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Btriple7
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Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:57 pm

Quoting srbmod from another thread here in Site-Related:

Quoting srbmod:
The site isn't using some off the shelf forum software for the forums; it uses a heavily modified version of a very old build of the open source program Phorum.

Adding new features and functions isn't as easy as checking a box in a settings dialog box; it requires someone writing out lines and lines of code. There's a lot of features and functions that have been requested by members as well as the crew that are on a lengthy "to do" list here. This requires testing before the feature/function goes live and even then, stuff happens.

I was just wondering, are there any plans to replace the old forum software? While I love the look and functionality of the current forum software, it's difficult to deny that it's buggy and must be difficult to maintain. Has there been any plans to replace this software altogether? Would it be possible to migrate old threads over to a new system?

I have no particular complaints; I'm just curious.

Keep up the good work!

-Bt7


EDIT: Grammar.

[Edited 2013-11-23 09:58:53]
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hOMSaR
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:37 pm

One of the best arguments in favor of new forum software would be compatibility with mobile devices. The current forum is simply terrible when trying to read from a cell phone.

There are a bunch of other functionality/usability issues that would be solved as well.

For example, the quoting system that tons of people get wrong (crediting the wrong person for a quote because they clicked on the wrong "quote selected" box when text was highlighted.

Another is the ridiculous need to lock threads when they get "too long" because it either overburdens the servers from loading long threads, or folks with slower internet connections have slow response because it has to load every message in the thread. Almost every other forum I visit allows the messages to be shown in pages, with a user-specified number of messages per page. You could have a thread with 10,000 replies (and there are some such examples out there), and it wouldn't really be any worse than a thread with 50 replies.

Certain threads could be "pinned" to the top, if desired. This could be useful for hot topics or breaking news so multiple threads don't get created because someone missed an existing thread on the subject.

Really, other than it being different for the sake of being different, I'm not sure what the advantages are of this forum type vs. the more modern, more popular ones are.
I was raised by a cup of coffee.
 
ouboy79
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:21 am

I think the issue comes down to deciding what forum platform to go to, but also finding one that they can make a theme/skin/whatever that adopts the layout and look of the current site. There are many people that like the layout here over the layouts that the other aviation forums utilize. Which is fine. Then you are looking at cost/time for Demand Media to put into creating it and deploying it...not to mention the acquisition cost unless they go with an open source solution (which may not work being a commercial site).

Then you have the migration which will probably be complex just because of the shear size of it. SQL tables are SQL tables and moving them around isn't extremely difficult - but it has to be done carefully to avoid data loss/corruption.

I also agree from the standpoint of mobile device compatibility a new platform is needed - especially since that is the trend. Let's not forget the recent issues with Chrome viewing the forum. That is inexcusable that one of the most used browsers has issues viewing this site - shouldn't happen. IE beats it still in popularity, but only if you add in all the old versions of it together - otherwise Chrome is #1.

Part of that problem to is just how outdated everything is. Put the site through basic HTML5 and Accessibility validators and this site fails severely. So many basic website design elements are just missing from this site.
 
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kanban
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:56 pm

is it feasible to run a parallel site using the same data and a different forum software that was more compatible to hand held devices? Yes it might appear differently, and eventually could totally replace the current.
 
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Aesma
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:14 pm

Personally I come to this forum despite the awful software, whereas I abandoned a forum where I had spent thousands of hours because they changed from a great software to one I didn't like (but still far better than here). It's only content and people that make me come.

For example using cookies is really bad, I can surf the forum from many computers and devices, and I never can figure out where I left off from a thread since that's linked to local cookies. It's only less problematic because threads die after so few posts/days anyway, meanwhile on other forums I'm participating in threads that are years old !
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PHX787
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:58 pm

Quoting hOmsar (Reply 1):
One of the best arguments in favor of new forum software would be compatibility with mobile devices. The current forum is simply terrible when trying to read from a cell phone.

That's what should be included in any sort of forum update.

