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2014-03-14 Upcoming Forum Software Replacement


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#1 Cory5412

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 02:38 AM

Hi Everybody! You’ve probably known for years that I dislike phpBB, and its age and design are really starting to show now that it’s 2014 and rather than my 44.6 kilobit dial-up connection being fast, my 1.5 megabit DSL connection is one of the slower connections used to access this site. I’ve long wanted to be able to provide a few different services on here, but managing phpBB itself, as well as the attendant forum registrations and spam issues have taken most of the time I dedicate to the site.

Fortunately, our newest site administrator, wthww, has helped tremendously both with providing some newer and more secure hosting facilities as well as with updating our installation of phpBB. He even manually patched it to work with the most recent version of PHP running on his system.

With that out of the way, I’m pleased to announce that the 68kMLA is making its second planned forum software move, and its first where we should be able to almost completely preserve our existing user and forum data.

It has been a long process, but we’ve chosen InvisionPower Board as our next forum and web site software. I know you’re disappointed it’s not SharePoint. It is expensive, but to quote L’Oreal, you’re worth it too.

We do not have an exact date nailed down at this moment, but in an ideal universe, we hope to have the process started by May. We have trialed the migration process already and if we’ve dotted all of our Is and crossed all of our Ts, then we should be up and running in less time than it took during our trial, but it still make take quite a while (several days), because we’ve got several years of history on this phpBB installation, and we’re bringing it all with us to the new software.

In addition to bringing the forum over, we’re buying a few of Invision’s other modules and (although the actual deployment of this stuff may not happen immediately) are looking at enabling image galleries as well as personal blogs, a content management system (which may ultimately supplant the wiki, but we haven’t been able to test it yet) as well as a new front page, either for static content of some sort, or for a site-wide blog or news area.

At the same time we replace the forum software, we’re also going to be replacing 68kMLA.org e-mail. Because of this, you can not rely on sending an e-mail to the admin account in order to get a status update. We have two alternate communication methods lined up, however!

The first is our IRC channel, still happily running in its new home on Oshaberi. You can connect to irc.oshaberi.ne.jp and then join #68kMLA or you can use WebIRC on dillamond and then join #68kMLA.

The second is that I have stealthily registered a 68kMLA Twitter account! You do not need to have a Twitter account of your own in order to view it, and while the migration is taking place, wthww and I will be posting to it on a regular basis.

At this point, the only pieces that have yet to fall into place are the budget (I’m waiting for pay day, just in case something comes up) and the timing – wthww and I need to coordinate our schedules. Barring any showstopping concerns, the whole process should take less than a week and be completed by May.

#2 techknight

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 02:51 AM

What would be nice is once its up and running, upload some awesome skins. the plain jane IPB skins always sucked. But if you decide to upload skins, enable the transparencies, and static backgrounds. We used to do this back in the day when we ran clan/gaming forums with IPB.
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#3 IIfx

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 05:07 AM

This is pretty exiting, it looks like the IPB software is a lot more powerful. phpBB is showing its age now, not to mention the spam problems you mentioned.

Would it be possible, with IPB, to develop a Classic Mac Skin using System 7 Graphical Assets? They claim its very customizable...the limit is probably the amount of free time you (the administration) have to spend on such an endeavor.

The pricing on this software is high, cloud-hosted or roll it your own. It shows dedication to spend sizable money on rather expensive software to run this niche community.
Looking forward to the update, and lets all hope it goes smoothly.

#4 CC_333

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 05:19 AM

Wow! Lot's of questions:

Will all the user accounts be preserved?

Will it still be compatible with, say, Classilla on OS 9 or Mac OS X 10.3.x and lower? Compatibility with these antiquated operating systems is nice to have, if only for the novelty factor.

Will it be anything like Applefritter? I don't care much for their setup (they're using Drupal, I believe).

Will it have a decent number of themes? For that matter, will it have *any* themes?

Are you going to archive all the current content and put it in its own area, like you did with the current old site archive, or are you just going to integrate all the current stuff so that it'll be exactly as is, but with a new interface?

This is a big change, and I hope it works out!

Good luck!!

c

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Playthings: Mac SE/30, 3.0 GHz Mavericks-based HackServe, Many others... --- Desired: Lisa, Kanga PowerBook G3, Apple IIc, Apple II, Spare parts, etc.


#5 TheMacGuy

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 07:44 AM

Wow! This is exciting! I'm going to have to familiarize myself with the new software before the move is completed. Just a few questions:

1. How long is the update excepted to take? Day, week, month, year? Ballpark is fine.
2. Will posts be preserved as a Archive (like the early days at the top of the page) or be migrated over to the new software?
3. I noticed they show an iPhone, is there going to be an app we can use, or just a mobile optimized website?

I think thats about it for my questions so far. I hope all the data can be migrated. It would be a pain to start again, but it seems it will be worth it either way.

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#6 wthww

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 02:07 PM

Hello, all.

We will be migrating all of our existing board's data into invision. We're doing our best to make sure we don't lose anything.

//wthww

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#7 Cory5412

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 12:42 AM

Thank you for the feedback!

1. How long is the update excepted to take? Day, week, month, year? Ballpark is fine.


A few months ago, we did the conversion on a Power Macintosh G5 with 4 gigs of ram. It took just about a week. The host we're on has a good clip more CPU speed, but everything is architected slightly differently. I wouldn't expect it to take any more than two weeks. We'll be in touch on the linked IRC channel and one or more of us will be posting updates to twitter.

3. I noticed they show an iPhone, is there going to be an app we can use, or just a mobile optimized website?


I actually don't know. My guess is either a) mobile-optimized CSS that scales really well to different devices, widths, etc B) a for-pay add on for mobile access.

