[NEWS] Upcoming Board Migration
#1

News & Updates

Table of Contents
Well, we knew it was only a matter of time. Incoming technical infodump:

Board Software Status

So the forum is run on phpBB 3.0.14 software, which hasn't been supported or maintained since 2015 (it was released in 2007). The current version of phpBB is 3.3, but we've never updated is because 'Souls depends heavily on board modifications and "hacks" for things like HTML in posts, linked accounts, BBCode in profiles, multi-moderation tools for staff, etc.

For a time, phpBB 3.0.x was very popular for forum RP, so a lot of those modifications were readily available. Unfortunately, phpBB 3.1+ was different enough that most of these mods didn't work on those versions, and equivilant modifications were hard to find.

It is inevitable that old PHP-based software becomes broken as PHP updates and progressed through versions. Our server current runs on PHP 5.6 in order to support this old forum software, but in July, our host will be forcing an update to PHP 7.1 (itself already a few years old) which will break compatibility with phpBB 3.0.14.

So, we gotta change forum software.

Migration VS "Migration"

Because of HTML-in-posts, a direct upgrade from phpBB 3.0.14 to the current phpBB 3.3 is likely to "break" large portions of the board insofar as those HTML blocks are no longer rendered, so they'll just display as raw HTML. Custom BBCode, HTML in sigs, and other areas affected by board modifications are also likely to break.

Direct forum migration solutions (as in migrating from phpBB to some other software entirely) are tricky to begin with, but once again, lots of board modifications make things even more complicated. I'm still researching our options, but the most likely scenario will be similar to when we "migrated" from IPB to phpBB: that is, we make a switch to a new, clean board and don't import any of the old stuff.

In that scenario, players would need to remake character accounts, etc, as nothing would be ported over.

That sort of "migration" would be much simpler, but I'll still need to figure out how to preserve the phpBB board (and the old IPB board, which did eventually migrate to phpBB). It may be the case that it will just need to be preserved sans HTML rendering, but at least the content will still be there.

HTML in Posts In The Future

Gonna be honest: it probably won't be a thing.

The reason no forum software ever has HTML enabled in posts is because it's a major security risk. All board modifications that enable it are a pain and also complicate any sort of upgrade and migration in the future.

Other board modifications have comparatively little consequences since they are primarily action-based. Linked accounts no longer being linked leaves no visual mark. Neither does the removal of multi-moderation sequences or various more minor modifications like redirection shortcuts, forum sort order customisation, and auto-backup solutions. But broken HTML in posts is obvious and unpleasant.

And frankly, I think the trade off isn't worth it. Being able to update and upgrade a board is important. Software and scripting technologies will always need updating. Being able to just run an auto-update without worrying about breaking installed "hacks" would be super great. This will be the fourth time 'Souls will have to change board software and it's a huge, stressful ordeal every single time. Sad

Migration Timeline

The host is set to begin forcing PHP updates in July. I'm still figuring out our game plan more details will be available as I have them.

For the time being, I do recommend saving stuff on the board (and also the IPB archive board) you don't want to lose and updating whatever personal archives you have. (You should always be doing this, but I know most of you don't!!!)

To be clear, nothing is getting deleted and it's unlikely that it'll become inaccessible -- at worst, posts will just show up as unrendered HTML post-PHP upgrade, and at best, the update might not break the board that badly, but if not with this PHP update then the next one. It's just a matter of time. And it's better to be safe than sorry.

It may also be worthwhile to begin transitioning to BBCode-only posts to become less reliant on HTML and CSS in posts.

