View Full Version : Use a better forums script

03-04-2007, 10:28 AM
Like SMF. This phpBB kinda sucks. I want to change a simple mail adress and have to wait like 2 weeks for this to be done. Also there are a bunch of portal mods for it and it will be faster in any case.

03-04-2007, 10:52 AM
I agree, PHPbb is a little slower than SMF, there are 2 motorcycle forums I'm a member of, one uses PHPbb and the other uses SMF and the SMF site is faster, I don't know of any additional mods which would benefit this site though.. but then I've not really looked into SMF in any great detail.

You have to bear in mind that it's not a trivial task to convert between one system and another.. especially if there are lots of mods added to the PHPbb site.

It would also be quite a dangerous thing to undertake at the moment with the competition on and all. We would run the risk of losing everything, inluding people's scores and submissions.

I would also like to see some performance gains, but I wouldn't say the site sucks at all.. ;)

I think the best thing to do would be to put a case together to the mods in the site feedback forum, listing the benefits of going over to SMF.. As this isn't an easy thing to do and it would require the PGD staff to spend a significant amount of their own time building it, it would be nice for them to have some research done as to the benefits other than speed.

In my experience, the only time a major site converts to a completely different system is after a total loss site crash. That's what happened to the SMF bike forum I'm a member of.

03-04-2007, 11:34 AM
I never felt that this forum ever ran slow, converting it would only cause troubles (break all existing links to the forum for example) and have no visible benefit.

Robert Kosek
03-04-2007, 12:03 PM
Well, there are two choices that are always at the top of my list: SMF, and MyBB. I've used both, worked with both support groups, and have now started sort of skinning both. Of the two, MyBB is a little lighter and has a better plugin system (because it is modularized), but SMF is the better skinable (to an extent) and has a more mature security system.

So we would lose validity in our links. Who cares? Mark the format, and keep the numbers the same!

For increased anti-spam capabilities in both, I think it's completely worth the upgrade. I'm even willing to give the staff a hand and answer question about either package. I've always hated phpBB and have pushed for a conversion to another package, and I really think it's time for that to happen.

03-04-2007, 02:00 PM

03-04-2007, 02:36 PM

my thoughts exactly!

07-04-2007, 11:30 AM
I'd add my voice to SMF as well... and you can convert without losing posts or user accounts, and if you are... creative enough, it is possible to write a simple wrapper to preserve existing links... you just make a 'viewtopic.php' that wraps "http://www.pascalgamedevelopment.com/viewtopic.php?t=4312" to "http://www.pascalgamedevelopment.com/index.php/topic,4312.0.html"

Assuming the translation program preserves topic numbers, which I believe it does.

About four years ago I took over managing a website that was being buried by it's userbase running UBBThreads. On a P4 2ghz with a gig of RAM, and being the only forum software running on said server, it couldn't even keep up with 50+ users.

We evaluated phpBB but rejected it annoying for several reasons:

A> MOST of the functionality we wanted had to be done as mods... The problem with mods is it nueters your upgrade path.

B> It has security holes big enough to drive the USS Iowa through... anyone who survived the 'nevernosanity' incident can attest to that. Even the simplest of security features one expects a first month programming student are strangely missing, or have been shoe-horned into the codebase within the past year. (and are a bad fit given the underlying method by which it works)

C> Skinning is a total joke, and all the skinners have a raging hardon for 9px or smaller fonts which are useless to "Large Font" users - I have to zoom in this entire website at least 50% to get the fonts approaching what I consider 'usable'. Too much of the forum appearance is hardcoded, making changing the appearance a total headache (as you doubtless discovered) It's called pt or %/em - USE THEM. The simple 'CSS' approach doesn't work since the lions share of the font size declarations are INLINED, and worse it throws away bandwidth on unneccessary classes, inlined CSS, inlined javascript, and a half dozen other things that show not only a lack of understanding of web standards, but a lack of care as far as bandwidth conservation goes.

We were going to go with vBulletin, which isn't a bad forum software, but encountered the whole problem of it costing MONEY... Money the company in question wasn't willing to spend on something that was, well... They weren't convinced that the forums could be run given their level of traffic.

So, I implemented an SMF implementation - while SMF was still in the pre 1.0 beta. I was actually looking to evaluate YaBBse, a php port of the perl based Yabb (a fast lean free forums software in it's own right - it's what "proboards" runs) only to find out it had gone the way of the dodo, but "Simple Machines" had forked it as SMF.

I have NEVER been so happy with a piece of software... Well, except maybe FPC ;) We now have four to five times the number of users logged in at once on a 3ghz P4 with 2 gigs of RAM, and we're BARELY scratching 25% cpu use during peak hours while maintaining over 1200 posts a day and over 50,000 views!

