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Show HN: Full Help – Self-hosted help desk and knowledge base software (fullhelp.com)
197 points by fullhelp 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments



Very nice launch. I probably will buy this in the next week or two to power a product I will be launching myself soon.

The non-recurring pricing model makes it almost too cheap, but it’s right in the sweet spot of pulling out the corporate card and not even thinking about it.

$129 is cheap enough for the all but the tiniest projects.

I do like the simplicity of a single price point with no tiers or feature table, but it’s hard to shake the thought you’re leaving a lot on the table, or almost even disqualifying yourself from someone looking for a “premium” solution. I might suggest a $499 and $1999 version which offer merely higher tiers of support, just to see if anyone buys it. Pick some price which feels almost outrageous to you. At the very least it would anchor the $129.

At $129 the support should be limited to forums and self-help only.

docs.fullhelp.com - “Powered by FullHelp”.

Dogfooding doesn’t get better than this! I didn’t see an active live chat widget though?

You should be highlighting this as your product demo effectively.


Hey!

Thanks for checking it out! The software can be used by multiple companies or product simultaneously so one license may be enough. Of course, multiple licenses can be purchased if that's necessary just so you know

For the live chat, there's a live working widget on the landing page (fullhelp.com), it's located at the bottom right corner. From there, you are able to initiate conversations and also browse the knowledge base site.

The software has a Restful API which is used for the dashboard. Dogfooding there also! haha

Edit: Also, thanks for the pricing suggestions, sounds like a good approach.


Test driving it, like it a lot! Some initial feedback:

* I sent a support request by email with two screenshots. The first screenshot did not show up in the web view (the cid: remains in the HTML source).

* A demo account with lots of dummy data might be useful for a quick glance at the product.

* Might want to add a Letsencrypt wildcard SSL domain for https://*.demo.fullhelp.com

* Missing language string when creating an article: Title.created

* There is a non-deletable dummy note attached to a customer from a certain Peter Richards ;)

* Typo: shoirtly -> shortly

* Theming: this is quite a big feature, so understandably a bit rough right now, perhaps offer a blank template .ZIP file to get started?

* I'd like to be able to modify language strings, but perhaps this goes via the theming ZIP

Looks quite cool!


Hi!

Thanks for taking the time to check it out and the feedback!

For the theming feature, I was thinking of adding a way to export the installed themes, that way the user can download the theme being used and apply any customization and re-upload as a new custom theme.

A blank template for new designs is an excellent idea.

I've also created a small node based command-line program that syncs local development changes to the live knowledge base portals. This helps a lot with testing and previewing the themes. I've not released it just yet, I plan to do so with an MIT license on GitHub. It is similar to Shopify's Themekit (https://shopify.github.io/themekit). This is what I use to work on theme designs.

For knowledgebase language strings, you are right, that's possible at the moment through the theme locale files.


Looks very nice.

I know you decided against selling this as a SaaS but please reconsider. That you are self-hostable is a selling point that will drive potential hosted customers to you.

It's the same story with Gitlab: I love that it's open source and self-hostable. I prefer they take care of the hosting for me, but it's good to know if they go under, I can switch to the self-hosted version and there will be very few workflow changes for my team.


Hey!

I will be considering it, you are right. Some people just don't want to bother with the technical stuff that comes with managing servers and/or installing the software. I'll definitively consider a SaaS version.

Thanks!


Something to consider is that often I'll test drive a product with a few people on the cheapest possible plan, or free trial, for a month or two before rolling it out. Being able to do that really quickly, without setting up hosting, is a big benefit. If a customer can jump in straight away for a month long trial it might increase sales.

Also, I'm not in the market for this right now but I keep a list of products I've seen and liked. The need to sign up for your demo stopped me looking at it. Consider if you can remove that crucial barrier to people seeing your app. Something like read only, a preset user, or generate an account automatically with a disposible email address.


Very cool. We are current HelpScout customers -- my biggest complaint with HelpScout is our inability to properly gate our knowledge base behind our application's authentication -- the only choices are private (must have HelpScout account to access) or public URL.

I could see this being a viable alternative, but it appears to be missing a key feature for us, analytics. As an B2B SaaS app, we have support SLAs that mandate specific response times. HelpScout makes it easy for us to report response times. We can also tag support themes to help focus product development; being able to see metrics around theme frequency is very important.

Analytics also tell us which Knowledge Base articles are most popular as well as phrases users search so we can be sure we surface the correct article.


Hi!