TL;DR

  • In July, our host is updating PHP and this will break our current forum software
  • So we gotta change board software
  • No easy "press update" option exists, primarily because of HTML in posts
  • Kiri is still figuring out our options for migration and more details will be available when they get figured out
  • But whatever future board we land on will probably not have HTML in posts
  • So maybe get used to not having it
  • (Also: back up your stuff)

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask here.

av by me; sig by alaine
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#2
Have you guys looked at mybb? I've migrated a couple personal projects to it before and it worked pretty okay

link: https://mybb.com/download/merge-system/

you would probably be able to preserve HTML in this path
[html]<style>
@import url('http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Alegreya+SC');
@import url('http://sleepyglow.net/rp/icons/signature-icons.css');
.mercySigOuter {width: 400px; margin: 0 auto; text-align: center; background-image:url('http://ghostecho.net/mercy/sylvia.png'); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: top center; padding-top: 90px;}
.mercySigName {font-family: 'Alegreya SC'; font-size: 28px; text-shadow: 0 0 5px #fff; margin-bottom: -30px;}
.mercySigSplit {border-bottom: 1px solid black; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: -5px;}
#signature-icons a {
background-repeat: no-repeat;
display:inline-block;
position:relative;
margin:0;
opacity:.35;
filter:alpha(opacity=35%);
transition:200ms linear all;
-moz-transition:200ms linear all;
border-bottom: 3px solid transparent;

}
.mercySigOuter #signature-icons a:hover,
.mercySigOuter #signature-icons a:focus,
.mercySigOuter #signature-icons a:active
{
opacity:1;
filter:alpha(opacity=100%);
border-bottom: 3px solid #C6F503 /* change the color under the icons when you hover over them on this line */
}
</style>

<div class="mercySigOuter">

<div class="mercySigSplit"></div>
<div id="signature-icons">
<a href="#!" class="reply-fast" title="REPLY SPEED: FAST"></a>
<a href="#!" title="I will roleplay LASKY." class="will-lasky"></a>
<a href="#!" title="I will roleplay mature material." class="will-mature"></a>
<a href="https://wiki.soulsrpg.com/index.php?n=Characters.MercyDAngelo" target="_blank" title="mercy Loch" class="character-wiki"></a>
<a href="#!" class="optime-preference" title="OPTIME unless otherwise stated."></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-medic" title="Mercy is a skilled medic."></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-social" title="Mercy is a talented liar."></a>
<a href="#!" target="_blank" title="Mercy speaks fluent German, denoted by < >" class="foreign-language"></a>
<a href="#!" class="skill-spirituality" title="Mercy is skilled in Khalifism."></a>
<BR><small>avatar by elenmory</small>
</div>
</div><style>
@import url('/images/icons/postsig/signature-icons.css');
</style>[/html]
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#3
We're gonna lose all our pretty board skins, aren't we? D:

I'm also happy to volunteer some time if hands are needed in the transfer process.
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#4
Echoing what Hilli mentioned, MyBB could be a valid alternative; out of curiosity I mocked this up. Rank tables remain an issue, though.
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#5
MyBB was always the most likely candidate, given its popularity among other RP boards. :v Don't worry; I'm looking into it.

av by me; sig by alaine
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#6
Quote:For the time being, I do recommend saving stuff on the board (and also the IPB archive board) you don't want to lose and updating whatever personal archives you have. (You should always be doing this, but I know most of you don't!!!)
Would the Wiki be a good place to back things up to, or should we be backing things up off 'Souls domain? E.g., copy and pasting into a rich text editor like Word, hosting to a private website, etc
[Image: 5pprTkB.png]
[Image: songbirdButton.png]
Avatar by Trophy
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#7
Other 'Souls resources will not be affected by board software change, so the Wiki is safe in this regard.

(Though personally, I always recommend local backups to your personal computer or another private device.)

av by me; sig by alaine
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#8
yall can just ask in this topic, u know. Recent Tumblr questions about this.

Quote:
Quote:Do you suggest any specific ways for members to go back and archive their old posts once we migrate boards? I know some players have hundreds (if not thousands!) of posts they would have to go through, though it's better than potentially losing them! But I am wondering if there is an easier way to go about it.
Unfortunately, saving pages in bulk off the web is always a bit tricky. There are numerous scraper tools you can try, but most would still involve at least some manual identifying of the threads you want to save.