Will content be migrated?


As I said in the OP, all of the existing forum content will be moved. This is why the migration is going to take up to a week or so and why This was one of the things that led us to IPB instead of, say, SharePoint or Discourse, where there aren't any conversion/migration tools.

Themes!


Firstly: No, we don't really have any plans to develop or deploy any custom themes, or multitudinous themes. We're literally plucking a software package off the shelf and asking it to be our web site.

With the exception of wthww, none of the administration or moderation staff are programmers, much less web designers. I'm a server/app administrator, at best, and what we're looking at here is a software change, not something that's going to change the way we run the site.

That having been said, anything is possible and I imagine that part of the extensible nature of IPB is custom themes.

Will it be anything like Applefritter?


I suppose that depends on what you mean. AppleFritter has always had a focus on being a "web site with a forum" and the 68kMLA has historically been "a forum" (with, secondarily, a wiki or a web site, but that was never really the landing page.)

The short answer is: no, certainly not yet.

The long answer is: I would like the 68kMLA to be slightly more than "a forum" -- but this requires a fair amount of consideration in terms of what could be done and how sustainable it is long term. I think this is a discussion we'll be having before moving forward.

Will it still be compatible with, say, Classilla on OS 9 or Mac OS X 10.3.x and lower? Compatibility with these antiquated operating systems is nice to have, if only for the novelty factor.


I don't know, it's not on my radar, and doing this would require inordinate amounts of effort. We would need to either a) use insanely outdated forum software from the period which as you can all guess is a horrific idea or B) write new forum software using modern server technologies, programming, and security practices, but with an interface that's focused on working with retro computers.

In addition, we've done the polls, a fairly large majority of the site is using systems with displays bigger than 800x600 at this point.

The novelty would be there, but the practicality just isn't. I actually have discussed alternate options such as telnet/ssh BBSs and have privately considered options like hotline, NNTP and VMS NOTES, but one of the reasons this forum is so popular is because it's accessible to non-technical users. Switching to a news server or something into which you must telnet or SSH is not going to happen, even though it would be ideal for that "novelty" factor.

#8 techknight

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 02:50 AM

The novelty would be there, but the practicality just isn't. I actually have discussed alternate options such as telnet/ssh BBSs and have privately considered options like hotline, NNTP and VMS NOTES, but one of the reasons this forum is so popular is because it's accessible to non-technical users. Switching to a news server or something into which you must telnet or SSH is not going to happen, even though it would be ideal for that "novelty" factor.



Which is why we have IRC? because IRC still works on the old stuff. Its just not stored or permanent like a forum, but at least discussion can take place there.
Main PC: Intel core I7 920, MSI x58 platinum, Radeon4850
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#9 nickpunt

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 09:29 PM

Have you considered Discourse? It's pretty new so you might have missed it but I highly recommend checking it out.

A few reasons why:
- Its made by the same folks who did StackOverflow (Jeff Atwood et al), which means its got a strong development team actively improving it
- Very future-proof: the team is well-funded, its open source, and it has *huge* following on Github (top 5 project)
- The features are really awesome (@metions, page-less, reply as new topic, mod tools, great search, easy image hosting, etc)

They're aiming to be the 'wordpress of forums'. Here's the kickoff article that summarizes their approach, or just read the blog to see their progress.

Importers are starting to come out for phpBB. I understand the sheer volume of content here means any import is going to take a long time and probably some trial & error, but this is the most exciting forum software to come out in a decade and I think has the right features to elevate the discussion.

The default theme is not the prettiest but it's pretty extensible so I imagine that's a few hacks away. That extensibility goes for other things to, so if you wanted to do a text-only output or other such retro projects, its possible to support it. E.g. someone just added RSS in December, so you can fire up Acuity and get your 68kmla on right out of the box.

Hosting-wise I know they're working on some turnkey solution at Digital Ocean but haven't looked at status of that.

Anyway, just a thought!
Just trying to build a nice SE/30 and Color Classic. Particularly interested in new hardware/software hacks the community cooks up.

#10 techknight

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 09:32 PM

IPB looks better. IMHO.

That one is just too plain looking, plus it reminds me of twitter and I hate twitter as it is...
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#11 Cory5412

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 09:52 PM

In fact, Discourse was on the shortlist!

The main reason I didn't go for discourse is that it's not considered "ready" by its creators, at least it wasn't when I was matrixing different pieces of software. Importers also weren't yet available. In addition, it requires a whole bunch of horsepower to run. Right now, we're sharing wthww's web hosting box and because of Ruby on Rails and because of the way Discourse is set up, we'd basically need to be using a dedicated physical box on somebody's' reasonably fast home, office, or co-located network connection.

I'll take a look at it again because Discourse is very exciting. The unfortunate side effect of it being so exciting is that it strays pretty far from "regular" forum software and I suspect that may cause some issues.

#12 onlyonemac

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 07:40 PM

 Well I hate to say this but I hate the new forum software. If a forum's not phpBB then I keep off of it; this new thing is bloated, slow, ugly and difficult to use. It looks like a cheap facebook wannabe.

 

In any case, part of what I liked about the 68kMLA was the "vintage" feel of the forums. I liked the feeling that you were going down into someone's old Mac shed when you came to visit the forums. That is lost now, and between that and the awkward interface I don't like the 68kMLA anymore.

 

I was very upset when I came back here after taking a short break and find this mess. I'm out of here!!!


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#13 Cory5412

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 08:12 PM

Almost two months later, this is no longer really timely.

 

Using the Firefox 3 beta and Internet Explorer 8 are poor ideas everywhere, so I guess I can see how it seems bloated, if that's what you've saddled yourself with.






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