I agree. Analytics is something that will surely be added, along with SLA management which is also missing. Knowledgebase sites have basic analytics which tells you how many visits, session and what are the popular articles, collections, and categories, but nothing more at the moment.

Thanks for checking it out and your feedback!


Looks nice, maybe you can add an existing account to your demo-system, so that I do not need to register myself an account.

Edit: And maybe point out, that the Documentation (https://docs.fullhelp.com/) is actually the software you are presenting. I did not realize that immediately.


Hey!

You are right, a demo account will be great! I'll be working on it, thanks!


Congrats, new help desk options are always cool. I can see this being great for web-based businesses, which I suppose is the target from what I can see. For my needs, I unfortunately need help desk software for a corporate environment. That means I need asset management integrated into the help desk software.

We are currently setting up GLPI + OCS Inventory NG because we couldn't find any other options that had good asset management. That being said, GLPI is clunky. It's not my first choice, but I couldn't find many options out there that integrated asset management.

I feel like as more and more web-based businesses grow, traditional help desk requirements are being left behind (perhaps helped by some organizations going BYOD). Bit jealous of all the people who need help desk software but don't need integrated asset management.


Thank you!

The software is focused on web-based businesses at the moment, mainly because it makes it simpler. However, I'm always open to suggestions. I'm not familiar with the asset management part, but I will definitively check it out and see if this is something that can be added, either built-in or as separate add-on or application. Just like you, there are other people that may benefit from it, especially when you say there aren't many options with a good integration.


Great product. Do you not worry about someone copying your code and selling it as a saas? I am selling premium Wordpress plugins and it’s incredible how many people try to purchase my plugin and then offer it as a saas


Hey!

It's always a concern for me. I'm looking for ways to detect such cases and that way terminate the licenses, which will prevent the user from downloading any release. Another approach that may work (just an idea), is to secure the documentation and allow access to it to logged in users with one valid license at least, but this has some disadvantages like the affected user experience.

A legal notice is always an option.


Don't block access to the docs. I always go through the docs first before purchasing software, it cuts through the marketing messages and helps me understand if the software does exactly what I need. No available docs = no purchase.


If you have to fight in court, there's a chance you already lost.

Get it to market first, holding the market is marginally less difficult when you move first.


Re-post as suggested by a moderator due to problem with account and post visibility.

I'm Gerardo, a web developer based in Puerto Rico.

Full Help is a self-hosted help desk and multi-knowledge base software created for small businesses and freelancers.

The backstory:

I was using Help Scout and Zoho Desk before considering creating something like Full Help. Both services are excellent, the problem with Zoho Desk is that it is more focused on large businesses, with complex requirements.

I gave a try to Help Scout, and I was impressed. It was simple and perfect for companies of all sizes. My main issue with Help Scout was the pricing and the limitations of each plan, especially on the lower ones. It was expensive (and still is for me).

Another problem for me with Help Scout was the lack of customizability on the docs sites. The only way I was able to customize the look and feel of the knowledge base sites was through custom CSS and JavaScript. I wanted to get my hands dirty with my own HTML and site structure, but that wasn't possible at that moment (and still isn't I think).

I then started considering creating my own help desk, something small (yeah right); something that could give me the flexibility I wanted and at the same time, lower the costs.

I started working on a knowledge base management system in my free time that allowed me to create several knowledge base sites that I needed for multiple projects and products. I finished it in two months or so, can't remember exactly. It worked and got the job done.

I was using a regular email account for customer conversations and the knowledge base system for customer documentation, etc.

I was missing the integration I had between the knowledge base content and customer conversations. With Zoho Desk and Help Scout, I was able to quickly search the docs and insert a link into the email/chat message, along with other useful features. Also, I was considering selling it as a hosted service at that time, and for me, the knowledge base system alone wasn't enough for a commercial business app.

Then started the second stage, creating a "simple" communication management system. Something that could receive and send emails and could be integrated with the knowledge bases.

I started working on it by first designing a flexible and scalable database structure for the conversations feature. I wanted something that could allow the possibility of adding other conversations channels in the future.

The conversations section was finished, and everything was working as I initially wanted. It was receiving and sending emails (powered by Mailgun), and I had the integration between conversations and help content. Good!

Remember when I said, "something that could receive and send emails"? The other guys had live chats, something trendy these days. It wasn't smart to release a cloud help desk solution without live chat support, right? I added the live chat and while I was on it, developed a widget where customers could chat with support agents, and browse the knowledge base content from within the same widget, without leaving the main website.

