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  1. #1
    The People's Mod
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    Default Major Forum Changes Ahead

    There are a handful of MAJOR issues with the forum software and web site that I will get into below.
    There are also dozens of other less important issues that have been un-fixable in the past.

    Instead of tackling them all one-by-one, the forum is moving to a new host for the first time.
    This will mean a new TLS certificate and the site will be 100% https, which will fix two major issues:
    1) Australian ISPs are blocking our site.
    2) Some browsers are complaining hard or preventing access to the site.

    In the process of moving to a new host, I will gain access to the host and every other part of the forum so that other major issues can be fixed like the outgoing e-mail issues we've had for years.

    I want to explain a few other points:
    1) The new host insists (rightly so) on the newest versions of PHP. Our version of the forum software does not work well on the newest versions of PHP. Upgrade paths cost money, and are way more work than I want to deal with just to end up where we started.
    2) Moving hosts also means the forum will need to "pay its own way" as it were. We can no longer ride on the generosity of piggy-backing with much larger players.
    3) The new host billing is a la cart (you pay for what you use, no more, no less) so having bloated forum software and a bloated database is less-than-ideal.

    For the reasons listed above and more, the decision was made to move to new forum software. Specifically, we're moving to a custom solution that will be written from scratch (all important data will carry over, no worries there). I know this sounds a bit nuts, but it is what I believe to be the best way forward.

    Here is the expected order of events:


    - Build forum software to handle new user registration, outgoing emails, user login, posts, PMs, and chat.
    - Beta test with a small group of users.
    - Fix any issues.
    - Release new forum software, on new host, with new TLS certificate, at the same www.sr20-forum.com domain name.
    - Second wave of features to restore things like the enhanced posting tools, user tagging, "likes", updating user avatars, etc. etc. etc. (whatever is deemed most important)
    - Third wave of new features to take care of the stragglers.
    - Clean up tasks, let dust settle, etc.



    This change has been a long time coming, and there were milestones along the way 2 years ago, 6 months ago, 3 months ago, and 2 weeks ago.
    2 years ago - The decision to move hosts was made
    6 months ago - The point/lead person was chosen (that's me)
    3 months ago - The new host was chosen and signed up for. The forum software and database was cloned and converted over. Major roadblocks were encountered and surpassed only eventually to hit a brick wall.
    2 weeks ago - The decision to build new forum software was made and I've been working on it every waking moment I'm not at my day job making huge progress daily.



    I would love to respond to inquiries about this, but I'm pouring all of my available time into writing the new forum software so go easy on me if I don't respond, or if some things don't seem to make sense. I promise you that the forum will be fixed ASAP, and it will be so much better than you can even imagine once we hit a stride with the new software.

    Thanks for your understanding.

  2. #2
    OEM Plus.
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    Default

    Much appreciated update.

  3. #3
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    Default

    The new forum software will be the most challenging piece, writing from scratch will be quite an undertaking. I'd much rather completely rebuild my car...
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    As seen in Car And Driver.

  4. #4
    ETPerformance
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    Good news. Thanks Ben
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    Need a tune? Contact me, I offer Dyno, Street, Remote, E-Tunes and base maps. I work with Calum, Nistune, Nismotronic, AEM, Haltech, Crome, Hondata, E-Manage, TunerPro and can work in other programs as needed. I can also burn chips and ship them as needed.
    ETPerformance772@gmail.com or PM

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo_se-r View Post
    I'd much rather completely rebuild my car...
    Yepper! Patience will pay off in spades.

  6. #6
    Exhaustipation!
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    Good update...Do it to it, Ben! Thank you sir!
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    The Build

  7. #7
    SR20VE-T Boost Junky!
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    Default

    Awesome news fenderbender!

    But tell me 1 thing.. will the new shit have a chat box like we have now? That's very important for about 5-6 of us guys who hang out here every day..

