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Community => Scribus forums => Topic started by: a.l.e on February 09, 2017, 10:46:20 am

Title: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: a.l.e on February 09, 2017, 10:46:20 am
our forums run with simple machines.
it's somehow ok, but there are indeed feature that are missing.

one forum engine that i've seen working well is http://www.discourse.org/ .

does anybody want to evaluate and eventually lead the change to discourse?
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on February 09, 2017, 03:56:45 pm
Discourse looks nice and "fresh".

Lots of features, and I like the way you can reply to a specific post, rather than the whole thread.

I also like the way you can go off on a tangent - by creating a new related topic - and the topics remain linked while the discussion goes elsewhere for a while.

It might have more features than the basic user like me will use but, since the impressive-looking overhaul that Mantis has recently been through, maybe a move to something new would be a good thing. (The forum as it is now is looking very dated. Comfortable, but a bit "clunky".)

My main consideration is: Would the new forum be starting from scratch or would the existing posts be ported over somehow? (I noticed there is a SMF2 import script.)

In many ways it would be a shame to lose some important discussions if it had to start from scratch but, on the other hand, there are probably a lot of threads that are fairly useless to anyone now, e.g. Here's how you get round a problem that was in 1.3 but isn't a problem anymore.

I'm not volunteering to be part of any group looking at this, I'm just wondering what people think about what should happen to the current posts. Should there be a "cull" on the current forum to delete pointless threads/posts before anyone looks at migration? And how could that be achieved in practice?
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: CGood on February 10, 2017, 01:28:19 am
Wherever this forum lives, I'd really hate to see old postings lost. This forum with all its old postings has been a lifesaver for me. Those old posts have saved me more than once from the helpful looking but unreliable answers in the wiki.

In one case the wiki advised me to use the Story Editor to assign paragraph styles. No matter what I tried, I could not get the Story Editor to do so consistently. I was banging my head against the wall trying to get the wiki's solution to work, and had tried over and over, then in desperation I checked here and found that the advice in the wiki was just plain wrong. Direct editing and direct style assignment from the Properties dialog work like a charm.

Rather than go on a rant about the wiki, my only point - here and now - is that this forum is a storehouse of the best information that exists on how Scribus really works. I don't want that information lost, or nearly as bad, marooned as a nearly hidden link in a new site, but in an inactive state.

Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: CGood on February 10, 2017, 01:32:20 am
I wonder what new features discourse has that would make such a change be worth the effort involved?
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: a.l.e on February 10, 2017, 10:42:34 am
a/ personally, i don't like forums. but here is a thing i like even less: wikis.
   i can't really defend/promote a forum. not simle machines. not discourse. (but the second works better)

b/ simple machines (the engine running this forum) is ok, but has some issues (like the ones john jr mentioned) that makes life a bit harder.

c/ simple machines development is rather stuck (the new version would probably solve most of the issues we're facing, but the beta for the rc has been close to release for the last 18 months... well that reminds me of another software...). no plans for the next stable...

d/ the reason for this thread: if somebody wants to discuss about changes, now there is a place : - ) ... and if somebody wants to work on it, she can announce it here!

and yes, the goal is to keep the old posts... and my wonderful karma : - )
(this must be the only place where i have some karma...)
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on February 10, 2017, 03:30:38 pm
CGood, I agree that there's probably more good information in the forum threads than there is on the wiki. The main problem I have with the forum is that the good information can sometimes be secreted within other information. For instance, a really good tip to do with typography might be written as a quick aside amongst a discussion about outlining fonts. (That, and it can be very difficult for new users to find information as they don't know what keywords to search for.)

If there was someone who could monitor the posts and pick out the best bits to maintain a nice clean FAQ (or whatever, I don't want to get into a discussion about that sort of thing here) then that would probably be a good solution but - unless someone is going to pay someone else to do it - it's probably not going to happen. There are only about half a dozen really active "answerers" on this forum at any one time and they're probably too busy to scrape the relevant info' from the posts.

The Discourse web site has a big list of features and if the import process is rock solid - all the correct links/images are preserved, etc. - then the biggest effort involved (after the initial import) would be for the users getting used to the new interface, and that can be done safely in the Discourse web site demo sandbox.