But, wait! This is a cloud business solution, we need teams! I rolled a full team feature with role-based permissions and an invitation system. (currently, only "Account owner" role is present on the software; more roles coming soon!).

In conclusion, the small knowledge base system turned out into a big application with lots of useful features created to provide a full help desk software that's focused on small businesses and freelancers.

There are lots of other useful features planned, like more conversations channels, Single Sign-On, Integration with third-parties, and many more.

The software is a single page application. The UI is powered by a versioned Restful API. The API can be used for integrating the help desk with existing software, without hacking the core.

About the codebase:

It was developed with Laravel 5.7 using the Test Driven Development approach (Can't live without unit and integration tests!). The codebase follows today's standards. I'm a fan of thin controllers and thin models, so the logic is mostly split between service classes, presenters, and models (when necessary).

Anyone that understands the Laravel framework will be comfortable working with the code.

As I've mentioned before, my initial plans for Full Help was to launch a small cloud-based help desk service, mainly focused on Puerto Rico and other Latin countries. I decided to release it as a self-hosted solution because of the lack of good options along with the cloud space being crowded.

Regarding the distribution/sale method:

I opted to go with a custom made checkout system mainly because of the flexibility and better brand integration/control. There's also an affiliate program which is currently private, with plans on opening it to the public in the future.

The checkout requires an account registration (which some people don't like, unfortunately). This is for better license management (like renewals) and to give the user access to all his orders and invoices. I have plans on adding an app store (not anytime soon) where the user can purchase knowledge base themes and other extensions or services.

What are your thoughts, comments or suggestions? Any feedback regarding the software itself, landing page, pricing or anything is much appreciated.

Thanks for your time!


Very Nice! Congrats on launching. I'm definitely checking this out soon for support in my freelance gigs.

I like the pricing model, I'm intending to do something similar with my next product. Selfhosted, pay once, use forever, optionally renew after 1 year for updates. I wish more software was like this. Only I'm also adding a SaaS option for people that don't want to bother with hosting.

You seem to have written the licensing/checkout/renewal yourself. How much time did you spend on it? I'm working on solving exactly this problem with my product and I would love to have a chat about your experience/problems regarding this.


Thank you!

It's a good pricing model which benefits both ends. A SaaS option for people that don't want to bother with technical stuff is a good idea.

I've created the checkout/licensing and renewal myself because of the flexibility and not depending on other external companies. The licensing system is quite simple, the software doesn't ask for license verification at the moment. The system will allow the downloads based on the license the user selects. The license system is integrated with BitBucket. On each release BitBucket sends a POST request to a secure endpoint with a prepared ZIP file containing the app files. On each release, a new entry is created on the licensing system indicating the version and other details. Licenses are tied to the major release version number (e.g., "1" in v1.2.0). When v2.0.0 is released, new licenses are tied to the v2. Users will only have access to minor and patches releases until a renewal is made. That's a brief description of how the system works.

For the checkout, I've created two Laravel packages (currently private) for sale statements (quotes, orders, invoices, etc) and another package for the affiliate program. I'll be releasing them with MIT license on GitHub.

Sure! Feel free to send me a PM on Twitter @gerardojbaez or an email to g[at]gerardobaez.com. I'll be happy to help.


I see you even built in a coupon system. Any chance you have a coupon for us on HN? :)


Sure! Use "hackernews" for a 23% off :-D


Love the execution and the pricing model. We are a Laravel shop and this might be a good fit for us.

What team sizes do you think this will work best for?


Thanks! :-D

I think it will work on any team size, not 100% sure as it hasn't been tested in this context. I'm always open for suggestions, and will be happy to apply the necessary fixes and enhancements if something isn't working as expected in cases like this.

I'm confident that it will serve well on teams of any size.


I tried the demo and was impressed by the simplicity and clarity of everything. I plan to purchases as soon as the boss man says ok.

Little piece of feedback: it would help if you say what the user gets when they purchase this. As in - A PHP application with instructions on how you can host with nginx and MySQL or something like that.


Thank you! That's one of the goals and I'm glad that I've done it right! :-D

Feel free to get in touch anytime you need something or have a question about the system or anything else. Always happy to help!

I will take your suggestion into consideration when working on the landing page and the documentation. Right now, the user gets access to the full app source code and the instruction currently available at docs.fullhelp.com (docs are not included in the download files). Documentation is still a work in progress, and because if this, I'll be installing the software myself when possible. If not, I'll be happy to guide and help in the process of installation through live chat or email.

