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Author Topic: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?  (Read 5333 times)

RandallS

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ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« on: January 19, 2016, 12:08:56 pm »
We are going to be moving from vBulletin forum software back to SMF forum software. When we moved from SMF 1.x to vBulletin 4 in 2011, we did so because a) SMF 2.0 looked like it was never going to come out due to all the infighting among SMF developers and b) because by going to commercial forum software we hoped to get better support. Unfortunately, vBulletin got bought out and support isn't what it used to be (and the new vBulletin 5 they want people to go tries too hard to be like a social network). SMF on the other hand has reorganized under a non-profit organization which has pretty much ended its development issues.

However, the real reason we are moving on is because SMF 2.x handles recent versions of the php server software it runs on much better than vBulletin 4 does. vBulletin 4.x barely handles php 5.4 and php 5.5 -- and both of those are old versions of php. php 5.6 has been standard for the past 18 months or so and has just been replaced by php 7.0 (version number 6 was skipped). vBulletin 4 may never support them while SMF 2.0x supports php 5.6 and the upcoming SMF 2.1 should support php 7.

I've made a test conversion of the current forum database to SMF and the good news is that users and messages all transfer over fine. Unlike previous software changes, we will be able to carry the current contents of our board (over 200K messages) with us. The main loss would be the wiki system (the people that make it do not make a version for SMF), however, everything in the current wiki appears as messages in a "wiki board" on SMF. We would also lose social groups. SMF does not have them as a native feature, although we could buy an inexpensive mod that adds them -- however, current groups would not transfer over.

We don't have a time scale for this change, but I hope we will be able to do it sometime in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Comments are welcome
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
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Allaya

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2016, 12:42:55 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185428
We are going to be moving from vBulletin forum software back to SMF forum software. When we moved from SMF 1.x to vBulletin 4 in 2011, we did so because a) SMF 2.0 looked like it was never going to come out due to all the infighting among SMF developers and b) because by going to commercial forum software we hoped to get better support. Unfortunately, vBulletin got bought out and support isn't what it used to be (and the new vBulletin 5 they want people to go tries too hard to be like a social network). SMF on the other hand has reorganized under a non-profit organization which has pretty much ended its development issues.

However, the real reason we are moving on is because SMF 2.x handles recent versions of the php server software it runs on much better than vBulletin 4 does. vBulletin 4.x barely handles php 5.4 and php 5.5 -- and both of those are old versions of php. php 5.6 has been standard for the past 18 months or so and has just been replaced by php 7.0 (version number 6 was skipped). vBulletin 4 may never support them while SMF 2.0x supports php 5.6 and the upcoming SMF 2.1 should support php 7.

I've made a test conversion of the current forum database to SMF and the good news is that users and messages all transfer over fine. Unlike previous software changes, we will be able to carry the current contents of our board (over 200K messages) with us. The main loss would be the wiki system (the people that make it do not make a version for SMF), however, everything in the current wiki appears as messages in a "wiki board" on SMF. We would also lose social groups. SMF does not have them as a native feature, although we could buy an inexpensive mod that adds them -- however, current groups would not transfer over.

We don't have a time scale for this change, but I hope we will be able to do it sometime in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Comments are welcome

 
If you're wanting other options to consider, myBB can easily handle forums with 1000+ posts a day with a reasonably light server load.

I've been a global moderator on an SMF 2.0 forum and my spouse is currently a global moderator on a myBB forum...and his experience with myBB seems way, way nicer and less grumpy than mine with SMF 2.0. That and SMF plugins still monkey with core files...they haven't fixed/aren't fixing that as far as I can tell.

Whatever the end results are I hope it's relatively smooth sailing for you, Randall.
Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.  — Shirley Chisholm
No doubt the truth can be unpleasant, but I am not sure that unpleasantness is the same as the truth.  — Roger Ebert
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RandallS

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2016, 06:40:15 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;185429
If you're wanting other options to consider, myBB can easily handle forums with 1000+ posts a day with a reasonably light server load.

I've looked at myBB and it just doesn't have some of the features/mods we are used to and need. The fact that the admins, staff, and many really long time members are familiar with SMF is also a big plus.  

Quote
That and SMF plugins still monkey with core files...they haven't fixed/aren't fixing that as far as I can tell.

SMF is trying to move toward using hooks, but they don't have nearly enough hooks in the core files to do everything mod writers need to do. SMF 2.1 is supposedly going to have a lot more hooks which should mean even more mods can work without changing core files.

