Diatribe migration -> upgrade or switch platform?

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f05f04d53f8>

Diatribe: Should we switch to Discourse, or stay with PHPBB?

  • Switch to Discourse
  • Stay with PHPBB
  • Undecided
  • Other (please comment)

0 voters

TLDR: would you be willing to part with PHPBB forums, and give Discourse forums a go?

Background:
We are migrating all NZLarps sites to a new host*. Craig was providing our hosting for a long time, but it is no longer feasible for him. I have started to migrate all our sites (bar Diatribe) to Silverstripe, and Digital Ocean.

Diatribe is currently using a piece of software called PHPBB first created in 2000. While PHPBB is still being updated, it is lagging behind more recent forum software when it comes to user features, security, social media integration, and spam protection. In order to migrate hosts, we will need to upgrade to a more recent PHPBB version. Or we could take the opportunity we have, and switch** to Discourse.

Concerns:
Any change has pros and cons. Here’s my current list of possible concerns:

[ul]
[li] Discourse has a different interface and navigation paradigm. Some of this could be mitigated by theme extensions (github.com/karissa/discourse-mi … anding.png), but it still wouldn’t behave the same***. We would keep categories/groups as the main landing page. [/li]
[li] Diatribe usage is quite low currently. Change could be risky. However, I don’t think there will be a better time to do it than now.[/li]
[li] Migrating may be harder than upgrading (this one is on me). [/li]
[li] It doesn’t support old browsers (<IE10)[/li][/ul]

Cool Features:
[ul]
[li] Up voting of topics and posts[/li]
[li] Responsive - you could use Diatribe more easily from your phone.[/li]
[li] Ability to write a post and move around the forums referencing posts elsewhere. Since I used this feature I’ve started to notice how useful it would be to have it here.[/li]
[li] Login with fb, twitter, etc[/li]
[li] Automatic trust rating -> the more you prove to be a good Diatribe citizen the more privileges you get to help moderate the community. :wink:[/li]
[li] Reply as a linked topic (so if you go off topic, it can be automatically linked back to the original without derailing the thread)[/li]
[li] Notify other users when they are mentioned in a thread (eg @adrexia). Individuals still get to choose how/if they want to be notified.[/li]
[li] Remembers your place - topics that you read for a while, reply to, or that you create are automatically tracked for you. [/li]
[li] The ability to embed forums threads into our websites (this could be really neat for convention sites, and useful for formal documents on the NZLarps site).[/li]
[li] … more: discourse.org/about/[/li][/ul]

Demo:
Here’s a demo, without any of the planned customisations:

try.discourse.org/categories

Or, if you want your own sandbox with admin rights, Bitnami has a launcher: bitnami.com/stack/discourse


* I’ve set up (the stub of) a Trello board to track this project here: trello.com/b/8DprkdhG/nzlarps-migration

** There is an importer which would enable us to migrate all forums, users and groups from PHPBB.

*** I think this is a plus (try creating a new post, for example). But it will take adjustment, all the same.

Discourse also seems to support making posts into Wikis…

This could be mighty useful for discussions, that can then be turned into actual archived information…

From my perspective, being able to go mobile is a BIG plus…

A couple of questions. I apologise for them, but I don’t have time to delve fully into Discourse on my own. I’ve had a quick look at the features and FAQ.

Does discourse have at LEAST the same general feature set, even if it’s implemented differently?

Can you do private messaging.

Can you change the text editor if needed? The default one seems to be a bit… odd as regards formatting and tables.

Would it be unreasonably difficult/time consuming to set it up with our current data from phpBB and we give it a go? Having phpBB as a fall back?

I’m guessing it would be a lot of work…

Questions are fine. Yes and yes. :slight_smile:

That would probably require a lot of work. Maybe it just takes some getting used to though? It doesn’t have tables, does it? EDIT: nope no tables. It doesn’t parse the markdown, and strips out html. TIL: markdown actually has no official way to do tables. People have just written their own elsewhere to get around that.

I plan to set it up with current data once I have access to it all. I won’t know how long that will take until it’s done - it looks straight forward, but every migration has about 100 exceptions. Technically, I will have a backup of the old phpbb, because I will need that set-up locally in order to migrate data. But getting that setup on the new hosting would mean upgrading it (which I may have to do anyway in order to extract the data, but I’d like to avoid if possible :wink: ).

I don’t think upgrading and changing it will be too much of a problem considering the usage at the moment (and most of those who use it will be ok with change)

Is it also able to have the private forums like the current set up? (disclaimer - I know nothing about this sort of thing so hopefully that’s not a stupid question/been answered above)

I have voted in favour of Discourse, because it sounds like there’s a lot more useful functionality in it compared to PHPBB, but ultimately my opinion is that our new IT Officer can pick based on your own judgement of what one would be better for us as the community, and just as importantly for you and the other Diatribe admins in regards to maintaining it.

[quote=“Lady Prema”]I don’t think upgrading and changing it will be too much of a problem considering the usage at the moment (and most of those who use it will be ok with change)

Is it also able to have the private forums like the current set up? (disclaimer - I know nothing about this sort of thing so hopefully that’s not a stupid question/been answered above)[/quote]

Yep, private forums, groups, direct messages, etc.

[quote=“Adrexia”][quote=“Lady Prema”]I don’t think upgrading and changing it will be too much of a problem considering the usage at the moment (and most of those who use it will be ok with change)

Is it also able to have the private forums like the current set up? (disclaimer - I know nothing about this sort of thing so hopefully that’s not a stupid question/been answered above)[/quote]

Yep, private forums, groups, direct messages, etc.[/quote]

Great! Well I already voted in favour of it.