The Basic Facts

Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
Our forum migration is coming. Here's some useful information:

What's happening:

We are migrating our forum to new software and a new hosting company. All user accounts, passwords, forum posts, post attachments, private messages, gallery images, the library, and the Wiki will be moved. The goals are to (1) preserve every byte of data, (2) approximate the look, functionality, and appearance that we have now, and (3) minimize inconvenience, disruption, and confusion to our members. It's a huge undertaking.

Why this needs to happen:


We are running a very antiquated version of "vBulletin", one of the first and best forum packages available when we migrated from "Snitz" forum back in 2009. This version is well beyond it's end-of-life, and is no longer supported in any way by the vendor. Security patches have not been supported for years, and I have had to wrap the forum in other security products to keep the black hats out and keep us safe. New features are no longer being developed, so we're missing out on lots of things common to modern software. We need to move to a modern forum package to get vendor support, updates, new features, and regular security updates.

Also, we are one of the last clients on our hosting company's oldest server architecture, which they are abandoning very soon. None of our forum software runs on modern server software, so just moving our community intact to a new server isn't feasible. (It's theoretically possible, but I don't believe it's a good idea for us long term.) You have probably noticed our recent outages, which are symptoms of an aging and failing infrastructure at the hosting company.

Schedule:

I am targeting completion by mid-May 2019. I expect minimal actual forum downtime. It will take some time to get everything tidy and working exactly as expected, but there should be very minimal interruption in the basic function of the forum.

Member Action Needed:


As I said above, one of my top level goals is to make this as easy as possible for everyone. I don't expect that any action will be needed on your part. Your patience and understanding will be greatly appreciated as we all get up to speed on how things work in the new environment, but I promise that any pain and suffering will be well worth it.

More Details:

We will not be using the latest version of vBulletin. That product was purchased by "Internet Brands" several years ago, and "the 3.x series" (we use 3.7) is widely considered to be their last good product. We will be implementing "XenForo", which, after several years of following its development and comparing it to alternatives, I believe is by far the best product for our community. Some of the XF development team are former vB3.x programmers, it has a very active add-on developer community, and it's reasonably priced. If you want to get a rough idea what it looks like, their user forum is a nice example.

XenForo on it's own is a basic forum product. Just like vBulletin, there are add-ons available for every imaginable need. I've selected a photo gallery add-on, a "Content Management System" (the thing that manages the front page columns and widgets), and many other bits and pieces to provide the features we've all gotten used to.

The Process:

Because our forum is so large, and because I've made many code modifications over the years, migration is a complicated process. In some cases, there is no migration path from one of our products to the new equivalent, so custom import scripts need to be written. There is also the matter of redirecting inbound traffic to the old link format, which requires some pretty complicated programming.

I've hired a small company to help me do most of the heavy lifting, but of course I'll be intimately involved the entire time. We're in the final stages of the negotiation on the work package now, and then there's a long process of gathering information, purchasing licenses, configuring servers, etc. There will be a test server set up that closely approximates the final configuration, and I'll be asking a couple dozen of you to test and evaluate before we go live.

Learning New Stuff:


If you're at all like me, our current forum is "comfortable" to you. You know where to find stuff, you know how things work, and you've gotten used to the shortcomings. (That's very true for me on the admin side!) The new forum will take some getting used to, but XF is a very intuitive environment, and we should be able to get used to it quickly.

Final Comments:

I'm very excited about this! I'm proud of the fact that we have gotten along so well for so long with our current software -- it's stable and secure -- but it's time for some new features that are pretty common on social media and elsewhere. Simple things like "next" and "back" buttons to scroll through photos in a post, notification when someone mentions you in a post, and extensive emoji support. And more complex things like a responsive mobile style, embedded media content, and enhanced message styling. These thing will really enhance our forum, make participating easier and more fun, and I hope will bring in members who may have avoided us because we're not as slick and modern as the alternatives.

I welcome your comments (but please don't quote the entire post!)

Jeff
 
Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

Jarod888

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
169
Location
Brighton, Colorado
One of the things I think is very beneficial is allowing 40 posts per thread page. Another, is direct uploading of images. I've been around many forum boards, even been a mod and an admin on a couple and vbulletin was one of the better software packages. However, it is pretty long in the tooth and has been replaced by more modern software packages which offer some nice benefits. Good luck! Let us know if you need anything.
 