Add in that much of the functionality that are mods on other softwares are built in... attachments (I'm still SHOCKED this isn't baseline functionality in phpBB), karma, search engine friendly URL's, compressed output, automatic table damage correction...

Then there's the programming itself - you just get the impression they have a MUCH better clue what they are doing. One of the 'core' concepts in SMF's design is that the code that outputs html are stored in /themes/themename, while code that interacts with the database are stored in the entirely separate location /sources. This separation of output from the underlying code that actually makes it work means it is a LOT less likely to bone the entire board just from making a bad theme... You don't have to wade through all the mySQL queries and other stuff just to change ANY aspect of the appearance... Even boards like vBulletin with it's 'Theme language' system doesn't have that level of capability... while if you look at the source code to phpBB, it's like a perverse trainwreck blend of script kiddy hell and design by commitee... hell, it doesn't even transmit 'content change' notifications to browsers, leading to some really absurd caching errors!

Some examples of SMF in action (these are both mine):
http://battletech.hopto.org/kurita (portal mod by me!)

and even cooler, the forum software skinned to act like a wiki:

If you want, I could donate some time to give a hand doing such a transition, or maybe a dry test copy to show off the skinning capabilities (which put phpBB to SHAME) and see if it is viable.

THOUGH, you do currently appear to be tied to a portal mod, which means switching software might be more effort than you are willing to go through at this time... It's why as a rule I'm not too keen on the idea of portals... or mods.

07-04-2007, 12:55 PM
Like SMF. This phpBB kinda sucks.
My #1 complaint about web forums, like the software used here is that it has no sub-threads. So after about 5 posts when people begin to answer to other peoples posts it becomes a complete mess of keeping track of these conversations. All in all web forums are awfull once there is more than 10-15 posts in a thread.

One of the best web forums I have used is digg.com, it has sub threads, but still limit how you can place your answer on sub threads.

Compare that to newsgroups where there is no problem having discussions with 300+ posts, because threading has worked since dawn of times (more than 15 years ago).

Problem #2 is to read answers to an ongoing discussion that may run over a couple of days. The problem is that there is no sort of colouring indicating which posts you have already read and which are new.

News reader software have no problem of keeping track of your reading marking posts as read.

Problem #3 longer discussion are split over multiple web pages, so you do not load the whole discussion in one simple action. This is not a big problem if you have a fixed Internet connection, but it is a problem if you have dail-up where you pay per minute. I do no longer have dial-up, but more people than you think still have to survive on this.

One particular bad implementation is on SlashDot. If an on-going discussion have ca. 75 posts, you only see the first 50. By the time you have read these and change to next page more posts have been inserted, and the top of second page is not the continuation of the first page you just read. The second page start somewhere in the middle of what used to be your first page.

News reader software have no problem downloading 100's to your harddisk for off-line reading.

Good point about web forums: PGD web forum can send an email when answers arrive in the thread. Good for forums on low traffic sites.

Overall I think web forums are wastly inferiour to news groups.

However for the low traffic forums of PGD there is little advantage to spend time and effort on changing web forum setups. It is far more importing that PGD spend their effort on things like the ongoing competition, writing articles and organising info that can be of interest for Pascal programmers.

Doei RIF

07-04-2007, 09:48 PM
Like SMF. This phpBB kinda sucks. I want to change a simple mail adress and have to wait like 2 weeks for this to be done. Also there are a bunch of portal mods for it and it will be faster in any case.

Hi Embrance, the delay in being approved is my fault as we were inundated with spam accounts ( wewere getting about 20-30 per day ) and I had a major release in my day job a few weeks ago. So it's only just starting to quieten down at work, so it was only yesterday that I managed to reactivate some accounts. Even with visual registration the spam bots were getting through. I have just made some changes to the registration script which should hopefully reduce the number of spam accounts which means less work for me to go through and find genuine accounts, which means less time to reactivate existing accounts who have changed their passwords.

I hope that explains the delay.

10-04-2007, 03:47 PM
The changes I have made seem to be keeping the spam bots out at the moment. If this continues for another week, then I'll switch the authentication back to be user email. Which will mean less work for me :D and quicker registration/updates, for those who are interested.

10-04-2007, 04:00 PM
Btw, with regard to switching forums :
I am not familiar ( in the coding sense, because I have used SMF based forums before ) with any other forums other than phpBB. The bottom line for me is that I do not have the time to port this forum over to another portal system. These servers allow the easy installation of SMF, so I can certainly create a subdirectory for it, but that would be it. Someone else would have to walk me through how to port phpBB over to it or do it themselves and also all the custom staff and competition mods that WILL has lovingly crafted.