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Martijn Meerts

Server software update

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Hi all!

 

As some of you have noticed, every once in a while we all of a sudden get a lot of spam. During that time, the chat option also tends to be offline. The reason for that is that the license key goes missing at random times every now and then. It just poofs withous us really doing anything. Sometimes it takes a few days for it to happen, sometimes it takes weeks or even months. We haven't been able to figure out what's going on, and there are no posts about the issue on the support forums of the developers of the software.

 

So, in order to try and fix it, we're looking into upgrading the forum software to the latest version. The thing is, the latest version is a major update, and things like themes from the current version won't work in the new version. That means, the current custom theme will be replaced by something a little less custom, but keeping the general colour scheme. There are some advantages to this, it will be much easier to upgrade to new version and get security fixes installed much quicker. It'd also be possible to more quickly make multiple colour schemes most likely.

 

Of course, the new version also has some visual changes beyond just the theme and colours. So we're currently doing a local test install of the new software and doing a test upgrade using backed up data of the actual forum. If that all works, I'll try to recreate the current colour scheme in the new version, and most likely post a bunch of before and after screenshots for people to look at before eventually doing the upgrade on the live forum.

 

No ETA yet on when we can post screenshots, but hopefully sometime soon :)

 

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Hmm.. I was supposed to write "Forum software update" as title, but I guess server software update works as well, considering the server itself needs some updating anyway ;)

 

Either way, did a quick upgrade on a local test install, and it all went pretty smooth. There are some major changes, but I think the most major one is the admin panel, which is a lot easier to use.

 

 

So far, what I've noticed are:

 

- Chat option will be removed soon, there are other options though. Found a free plugin which works, just doesn't display a list of who is in the chat, nor how many people are in it.

- "View New Content" is now "Unread Content", and is quite a bit more advanced. It also allows you to create custom searches, and save those for easy access later on.

- Username and display name are merged. So people will need to log in using either their current display name, or the email address they registered with.

- Overall design is much cleaner and more modern, however, I do feel it needs some improving. Currently looking into that.

- Much improved mobile version (responsive).

- Optional browser notifications, so you can get a notification of a new PM even if you don't have the forum open.

- Gallery seems to be improved, and allows easier batch uploading of images (using drag and drop).

 

 

Need to play around with it a bit more, just some early observations.

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Hmm.. I was supposed to write "Forum software update" as title, but I guess server software update works as well, considering the server itself needs some updating anyway ;)

 

 

You can change the Topic Title on a thread you start.  Go into Edit, at the bottom of the screen click Use Full Editor  and change your topic title.

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You can use the Theme Editor to redo the theme.

 

The mobile friendly version helps with Google ratings.

 

Despite it's quirks, IPB remains one of the best forum platforms available.  I'm pretty sure almost everything you mentioned is customisable with the SDK.  Let's do the upgrade.   :)

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Been a bit quiet from my end recently, been really busy at work (and still am), and in the evenings after work I've mostly either been learning new stuff (for work) or just resting.

 

Anyway, I have a few days off soon, during which time I want to try and get the forum software updated. I know the idea was to first post screenshots of the new version and do some theme changes, but I think it might be better to just do the upgrade, and then work on theme changes. The thing is, our current version is now no longer supported at all, which means there won't even be any security fixes anyway. This means it's rather important to upgrade ASAP.

 

My days off will be Thursday and Friday next week (25th and 26th), so the forum will go down sometime around those days. I can't say how long it'll last, but I'll be sure to run some full backups of both the current codebase as well as the database. Once live, the forum will run in the default color scheme for a little while, but I do intend to add a theme based on the current one, and from there maybe add more themes.

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Also, forgot to mention... The default theme and new look/layout of the new version can be seen at the forum software's own forum: https://invisionpower.com/forums/

 

As you can see, it's somewhat more minimalistic and quite a bit cleaner then what we have now. It should also be easier to make multiple colour versions of the base theme, based on various trains for example.

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Posted (edited)

Hi!

 

I will be trying to upgrade the forum software tomorrow (28th of May) somewhere during the day CET. Obviously the forum will be unreachable for several hours while I run backups of the database and old software, and then do the actual upgrade. I don't know how long it'll take, but it'll likely be several hours.

 

I will likely also do some general maintenance on the server itself, and also update some software on the server itself.

 

The initial upgrade will just be to get the forum upgraded to the latest version of the software, and will likely run on the default theme for a little while, but the idea is to fairly quickly start working on other themes, or at the very least custom colour schemes.

Edited by Martijn Meerts
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Thank you for maintaining the forum Martijn! And for the color scheme, can I request the Shonan Colors please.

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Unfortunately the update didn't work, I'm not sure what happened. After uploading the new files, and tried the upgrade, I get the message it wanted to upgrade to an old version instead of the new one I just uploaded.

 

I will try again next week, and try to clean up the current version a little bit before doing the upgrade. We still have a lot of files from the previous forum software we used, I guess that doesn't really help either.

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Well, finally manage to do another test run of the forum software update. Included are some screenshots of the new home/forums overview screen, the thread/post screen and the gallery. The theme is the default one, and we'll likely be running that for a little while after the upgrade. Once all the issues are solved we'll work on updating the theme with some custom colours.

 

There are some minor things to keep in mind. Username and Display Name have been merged, and we're likely opting to keep Display Name. When logging on to the new version, you need to log on using either your Display Name or your e-mail address. The other change is that the friends system has been removed and replaced with a followers system. We won't be converting friends to followers automatically however, considering the follower system sends notifications when a user you're following posts something. Of course, the entire user interface will also change, and that might take a while to get used to.