Thanks again for checking it out, sharing it with your boss and the feedback!


If you're still here and reading - It would be great to have a full text search interface through the email support requests.


Hey! That's something really practical, something that I would use myself in many cases. I took note, thanks!


This is great! As others have said, buy once pricing is a huge boon for bootstrapped startups.

Have you considered a docker image for distribution? It seems easy to spin up as it is, but an image or images would make it even easier, both for your customers and to make sure dependencies stay up to date over time.


Thank you!

Yes, Docker Image will be something I will be working on. Anything that makes it easy for people to install the software is always welcome. I'm also looking to add a DigitalOcean 1-Click install option.


That's great news -- both of those make sense.


How did you decide the price ? How many paying customers do you currently have ? Did you release it to the public right away after those two months ? How much marketing/advertising have you done ? Is this now your full time job or a side business ? Could probably make a blog post.


Hey!

Price was a bit of a struggle. Initially, my plan was to sell it for $249 (or around that range), but since this software is also for freelancers and small businesses, some of them don't have that kind of budget and stick with $129 which is good.

The software was released recently (a week ago more or less), so no customers have purchased just yet. However, I've already presented it to several customers (freelancing business) and are considering grabbing a copy.

No, the software hasn't been released to the public up until recently. :-D

No marketing/advertising has been done yet. HN is the first public post made!

Yes, it is my full-time job at the moment. I have an old freelance project that I'm working on, but besides that, Full Help is my new full-time project and hope it stays that way for a long time. This is also one of the reasons for the pricing model (optional license renewals). I want it to be viable in the long term for me and the customers using it.

That's a good idea! Will be working on a blog post explaining the backstory and several things that people have asked here. :-)

Thanks!


Hi Gerardo!

Congratulations! The product looks very neat. I got questions:

1. What does the logo mean?

2. Do you have two servers, one for REST and one for web sockets? (I'm trying to use similar architecture in my product)


Thanks! :-)

1. The purple circle has two question marks (the left one is used in Spanish). Customer support is about answering lots of questions, so this is one of the reasons I used those symbols. For the name itself, I made a list of possible candidates, and really liked the simplicity of "Full Help". Also, it's close to some popular apps like Full Story and Full Contact.

2. For the web sockets, I was initially using Laravel Echo Server (https://github.com/tlaverdure/laravel-echo-server) (powered by Socket.io) and then switched to Laravel Websockets package (https://github.com/beyondcode/laravel-websockets) which is an implementation using PHP itself, making the requirements and installation even easier.


Super super awesome launch! I love your landing page, and have been looking for something exactly like this for a product I am launching soon.

I'll be in touch! Great stuff.


Thank you! Feel free to reach out to gerardo[at]fullhelp or support[at]fullhelp.com anytime you want.


Sweet! Thank you. :)


Looks fantastic! If you had integration with a phone number (And tell me what calls I missed + voicemails left), analytics on all tickets and calls, and on the support button integration for my website - if it had live chat, leave a message, and suggested articles from my public knowledge base, and added 1-click deployments to AWS/DigitalOcean/etc. - Then I would switch from ZenDesk


Thank you!

Those are all great suggestions! Some of them are already present, like the live chat, leave a message (the same as live chat which fallbacks to email if the user gets disconnected) and article suggestions from a knowledge base (manually configured with JavaScript).

All the other suggestions are great and will definitively consider them.

Edit: I suggest to sign up to the newsletter at fullhelp.com to keep up to date on releases. :-D

Thanks!


Looks great and really uncomplicated. The demo works flawlessly, including receiving email attachments. Good job!

Love the readability and content of the license terms as well. In particular the parts on software modifications.

One feature that is a show-stopper for our workflow is the possibility of shared drafts, i.e. where an email response can be prepared and stored by one person and later reviewed, perhaps completed, and sent by someone else. Do you think this is something that you might consider adding in the foreseeable future?

edit: btw, might serve as a differentiation over Zammad https://github.com/zammad/zammad/issues/629


Hi! Thank you! :-D

The license is based on DuetApp's (https://duetapp.com/) version. I liked its simplicity and asked the creator if it would be OK with him to use his license as a starting point.

Shared drafts sound like an interesting feature and one that seems easy to implement on Full Help. I've added it to my Trello board. Thanks!


Your project looks very promising. I'm not sure if this feature doesn't exist or I cannot find it anywhere on demo account, but: what's missing for me is fine grained ACL/permissions management.

