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Libervis revision updates

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memenode's picture
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Since I accidentally deleted the last update thread on revisions and considering that this revision is taking a while I thought I'd start a new one. Following a little piece of wisdom Taco told me, that it's better to keep people in the know even when there is no real progress than just keep quiet. In fact, it's not that nothing is happening.. it's just not happening publicly yet.

I've made quite a bit of progress in making the actual envisioned design for the new Libervis into a CSS theme (dark by default). I spent a good part of yesterday exploring various additional CSS tips and techniques in order to apply some really streamlined design elements on the new Libervis. I really feel I need to bring it close to "perfection", so to speak. Smiling

After a few decisions which I had to make regarding the new design, including how the actual new structure of the site will be and whether to do new URLs to fit it or stick with the current ones, now I'm hit with a yet another decision - what to do with forums? There are people who don't really like Drupal forums and find them to be too stripped down, and I kind of agree. No matter what is to be done, new Libervis will have at least a few more features and improvements on the forums than we have now.

However, as I tested the new phpbb3 forum I really love what I see. It's hard to deny it, phpbb is once again king of free forum software. There is an integration module available that can bridge user authentication and profiles between phpbb3 and Drupal fairly well. However, there doesn't seem to be a scripted way of migrating existing posts from the current forum to it, not to mention the URL's would be different (and I'd probably end up doing some nasty redirections), so on that front it doesn't seem like going with phpbb now is a good idea unless we are to essentially just start over with forums and archive the old ones.

In any case I should make some sort of a definitive decision in the next 18 hours or so about this and proceed with implementation.

I'll keep you posted (whoever is reading Eye ). If anyone has any suggestions please say, I'd really appreciate them. You can also pop in to our IRC channel (which is quite active) at #libervis on irc.freenode.net.

Cheers

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Check it

Check it out:
http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=489446
There's no final post reporting full success, but it might be worth a try.

PS The reduced forum activity is just the lull before the storm, I'm looking forward to the new interface :-)

memenode's picture
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That's a great find. I

That's a great find. I mainly searched Drupal.org and forgot to search phpbb.com forums for that. Smiling Though, that conversion script nullbert did is for phpbb2 rather than phpbb3. I think there are two ways to possibly solve that, (1) look over the phpbb3 database structure and see if the script is still compatible (adapt if it's not missing much) or (2) to install and integrate phpbb2, convert to that and then upgrade it to phpbb3.

Something tells me former might be better..

I'm still not entirely sure this is the right way to go. Even if going with the drupal forums there will be significant improvements using the "advanced forum" set of modules available for Drupal now. Switching forums to phpbb3 still has a disadvantage of breaking the seamless integration. I can perhaps create an illusion (by themeing) that it is seamlessly integrated, but beneath the hood it's still two different beasts bridged together which can be limiting sometimes (and cause maintenance troubles).

But, I already know one person who would definitely prefer phpbb3 on Libervis. If there are more who would definitely vote for that I would be swayed to try that regardless.

So anyone who feels phpbb3 would really be better here please tell. Smiling

EDIT: Just as a basic showcase of what can be accomplished with the drupal forum_advanced module set here is the demo. For phpbb3 you have phpbb.com. Smiling Note though that the advanced forum stuff for drupal can be highly customized. For one, I'd make those button be "pressed" when you actually click, not hover them. Also I'd make the smileys smaller and display them tighter. Overall it will fit our general theme so the experience may be different, but functionality may match what you can see on the demo site. Though I might make some sitewide additions that apply to forums, like some sort of a session saver in case you write a long post and accidentally navigate away, so you don't lose it.

Thanks

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memenode's picture
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Another brief update. I've

Another brief update. I've been mainly working on the front page design (which is most significant). I finally broke through an issue that was bothering me (lining up three blocks next to each other in the best way possible). I'm telling you guys, the new Libervis will be so scalable that you'll be able to easily run this web site on modern smartphones like Neo1973, FreeRunner, iPhone etc. The site will be functional AND fairly good looking even on 640x480. Smiling

I didn't yet do much in terms of phpbb3 switch. I'm not sure I'll do that.. might first try and see what we get from advanced_forum module (native to drupal). In fact, we could start using that and if people don't quite like it I can do a phpbb3 switch down the line. This seems like a reasonable thing to do, just take it gradually, make some improvements to the existing forum now and then see how it goes from there.

That said, I've got some awesome plans for when the new Libervis launches, like a promotional video for the purpose of viral promotion of the site. I think the theme we're putting our focus on, new technology uses versus freedom, could if presented in an exciting way (like the video can do), really attract people. I mean we're here, on the bleeding edge, discussing the present and future high tech, the really cool stuff, the really powerful stuff, and how it can affect our individual freedom and even better, how can we use it to the advantage of our freedom - universal empowerment! Smiling

Anyway, I started ranting now.. In any case, I'm working on it, and it may be taking long, but it's probably the best update Libervis has ever seen. Eye

Cheers

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Special report NO3.

Special report NO3. Smiling

Userbar: It's been done. Above all pages there is a userbar that greets you whether you're anonymous or registered, tells you if you have new private messages and links you to your account page, submission form for content, recent posts and the logout. Pretty standard stuff, but this pretty much replaces the user menu on the right.

