WrightChat Status and Go-Forward Plans

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SREcklund
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Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:24 pm
Location: Redondo Beach, CA

WrightChat Status and Go-Forward Plans

Post by SREcklund »

I wanted to share with you all the results of a conversation I had with Joel Hoglund regarding the current state of the WrightChat board and ideas for moving forward.

The board is back to where it was prior to the catastrophic outage, however Joel was unaware of the issue regarding the inability to search historic threads. He agrees that is an essential capacity for the board.

The initial plan had been to roll out a new WrightChat board as part of the recent Conservancy website upgrade. That was problematic, largely because of the technological gap between the current board software and what's available today. For that, and other reasons, the Conservancy is no longer working with the web consultants who built the new site, but have a new consultant coming on board after the first of the year, and upgrading WC in a manner that preserves the historic content will remain a high priority.

I did some research into the software currently running WrightChat (phpBB) and determined that it is a well-supported, modern application. They also have canned utilities that would allow a competent IT person to upgrade our current board to the new version. I believe that would likely resolve the search issues while preventing future problems that inevitably come with software as old as we are currently using. It is certainly preferable to trying to convert the historic threads for use by a different software package.

I'll keep you updated as I learn more.
Docent, Hollyhock House - Hollywood, CA
Humble student of the Master

"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Thank you. It's good to know what's happening.

I'm glad to hear that phpBB isn't an obsolete application. Working with it would undoubtedly be a more efficient path than starting with a new app. I assume we are all happy with the appearance of the board ?

Having attended several chat rooms that use phpBB I can attest that there are numerous function options available, not all of which are taken advantage of on any particular site. It will be good to have fresh IT eyes on the situation.

SDR

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

SDR wrote:Working with it would undoubtedly be a more efficient path than starting with a new app. I assume we are all happy with the appearance of the board ?SDR
IMHO: The content of this chat board is way more important than the appearance.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Certainly. Nevertheless, if the phpBB platform is retained, it might be assumed that no major change need take place in the appearance of the site.

I recall when the pages were redesigned; there was initial resistance, as is usually the case, but we soon accommodated the improvement, and life went on. In retrospect, the red and gray graphic as proven both functional and attractive -- for me, anyway.

SDR

peterm
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Post by peterm »

The appearance is fine with me. The search has always been cumbersome, and posting photos means relying on the generosity and patience of those like Stephen Ritchings.

egads
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Location: Long Beach CA

Post by egads »

Third party hosting is pretty normal for sites like this. Photo hosting sites have made it very difficult to embed links now. (Although modmom does seem to be able to make photobucket work) You used to be able to find the url of a photo you uploaded to a hosting site and just place it between the Img markers. Now that only sometimes works. (At least for me) The few sites that do host photos have advertising. On those sites the ads don’t bother me, but they often make the pages slow to load.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I don't presently have another phpBB-powered site to log into, so I can't check this out: is one available option a refinement of the Search function, wherein the page number of a thread is given when searching for a name or term ?

Other than that our Search works reasonably well, for me -- although it took a while to understand that multiple words can be entered as long as they are separated by AND . . .

More can probably be learned here https://www.phpbb.com Perhaps some of us can become more familiar with a utility we all take for granted. I'll be looking for an explanation of options -- for instance. I note, right off, that there is a note, at right on the opening page, of domain availability with unlimited space (for what ?) for $6.95 per month. What's that about . . .

SDR

Matt
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:24 am

Post by Matt »

Easier photo posting would be nice. As would file sharing.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I'm not familiar with that. How would you use file sharing in this context ?

I guess we can't make attachments to the private messages on the board, can we. Maybe that's not possible . . .

SDR

DavidC
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Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Re: WrightChat Status and Go-Forward Plans

Post by DavidC »

SREcklund wrote:I did some research into the software currently running WrightChat (phpBB) and determined that it is a well-supported, modern application.
Thanks, Stan, for checking into this, going over things with Joel and keeping us informed. Have you learned if is Joel comfortable - and willing - to go with the phpBB platform for the future upgrade to our existing system? And, if so, does the Conservancy - or you, or anyone else - have someone in mind who could begin working on such a project?

Also, for folks here on the board who may not be familiar with any other chat forum beside this one that uses the phpBB platform - as a different example here is an investing-for-retirement site that I have been involved with for quite a number of years now that is running on the current version (3.2.1) of phpBB: Bogleheads.org - Investing Advice Inspired by John Bogle.

They have successfully upgraded a few times there over the years. Each time has gone well - with all of the past data saved and moved forward.

One thing in particular I like is how they have structured their site to have multiple forums - including having a Wiki and a Library - both of which, I believe, would be very useful for us to adopt here on our site, post-upgrade.


David

SREcklund
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Re: WrightChat Status and Go-Forward Plans

Post by SREcklund »

DavidC wrote:Have you learned if is Joel comfortable - and willing - to go with the phpBB platform for the future upgrade to our existing system? And, if so, does the Conservancy - or you, or anyone else - have someone in mind who could begin working on such a project?
I think they're willing to go with phpBB if that preserves the threads and is maintained for the future, both of which are true now. We'll have to see what the new consultant recommends, but I believe there's no real way forward other than that. I have a test phpBB forum on one of my sites, and I can tell you from what I see there that we are barely scratching the surface here - we have just the single forum, for example.

My feeling is that we should support Joel in the effort to upgrade the forum to the latest software (and maintain it as new upgrades become available). At the same time, we can investigate the capabilities of the software (via other phpBB boards or the program's website) and determine what capabilities we believe would be beneficial to the community. We can then present those to Joel as our recommendations moving forward, and work together to implement the solutions.

I will say this ... we have a pretty good thing going here, and I'd think hard before recommending any significant change (such as adding new forums, etc). We don't want to kill the golden goose, and I've seen it happen before ...
Docent, Hollyhock House - Hollywood, CA
Humble student of the Master

"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Yes. I used to enjoy an architectural forum called Design Community -- hosted by an architect in the Northwest, I believe. When the site was "upgraded" with radical changes to the layout, attendance dropped to nearly nil, nearly overnight. Users were accustomed to the site as it was -- we knew where to look for favorite parts of the forum, for instance. And, some favorite options were dropped, and others added. It ruined the experience for me; sadly, I went elsewhere.

The redesign of this forum, a few years ago, was mainly cosmetic; the function and "floorplan" didn't change much, and the adjustment was no problem -- for me.

Two major supermarkets here completely redesigned their floor layouts over the past few years, and it was a jolting experience, finding the new locations of virtually everything on my shopping list. Needing groceries, one prevails; one can live without an entertainment source . . .

SDR

DavidC
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

Re: WrightChat Status and Go-Forward Plans

Post by DavidC »

SREcklund wrote:My feeling is that we should support Joel in the effort to upgrade the forum to the latest software (and maintain it as new upgrades become available). At the same time, we can investigate the capabilities of the software (via other phpBB boards or the program's website) and determine what capabilities we believe would be beneficial to the community. We can then present those to Joel as our recommendations moving forward, and work together to implement the solutions.
Sounds like a good course of action. I look forward to any-and-all future improvements.


David

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

We, the users of this site, should find out what sort of cost the Conservancy is taking on to indulge us in our pastime, and perhaps offer a subsidy.

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