In our company we are using https://www.bookstackapp.com/ as knowledge base solution for multiple clients/projects (separate installation for each). Main requirement is to be able to control which user or group can access particular document or group of documents. Is it possible to achieve something like this using your project?


Thank you!

There are role-based permissions implemented, but they are only for team members on the help desk.

ACL/permission for knowledge base sites is not present at the moment but may be a good addition for a future release. I have added it to the Trello board.


I really like the Knowledgebase feature, which is currently missing from our Zammad setup (also open source helpdesk).

I'm guessing it's based on PHP/SQL since you mention Wordpress?

What are your roadmap for the software?

I think a demo would bring a lot more sales.


Hey!

Yes, it's based on PHP/MySql (Laravel 5.7 to be precise).

For the roadmap, the goal is to provide a complete self-hosted help desk solution. A complete alternative to existing cloud-based offerings.

In terms of development, there are many things still on the Trello board. Things like Single Sign-On, Metrics, Integration with third-party apps like Trello, Stripe, PayPal (for conversation context), enhancements to the live chat, etc.

Thanks for checking it out!

Edit: you can checkout the demo here: https://demo.fullhelp.com/en/register


This looks awesome.

Please prioritise reviewing your pricing/hosting model. If you want to serve your users well, you will want to work on this full time. Making enough money will make it more likely you can do this.

Even if your objective is to be much cheaper than your competitors (and serve people who can't afford them), you can still offer this as a SaaS product, but:

- have a lower monthly price than the competitors you mentioned (even 50% lower)

- charge much more for plans that include features important for large customers, but which smaller companies can easily live without (e.g. SSO)


Hey! Thanks for your suggestions! I will definitively keep that in mind.


Love it! Like the fair pricing scheme and no monthly subscriptions. Keep it going and we might move from helpscout’s overpriced bloated tool.


Thank you! :-D


Looks pretty decent. Was strongly considering crisp.chat but this looks promising.

Just an FYI, after test driving the knowledge base in the demo (creating an article etc) clicking on "View site" yields a "NET::ERR_CERT_COMMON_NAME_INVALID" error.

I had to manually update the url to http:// in order to view the knowledge base


Hi!

Thanks for checking it out. The demo domain is missing a SSL certificate for the knowledge base sites. That's something that needs to be fixed.


Is it possible to write a bot using the rest api? Are webhooks available when new requests come in? I work in a big company and our main issue from my perspective is, that it takes up to a few hours until a ticket was dispatched correctly. It would be easy to automate this process but our ticket system does not offer any kind of interface.


Hi!

Not at the moment but both are planned. Webhooks will come first as this facilitates, even more, the integration between other systems.

Thanks!


Neat. Would have a comment/feature request for the backlog after playing with the demo: I will be uld have expected autosuggest behavior in both the frontend search as well as in various admin input fields and actually waited for suggestions to appear before realizing this isn't in there yet.


Hey! Thanks for checking it out and the feedback! I will make sure that future versions have the autosuggestion behavior on search fields and any input field on the admin side that requires it.


My current employer is currently using a self-hosted instance of Zammad.org. Might be interesting to compare the two.


Zammad.org looks great! It seems to be missing knowledge base portals based on another comment. However, it looks a good solution.


Yep. Apparently it's coming this summer.


You have a healthy attitude towards competition.


I came to comment on this. Love your attitude and how you have fielded every suggestion and criticism sportingly. Keep it up.


This looks great! One minor corner case I noticed: If you click "Need help?" on the lower right with a small viewport (I had Chrome dev tools open), the modal content and title bar gets cut off, even when scrolled to the top, meaning you can't close the modal.


Thank you! The help widget isn't working that great on small viewports, you are right. On iOS, there's also the issue of autozoom when text fields are focused. This is something that will be addressed for the next release which is planned for this week.


Really badass product. Well done. I will be buying in ~2-3 months


Thank you!! :-D


Awesome launch, congratulations! Looking forward to the day that we can ditch ZenDesk and use a self hosted option.


Thank you! :-D


I did a search in the docs for "report" and nothing showed up.


Hey!

I don't think that word is present on the few docs created. Try "requirements" which should show two results: https://docs.fullhelp.com/en/search?query=requirements


I may be wrong, but they are most likely asking if there is a reporting module (KPIs?) with this product?


In that case, the knowledge base dashboard has several statistics (https://imgur.com/5Z60SWl). Help desk reports are not present at the moment but is something that will be added definitively.


I use HESK for this purpose.




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