This is why I generally recommend saving as you go**. :’) It’s pretty much inevitable that something about the forum will need to change eventually, so being proactive about saving things is the most efficient way to go about it.

You’ll probably have some leeway in timing, though it’s, of course, much easier to save threads while they’re still rendering correctly. But even if the contents of the current board aren’t moved anywhere and the software of the current board is broken by the PHP update, the posts themselves will still be there -- you just might be saving a lot of raw HTML later on.

--

** My personal post archival technique:
  • Always write posts in a file saved to your computer
  • Once a thread is archived, save a copy of the page to your computer

Pretty simple! This way, I have both a raw text version of my posts and a copy of the finished thread with my partner’s posts. I usually just save the HTML version of the thread so none of the board layout/CSS is preserved, but the posts themselves are what I care about. You can save the HTML+files+CSS version of threads too, but that downloads all those extra files, which can be cumbersome.

Quote:
Quote:How long will the board be down for the migration? Few days, few weeks?
If it’s a “true” migration (old board data is moved to a new board), best case is probably 1-2 days. If it’s more a move than a migration (old board is abandoned; new board is created with no old topics), best case is probably a day or less as far as swapping board URLs.

For reference, the 2012 move (not a “true” migration) took a few hours as far as swapping board URLs over, but lasted 1-2 weeks as far as getting everyone re-settled in terms of forums, titles, topics, etc.

Meanwhile, the 2017 host switch, which is more similar to a true migration in terms of technical processes, but with much lower risk of compatibility fiasco, took about a day.

Let’s not talk about the worst case scenarios. :’)

As a side note, I'm discussing with the host the possibility of delaying the PHP update so I have more time to figure out the best route forward because I haven't been able to devote much time to this issue due to the state of the world and also the trash fire that is my city.

av by me; sig by alaine
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#9
Update since I'm sure some folks are getting anxious:

July was given as the start time for rolling PHP upgrades across the host's many servers. I haven't gotten a specific start time for our particular server yet, so it's unlikely the upgrade will happen right on the first. I should have more time this week to investigate options, so I'm hoping to have a solid game plan in place by the end of the month. Depending on when our assigned date ends up being, I may not need to actually request a further extension from the host.

av by me; sig by alaine
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#10
I know you don't have specifics yet re: upgrading our particular server, but I was wondering:

If someone were currently bracketing and they aren't due to be finished with their last bracket until mid-to-late July, should they stop? Will the posts still 'count'?
  Reply
#11
No reason to stop. Everything will still count. The old board data will still be here for us to count them. We just might need to go back to manual counting for a little bit on the new board until we can rework the autocounters for the new software.

av by me; sig by alaine
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#12

Okay, so When the Heck is the Migration

There has still been no word from the host as to when the upgrade will be happening, so the current plan is to begin the migration process on Saturday, August 1st, starting around 10am ET (7am PT, 3pm BST/London, midnight AEST/Sydney (the 2nd)).

This may change if the host ends up setting a sooner upgrade date, or it turns out I'm unable to finish all final prep by then, but for now, I think we should be able to proceed on August 1st.

The migration will likely take 24-48 hours to complete, during which time the forum will be inaccessible. There will be ample and frequent warnings of this in the days prior. Accounts, logins, posts, topics, PMs, etc, will all be preserved.

You can save local copies of active threads or screenshots of posts if you want to write replies while the migration is in progress. Other game resources such as the Wiki and the RP Guide will be unaffected. Discord and Twitter will be the best places to keep up-to-date with things during the migration. This will all be reiterated closer to the time, also.