All in all, I think moving to a new forum would be a good step in revitalising the Scribus "brand". A nice clean modern-looking forum might be a good way to entice people to try it and also, perhaps, be more active in the community.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: a.l.e on February 10, 2017, 03:43:42 pm
There are only about half a dozen really active "answerers" on this forum at any one time and they're probably too busy to scrape the relevant info' from the posts.

euh... i'm taking notes...

the goal is to create a set of not so long documents about specific topics...

: - )
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on February 10, 2017, 03:52:44 pm
I'm very glad to be proven wrong.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on February 11, 2017, 02:29:21 pm
Just to add an extra ingredient to the mix, if the forum was going to go through such a big change, would it be an opportune moment to also move scribus.net to https? I have no idea how much extra work that would be but I think it might help make users more comfortable (no worrying security icons/messages on their browser). Just a thought.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: CGood on February 22, 2017, 05:59:45 am
Does Discourse have a way to search for unanswered posts? I was doing a bit of clicking here to search for posts made but never answered, especially from newcomers, and have found quite a few.

I ask because Scribus needs a larger set of users, since some users, if they stay, will eventually make further contributions in some way. But Scribus has a learning curve, and I suspect it is easy to lose new users through frustration with being unable to get  something to work. This forum, wherever it may be hosted, is a chance to catch the new user as he is falling, and aside from solving that person's problem, we may be able to add another happier user.

But, if they ask questions here that fall through the cracks, then we can lose them. I find searches for recent unanswered posts clumsy as this forum is structured now.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: a.l.e on June 20, 2017, 04:55:37 pm
not so long ago http://flarum.org/ crossed my way.

- it's php based (so it won't be a problem to support on the scribus site (since currently everything is php there)
- looks amazing
- and it's the continuation of two of the lead existing forums

it's still beta, but we could try to setup an instance and see if we can import the forums history...
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: a.l.e on August 11, 2017, 12:25:12 pm
so, any volunteer to collaborate with me to:

- set up a dummy forum.
- find a strategy for importing the current forum's content
- evaluate flarum and define if there are chances it would be usable in a foreseeable future and what could be the roadmap

?
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on August 12, 2017, 12:02:50 pm
Unfortunately I don't have the technical know-how to participate in any kind of strategy/installation work and can't commit to any lengthy testing work. However, I might be able to put in the odd hour or so here and there evaluating a sand box copy. Probably not what you need but it's all I can offer at the moment.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: radu81 on August 30, 2017, 01:33:26 am

Usually most forum software have an importer or a converter, so basically everything should be imported (boards, topics, posts, private messages, avatars, attachments, etc) when migrating to other forum software. In the past I did migrations from phpbb to smf, phpnuke to smf, smf to other paid software and I did not lost anything.

I don't have experience with Discourse or Flarum, I only installed them on localhost/ small vps for testing so I cannot comment on theese softwares. Instead I used SMF since 2007 until 2015 when I migrated to a fork of smf called Elkarte (http://www.elkarte.net). I am also using paid software for forums, but for an open source project like Scribus I think it's better to use an open source forum software.

After all these years using forums I have to say I like SMF, it's simple to maintain, easy to use, fast and secure. But why I did migrate to elkarte if it's only a fork of smf? Well there are many reasons, first if compared to smf or other free forums I think the development is much more active. Beside that it has some features that smf does not have in the core, like:
- likes
- mention member (@member)
- a notification area for likes, mentions (and quotes in the 1.1 version)
- it's responsive
- SCEditor for posts and PM
- spam protection, bad behaviour in the core ( I see it's also installed here)
- post by email, reply to PM by email
- drafts & autosaving of drafts
- custom.css file for editing styles
- inline attachments (with the new version 1.1 actually in RC fase)
- minify css & js files
- embedded videos from youtube
- Font Awesome icons

and probably other things I don't remember. If you like the look of discourse forum there is also and addon that will make it look like discourse, but I don't use it and not tested, have a look here (http://www.elkarte.net/community/index.php?topic=4010.0) .


My suggestion to Scribus admins is to try in localhost or in a test environment elkarte and you will probably love it. The migration is a painless process, everything should be imported without problems.

p.s. I am not a developer, I just manage a couple of forums powered by elkarte (skodaclub.it and sharkracingclub.it) You will probably notice on elkarte forums that I am registered with the same nickname I use here, I am also a moderator of the board, but like I said I am not a developer of the software and I am not here to promote elkarte.