  8. #8
    The People's Mod
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    I understand how important the chat box is for some people, which is why I'm planning to have it for the initial roll-out if at all possible (although it will be the most difficult thing I'll have to reproduce).
    It might not be fully featured upon initial release (text might all be one color for example), but the plan is for it to be usable at release.
    And with any luck, it will not suffer from the scrolling bug the current one does. I am on a mission to kill that bug.
    Last edited by BenFenner; 03-18-17 at 12:33 PM.

  9. #9
    SR20VE-T Boost Junky!
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    Right on man! We certainly appreciate it!

  10. #10
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    Save the chat box!

  11. #11
    I gets mines, Larry!
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    I would be happy to assist with testing. I am not sure about that host. Why don't we just ask for donations from members to cover the hosting? As much as we spend on our cars, we could probably easily cover the hosting for several years through a reliable host like GoDaddy or InMotion.

  12. #12
    The People's Mod
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    The host I've chosen should be the cheapest optional available once the forum software is re-written. It is also such a nice host, I've fallen in love with it. I really don't want to go with anything else.

    As for donations... There will be a drive to encourage folks to join the forum supporter ranks eventually. I hope to increase forum support by reducing the price of forum supporter accounts, and adding a few other touches (like allowing forum supporters to disable ads if they prefer).

    Right now things are moving along very nicely with the re-write, and there are solid plans to keep the forum solvent. More to come...



    I can't believe you'd even mention GoDaddy. Absolutely not. Net neutrality is too important to give them money.
    Last edited by BenFenner; 04-04-17 at 06:39 PM.

  13. #13
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    That's terrible to learn that GoDaddy wants to defeat Internet Neutrality.

  14. #14
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    I've completed a ton of the ground work for the new forum software. I have users converted, a permissions system in place, some BBCode parsing, user login and guest viewing, dynamic routing for SEO-friendly URLs, and some other things.
    Pages that do work, are nearly pixel-perfect copies of what you're used to. I think people will be pleasantly surprised.

    Along with that, I have the new TLS certificate working, modern user password hashing, etc.
    (Chrome and Google should be very happy.)

    As for functionality I promised in the initial release... "new user registration, outgoing emails, user login, posts, PMs, and chat" a good bit of that is still left to do. Actually, almost all of it is left to do (user login is complete though). I decided to add user profile pages to the list and tackle it first since it seemed manageable and important. New user registration and outgoing e-mails might be next, we'll see...

    I'm going to be in the forum chat letting folks beta test the new software tonight if anyone is interested, since there is something to show and I want to knock out any issues early.

  15. #15
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    Beta testing went great. No issues so far.

    Next up is new user registration and outgoing e-mails.

  16. #16
    Exhaustipation!
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    Greatly appreciate the time and effort you have put into this. I know 'time' is a commodity many of us don't have... or manage well enough.

    Keep up the great work, sir.
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  17. #17
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    Update

    Getting user registration to work involves a lot more aspects than I expected. For example, the forum rules are presented to new users to accept, so those needed to be converted over.
    I made lots of good progress this week though, and expect everything related to new user registration to be completed in the next day or two. All except the outgoing e-mail aspect. That may take a little more time, and I will tackle that next.

  18. #18
    Japanese Trans-Am
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    big thanks for spearheading this ...I am so glad people still care about this forum because social media is getting too wacky for me lately.
     
    SR20 Foster Home

  19. #19
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    Default

    Update

    New user registration is complete, except for the out-going e-mail verification. I will get that working next.
    After that, I'll do a second round of beta testing.

  20. #20
    Exhaustipation!
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    Youda'man, mang!
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  21. #21
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    Outgoing e-mails are working great. I should have the new user activation process complete today or tomorrow.
    For those interested, plan for beta testing again near the end of the weekend. Thank you for the help, it makes things go much faster.

  22. #22
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    Things went faster than expected, and I've completely finished new user registration, including the out-going e-mails and the account activation procedure.
    I'll be hanging out in the chat room off and on this weekend looking for people who want to beta test the new user registration portion.