That said, I've found SMF 2.0 handles mods much better than SMF 1.1 did. With 1.1 installing mods often required a good knowledge of php to handle mod conflicts. SMF 2.0 mods don't seem to have nearly the problems in this area that SMF 1.1 did. This is a good thing considering the number of mods TC uses.  I'm playing with mods on a test installation of SMF now and have had smooth sailing with all but one of the 50+ mods I've tried so far. Of course, some of these use hooks and I know what order to install some of the more intrusive mods from experience with another SMF 2 forum I helped set up last year.

Quote
Whatever the end results are I hope it's relatively smooth sailing for you, Randall.

My fingers are crossed here as this will be the first time we are moving and taking our messages with us. Heck, I've even got passwords to work.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
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Yei

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2016, 09:04:29 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185428
We are going to be moving from vBulletin forum software back to SMF forum software. When we moved from SMF 1.x to vBulletin 4 in 2011, we did so because a) SMF 2.0 looked like it was never going to come out due to all the infighting among SMF developers and b) because by going to commercial forum software we hoped to get better support. Unfortunately, vBulletin got bought out and support isn't what it used to be (and the new vBulletin 5 they want people to go tries too hard to be like a social network). SMF on the other hand has reorganized under a non-profit organization which has pretty much ended its development issues.

However, the real reason we are moving on is because SMF 2.x handles recent versions of the php server software it runs on much better than vBulletin 4 does. vBulletin 4.x barely handles php 5.4 and php 5.5 -- and both of those are old versions of php. php 5.6 has been standard for the past 18 months or so and has just been replaced by php 7.0 (version number 6 was skipped). vBulletin 4 may never support them while SMF 2.0x supports php 5.6 and the upcoming SMF 2.1 should support php 7.

I've made a test conversion of the current forum database to SMF and the good news is that users and messages all transfer over fine. Unlike previous software changes, we will be able to carry the current contents of our board (over 200K messages) with us. The main loss would be the wiki system (the people that make it do not make a version for SMF), however, everything in the current wiki appears as messages in a "wiki board" on SMF. We would also lose social groups. SMF does not have them as a native feature, although we could buy an inexpensive mod that adds them -- however, current groups would not transfer over.

We don't have a time scale for this change, but I hope we will be able to do it sometime in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Comments are welcome

Do you know exactly how the board will change? In other words, do you know if the organisation, content, format, and/ or style, is going to go through any radical changes? Other than just the loss of the wiki?
Or, do you have intentions to change it?

Also, can we keep our profiles?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 09:06:37 pm by Yei »

RandallS

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2016, 09:08:19 am »
Quote from: Yei;185443
Do you know exactly how the board will change? In other words, do you know if the organisation, content, format, and/ or style, is going to go through any radical changes?

The organization will be the same unless we change it.
The format and style? This depends on what you mean by format and style. TC will still be TC: a debate and discussion board with basically the same rules/focus/attitude we have here and have always had.  If you are instead addressing the physical format/style of the web pages of the message board -- they will of course be sopmewhat different as we will be using different software and while similar in function some the functional details and many of visuals will be different. No, I cannot list them all. :)

Quote
Other than just the loss of the wiki?

The messages, active accounts, avatars, sigs, passwords, and (hopefully) attachments will carry over. Other stuff in profiles will not. Current social groups will not. Wiki and article system CONTENT will transfer but will appear as messages in normal boards. Thread Prefixes will not transfer. I suspect many other minor things I cannot begin to think of or to list probably will not be transferred.
 
Quote
Or, do you have intentions to change it?

There will be new and different features that we do not have here. SMF is different software with different features and a different set of mods.

Quote
Also, can we keep our profiles?

You will have to recreate most of it.

Also "Gender" is hard coded in SMF to male/female. In theory, I can turn off the standard gender field and replace it with a custom field where anything could be entered, but this breaks some of SMF's functions. SMF 2.1 will have a more general gender system -- it is a problem the developers are aware of and have a fix for in the next major version of the software. People will have to live with this until then.
Randall
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Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
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Yei

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2016, 04:45:17 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185455
The organization will be the same unless we change it.
The format and style? This depends on what you mean by format and style. TC will still be TC: a debate and discussion board with basically the same rules/focus/attitude we have here and have always had.  If you are instead addressing the physical format/style of the web pages of the message board -- they will of course be sopmewhat different as we will be using different software and while similar in function some the functional details and many of visuals will be different. No, I cannot list them all. :)


I should be more specific.
1) Will there be any consolidation of forums and sub-forums?
2) Will the forums still be grouped into religion, magic, special interest, administration, misc. etc.?
3) Will any of the colours/graphics/art design of the site change?
4) Will the site be getting a new URL?
5) If articles, wiki, and groups are going, will there be something created to replace them?
6) In the profiles on the sidebar, will there be any substantial changes to the layout and information provided?
There was some other stuff but you answered that already.