I have a question- has the software been updated since the days before Johan's retirement?


The current software is outdated indeed but I have to strongly caution here:

1) any sort of forum update will result in the forums being down for at least 1 or 2 days
2) There will be bugs. A BUNCH of bugs. A NEST of bugs.
3) There will also be users who will want to keep the old forum and those who love the new forum, and they'll be bickering a bunch for the eternity afterwards
4) Any forum update needs to have mobile compatibility, easier photo posting, and more streamlined HTML. Also, the codes for airports and airlines needs to be updated, maybe including 4-letter codes as well.
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Braniff747SP
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:44 am

There are several problems around here... the forum isn't one of them. This forum is considerably better than the typical off-the-shelf software.
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hOMSaR
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:40 pm

Quoting Braniff747SP (Reply 6):
There are several problems around here... the forum isn't one of them

Except for all the problems with the forums (poor quoting system; often non-functional "jump to first unread" feature, the need to load every messsage in the thread, which causes long threads to have to be closed and multiple duplicate threads to be created, poor search system, recent bugs with messages showing up out of order, no support for mobile devices, and various other annoying bugs), other than that, it's fine.

Quoting Braniff747SP (Reply 6):
This forum is considerably better than the typical off-the-shelf software.

In what way?

I'm honestly curious about that. I've compared everything different about this forum vs. other forum designs out there, and I honestly can't think of anything that really makes this better, and plenty that make it worse.
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ouboy79
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:35 am

Quoting kanban (Reply 3):

is it feasible to run a parallel site using the same data and a different forum software that was more compatible to hand held devices? Yes it might appear differently, and eventually could totally replace the current.

Ideally you would want to use just one core software for the forum, but you can then design various themes to display the forums however people wish. If you really wanted to, you could take nearly any open source forum product and develop a theme/skin that would match the A.net feel completely. You also open up the ability to allow people to choose to display the forums in a more traditional way that may be clear and more comfortable for them. You aren't doubling up on databases and having to replicate back and forth, just moving the fields around on the page.
 
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hOMSaR
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:29 am

Another thing that I just thought of that other forums can do, which would be helpful here. Right now, if there are duplicate threads on a given subject, they either get locked or deleted, and good discussion might die with it because someone was unlucky enough to reply to the thread that gets the axe in favor of another thread that survives. However, on other forums, there is the ability to simply merge threads, so discussions about the same topic can come together.

Imagine having someone post a "757 replacement" thread, and instead of rehashing the same points over and over again, it could just get merged into the master 757 thread so all they have to do is scroll up (or to a previous page in the thread) to get their answer.
I was raised by a cup of coffee.
 
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kanban
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:37 am

Quoting hOmsar (Reply 9):
magine having someone post a "757 replacement" thread, and instead of rehashing the same points over and over again, it could just get merged into the master 757 thread so all they have to do is scroll up (or to a previous page in the thread) to get their answer.

funny I was just thinking that even limiting the threads to 250 posts, a good number of people can't be bothered to read the previous posts just jump in.. so i'm not sure a continuous thread wold change things all that much
 
srbmod
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:53 pm

Quoting hOmsar (Reply 9):
However, on other forums, there is the ability to simply merge threads, so discussions about the same topic can come together.

Merging threads cause more problems, as the other thread (or threads) gets shoehorned into the discussion and it gets difficult to read. There was a forum I used to post on in which merging threads happened fairly regularly (especially game day threads, as sometimes three people would post one within minutes of each other and by the time they get merged, it was a jumbled mess). Sometime you'd end up make the same post multiple times, as with the merge, you would sometimes not see a post you had made and repost it only to find it a few minutes later.
 
jetblueguy22
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sat Dec 07, 2013 9:04 pm

Quoting hOmsar (Reply 1):
One of the best arguments in favor of new forum software would be compatibility with mobile devices. The current forum is simply terrible when trying to read from a cell phone.