  23. #23
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    Big thanks to all those guys in the chat box willing to help Ben with testing features.

  24. #24
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    Beta testing the new user registration went very well. Thank you to all who helped! There was only one small thing to fix, and now I'm moving on to the next feature.
    We only have 3 major features left before the minimum viable product is complete. They are chat, PMs, and threads/posts.
    I think I will tackle chat next, since I'll be using a 3rd party solution which should go very quickly.

  25. #25
    I have an inventory!
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    I've already spent the cash on a 2 year membership again just last month - I assume that will carry over and any cost differences up or down I'll be notified?
    Last edited by canx2k; 04-13-17 at 11:44 AM.
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  26. #26
    The People's Mod
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    Yes, the memberships will carry over. Everyone will be notified if/when the amount for membership dues changes. If dues are less expensive, then in cases like yours I'll likely extend memberships to make things fair. We'll see when it comes time to cross that bridge.
    Last edited by BenFenner; 04-14-17 at 08:05 AM.

  27. #27
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    The chat feature gave me fits all weekend, but I believe I have tamed it well enough for now. I'm moving into the beta test phase for chat.
    Those who would like to beta test the new chat, head over to the chat room for directions.

  28. #28
    Techno Viking
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    Thanks for the work Ben.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wifey
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    Deeply disturbed in Louisiana.

  29. #29
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    The beta test for the chat went well. There were a few things to iron out, but it looks like it's working quite well now.
    I'm moving on to implementing PMs.

  30. #30
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    Update

    I wanted to have the PM system finished by this weekend, but it is proving more involved than I anticipated. There are no road blocks and I'm making steady progress for sure, but I am maybe 60% finished now after the last two weeks of work. I'm hoping to have it finished by next weekend, but it might take longer still.
    I'll report back in a week.

  31. #31
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    Update

    I've made plenty of great progress getting the PM system up and running. It is basically finished and ready for beta testing with one exception. I still need to write the transition to convert the existing PMs to the new system. That shouldn't take long, and I will try to work on it more today. Look for a real call to beta test very soon.

  32. #32
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    Update

    I had the day off work today, so I spent even more time on this than normal. I've done tons of great work getting the old PMs to transfer over, and all of that is complete. I also got some other things sorted that needed work like the delete and mark-as-unread tools. I thought I would be ready for beta testing once the old PMs were converted over, but it has shown the need for more work. Mainly I need to get the pagination working, otherwise the Inbox/Outbox can take a long time to load. I was hoping to avoid pagination for a while, but it looks like I have to do it now.

    So, once I get pagination working, and a few other small little bits it will be time for beta testing. I'm aiming for this weekend.

    Sorry for the delay here. I've been trying to average one feature a week and have been able to do so up until now. I thought PMs would take 2 weeks, maybe 3 at the most, and allotted for that kind of time in my estimate. It's looking like PMs will take a full 4 weeks to complete. Obviously this pushes everything out to the future, but such is life. I know how important this is to everyone and it can't come soon enough.

  33. #33
    Exhaustipation!
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    You're doing great! I'd still be staring at the screen...
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  34. #34
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    Update

    I have the pagination technique sorted out functionally and stylistically. I also took care of the other little things I wanted to before beta testing PMs.
    It's time to beta test the PM system. In prepping for that, I finally ran the PM conversion on the entire DB. There are ~158,000 PMs to convert. The conversion times out around ~21,000 so I need to get that sorted and then we can test.

    Edit: I have the conversion script running in automated batches now. It's taking a while, but the conversion process is moving along smoothly. In another 30 minutes it might be finished and beta testing can begin.
    Last edited by BenFenner; 05-14-17 at 03:09 PM.

