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  1. #1
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Harry & Howard: WebBBS, phpbb and vBulletin

    [Edit: Since starting this thread we have changed from phpbb to vBulletin]

    This is a message for Harry, Howard and anyone else interested trying to convert forums from WebBBS...

    As you can see I've used phpbb for this forum. The requirements here are fairly simple (no complex permissions etc) so phpbb is okay. It's worth noting that I had to install several mods to get the same functionality as what I had with WebBBS (eg. moderation, image uploading). The mods are time-consuming to install but very well documented.

    I've also converted a couple of small private forums to phpbb and made some simple customisations. On the whole it's gone reasonably well.

    However if I was going to do this again I'd probably use vBulletin for this forum. I've got vBulletin going on one low-volume forum at the moment (www.teawamutu.co.nz/forum) and I'm so impressed I'm going to use it for our highest volume forum (www.racecafe.co.nz). The latter has very complicated user management and permissions issues which are a nightmare with WebBBS (I had to write my own script to deal with it) but vBulletin is built to handle stuff like this out of the box.

    In terms of features, vBulletin is much more advanced than phpbb. You would have to seriously hack phpbb to get the same level.

    To answer the questions from awsd....

    Quote
    Quote: Harry
    So, you are saying that I should jump right in and get vBulletin? I have a PhpBB test board up, but I don't need to learn a new board twice. My site deserves the best, so the cost of VB isn't the issue, it's their damned tight copyright restriction and control monkey business.
    The copyright notices are ugly and I paid for the extra licence to get rid of them. It almost doubled the cost which is a bit rough but I still think it's a good total package.

    Quote
    Quote: Harry
    What I would miss is the ability to look in on the bbs0...bbs99 file directories, etc. Can you still look in on the actual data files with MySQL?
    You can access and edit the database directly with any mySQL tool such as phpMyAdmin. This is very handy. The whole mySQL thing is so much easier to deal with than a file structure (IMO).

    Quote
    Quote: Howard
    I seem to be having problems in trying to use the converter. I keep getting Read the README and webbbs_to_phpbb.pl first!
    Sorry, this isn't ringing any bells. Can you tell me exactly where you're up to and I'll try and remember how it worked. As I recall I did have to tweak the code slightly. Also, make sure you've got the latest version of the converter - there was a security issue with one version.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  2. #2

    Response

    Dave,

    Thank you for your comments!

    I am right now involved with an experimental PhpBB board to see how it goes. You are right in that a lot of hacking will be necessary.

    My problem with vBulletin is their attitude, not the price. If their product is good, I'll pay for it, but I don't like all the baggage that comes along in their terms.

    Probably the best feature of WebBBS that I will miss is the ability to use the naughty words file for not only naughty words, but SPAM words as well. I simply kick all intercepts into MODERATED mode. The Php boards seem to be still hung up on only replacing words.
    $CensorPosts=2;

    I've always subscribed to the K.I.S.S. methods and I feel that WebBBS has been great that way, but when I said the WebBBS boat has a leak in it, I was being kind. It most likely has a hell of a hole in the bottom and it's going down.

    -- Harry

  3. #3
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    No worries. I know what you mean about WebBBS. I've tried to be restrained with my comments at awsd but it ain't easy. It has been devastating watching my favourite forum software get left to die. It's now so far off the pace that I can't see any possible way for it to recover. Kevin is convinced that the best plan is for him to battle on alone, but having seen how other forum developers work I now realise how completely unrealistic Kevin's plan is. Even if he worked full time on WebBBS it would take years to reach the level of vBulletin (and meanwhile vBulletin has a team of developers putting it further ahead). And that's not mentioning the other Webscripts which are also terribly out of date. Hell, vBulletin comes with a free calendar that makes Webcal look like a toy.

    Given that Kevin can't work full time on Webscripts and he refuses to enlist help, there is no future for those scripts. It was only my sentimentality that stopped me from accepting this obvious fact earlier. Frankly it makes me feel ill to think how much time and effort I put into propping up my WebBBS forums when software like vBulletin could have done everything I needed all along.

    Ironically, I wonder if the best thing Kevin could do is stop trying to add new features to WebBBS and make it a niche entry-level forum designed for people with very simple requirements. I'm still using it for a guestbook on one site and it works quite well when you don't want all the standard forum features.

    Regarding vBulletin, maybe I didn't read the terms closely enough (I thought I did) but I don't recall being put off. I noticed that they were very strict on hunting down unlicensed versions, and they don't have any good system to set up free trials. Was there anything else in particular that worries you about the terms?

    I must admit that I haven't yet implemented vBulletin on a high-demand forum. It will be a while before I can convert our Race Cafe forums - that will be the real test. So far I've tried to test everything out on our low-volume forum and I haven't noticed any limitations, but I will have another look at the censored words thing after hearing your comments.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  4. #4
    jxhndxe
    Guest

    threads

    Dave,

    Did you know that phpBB has a mod that will add a threaded option? It's not the smoothest, but it works pretty well. I was a WebBBS user for years, and most of my users loved the threaded aspect (as did I). When looking for a replacement, threaded was of utmost importantance, so I installed the mod, and my long-time regulars are happy. I've noticed that the membership and participation has jumped since converting, since most people are used to the flat view these days, and it looks more inviting than WebBBS did.