Although a mobile compatible forum could be nice on mobile devices, they can also be kind of screwy. I know whenever I get a mobile site I try to click over to the main site. When smartphones were in their infancy it made sense, but now it can be frustrating.

Quoting hOmsar (Reply 1):
Another is the ridiculous need to lock threads when they get "too long" because it either overburdens the servers from loading long threads, or folks with slower internet connections have slow response because it has to load every message in the thread. Almost every other forum I visit allows the messages to be shown in pages, with a user-specified number of messages per page. You could have a thread with 10,000 replies (and there are some such examples out there), and it wouldn't really be any worse than a thread with 50 replies.

We do it for those with slower internet. Again it comes down to personal preference. I like being able to just sit and scroll reading posts instead of clicking after every 10 or 20 posts.

Quoting ouboy79 (Reply 2):
Then you have the migration which will probably be complex just because of the shear size of it. SQL tables are SQL tables and moving them around isn't extremely difficult - but it has to be done carefully to avoid data loss/corruption.

The thing is moving 9.3 million posts and 170,000 users over to a brand new off the shelf system would be extremely difficult. We have some great people behind the scenes that could absolutely do it. But it would take a lot of time and I'm sure a ton of money (I'm not exactly how much this stuff costs tbh).

Quoting ouboy79 (Reply 2):
Let's not forget the recent issues with Chrome viewing the forum. That is inexcusable that one of the most used browsers has issues viewing this site - shouldn't happen. IE beats it still in popularity, but only if you add in all the old versions of it together - otherwise Chrome is #1.

To be fair though the issue has to do with the new release of Chrome than it does with the site. It is being worked on but just like with anything we are at the mercy of working hours. I'm sure when the Demand team is working hard to get it figured out. They are a smart and hard working bunch. Don't forget the moderators use Chrome too. When we have trouble moderating due to browser issues we ask for help from the people who can fix it and they know and are working on it.


Quoting srbmod (Reply 11):
Merging threads cause more problems, as the other thread (or threads) gets shoehorned into the discussion and it gets difficult to read.

   We would end up with more removals because of the confusion.

I personally like the forums current format. There are bugs just as any piece of software, but for the most part it isn't that bad. I think the forum is one of the most user friendly forums out of any site I post on. But I'm biased in that regard. I'm sure if there is a widely needed overhaul Demand will do it. But I'm not sure now is the time.
Pat
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ouboy79
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:47 pm

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 12):
The thing is moving 9.3 million posts and 170,000 users over to a brand new off the shelf system would be extremely difficult. We have some great people behind the scenes that could absolutely do it. But it would take a lot of time and I'm sure a ton of money (I'm not exactly how much this stuff costs tbh).

Those numbers really just matter when it comes down to executing the conversion, which you wouldn't have a massive team of people huddled around watching. The conversion is going to be mostly taking the old DB and getting it renamed or aligned to the setup of the new DB. Then you have the executive to transfer the data over. Finally just verifying the data and rebuilding the stats on the new software. It really isn't extremely tedious though it may seem like it when looking at big numbers.

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 12):
To be fair though the issue has to do with the new release of Chrome than it does with the site.

I guess you could argue the issue is that the software behind this site is so outdated that it can't keep up with new technology?   The site definitely isn't compliant with any of the new web standards and is something that will need to be addressed at some point.
 
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fallap
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:50 pm

I personally find it rather exhausting to add pictures to trip reports, since I manually have to add [IMG] and [/IMG] tags around every single picture.

Also it's a complete mess if you try to go back an edit a post with pictures in it  
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ouboy79
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RE: Any Plans To Replace Old Forum Software?

Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:32 am

Quoting Fallap (Reply 14):

I personally find it rather exhausting to add pictures to trip reports, since I manually have to add [IMG] and [/IMG] tags around every single picture.

Also it's a complete mess if you try to go back an edit a post with pictures in it

That's just poor scripting on the part of the people that modified the board code to put in the html tags for city codes. It would be one thing if we had two different editors - one pure HTML view and the other a more standard editor.

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