It is our plan, of course, to astonish everyone with all sorts of things, but our primary focus will be on b2evolution and blogging. We've been so busy behind the scenes, working on our member-only features, that we've forgotten completely about posting something for everyone. Oops.
Hopefully, this post will help remedy that.
We haven't officially "launched" yet, though there are those of you who are anticipating our arrival. Just like "Phoenix", we don't have a date for you, but rest assured that we're working feverishly in the background ... there's a lot of hammering and nailing going on back there. (Not much tiling, mind you, but that's an inside joke, so don't feel badly if you don't understand it).
As I said, our primary focus will be on raising the bar for all b2evolution bloggers. No, you don't have to sign up for a membership on this site, to benefit, though we're trying hard to find a balance between what's "free" and what's offered in our members-only area.
Not all the details have been hammered out, but here is some information. Memberships will be $25US per annum. We think that this will provide a good value for our members. Members will have access to much more content than everyone else. For new plugins and articles, there will be a month lead time for paid members ... however not every article and every plugin will be released to the general public. This is a big advantage for paid membership. Members also have other privileges (not all of which have been determined yet, so I hesitate to dig any big holes that I'll have to climb out of later. ;)
Articles will focus on b2evolution and blogging, but will not be limited to these subjects. First and foremost, each b2evolution blogger is a webmaster and it's important that we put our best foot forward when we put our personal information, thoughts and prose out for public consumption. We'll cover topics like 'hotlinking', 'anti-spam' and 'backups' from a ground-up perspective. Some folks can skip all the intro stuff and that's OKAY, but by the end of the article, it's our goal that folks have a much better understanding of the topic, as well as some kick-ass, well-thought-out, easy to use tools to help tame the webmaster job.
Plugins will be for b2evolution, with a primary focus (but not limited to) the new Phoenix release. If you haven't noticed, this site is running the Alpha 1.7 CVS version of b2evolution. There will be a transition period, from the time a stable release is made public, as people begin the process of conversion. It isn't a straight-forward "one-button" click. Much has changed in this new release and much of it is from the ground up. In fact, it's possible to have the same EXACT look as you had pre-Phoenix ... but believe me, you'll be running with a much more powerful engine. It may look like a VW Bug, this baby has some kick to it.
Members will also be better positioned to drive our programming and development priorities. We want to give you widgets, tools, features and capabilities that YOU want. The more people that chime in about wanting or needing something, the more effort we're likely to give that particular project. b2evolution is a great program, but there are features (imo) that could be included in the core, but are not, for one reason or another. We're here to try and rectify that, by harnessing the power of the plugin ... one of the new capabilities that Phoenix offers, which provides greater customizability (provided you know how to do it and let's face it, not everyone does).
We also will have excellent tutorials, to back up the plugins. It's not just a "here you go, good luck" kind of thing. When you use a free or paid plugin, you'll be given access to examples, demos and instructions that allow you to make full use of the plugin.
We'll also offer a bunch of ancilliary services, some of which may interest you. One such service will be a site evaluation, where we look at many aspects of your over all site .. security, navigability, style, XHTML and CSS validaton, keywords, load times, stats, backups, etc. We'll offer an honest evaluation and make specific recommendations to help shore up weak areas (if any) that we identify. (This service is still in a nacent development, but we think that folks will benefit by learning a LOT in a short period of time and know that after we walk away, they can rest assured they're running a tight ship... from an aspect they hadn't even known to consider).
The goal: Raise the bar for all b2evolution bloggers, from providing useful, fun and functional plugins to custom site programming and layout. Join us! Learn and help strengthen the b2evolution blogging community.
Though the membership application pages are not up, you can join early, by emailing the team at AstonishMe. We'll set you up and you'll have access to everything from the start. Don't miss out. We look forward to seeing you in the back construction zone, though be careful, we might just hand you a hammer! ;)