Sometime back in October 2011 Marcus Neto posted a tutorial on expressionengine.com on how to build a custom support ticket system. I thought his approach was very intuitive, and the best part is its completely customizable. Prior to the Devot:ee support forum launch I had I tried GetSatisfaction, which was OK, but didn't feel it was the best tool. The best part about the Devot:ee forums is convenience for customers, but its feature set is, how should I say it, limiting. It works fine, don't get me wrong, but I want and need more control.
The same week Marcus posted his tutorial I installed it into my dev environment for BoldMinded and went to town. The end result doesn't look much like his original tutorial though. Most of it was changes to code formatting and styles, which is different for everyone. Other changes were for the extra features I wanted from a support tool. In about half the support messages I get I end up having to ask the customer what version of the add-on or EE they are using, or end up having to ask them to email me control panel access so I can login and take a look at the issue (supporting an add-on is like any other piece of software you write, its nearly impossible to debug something if you can't see or replicate the issue yourself).
Five months later it is finished. I don't work that slowly, I just didn't work on it at all Novmember through Febuary. There are still some modifications I want to make, so it will be progressively updated, which is the nicest thing about it... I can customize it however I need to. You can get to it via the Support link in the right navigation.
One of the other benefits of using Devot:ee's forums is that customers already have login credentials to the support forums. I don't like asking people to create yet another account on a site somewhere. We do that enough already. The earliest version of the new support section validated users only on email address that was saved in a cookie. That would have been fine if everyone was honest and spammers didn't exist. I needed something else to validate users with, but not make them create a new account, which brought me to Social Login by IntoEEtive. Now users can login with their Twitter account. If needed I can add other services to validate users, but I'm going to keep it simple to start (remember that progressive thing I mentioned earlier?)
What's next? Well, I'm going to shut down the Devot:ee support forums for my add-ons and start redirecting everyone to my site. If you notice any issues with the new system email me.