Neato, new BBCode



You may have noticed that staff has begun to convert some info topics from HTML to BBCode, which is mostly noticeable in some weird h2 header formatting. We've added a few new custom BBCode to help facilitate the shift away from HTML. These include:

Code:
[div=STYLES]stuff[/div]
[span=STYLES]stuff[/span]
[h2]wow header[/h2]
[h3]smaller header[/h3]
will become
Code:
<div style="STYLES">stuff</div>
<span style="STYLES">stuff</span>
<h2>wow header</h2>
<h3>smaller header</h3>

Things to keep in mind:
  • divs and spans can't nest in themselves; the parser will only parse the outermost opening tag and the innermost closing tag. However, divs and spans can be nested in each other.
  • Remember that quotations cannot be used in BBCode, so it's [span=STYLES], not [span="STYLES"].
  • Even though you can do some pretty extensive styling this way, it's recommended that you not go too crazy with background colors/effects/etc; the more complicated you get, the more likely there is to be unintended effects/looks, especially on different skins

Some previously available, but perhaps not widely known, custom BBCode are as follows. Many of these are rendered obsolete by the new span code, though they can still be useful since you can't nest spans.

Code:
[clear][/clear]
[floatleft]STUFF[/floatleft]
[floatright]STUFF[/floatright]
[font=FONT]STUFF[/font]
[hovertext=TEXT]STUFF[/hovertext]
[imgtitle={TEXT1}]{URL}[/imgtitle]
[smimg={NUMBER}]{URL}[/smimg]
[surl={INTTEXT}]{TEXT}[/surl] (this is useful for relative URLs, like /index.php?showtopic=777)

Which become:
Code:
<span style="clear:both"></span>
<span style="float:left">STUFF</span>
<span style="float:right">STUFF</span>
<span style="font-family:FONT">STUFF</span>
<span title="TEXT">STUFF</span>
<img src="{URL}" title="{TEXT1}" alt="{TEXT1}" />
<div style="text-align:justify;">{TEXT}</div>
<a href="{URL}"><img src="{URL}" style="width:{NUMBER}px;"></a>
<a href="{INTTEXT}">{TEXT}</a>

Some even lesser known and rarely used custom BBCode, such as [dimensions=] may be deprecated unless a bunch of you tell me that you totally can't live without it. :>

As always, please ask here if you have any questions. Thanks for everyone's patience during this mess.

av by me; sig by alaine
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#13
Since we're throwing migration-related questions here (and since I wasn't here when the forum did this the first time xD):
  • 1) Just to confirm, if you have a thread started, you can still access, reply, etc. to it post-migration, correct? It's just, if the thread just so happens to have HTML-coded posts, the pre-migration posts will just show the HTML code vs. properly rendering if they'd used BBCode?

    2) Is our URL changing at all?

    3) Will forum-related links made on the Wiki change in their short-cut coding?
    • ex. Currently, "[[Profile:123|Forum Profile]]" links to an account profile, and "[[Thread:123|Thread]]" links to a specific thread. Will these still work post-migration and work with new content created after the migration? For example, to link to threads made in the IPB Archive, you have to use "SoulsProfile", or "SoulsThread", and, initially, it looks like players used "NSoulsProfile" and "NSoulsThread" post-that migration to the current forum. Will we see a change like this with the upcoming migration?

If these are things you can't answer yet, that's fine! 2 and 3, I was more curious about because of possible updates that would be needed on Pack wiki pages.
Kamari Kaiser

 

Avatar by Despi
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#14
1. Correct.

2. No, though the path for specific areas (UCP) and threads/posts will be different. Instead of something like viewtopic.php?t=46587 it will be something like showthread.php?tid=46587, but the forum will still be at soulsrpg.com/forum post-migration.

3. The Wiki shortlinks will be updated, so there shouldn't need to be any changes here. Thread, post and user IDs will be preserved.

The reason there are two sets of shortcodes for the IPB board and the current board is because they are two different boards (i.e. the 2012 move wasn't a "true" migration). This one will be a true migration, with the new board replacing the current board, so there will not need to be a new Wiki code. The old one will just have its URL path updated.

(The IPB archive board will also be migrated to a new archive board, so that wiki code's URL path will also be updated.)

Thanks for the questions!

av by me; sig by alaine
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#15

Board migration will proceed as scheduled in roughly 24 hours.



Reminder to save local copies of threads you'd like to reference to write replies during the weekend as the board will be inaccessible during migration.

av by me; sig by alaine
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