Upgrading the forum

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Daeron
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Upgrading the forum

#1 Post by Daeron »

Greetings everyone,

I wish to announce that the upgrade of the forum is being scheduled by the end of july or august. The platform we're currently using is becoming so old we're being charged extra by the host to keep the legacy server running.

The same forum software is used on Druchii.net. Druchii.net will be undergoing the upgrade first, and serve as a test to work out the kinks of the upgrade procedure. After a successful upgrade for Druchii.net, a similar upgrade will be planned for Ulthuan.

During the upgrade, the forum will be disabled which could last a few hours. If all is well, the forum will become available again with the upgrade in place. Should the upgrade fail, then all changes will be rolled back.

Cheers!
Daeron
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Prince of Spires
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#2 Post by Prince of Spires »

From a High Elf perspective, I agree that using Druchii.net as a guinea pig is a good idea. Throw them into the water and see if they float before touching our sacret home land...

On a more serious note, thanks for looking after our software! If you need some help somewhere, then please let me know and I'll see what I can do for you.

As a side note, if we want to move to a different forum platform, then it might be worth considering migrating immediately before upgrading. Though an upgraded version may make it easier to move everything over, discourse does seem to have a migrate option for phpBB 3.0 available. And you'd only have the hassle of working on the server once. Though of course that would bring all other kinds of issues with it. And then we'd first need to agree on actually wanting to use discourse.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#3 Post by Daeron »

If preferred I can upgrade to phpBB 3.2 instead of 3.3, which seems to be supported by the migration tool and should be sufficient to remove the support cost. That way we remove the cost (and urgency) and keep our options open in the future.

Of course, if your mind is already made up on Discourse, then we can look around. My experience is that such migrations can take time (to decide, to test, to execute) and so I wanted to remove the maintenance cost first.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#4 Post by Prince of Spires »

I'll leave the choice of what to upgrade to up to you. You will know best and have to do the actual work. I would already be happy with an upgrade that gives me fewer spammers to deal with...

I think the most important consideration is that we should probably try to get U.net and D.net on the same version as much as possible. This will make maintenance in the future a lot easier. And staying up to date and using the cheapest option we can get away with are both great goals.

I don't have much of a preference for forum software one way or another, though I do agree with Karak Norm Clansman that having a modern feel and options are important (in the long run). It might be good to have a discussion on what to use somewhere in the near future. Staying with phpBB is the easy option of course, but it feels a bit out of date compared to Discourse or some of the other options out there. Again though, staying in step with D.net would be my preference.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#5 Post by Daeron »

I'll prepare a migration to phpBB 3.2. I've just done the experiment on Dnet, and I can get it to work. This is a solid short term solution that doesn't exclude any long(er) term options.

For Discourse, my main concern is cost.

Full disclosure:
Right now, the hosting cost is 20$/mo to host 4 sites: Druchii.net, Ulthuan.net and Asrai (under Dnet DNS because the original DNS was lost) and a new site I'm launching.
After the upgrades, we can drop the extended support, lowering the bill to 15$/mo. I might even migrate another site to the VPS which should make the bill even more attractive to me. This is why I have no qualms paying the bill: I was willing to cover it for Dnet and the extra site I'm running, and ulthuan and Asrai are welcome to join the ride.

Theoretically, it should be possible to move the sites to a shared hosting formula, costing only 8$/mo for all the forums and whatever extra I add combined. I'm convinced this will not negatively impact the performance of the site, but I'd test this to make sure before making such a drastic move. This isn't a priority at the moment.

I should point out the current hosting plans offers unlimited transfer and disk space. Our sites currently take up a few GB of space, and around 1 GB of traffic per month per domain. This feels a bit high, so I'll monitor the logs in the coming months to see if this number is accurate. Getting accurate numbers is important to select a new host service that doesn't offer unlimited transfer.

Discourse hosting by its makers starts at 100$/mo. Communiteq promotes a 20$/mo offer, but by the looks of it that's only 1 site and it has a limit of 250k page views per month. We're well below that number but it's something to keep in mind.

I'm looking into AWS Lightsail. This is going straight to the cloud and doing a lot of the work manually. In theory it looks possible to set that up for around 5$/mo. I'm assuming that's per site. This is technically more complex, and I have no practical experience with this particular setup. I am AWS Certified though so I should have the skills to get it done.
However, there could be hidden costs and there is a limit on bandwidth. IE: it's unclear if there's a database needed for Discourse. If there is, that's another 15$/mo :(
If this could work for 5$/mo then this is an interesting move for Ulthuan but that makes me wonder why not everyone is jumping on this train. My guess is, there are more costs to it, or it's technically challenging.

I'm willing to cover the cost for Ulthuan while they ride on the same sub for Druchii.net. If Ulthuan moves to its own hosting plan, I'll assist in any way that I can technically, but I will expect someone else to pick up the bill after the migration is settled.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#6 Post by Prince of Spires »

Cost is definitely a major consideration. It can all start adding up quickly.

The other probably is technical difficulty. We're all doing this on a volunteer basis, and (probably) don't want to spend a lot of time getting everything to work. The fewer technical steps involved the better. That way, we can keep the whole thing up and running without too much issue.

