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Old 12.09.2020, 05:54
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Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

Dear Editor Bob. This is an open thread to ask if you would consider moving the forums to a more modern and well-featured forum software, ideally Xenforo. https://xenforo.com/features/discussion/

The current version of Vbulletin is old, clanky, badly featured and not very secure.

Xenforo would bring the following major improvements: https://xenforo.com/features/discussion/

Of course there would be a short period of adjustment, and many people who are used to the current crusty forum for years will be resistant to the principle of change, but the Xenforo software interface is easy to use and the quality of life improvements are beneficial, especially to the less technical among the userbase who don't know how to do basic things re-size photos etc. The improved search is also essential for a forum like this that so heavily relies on finding information easily.

It would be great if you could please consider upgrading the forums and modernizing them as so many other ex-vbulletin forums have now also already done. Thanks.
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Old 12.09.2020, 08:31
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

...and 14 years of Informationen down the pan??
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Old 12.09.2020, 09:23
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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...and 14 years of Informationen down the pan??
Doesn't have to be providing the work is done behind the scenes to move everything over. My Grim Dawn forum moved from a similarly aged vBulletin to Discourse last year. Apart from a few threads which were deemed to be very outdated/no longer relevant everything was moved over with no loss of info.

The reason for the move - yeah, it got hacked and because backups weren't done as frequently as they should have been we lost 18 days' worth of threads/posts. Some thread creators were able to reconstruct their threads, but other info was lost forever.
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Old 12.09.2020, 09:34
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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but other info was lost forever.
That could be a benefit!
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Old 12.09.2020, 09:45
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

Sorry Chuff, Iím against a change.
If it isnít broken donít fix it.
New does not mean improved.
I was deeply disappointed when an other much-loved forum changed. It never was the same again.
I really like EF just the way it is.
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Old 12.09.2020, 09:45
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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...and 14 years of Informationen down the pan??
Yes AbFab, that's what a forum upgrade means... losing ALL of your historical data. Makes perfect sense.

I'm kidding, but no you obviously don't lose all of your data or probably no-one would do it.

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Sorry Chuff, I’m against a change.
If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.
New does not mean improved.
I was deeply disappointed when an other much-loved forum changed. It never was the same again.
I really like EF just the way it is.
No need to apologise Sky, I fully expect this mentality from certain demographics and it's your right to feel that way.

Last edited by Chuff; 12.09.2020 at 10:27.
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Old 12.09.2020, 09:54
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

If Editor Bob does decide to move platforms just please, PLEASE, make sure it support pagination because infinite scrolling sucks imho. It's a p in the a bigtime. Much prefer having pagination because then I know exactly which page a thread will be on to find it quickly.
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Old 12.09.2020, 10:16
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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If Editor Bob does decide to move platforms just please, PLEASE, make sure it support pagination because infinite scrolling sucks imho. It's a p in the a bigtime. Much prefer having pagination because then I know exactly which page a thread will be on to find it quickly.
Xenforo definitely supports pagination... it's basically like Vbulletin but improved tenfold in terms of security and features. It's a far better user experience.
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Old 12.09.2020, 10:35
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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Xenforo definitely supports pagination... it's basically like Vbulletin but improved tenfold in terms of security and features. It's a far better user experience.
Thanks. Couldn't see anything about it on the website. Discourse seems to think pagination is too old fashioned in these days of tablets, etc, so it doesn't have that option. I think it can be done, but it's not part of the programme itself.
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Old 12.09.2020, 11:08
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

Donít we have pagination? Although everyone can select their own page sizes?
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Old 12.09.2020, 11:36
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.
New does not mean improved.
Unfortunately this approach does not work well with IT technology, particularly on the Internet. And while I would otherwise agree with the principle, sometimes as a server maintainer you are forced to move forward by the IT context, mainly out of security issues.

OTOS, I fully agree that the user experience should not change (or not too much)... I guess there are possibilities to update the tech while preserving the familiar look.

One proposal was to just update to a more modern version of vBullettin, I think it was even informally announced some time ago.

Another idea would be to move to Xenforo, but with a theme/skin which is similar to the current vBullettin. That's what I did years ago, I moved a custom HTML-made site to a modern CMS, but we made a theme which would preserve all the colors and logos. Therefore changes to the look can be properly discussed at a later stage, if needed.

One of my favourite forums, skyscrapercity.com, moved from vBullettin to Xenforo. While the move was not painless, I must say that all the messages and the previous functionalities are there, and the forum does work better. You can visit it without registering to get an idea.
Yes, it supports pagination, it is Discourse which doesn't.
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Old 12.09.2020, 11:44
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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Another idea would be to move to Xenforo, but with a theme/skin which is similar to the current vBullettin. That's what I did years ago, I moved a custom HTML-made site to a modern CMS, but we made a theme which would preserve all the colors and logos. Therefore changes to the look can be properly discussed at a later stage, if needed.