If you have any questions just ask here or on elkarte forums.

Regards,
Radu
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on August 30, 2017, 11:42:07 am
I've had a quick look at skodaclub.it and sharkracingclub.it and they looks just fine to me. Easy navigation and bright and modern-looking. They also have "News" sections which might come in useful for Scribus (maybe some kind of "showcase" for the most relevant uploaded stuff perhaps?).

One of the main issues that people have with the current SMF forum is the way that users can be timed-out while drafting a post. ElkArte doesn't seem to have this problem. Another issue is that the current layout is non-responsive and, therefore, the forum is awkward to use on mobile. ElkArte seems to have this covered too. @Mentioning is also provided by ElkArte so that's good. There's no mention, that I could see, of "related topic" posts - where people can go off on a tangent without confusing the main issue - but that may be covered too.

One issue I think it might be worth bringing up is that, on some other forums, uploaded files are sometimes - depending on the software - "bound" to the user rather than the thread. This means that there is a size limit for each user's total uploads rather than the uploads being spread around the threads. I have no idea whether this will be an issue when migrating the Scribus forum - to whatever is used - but it's something that's worth keeping in mind. People may - or may not - lose some of their stuff, but maybe some of the old uploads should be discarded anyway.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: radu81 on August 31, 2017, 12:44:27 pm
I forgot to say that the default elkarte template cames with 2 versions:
- Light version (you can see it in action on elkarte.net, and with some colour changes on hydrogenaud.io or b4print.com)
- BeSocial version (the version I use on my forums with some color changes). Only a custom.css is used on my forums. You can see some custom.css examples here (http://www.elkarte.net/community/index.php?topic=3524.0), here (http://www.elkarte.net/community/index.php?topic=2418.0) and here (http://www.elkarte.net/community/index.php?topic=1103.0).
On the themes.elkarte.net you can find more complex templates, I prefered a simple solution by using the default style.

Quote
They also have "News" sections which might come in useful for Scribus (maybe some kind of "showcase" for the most relevant uploaded stuff perhaps?).
That's part of the portal addon called Simple Portal, available for SMF and elkarte. On elkarte is grabbing the first attachment of the topic and display it as "blog" layout.

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One of the main issues that people have with the current SMF forum is the way that users can be timed-out while drafting a post.
That's strange, I never had similar problems with SMF.

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use on mobile. ElkArte seems to have this covered too.
For me this part is important since more than 50% of my visits are from mobile/tablets.

 
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There's no mention, that I could see, of "related topic" posts - where people can go off on a tangent without confusing the main issue - but that may be covered too.
I'm not sure what exactly do you mean, from a topic it is possible to create a related topic, but it's not something used often on my forums.


Quote
People may - or may not - lose some of their stuff, but maybe some of the old uploads should be discarded anyway.
Once migrated everything you have on smf forum will be available on elkarte forum, nothing should be lost. The admin can delete old attachments from ACP panel just like they used to do on smf.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on August 31, 2017, 02:47:04 pm
I think the theme that's used by the ElkArte forum looks nice and fresh and clean. If it's the default then I'd be happy with that. Less admin for the admin too. (Just about anything has to be better than what we've got now in terms of looks.)

The time-out problem has been on the Scribus forum ever since I joined. After the first time I had the problem I've always created my posts in a text editor and then pasted the text in when it's ready. Not the best solution but it works (except I have to re-edit to add bold/underline/etc.) It's probably just a default setting or something.

There is also an issue that you can't post within a certain time after your last post. Probably to stop spam-bots but it can be annoying sometimes.

Any new site has to be mobile-ready these days. It's just one of those things. Any move to software that doesn't take mobile into account would be a waste of time.

Discourse allows you to create related- or sub-topics that let people take part of an argument as a "side bar" to the main conversation. I'm not quite sure how it works but it could be useful here as many threads can become crowded with some people talking about something specific that doesn't really matter to the main issue. I do this frequently. Maybe I shouldn't.

