[NEWS] Upcoming Board Migration

POSTED: Sat May 02, 2020 11:52 pm

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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. :(

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.

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POSTED: Sun May 03, 2020 11:43 am

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

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Hilli
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POSTED: Sun May 03, 2020 3:13 pm

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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Lin
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POSTED: Mon May 04, 2020 5:12 am

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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POSTED: Mon May 04, 2020 10:39 am

MyBB was always the most likely candidate, given its popularity among other RP boards. :v Don't worry; I'm looking into it.
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POSTED: Mon May 04, 2020 6:04 pm

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


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POSTED: Tue May 05, 2020 10:43 am

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.)
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