One of my favourite forums, skyscrapercity.com, moved from vBullettin to Xenforo. While the move was not painless, I must say that all the messages and the previous functionalities are there, and the forum does work better. You can visit it without registering to get an idea.
Yes, it supports pagination, it is Discourse which doesn't.
Very useful feedback of your positive experience upgrading to Xenforo, thanks!
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Old 12.09.2020, 17:41
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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No need to apologise Sky, I fully expect this mentality from certain demographics and it's your right to feel that way.
Are you calling me an old cow young man?
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Old 13.09.2020, 04:54
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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Are you calling me an old cow young man?
Sky, to even imply I'd ever call you a cow is ! I just think that for the older and 'mostly' (from a statistical perspective) non-technical generations, it takes them a long time to get used to change (especially when something has been the same way for years and is now like a comfortable old woolly jumper) and as such they would always rather avoid it than spend time and (in their view) frustration dealing with it. As I wrote in the OP, I fully expected to see and hear it, especially as the forum has a contingent of older and very active expats. I see and deal with the same kind of thing in my family on a continual basis so it's nothing new.

Last edited by Chuff; 14.09.2020 at 06:45.
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Old 13.09.2020, 08:23
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?


How sweet, may I invite you for tea and homemade scones?

How would you envisage a migration to Xenforo?
- the size of the EF database must be substantial. How would you ensure that no data is lost in the migration?
- how would you ensure that the thousands of current URLs will be redirected?
- how would you suggest EF handles the potential loss of traffic?

Forget the fussy woolly-jumpered users, they can be handled with appropriate change management.

It is whether the migration is even possible is the question.

(though I do realize it’s inevitable)

Last edited by Sky; 13.09.2020 at 08:46.
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Old 13.09.2020, 08:45
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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How sweet, may I invite you for tea and homemade scones?

How would you envisage a migration to Xenforo?
- the size of the EF database must be substantial. How would you ensure that no data is lost in the migration?
- how would you ensure that the thousands of current URLs will be redirected?
- how do you suggest EF handles the potential loss of traffic?

Forget the fussy woolly-jumpered users, they can be handled with appropriate change management.

It is whether the migration is even possible is the question.

(Hence my reluctance, though I do realize itís inevitable)
Of course a migration is possible, many major vbulletin forums have done it already.
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Old 13.09.2020, 11:21
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

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- the size of the EF database must be substantial. How would you ensure that no data is lost in the migration?
You simply convert all the entries in the new format. There are automated tools for that.

Quote:
- how would you ensure that the thousands of current URLs will be redirected?
It can easily be configured on the server side - webservers have dedicated functions for this.

Quote:
- how would you suggest EF handles the potential loss of traffic?
The migration should not cause loss of traffic by itself, provided that it is prepared appropriately. People need to come back and not find any frustration, it means that the migration must be tested and the new forum prepared accordingly, you can't migrate and then spend 2 weeks just to get back the old functionalities.
I did observe a reduction in traffic in the other forum I mentioned, because the admins didn't minimize the differences in the user experience. As an example, they replaced the main page with the forum list (standard in vBullettin) with a main page with random suggestions... which is kind of silly for a huge international multi-language forum. For a few days it was a bit hard to continue previous discussions, luckily help was readily provided. As I said, now it's better than before, I don't even remember the differences.
EF is much smaller and with less complex functionalities (e.g. no photo showcase) so I think a transition will be much smoother with reasonable efforts.

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It is whether the migration is even possible is the question.
Absolutely yes.

The main drawback (for the readers) is that you need to turn off the forum for a few hours, or even for one day, to make sure everything is done properly and allow for some last-minute corrections (but if everything goes smooth you can re-open early).
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Old 13.09.2020, 11:50
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

If migration was in question should double maintenance of both legacy and target be considered?
If so, how would that be possible in regards to data consistency and if not, wouldnít it be risky?
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Old 13.09.2020, 12:20
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

That's why you close for a few hours, to avoid overlapping between the two systems and the need for double maintenance.

You "suspend" EF, take a backup, set up the new forum, import the users and the messages, re-open the website to the public.

Consider that the process itself is pretty standard and also not that different from a normal upgrade of vBullettin.
The main difference in workload is preparing the configuration of the new forum in the weeks before the migration, to ensure that it will work and look like the old one.

Another note, the migration can even be "rehearsed" in advance by the admins, to help fixing issues and estimating the time needed.

In conclusion, data consistency is really not an issue (I did it personally a few times).
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Old 13.09.2020, 12:59
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Re: Dear Editor Bob... will you please consider a forum upgrade to Xenforo?

Your experience makes it seem easy and straightforward.
Are the architectures that similar?
I would have thought that the field mapping can’t possibly be a straightforward 1:1.

Thanks for all the explanations and for taking the time to answer my curiosity.
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