As I said, because of both these reasons I want to stay as close to Druchii.net as possible. Having the same set-up keeps costs down since we can easily share resources and it make maintenance easier, since what needs to be done for one needs to be done for the other as well.

Let's first see how the migration goes. And we can then take it from there.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#7 Post by Daeron »

The upgrade on Druchii.net was successful. We still need to improve the visuals, but technically everything seems to be in order.

I would like to plan the upgrade for ulthuan next. Does Tuesday sound good?
The forum will be down for a few hours during the upgrade.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#8 Post by Prince of Spires »

Tuesday is fine for me. There's no activities or anything like that planned, so pick a day and time which work for you. Good luck with the update :)
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#9 Post by Daeron »

And done. The original style is no longer available, unfortunately. The new style is a remake for this version of the board, but it might work a little differently.
If you experience any issues, let me know.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#10 Post by wamphyri101 »

Thank you for all your work!
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#11 Post by SpellArcher »

Yes, thanks Daeron.

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Re: Upgrading the forum

#12 Post by Elithmar »

I'm not generally a fan of change, but the new style actually looks better on mobile I think. :)
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#13 Post by Prince of Spires »

Looks pretty good. And nothing seems to be broken, which is always a positive :)

It might be time to start hunting around for a style and things like header images for the forum, make the place look nice a bit. But that's for later. :) First, let's enjoy the pristine new software ;)

Thanks!
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#14 Post by Prince of Spires »

Haven't found any issues so far. Did run into a few possible improvements I was wondering about (admin related stuff that is).

- for spambot measures: would upgrading from simple image to ReCaptcha help in reduce spam services signing up?
- I came across a "quick reply" feature mention somewhere. Do you have any experience with that? Reducing reply effort is always a good idea and this might help a bit.
- Would allowing attachments let people add images directly to the site instead of having to go through a third party host? If so, could we experiment with it? Since we've got unlimited disk space, that shouldn't be too much of an issue for us.

I think fixing these last 2 would go a long way towards matching other forum software in terms of functionality. The other side is probably the design, but I haven't dug into that yet, and I'm not sure it plays that big a big role. (and the first one I would love. Less spam to clean each day is always great)
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#15 Post by Daeron »

Re: Spam
The most effective spambot measure at the moment is a Q&A method. I tried the recaptcha method for Druchii.net and have never seen so many bots come through :D Another option is to hook it up to a Google service, but I have no experience with that one.

Re: Quick Reply
Yes, it's a good feature. I'm very fond of it myself. It can be enabled for all forums in the administrator control panel, under tab "Posting" -> sidebar "post settings".
If you want, I can do it for you.

Re: attachments
I haven't actually tried it with pictures, but attachments can be enabled and it seems to offer the feature to show the images inline. We have the disk space. ASRAI (asrai.druchii.net since the loss of its dns) is running on the same server with over 2GB in attachments :P
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#16 Post by SpellArcher »

Elithmar wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 9:12 pm
I'm not generally a fan of change, but the new style actually looks better on mobile I think.
I agree. The smaller text is challenging my ageing eyes on the laptop though.

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Re: Upgrading the forum

#17 Post by Daeron »

I have enables the quick reply feature
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#18 Post by Daeron »

And attachment are enabled, with images being shown inline. As a test, I added a few on this post. The size limit per image is 2 and max 5 files per post. If these limits need to change, let me know.

It is possible to add automatic compression on the images but i have not activated that.

I could increase the font-size, but tinkering with a style can get messy. It might take time to figure out how to do it properly
Attachments
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FF96261F-14C8-4400-8758-E8B9D30B940A.jpeg (1.16 MiB) Viewed 1369 times
B8F19FD0-FF2D-4536-87D4-0CE46A2910A2.jpeg
B8F19FD0-FF2D-4536-87D4-0CE46A2910A2.jpeg (807.14 KiB) Viewed 1369 times
[url=http://dieter.srs.be/Syriath][img]http://dieter.srs.be/pics/signatures/HS.jpg[/img][/url]

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Re: Upgrading the forum

#19 Post by MasterOfNone »

Image attachment is great, thank you for enabling it, it makes life so easier not having to upload images to a server first.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#20 Post by Sturen »

Fantastic! Had a proper battle with imgur to get my photos up on my painting log, this will be much easier.

Great job :)
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#21 Post by Prince of Spires »

Thanks Daeron. It looks great.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#22 Post by Olthannon »

I'm just finding out about image attachments, excellent news can't wait to try it out! Well done on the site upgrade, it looks excellent, especially on mobile.

Out of interest have we considered a new forum banner?
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#23 Post by Prince of Spires »

Olthannon wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 9:20 am
Out of interest have we considered a new forum banner?
We have. Or at least I have thought about it. Only issue is that I don't have an image I can use as a banner. So if you have something suitable then please let us know and I'll see what I can do (though that might just be "ask Daeron to help...")
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#24 Post by Daeron »

I can put the banner in place if you have it.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#25 Post by Ricold »

Prince of Spires wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 9:26 am
So if you have something suitable
I've got this one if it helps?
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#26 Post by Daeron »

I'll see what I can do in the weekend.
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Re: Upgrading the forum

#27 Post by Prince of Spires »

You guys are amazing :) Thanks!
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