CircleToLand.com, my website for pilot questions and answers, has just completed its major face-lift and software overhaul. For the software geeks, I'm now using a Q&A package called OSQA. Its still in a beta stage and there are some rough spots, but there are some advantages to using the new software package:
1. Its open source, meaning I can change and modify the code to meet the specific needs of CircleToLand.com
2. I can host it on my own servers, meaning that as CircleToLand.com grows I have control over expanding the server capacity without having to pay an exorbitant monthly fee.
3. Since StackExchange changed their model from an entrepreneur-based service to a community owned forum, switching to OSQA means that maintain a greater control over how I want the site to grow and expand.
4. User will see the benefits of aviation-specific tools and controls in CircleToLand.com, I'm planning on making it easier to include chart images in questions.
There are a few downsides to OSQA over StackExchange:
1. Its written in Python and Django, so while its open source, I'm not too familiar with the language and framework, so there's a learning curve as I poke around and try to fix issues.
2. Hosting the software myself means I have to make sure the software gets updated and maintained regularly, before StackExchange was covering the software upgrades and installs.
3. Bugs bugs bugs, there's a weird issue with Yahoo Open ID (I'm recommending all of my users to create a password backup if they use OpenID, so they can still login), also the Markdown control has some issues with images, and I'm sure more bugs will keep rolling in.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the new site and how simple it was to migrate the site over. The guys at OSQA have made a great product and their main contributor, Hernâni Cerqueira, is an excellent source for help and support. I think my users will be happy with the new changes and I can finally put my efforts to growing CircleToLand.com!