  35. #35
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    Update

    Beta testers for the PM system weren't super eager, so I took the opportunity to flesh out a few more things with the PM system that I'd forgotten about (the advanced Reply button, along with the Forward feature).
    There are still two things to eventually add (PMs don't display user avatars and such like they should, and the unread messages notification doesn't work yet) but those will come later as they aren't super important.
    It is now really time to test this, so here are the directions:

    1) Log into the beta test site using your forum credentials from 5 months ago. Get the URL from the chat.
    2) Click on the Private Messages sub-navigation button.
    3) Spot-check your Inbox and Outbox PMs, making sure you see only your own PMs, and that they are listing as coming or being sent to the right people. Also spot-check they are marked as read/replied/forwarded appropriately.
    4) Make sure your maximum allowed PM storage count is correct for your user type.
    5) Try deleting some PMs and make sure the PMs delete, and the PM counts update.
    6) Mark some PMs as unread (icon should change and title should get bold) and then read them again to see if that works.
    7) Create a new PM from scratch using the Send New Message button and send BenFenner a test PM. Make sure a copy of it goes to your Outbox.
    8) Send a PM to yourself. Make sure you get an e-mail about it. Make sure there is a copy of it in your Outbox and in your Inbox.
    9) Pick a PM from your inbox and reply to it (preferably someone else who is also beta testing). Be aware that whomever you reply to will get an e-mail as well, so limit how many you send to avoid confusion. It will look like the real forum has sent the e-mail. Make it clear in your PM that you're sending a test message to test the beta site and that the PM should not be replied to except by other beta testers. Check your Outbox to see a copy of the PM there.
    10) Pick a PM from your outbox and reply to it the same way as above (this is actually a new feature I added). Check your Outbox to see a copy of the PM there.
    11) Send a PM to yourself. Make sure you get an e-mail about it. Make sure there is a copy of it in your Outbox and in your Inbox.

    There are plenty of other things to test if you'd like. Test the Forward feature, the quick reply feature and the normal reply feature if you'd like. Try the BCC feature if you'd like, maybe BCC me on some of the test replies above? Also if you have PMs with multiple recipients, you can test the Reply-All feature (either quick or full featured depending on which button you click).

    Again, be aware that each PM you send will cause an e-mail to go out to the recipient(s) and it will seem like it's coming from the real forum.

    Please report any problems or bugs you find. Report successes too. Thank you in advance for all of your help!
    Last edited by BenFenner; 05-23-17 at 06:29 PM.

  36. #36
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    Update

    There was minimal beta testing, but it did reveal one issue. Duplicate e-mails were going out when PMs were sent. I fixed that relatively easily, and now it seems the PM system is ready for prime time. I still want to add some settings (like the ability to turn off e-mail notifications) but for now it is good enough.

    I have cleared my schedule for this 3-day weekend and plan on making tons of progress on the last part now. I'll be getting threads and posts working. This is the last piece of the puzzle, but it's a big piece.
    Here we go...
    Last edited by BenFenner; 05-27-17 at 06:08 PM.

  37. #37
    1994.5 LE-R
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    Here we go!


    Thanks for all the hard work!
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  38. #38
    Exhaustipation!
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    Quote Originally Posted by NissanEgg View Post
    Here we go!


    Thanks for all the hard work!
    That's what I'm saying...been (Ben?) a long time coming!!!
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  39. #39
    The People's Mod
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    Update

    I made strong progress this long weekend, forgoing a vacation at the beach to power through lots of back-end work. I have the forum sections basically converted, and almost have the threads fully converted. Next up is making sure the polls are converted properly, change up the way classified ad threads work a bit, and then get regular posts converted.
    Then I can work on the front-end stuff.
    I'll have another update soon as usual.

  40. #40
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    Update

    These past two weeks I've had to attend to family and my general sanity, so I took a bit of a break from hitting this as hard as I have these last couple months. With that out of the way, I'm back into this full throttle. I got the thread conversion sorted out and fully complete in the database. I also sorted out the new classified ad thread technique in the DB. Next up for DB conversion are posts, including polls. This is the last bit of back-end work that needs to be done, then I can work on getting the front end for them sorted out. I'll see how far I get by tomorrow and will update again.
    Last edited by BenFenner; 06-10-17 at 04:09 PM.

 

 
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