Quote
The messages, active accounts, avatars, sigs, passwords, and (hopefully) attachments will carry over. Other stuff in profiles will not. Current social groups will not. Wiki and article system CONTENT will transfer but will appear as messages in normal boards. Thread Prefixes will not transfer. I suspect many other minor things I cannot begin to think of or to list probably will not be transferred.

 
So we'll keep most of the important stuff?

Quote
There will be new and different features that we do not have here. SMF is different software with different features and a different set of mods.


Cool.

Quote
You will have to recreate most of it.


Can I at least keep my post count?

Allaya

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2016, 04:54:32 pm »
Quote from: Yei;185472
Can I at least keep my post count?

 
I laughed entirely too hard on seeing that. :)
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RandallS

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2016, 06:11:23 pm »
Quote from: Yei;185472
1) Will there be any consolidation of forums and sub-forums?

No firm plans to do so.  The categories and forums you see here will be moved to the new board. Some hidden forums used for the article system and the wiki system here will appear as visible forums on the new board.

Quote
2) Will the forums still be grouped into religion, magic, special interest, administration, misc. etc.?

Unless we manually change them, they will remain the same. Except the new forums mentioned above will be visible.

Quote
3) Will any of the colours/graphics/art design of the site change?

Yes, this forum is the default vBulletin look. The new forum will have the default SMF 2 look.

Quote
4) Will the site be getting a new URL?

Yes, instead of being http://ecauldron.com/forum it will be http://ecauldron.com/somethingelse where "somethingelse is yet to be determined. After this forum finally disappears, it might move back to this url (or it might not).

Quote
5) If articles, wiki, and groups are going, will there be something created to replace them?

Articles, definitely. Social Groups if we get donations to pay for the SMF Social Groups mod (no free version). The Wiki may just merge with a article replacement system. Or SMF is easy to integrate with PMWiki or mediawiki from what I hear, so if there was a lot of interest we could set up a real wiki. Note, however, that no one used them when we did that in the past, so changes are I will not bother.


Quote
6) In the profiles on the sidebar, will there be any substantial changes to the layout and information provided?

I really don't know what you are asking here, but my guess -- as the profile area will be SMF standard instead of vBulletin standard -- the answer is it will be different enough to annoy you. ;)

Quote
So we'll keep most of the important stuff?

The important stuff to me are the users and the messages, so assuming the real transfer works as well as my test, the answer is yes.

Quote
Can I at least keep my post count?

Assuming the DB transfer goes as well as the test, yes.
Randall
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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2016, 06:48:38 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185482
Social Groups if we get donations to pay for the SMF Social Groups mod (no free version).


Would this mod allow Social Group threads to show up in the New Posts screen?

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2016, 06:54:21 pm »
Quote from: Sefiru;185484
Would this mod allow Social Group threads to show up in the New Posts screen?

I don't think so. Here's a link to info on the mod: http://www.smfpacks.com/page/sa=sg

Note that this is the only such mod for SMF that I know of.
Randall
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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2016, 06:55:37 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185485
I don't think so. Here's a link to info on the mod: http://www.smfpacks.com/page/sa=sg

New SG activity apparently do show up in their Activity Stream mod, however: http://www.smfpacks.com/stream
Randall
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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2016, 08:22:07 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185428
We are going to be moving from vBulletin forum software back to SMF forum software.

Do you know if tapatalk or another similar mobile option will remain on the table?
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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2016, 09:09:25 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;185455
Also "Gender" is hard coded in SMF to male/female. In theory, I can turn off the standard gender field and replace it with a custom field where anything could be entered, but this breaks some of SMF's functions. SMF 2.1 will have a more general gender system -- it is a problem the developers are aware of and have a fix for in the next major version of the software. People will have to live with this until then.

 
I can stand it if I have to, especially since it looks to be a temporary limitation.

Does turning it off without replacing it with anything work any better?

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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2016, 09:38:29 pm »
Quote from: Jack;185494
Do you know if tapatalk or another similar mobile option will remain on the table?

There is a Tapatalk plugin for SMF2, so nothing much should change on that front.
Randall
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Re: ADMIN: Change Message Board Software (back to SMF)?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2016, 09:41:14 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;185498
I can stand it if I have to, especially since it looks to be a temporary limitation.

Long term temporary. SMF 2.1 is at Beta 2.

Quote
Does turning it off without replacing it with anything work any better?

Not using it messes up the stats if I remember correctly. The system expects people to be male or female. :(
Randall
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