    You can see my forum at http://cslewis.drzeus.net/forums/ (only two are available for viewing without registering first).

    The mod is called MobyThreads.

    (BTW, I posted as Jack on WebBBS Support)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lynne's Avatar
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    my forums are too small to convert...

    the users seem to enjoy the one forum. For me, even phpbb would be a bit of overkill.

    but, I am a curious cat and am interested in how this is going and am looking forward to seeing the new race cafe and how you set it up.

    I have a couple of questions. In PhpBB and VBulletins, can you make one forum search friendly and another one not? for example, in this setup, could you make Web Design search friendly, and the Lobby not search friendly?

    I was thinking of doing something like that, have a search friendly forum for anything that a user wanted to write up for general purposes, as opposed to a "private" (relatively - since no registration is required) forum for just yakkin' (like the lobby).

    Administration is easier on these type forums. I found this out after helping a friend upgrade a UBB forum. And I don't think that has as many features as VBulletin.

    Also, does this have a reply to post feature (quote the post that you are replying to)?

    Well, Dave, sorry to see you go, but I can certainly understand your reasons. btw.. I still use your email cloaking javascript for all the email addresses on the website. the javascript has been tweaked a bit by Tarty and me, but it is the same concept and still works great.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lynne's Avatar
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    another quick question for Dave about webbbs forums....

    did you keep any search friendly webbbs archives? If so, can you point them out to me? I would like to take a look at them if I can before you convert them and delete them if possible.

    Thanks.

  7. #7
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Re: threads

    Quote
    Quote: jxhndxe
    Did you know that phpBB has a mod that will add a threaded option?
    Hi J. Yes, I did see that but I didn't look into it. To be honest I have gone from being a huge threaded forum fan to thinking that linear actually works better. I think the main thing is that most people are now used to linear forums and don't get as confused by them. Back when I started with WebBBS most people who used web forums had come from a newsgroup background and WebBBS simulated that environment well. These days hardly any of our forum users would know what a newsgroup is.

    In addition, I've found that when you have some people using the threaded view and some using a linear view, confusion increases.

    Of course, vBulletin comes with what seems to be a very robust threaded view (as well as a hybrid view) if that's still your preference.

    Quote
    Quote: Lynne
    I have a couple of questions.
    Hi Lynne, nice to see you again. Don't hold your breath on The Race Cafe, it may be a number of weeks before I can take that task on. Very frustrating, as I know that vBulletin is going to save us a tonne of time when it's done. We're really struggling to keep WebBBS up and running at the moment - it's creaking badly under the strain!

    Re search-friendliness, I installed the SEO mod for this phpbb forum and made a couple of tweaks myself. Seems to work fine. If you want to exclude search engines from some forums you could use robots.txt.

    I kept some WebBBS archives for a little while but they're gone now I'm afraid. Since I was able to import them into phpbb/vBulletin I didn't see the need for them any more.

    vBulletin comes with a built-in archiver that automatically creates a separate SE-friendly archive.

    The quote feature is included as standard with phpbb and vBulletin. Click the "Quote" button in any message or use UBB code.

    You're right about administration being much easier with these forums -- it's like suddenly growing wings. Honestly, I just didn't appreciate how limited WebBBS is, and how difficult and time-consuming the most simple tasks are until I started using other software. And if phpbb is like growing wings, vBulletin is like getting a spaceship . Meanwhile poor old WebBBS is like using a walking frame with one of the legs missing.

    I'm sorry about giving WebBBS a hard time. Everyone knows how much I've loved that software and how it changed my life. I owe a huge debt to Darryl, Kevin and the others. It just upsets me so much that they stubbornly refused to listen to the advice which might have saved WebBBS. Now it's all too late.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  8. #8
    Hey! I've bookbarked this thread and will look in later when I have less load.

    I have scrapped the PhpBB project, installed vBulletin and am in the process of converting my archives. I'm at 60,000 records and counting!

    Work foes on. Vbulletin is awesome!

    -- Harry

  9. #9
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Wow, good luck Harry. Let us know how you get on.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  10. #10
    I now have all of my archive files installed into ONE board - 64,949 posts / 13,667 threads!

    Still configuring and dabbling. (No rush - WebBBS is still on the job and since it's an archive, nothing changes.)

    The current issue is getting email to work. Vbulletin's boards are filled with "unrouteable mail domain" posts. The deal is that they run the board's email out under nobody and I have my server correctly configured NOT to do that. WebBBS runs under the name of the local user "enginads" and therefore email goes out under enginads and not nobody. suexec is the deal that makes this so and all files are set chown enginads:enginads. Works great! BUT, with vBulletin, unless I get involved with phpsuexec, remains on nobody.

    The net result is that two levels have to be compromised: allow email to go out under nobody and set File_uploads=On in php.ini (This is to allow photo uploads to the /tmp directory by vBulletin design. I have run /scripts/securetmp on my server to harden the /tmp directory.

    Phhheeewwwweee!!!! Got all that? The inner workings!

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