Right sidebar GONE! 100% width enabled!: There's no sidebars anymore. Content is taking all of the width for your viewing please. Oh the freedom! Laughing out loud There's simply no real need for sidebars anymore. Text link ads will go into an extended footer and if we need ads above the content that can be done too without canceling the benefit of having much more horizontal space for content. This will also make the experience of drupal advanced forums much closer to phpbb (which is usually full width too).

Color coded "latest" blocks on front page: You'll know what I mean when you see it. But basically, the front page displays three horizontally aligned blocks listing latest articles, topics and references (links). Now what's cool (and something I spent quite a bit of time trying to implement) is that an item in the list has a bullet colored with a color of the category from which it comes (one of the four major categories). So for instance, if the article comes from a "technology" category, it's bullet will be blue or if it's from a "creativity" category it will be yellowish. Same goes for topics and their topmost parent (forum category) and links. The category color is one matching the main horizontal menu which is present all the time so the relation will quickly be spotted.

Picture might be worth thousand words. Here's one showing the front page on a nearly 640x resolution (showing off scalability too Eye ).

EDIT: Note that content hasn't been fully rearranged to categories and a couple of bullet images haven't been done just yet so there are a few gray (fallback) bullets in the image.

Btw, if I bore you with these posts I'll stop. Eye

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Homepage is finished.

Homepage is finished. Styling of the rest of the site is well on its way too, but there are a few pages which need to be specially generated (homepages for those main four categories) by use of some PHP/MySQL queries.

I also yet need to install the whole advanced_forum thing and then customize that to look as best as possible. But with a few polishing here and there as well as IE/Opera testing, that's gonna be it as far as designing goes.

Then I'll go with the final preparations for the move/upgrade and launch. I'll probably do it by exporting the whole old Libervis database again and wiping the current testing database, then tweak the settings to what they should be (including re-categorization of articles and links, making sure URL's are all fine etc.), then importing what few posts (if any) may be entered into the old Libervis meanwhile.. and after a final check - launch! Smiling

This should happen by the end of next week. I'm shooting for next friday. If all goes great (no distractions, no troubles etc.) it might even be earlier. Monday (May 19) at the latest.

This wont necessarily mark an end to improvements though. Once the fresh new Libervis is out I'll be receiving whatever feedback there may be and if there are any suggestions for further improvements of some things, I can do that. Also, I plan on doing a light version (it's gonna be dark by default) as well, so people can use that if they wish too.

And then... I plan on writing an announcing article about Libervis' great old-new agenda and even making a promotional video to kick this site in the gears. Smiling

Then on, the effort will be spent on getting new members, writing a good article or two per month (at least!) etc. But I'll also be working on Nuxified.org move, quickly, as that will remain the only site on the old host (expiring in June).

I'd dare say Libervis re-launch on mid-may will mark a new era for the entire network after months of stagnation! We are moving forward! Smiling

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memenode's picture
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I'm trying to decide on

I'm trying to decide on whether to enable the use of a rich text editor or not for the new Libervis? If not we'll have normal input like now, but with a few buttons above to insert bold, italic, link etc. tags. Rich text editors differ in that they don't just insert the tag with a button, but make it appear as it would immediately (pressing bold on a selected text makes it bold immediately).

My main concern with rich text editors is that they might slow the loading of the page down and be a bit bloated. Other than that they can be pretty cool I suppose.

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I think that would just be

I think that would just be little-used bloat.

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memenode's picture
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Yeah.. I decided on having a

Yeah.. I decided on having a normal editor with quicktags bar to insert codes, by default. I'm not yet sure if I'll allow switching to the rich text editor or not, but this can be one of the by-request features later on, but as you said I doubt it'll be used much.

Btw, I'm hitting some snags in implementing advanced forum, mostly since I'm striving to make the experience as close to phpbb3 and as convenient, but some things are quite stubborn. I just wasted (too much) time just messing around with the submission form trying to make it less cluttered, put the smileys box in a better place.. with not much luck. Drupal is flexible, but apparently not flexible enough. Pity nothing better is out there.

Of course, there is phpbb3 waiting and tempting, but that has a whole can of worms of its own (converting data, rewriting URLs and then ongoing maintenance of two instead of one integrated system and potential quirks with account synchronization).

Next time I start a community site from scratch I'll do a whole new round of research before picking a system... These day just plain phpbb3 might actually do the trick. No such luck with Libervis.com, with thousands of nodes of content and a bit more complex purpose..

Anyway.. stay tuned. Smiling

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memenode's picture
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Last progress update before

Last progress update before going live. Smiling

I have decided not to do another clean slate install like I originally planned. It appears that the benefits of doing so wouldn't be worth it while it is apparently possible to just merge in the new content (like this post) that is missing in the current test install and simply continue tuning on that. Otherwise, I'd have to do a whole upgrade and the configuration process all over again.

This means that the test install currently running on Libervis.net IS the one we'll be using very soon which is as soon as I recategorize all content, regenerate all clean URLs, write the about page and category intros and do a final check up. Smiling

The toughest of all that is recategorization. While I might go through all the articles and links we have as there aren't that many of them, it will be just too time consuming to go through all forum topics (there are too many of them), so I will just reclassify the current forums into community, technology, creativity and philosophy and then perhaps change some names and move only some topics around.

The other things aren't a big deal.

That said, after I hit submit I'm copying this post too to the new install. Smiling

Cya soon.

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small suggestion

Make the "Libervis" thing in the top-left and the logo link to the homepage.

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