My concern about migration is that if the storage of attachments moves to a by-person level, rather than the current by-topic level, (and I'm not saying that it will) then the total size of attachments may blow the limit for some people. For example, say there is a 10MB limit for the attachments that a person can upload. If the someone has previously attached six 2MB files (one in each of six posts) then, if the attachments are moved to the person - rather than the post -  then that 12MB would break the limit and something would have to be dropped. It might not be an issue, I just thought I'd bring it up.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: radu81 on August 31, 2017, 03:55:11 pm
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I think the theme that's used by the ElkArte forum looks nice and fresh and clean. If it's the default then I'd be happy with that. Less admin for the admin too.
Glad you like it, I also prefer keep things simple to administrate.

Quote
There is also an issue that you can't post within a certain time after your last post. Probably to stop spam-bots but it can be annoying sometimes.
You cannot post in the same topic after a certain time, or you cannot post in every topic after certain time? Anyway it's a something set by the admin, from default SMF does not work in this way.

Quote
Discourse allows you to create related- or sub-topics that let people take part of an argument as a "side bar" to the main conversation. I'm not quite sure how it works but it could be useful here as many threads can become crowded with some people talking about something specific that doesn't really matter to the main issue. I do this frequently. Maybe I shouldn't.
As far as I know there isn't something similar for elkarte, but could be requested, and if there is much interest could be created as separate addon.

Quote
My concern about migration is that if the storage of attachments moves to a by-person level, rather than the current by-topic level, (and I'm not saying that it will) then the total size of attachments may blow the limit for some people. For example, say there is a 10MB limit for the attachments that a person can upload. If the someone has previously attached six 2MB files (one in each of six posts) then, if the attachments are moved to the person - rather than the post -  then that 12MB would break the limit and something would have to be dropped. It might not be an issue, I just thought I'd bring it up.
The attachments in elk are working in the same way they work on SMF. The attachments limits are not set by users or membergroups but by number of attachments per post or by some global settings set by admin.
It has been done a lot of improvements for attachments in elkarte, there are addons to auto-resize the images to a certain resolution, an addon to use smush.it loseless compression, and the limits are only those set by your host.

When I upload attachments I see:
- on my forum Restrictions: 20 per post, maximum total size 1,048,576 KB, maximum individual size 524,288 KB
- on this forum Restrictions: 5 per post, maximum total size 4096KB, maximum individual size 2048KB

In this way I can upload photos from my smartphone and we know that nowadays every smartphone make big photos in terms of size, at least 2-3 MB. Nobody will resize photos in external applications, especially if we are talking about a forum with people with a certain age.
ex: I can upload 5 photos for a total of 20 MB or more, but on forum host will be saved 4 images for about 170-200 Kb per photo. I set to resize images at 1200px width and 85% quality.
On my forum I have 11.106 attachments for a total size of 1.650 GB, not bad I'd say, so space should be no problem, especially nowadays when hosting is very cheap.
Title: Re: Moving the forums to discourse
Post by: GarryP on September 01, 2017, 11:25:26 am
If you make a post then you cannot make another post, at all, until 60 seconds has elapsed. There is no on-screen timer so you just have to go away for a while until you think that time has passed. It's not usually an issue but it can be annoying when you just want to post something quickly.

As for the sub-topics issue, it's not a big thing. It would be nice to have but I don't know how it works in Discourse so it might also be confusing. Either way, it's not a show-stopper.

If the site moves to software that works the same way as SMF then there probably won't be a problem with upload limits unless someone sets those limits lower than they currently are.

The limits on this site are quite small compared to other sites but I guess that's either because they are the SMF defaults - most of the site seems to be off-the-shelf without much tweaking - or there are hosting size issues. I can't imagine that the Scribus project has unlimited hosting, especially if it's being hosted for free. (I'm assuming that the project isn't paying for hosting. I might be wrong about that.)

I can't see posting images from smartphones being an issue on this site. You would have to print something and then take a picture of it which seems an odd thing to do but Scribus does produce some large files which can be difficult to attach. There's always the option of using a link to a cloud storage provider but it's nicer to have stuff stored centrally if possible. Again, that's probably a hosting issue.

All said and done, if the admins don't join the conversation then I can't see anything getting done. It's interesting to discuss these things but if the people who would actually do the work don't get involved then nothing will happen.