to open support tickets and they'll even ssh in and repair any problems you have without you incurring additional fees - that's golden if you ask me.

If you really wish to run HostBill, I would suggest that you purchase a forever everything license from someone  like me and then pay whatever else  you need to do to upgrade - no.... mine is not for sale, even though it's worthless to me and considering the offers I  get from time to time, quite valuable.

If you do adopt HostBill, you will definitely lose sleep. That's a given. Just look at the threads where we tracked over a hundred days and  more where bug reports weren't addressed and functionality in the product was broken as a result.

That having been said, I would still consider running it myself, but only because of the license I have, and would warn  anyone who is thinking about adopting it and paying those exorbitant fees.... "Be afraid, be very afraid". So... "Run Forrest, run!"

If you can work with the shortcomings of Blesta compared to that of WHMCS, I would go  with that and pay Phillips to perform custom devels for you. Otherwise, I would point you to WHMCS.

The only other software that was really poised to compete with HostBill was WHSuite - completely open sourced, but abandoned when it was in beta. You  can find it on github and I may have a clone of it in my repose too. Not sure. Nowadays though, WHMCS and Blesta both support the IaaS and PaaS provider model of vendors. Do yourself a favor Brent, stay away from HostBill.



Bradley D. Thornton - Manager Network Services, NorthTech Computer   TEL: +1.310.388.9469 (US) | +44.203.318.2755 (UK) | +61.390.088.072 (AU) | +41.43.508.05.10 (CH)
Registered Linux User #190795 - "Ask Bill why the string in [MS-DOS] function 9 is terminated by a dollar sign. Ask him, because he can't answer. Only I know that." - Dr. Gary Kildall.

Offline bdacus01

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2018, 07:21:45 PM »
Wow both Bradley's...

Bradley aka Tailship

Thanks such a detailed response.. I think if WHMCS had a lifetime licenses I might not be in this predicment.  If Blesta was more complete (I own a Lifetime license) I like Paul to they are great.  Nevertheless here I am stuck..

Not to change the subject: Here is what I don't get so far.

I seem to hear a lot of Software A doesn't do this Software B is better..  Oh Software C does this and that better..  oh just build one that is awesome.  The part I don't get here it comes..

All of you guys in the Industry all have devs,  some of you have money, a lot of you know each other...   What in the world is preventing you all from getting organized and creating something we all could use?  Seems like with all the collective knowledge in the industry.  You all could start a open source project something.  Whats the thought on why this isn't going down...  Like you mentioned WHMsuite..  revive that, right?

Crazy right?
Thanks,
Brent Dacus

Offline d4f

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 12:01:46 PM »
Quote
All of you guys in the Industry all have devs,  some of you have money, a lot of you know each other...   What in the world is preventing you all from getting organized and creating something we all could use?
That's actually how a lot of the industry software gets started.
However please do note that most of the poeple "stuck" with Hostbill are smaller companies that do not have the budget, time allotment and legal information required to actually build a billing system.

I built one billing system for a very specific use case for a customer from scratch and it's a compliance, logistical, legal and technical nightmare. Building, maintaining and completing one from scratch is simply something that needs a closed developer group which is usually not possible cross-company or would fail on the first decision impass.

What most of us do (me included) is pick a software that can be extended and hack it to our specific needs. Hostbill was, to be fair, not my choice but from the options available in 2013 it was one of the better self-hosted solutions for small webhosters which did not cost several thousand dollars.

Offline bdacus01

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2018, 04:31:30 PM »
However please do note that most of the people "stuck" with Hostbill are smaller companies that do not have the budget, time allotment and legal information required to actually build a billing system.

This is me d4f.  I am just a simple man looking for a good solution.  Apparently my criteria is not the same as everyone else. 

Several things I like and several I don't

About whats available:

WHMCS:  Simple timing I almost bought a Lifetime License...  I don't like subscription software.  Seems to be getting better.  Don't like the 3rd party implementation of modules.  I prefer the company that created the software to Build Functionality.

ClientExec : Own Lifetime License.  Simple to use, Good implementation of plugins, Admin area is awful.  Slow development.  Hard to build products. No 3rd party development (good). No real Forum. Slack doesn't rock...

Blesta:  Own Lifetime License.  Simple to use, Good implementation of plugins, super slow development.  A lot of 3rd party development (not Good) so we are clear its not the coding by the devs.  No real clear direction.  What is built I like but its not complete enough.

Hostbill: Own Lifetime License.  Simple to use, Good implementation of plugins, weekly development, no 3rd party plugins, not a subscription, nice admin area, good module choices for option past shared hosting. 

I don't know until Clientexec or Blesta improve or some one makes a better app.  I suppose i wait until I get more money or get smarter..  which is all negotiable.

Thanks,
Brent Dacus

Offline d4f

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2018, 11:46:01 AM »
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Don't like the 3rd party implementation of modules.  I prefer the company that created the software to Build Functionality.
Closing down the code to third parties means including *you*. So if you need something specific, they can charge you whatever they want for that feature or simply refuse and you're stuck to accept their terms.
Not a prospect I look forward to, especially not regarding all the law changes in recent years where Hostbill did not or only poorly adhere to new requirements. I had to write a lot of compliance and usuability code myself which is possible however not easy with Hostbill as it does have 3rdparty plugin support functionality.