Last edited:

jttheclockman

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
14,490
Location
NJ, USA.
Will there be advertising associated with this new software?? And if so to what lengths?? Will little things like post counts, buddy lists, ignore lists, follow over?? Thanks
 
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
Messages
3,031
Location
Seattle, WA
So you aren't planning on getting much sleep between now and mid May? Sounds like this project will be a geeks dream and nightmare all rolled up in one. Will there be any extended downtime between this one ending and the new one starting?
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
One of the things I think is very beneficial is allowing 40 posts per thread page. Another, is direct uploading of images. I've been around many forum boards, even been a mod and an admin on a couple and vbulletin was one of the better software packages. However, it is pretty long in the tooth and has been replaced by more modern software packages which offer some nice benefits. Good luck! Let us know if you need anything.

vB is still around and actively developing their forum. I (and many other big board admins) don't like their direction, hence the decision to use XenForo. vB is on version 5.4 now.
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
Will there be advertising associated with this new software?? And if so to what lengths?? Will little things like post counts, buddy lists, ignore lists, follow over?? Thanks

I don't know if buddy lists and ignore lists have an exact equivalent, but I'll do my best.

Advertising will probably be the same on the new forum as here. Members who joined before July 2013 don't see ads. Members who joined after that time do see limited ads, but can have those turned off after 50 posts and 6 months of membership. It would be nice if we could just all tolerate occasional ads (we get a few billionths of a cent for each eyeball looking at an ad), but when I implemented ads, that met with some opposition.
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
So you aren't planning on getting much sleep between now and mid May? Sounds like this project will be a geeks dream and nightmare all rolled up in one. Will there be any extended downtime between this one ending and the new one starting?

I wrote another http://www.penturners.org/forum/f435/basic-facts-159320/ where I mentioned that I expected no significant downtime. My goal is about 5 minutes. Everything will be done in the background, then we'll throw the big knife switch and the new site will be live.
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
Will there be advertising associated with this new software?? And if so to what lengths?? Will little things like post counts, buddy lists, ignore lists, follow over?? Thanks

I should say that post counts, join date, and other profile information will follow.
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
You may have noticed that we were off the air for a few hours this morning. As part of the migration testing, I inadvertently left a very large file on the server and when last night's backup ran, the disk quote was exceed and everything stopped.

The migration testing is proceeding. The target for cutover to the new site is not later than Sunday May 12. There's a small possibility that it will occur the previous Sunday, but I'll let you know. After just a little testing, I'm very impressed with the new forum software and performance of the new server.
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
Thanks Jeff! Even though I have become an old codger, I like the excitement of new stuff!

Thanks, Hank. I'm very excited as well. The new software will really bring us into the modern era of forums, and the back room admin features are really great.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2010
Messages
327
Location
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
THANK YOU FOR YOUR DEDICATION and HARD WORK !

JEFF,

Thank you for all the behind the scenes dedication and hard work.

Few of us, myself included, have any idea what it takes to maintain this incredible communication medium.

Most of would be in the dark ages without it.

Very much appreciated,

Charlie
 

EdM

Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2018
Messages
120
Location
Boynton Beach, Fl.
Jeff,
Having migrated numerous systems over the past 20 years, I feel your excitement, as well as your pain.
My offer to assist still stands, either with the migration or future admin needs.

EdM
 

jeff

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
8,358
Location
Westlake, OH, USA.
I'm now targeting Sunday May 4 for cutover to the new forum. I'll be posting some additional information prior. One thing I will recommend is that it would be smart to make sure now that (1) you know your password, and (2) your email address is correct.

If you know your IAP password and your email is correct in your IAP Profile, you can ignore everything below.

Not sure you know your password? To check it:

Go to your UserCP and enter your password. Delete the contents of the email address boxes and click "Save Changes". You'll get one of two responses:
  • Please complete the required field "Email" == correct password
  • The password you have entered does not match your current one... == wrong password
You can't make any changes without your password, and you can't reset your password without a correct email address. If you don't know your password and your email isn't correct on the UserCP screen, then you'll need to email me for help. Email me: jcbrown59@gmail.com with your real name, IAP username, and your email address. I'll change your email, set a temporary password, and reply to let you know that's done.

Don't know your password and your email address IS correct in UserCP.

  • Go to the Password Reset Page and enter your email address
  • You'll get an email confirming that you want to reset your password. Click the link
  • You'll get another email with a temporary password. Log off, then log back on with that
  • Then you can go to your UserCP and change it to something you can remember.
You know your password and you need to change your email:

Go to your UserCP, enter your current password, and enter your new email address in the boxes provided at the bottom of the window. Click "Save Changes"

The server will send a confirmation email to the new email address. In that email will be a link you must click to confirm the email address change. Until you click that link, your account is in limbo and you won't be able to post. If you don't receive the confirmation email within a few minutes, check your spam folder. If it's not there, email me and I'll confirm the address manually for you.
 

DennisM

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2009
Messages
619
Location
Northern Illinois
Jeff, great transition over, I know the work it had to have taken. Years back had to migrate a old Cnet user base, to first wildcat, then MajorBBS then into a Phpbb system. Oh dont miss those days. You did good here, like the new layout and functionality. Thank you for the dedication
 
Top Bottom