 

I'm not entirely sure when I'll be able to do the upgrade on the live forum, but I'm aiming to get it done sometime in the upcoming weekend, so if the forum is unavailable, you know why :)

new_jnsforum_home.jpg

new_jnsforum_post.jpg

new_jnsforum_gallery.jpg

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Kabutoni   

As always, thanks for keeping us updated and maintaining the forum! We'll all be looking forward to seeing a new and improved forum!

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oh wow! Thanks for the hard work! Much appreciated for making a virtual space for like-minded train enthusiasts to gather and chat about what we love (and don't love haha)

 

Can I ask what is the last picture with the lot of buses photos? It certainly is getting me excited...   :P

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Kiha66   

Will the profile pictures be switched to a circular format for the new forum update?  It seems that most peoples avatars fit the current box shapes better.   Thanks for all the hard work Martijn!  

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The default is a circular format, but I'm sure it's adjustable either through a setting in the admin panel, or otherwise using some CSS overrides. It's definitely something I can look into once the upgrade has been done. I'm pretty sure there will be more requests for fixes/changes by then :)

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kvp   

Do we get to keep the embedded images in our posts? I've been uploading quite a lot of track drawings into various posts and mostly have no backup of them.

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Yeah, all posts and images embedded in posts will still be available after the upgrade. The new software version will need to do some work on all the old posts, so it's possible that the embedded images don't show up, but this is temporary. And, if necessary, I will have a backup of the database and all the files, including uploaded/embedded images.

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A lot of time and hard work must have gone into this and it is looking very clean and clear.

Thank you for your hard work

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Posted (edited)

It's not really hard work, just very time consuming :)

 

Anyway, my local test install is still doing all the rebuilding and reindexing of all the content after the update. It's almost done, but it took quite a long time. Once we do the update on the live server, this rebuilding an reindexing will likely be faster, but will still take several hours to complete most likely. During those hours, several things will probably not work all too well, especially things like searching and things like emoticons and linked images in posts might be off. Emoticons seem to not be working at the moment, so I'll need to look into those.

 

 

I've also looked through some of the new features real quick. There are some things that could be interesting. For example, there's a feature called 'clubs', which basically allows groups of people (hence the name clubs) to create their own little subsection on the forum, either private or public. This might be an interesting feature for some people to keep all their club's content together in 1 place. Haven't tried it yet though, so not entirely sure what it is and how it works.

 

Another feature is something we already have in the current version, but has been enhanced. It allows you to create databases, and people can add items to this database. You can also add custom fields, so it would be possible to set this up so that it's possible to create a list of model trains. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it allows people to create their own custom lists though, but again something that might be interesting.

 

Also, as those of you who used the chat will have noticed, the chat option stopped working a while ago. The new version doesn't have a chat option built in anymore, but there are various add-ons we can use to create a chat room. The really good ones are rather expensive, but there are some free options which we can try. Should none of those work, another option for those who want to chat regularly, would be the Discord chat app, which is free and has lots of features. It also allows you to create a private JNS Forum 'server' on there, so no random people joining and no spam.

Edited by Martijn Meerts

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kvp   

I've seen this clubs feature on other forums. Essentially it allows topics or entire topic groups to be access limited to a subgroup of users. Everyone gets an access denied when trying to read them. Imho it tends to drive people to share less in the public topics as club talk topics tend to move there instead of being in the common club news like now. It could come handy though if you want to share sensitive information.

 

I'm still worried about the attach and embed images, where the uploaded to the post image gets embedded as an external full size image. These urls have to be patched while keeping the attachements.

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Kabutoni   

I'm all for a Discord server! I'm using it constantly for my illustration work for directly talking with fans, friends and customers. It takes a little while to get used to, but it's a very light app that can run simultaneously on any suitable machine, has voicechat and screensharing/video chat is being worked on at the moment as well (for which I'm very very hyped).

 

It also keeps track of the chat history, so it allows you to pop in at any time, refer to previous posts and read up on things past. I think it'd be a great alternative to the forum chat.

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I've seen this clubs feature on other forums. Essentially it allows topics or entire topic groups to be access limited to a subgroup of users. Everyone gets an access denied when trying to read them. Imho it tends to drive people to share less in the public topics as club talk topics tend to move there instead of being in the common club news like now. It could come handy though if you want to share sensitive information.

 

I'm still worried about the attach and embed images, where the uploaded to the post image gets embedded as an external full size image. These urls have to be patched while keeping the attachements.

 

 

Yeah, that's the disadvantage of the clubs feature. But I think if people just keep their clubs open so that everyone can read posts, it could be a nice feature to gather all the posts and images in 1 place. But if people start doing mostly private stuff, then that's obviously not really something we want.

 

Could you give me a link to a specific thread with images? Then I can view the same thread in the updated version and grab some screenshots of how it looks in the new version.

 

 

I'm all for a Discord server! I'm using it constantly for my illustration work for directly talking with fans, friends and customers. It takes a little while to get used to, but it's a very light app that can run simultaneously on any suitable machine, has voicechat and screensharing/video chat is being worked on at the moment as well (for which I'm very very hyped).

 

It also keeps track of the chat history, so it allows you to pop in at any time, refer to previous posts and read up on things past. I think it'd be a great alternative to the forum chat.

 

 

It's definitely more advanced and more user friendly than any forum chat plugin will ever be ;) 

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Here are some images of the posts you mention, they're pretty much the same as in the current forum.

new_jnsforum_images_01.jpg

new_jnsforum_images_02.jpg

new_jnsforum_images_03.jpg

new_jnsforum_images_04.jpg

new_jnsforum_images_05.jpg

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