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  No real clear direction.  What is built I like but its not complete enough.
From my experience that is exactly what usually happens when software is built-to-needs as you suggested to do in your earlier post. Everyone has different needs and sometimes they even clash.

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This is me d4f.  I am just a simple man looking for a good solution.
There is no perfect jack-of-all-trades for this kind of software or most software in fact. Unfortunately that means one has to do with the best pick and go from there.


You seem to have bought A LOT of different licenses over the years. Not criticising, but it would probably have been better to stick with a single solution and  getting a devops technician to support you into getting the software to work *exactly* as you need.  What _exactly_ do you dislike about Hostbill that makes it a no-go for you?

Offline tallship

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 03:11:14 AM »

WHMCS:  Simple timing I almost bought a Lifetime License...  I don't like subscription software.  Seems to be getting better.  Don't like the 3rd party implementation of modules.  I prefer the company that created the software to Build Functionality.

You're too late to get on the bandwagon for a lifetime license w/WHMCS, I think they ended that in October or so and now they're strictly by subscription.
Personally, I like the option of an open API and published docs for third party development, yet enjoy when the appication's developers develop modules as well, as this provides choices - choices which, Hostbill actually embraced and marketed until they pulled the plug on 3PD's and Kris went off his meds or whatev caused him to go apeshizm with the licensing model that changed weekly.
Some of the modules were half baked, good, for the most part as to their functionality, but lacking, and if there was a bug - you were foo paux'd.
If there's functionality that you need to fix, or implement, (and again, this will be dependent upon your license as to whether you are permitted to actually develop your own patches or modules), I have the old published APIs and other docs in my Github repos. You can find that by following my Linux Counter link below in my signature.
Caveat: I have no idea how much of that still works or is broken. It's been a few years.
IMNSHO, Blesta could be the best, but yes, devel is extremely slow. On the plus side, they'll implement things if the community wants it, and are also 3rd party friendly as well. Still, aside from being really kewl, it still centers on webhosting, and not IaaS or PaaS like Hostbill was or is.
Bear in mind (Even with WHMCS) if a security patch for a vul is released, you're not entitled to it if your maintenance subscription has lapsed.
Now with respect to third parties, Modules Garden has mixed reviews depending upon who you talk to, and they used to support some modules they wrote for HostBill, until that door was closed. So with WHMCS they still strive to provide modules that WHMCS doesn't author as well as directly compete with some WHMCS functionality, trying to improve upon that. They have lifetime source code licenses, but they're not cheap; you can, however, demo their modules and subscribe until such time as you wish to commit to a lifetime license.
If you can get Hostbill to do what you want out of the box, it may be that it is for you, but YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN unless you believe that you're going to get responsive support in a timely manner for a reasonable price.
I just can't base a business product where my customer's interests and business operations could be adversely affected by virtue of orphaned aspects of Hostbill's functionality. That's just way to scary for me.
We'll see what the future holds for them. I really did wish to believe in their product, and more importantly that they would support their user base. When they whacked their support forums because they weren't tending to the needs of their customer base and decided to simply disenfranchise all of us by taking their support forums offline.... Well, who does that?
Bradley D. Thornton - Manager Network Services, NorthTech Computer   TEL: +1.310.388.9469 (US) | +44.203.318.2755 (UK) | +61.390.088.072 (AU) | +41.43.508.05.10 (CH)
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Offline bdacus01

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 08:11:50 PM »
Hey all.

I wanted to thank you..  I tried HB and it just wasn't for me.  The software seems good.  Even did 3 weeks worth of updates and no big issues..  however I asked for a refund.  Which was given straight away the next day.  I think I learned I prefer to have a place with real support...  which you all warned me about so thanks..  I started thinking I don't know many companies that have support that you pay per ticket.   I sort of felt alone... 

I also was able to find a lifetime whmcs license to buy and transfer. 

I bit off topic. What other forums do you prefer for this type of work? 

Again thanks...  you all really helped me.
Thanks,
Brent Dacus

Offline terrorfrog

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2018, 08:25:58 PM »
OK i think i need to say something about costs, subscriptions and paid support in general.
not judging on the quality of any of those vendors.

whmcs and hostbill are cheap, dirt cheap.
software dev is super expensive. we have a very limited customer base in a very specialized market with very complex needs.

besides hostbill is way way cheaper in reality. if you calculate on 2-.3 years
just they did a bad job communicating and market it.


as for my testing. i have now a list of over 50 keypoints (individual functions) and comparison (all basic stuff)
only to remtely beeing able to compare those two.

funny is both have major flaws just each in other parts.
so at the end you ask yourself with what blockers youre able to live better

i even made a chart of severity and chances of beeing solved by its own or 3rd party.
bottom line


im still undecided

however my gut feeling tells me
whmcs - better codebase much worse datastructure
hostbill - the other way around

also hostbill is outdated on the webpart, and it doesnt look like they doing dogshit about it ever.
and yet it works in many parts better



Offline d4f

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Re: Here Goes Nothing
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2018, 03:55:33 AM »
Quote
also hostbill is outdated on the webpart, and it doesnt look like they doing dogshit about it ever.
Could you elaborate on that? They use a very old smarty template engine and no api-first dogma, but classifying the whole frontend as "outdated" is a bit harsh for that. Or am I missing something?