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    EosAlpha BBS is a fork of the popular Simple Machines Forum software. We aim at creating a new forum software, adding several new features and a modern and fresh design on top of the existing SMF code base.

    This software is currently in an early stage of development and this forum acts primarily as a testing platform for the ongoing development.

    Feel free to look around to get an idea about how it feels and looks.
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What the... is this all about? (Read 11074 times)

Started by Nightwish, July 27, 2011, 15:55:43
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What the... is this all about?
#1
Posted by Nightwish July 27, 2011, 15:55:43
The quick answer:

It's a custom SMF I'm working on every now and then. With the license change, SMF is now true open source under a BSD license, so such things are now possible and legally ok.

Right now, I have got:
  • A new theme (which you can see here). There is little left over from the default SMF 2 theme (aka curve), many templates have been rewritten and the style is completely different. The theme aims for valid HTML 5 code and a simple design.
  • A few features, like the avatars in the message index, post icon in the board overview and some more.
  • A share bar for the topic view. This can be controlled by a new permission so it is possible to display the share bar for private forums that are not visible to guests (sharing such topics doesn't make much sense when you cannot view them without being registered).
  • Ajax features for message preview and user profiles.
  • Modern ("Twitter style") dynamic and relative time stamps with a auto-refresh feature. Implemented in JavaScript / jQuery.
What I plan
  • Ultimately, the theme shall become a modern Ajax - enhanced forum theme
  • Full HTML 5 compliance (partially done).
  • Integration of a lightbox-style image and Video viewer. I've chosen jQuery colorbox for this.
  • Integrated JavaScript syntax highlighter for many languages.
  • A universal post thank you / like system (partially working)
  • A tagging system
  • Topic rating and topic prefixes
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
3 Like It 
Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 15:22:05 by Admin
#2
Re: What the... is this all about? |
July 30, 2011, 23:39:06
Syntax highlighter Test:

Code: (php)
function socialbar($l)
{
global $social_privacy;

$context['can_issue_warning'] &= in_array('w', $context['admin_features']) && $modSettings['warning_settings'][0] == 1;


if(1|| $social_privacy) {
socialbar_passive($l);
return;
}
echo '<div class="bmbar">';
async_like_and_tweet($l);
echo '<div style="clear:both;"></div></div>';
}
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
1 Like It 
Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 07:50:50 by Nightwish
#3
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 05, 2011, 12:46:26
Love all the Ajax stuff, looks kinda cool. Like system is nice too, though there is no point in using it, because there is no way to see all the likes.

Will you release this ever? Will it be possible to upgrade an existing SMF? What about mods, will they work? Sorry for being so curious, but I like what I've seen here...
__
Test signature
1 Like It 
Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 14:14:11 by Nightwish
#4
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 06, 2011, 11:35:12
Love all the Ajax stuff, looks kinda cool. Like system is nice too, though there is no point in using it, because there is no way to see all the likes.
Well, right now you cannot do much with the likes, that's true. They just appear at the bottom of the posts and that's it. However, likes are already counted in user profiles and it should be fairly easy to generate statistics based on these records. In the future, I'll implement additional views to show the "like history" of a post (when you click on the "and xx others" link) and allow users to see when and by whom they received likes.

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Will you release this ever? Will it be possible to upgrade an existing SMF? What about mods, will they work? Sorry for being so curious, but I like what I've seen here...
I do plan to release this, yes, but it's not going to happen soon. I've still a fairly long list of things to do.

As for upgrading: The biggest problem would be the database changes. At the moment, there is no way to apply these automatically as you would have to create and modify the tables by other means (mysql commmand line, phpmyadmin or whatever you feel comfortable with). Also, the changes are nowhere documented yet.

I plan to write a simple mod that one could install in a unmodified SMF to perform all the db changes. After that, the database should be ready for this new SMF-based software which you would simply upload to your server, overwriting all the original SMF files.

Will mods work?

Good question. The answer is *maybe*. Basically, this is still SMF. So all mods should work, but because of the many changes in the core files, some will not "auto-install", but technically they should work. The API has not changed and no SMF core functionality has been removed from this software.

I know some mods are still working, including auto-install, on the current code base. In general, mods that require large changes to the templates / theme will most likely not install through the package manager, because the new default theme is so much different from the old curve theme.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
1 Like It 
#5
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 07, 2011, 15:44:43
Hi there! I don't know who you are (don't even know if you're at the simplemachines.org boards), found this through some googling.

Good to see someone else finally give it a try. I thought we'd be the only ones on the 'market' for SMF forks.
You seem to be taking a different direction, too (staying close to SMF, and keeping the same license as well), so it's not like we're going to cannibalize each other. (Hopefully?)

Good luck, you're going to need it, as forking SMF is not an easy task.
__
  Wedge
« Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974.
It's a scientific fact. » (Homer Simpson)
1 Like It 
#6
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 07, 2011, 16:12:50
Hi there! I don't know who you are (don't even know if you're at the simplemachines.org boards), found this through some googling.
Well, years ago I was active and had released the "SMF Aqua theme" for SMF 1.0 but that must have been 5 or more years ago. Later, when the first RC builds became available, I started to port this theme for 2.0, but then lost interest because of all the political and legal fighting over at SMF.org. I felt that the future of SMF wasn't so bright back these days, so I decided not to invest time into a project with an uncertain future.
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Good to see someone else finally give it a try. I thought we'd be the only ones on the 'market' for SMF forks.
Heh.. And I thought I was the only one and not aware of other forks :) I started coding on this about 2 weeks ago, so not much done here..
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You seem to be taking a different direction, too (staying close to SMF, and keeping the same license as well)
Well, right now, I have no idea how close this will stay. Like said, it's in a very, very early stage and not much has been done yet, but I definitely have plans to change some of the lower level core stuff and I will get rid of legacy code (i.e. drop support for old browsers, old PHP, maybe non-mysql databases and replace the curve theme with a completely new and modern HTML5/CSS3 theme). Also, the old JavaScript stuff should die as I'm a fan of jQuery which would make a lot of these things in script.js a lot easier.
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so it's not like we're going to cannibalize each other. (Hopefully?)
I have no plans to do so. I see open source as a way to express creativity and learn from each other. There has been enough fighting and arguing about this product in the past, it's now time to stop and move on. Developers should write code and leave the fighting and arguing to others :)
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Good luck, you're going to need it, as forking SMF is not an easy task.
Why is this so? I mean, the code base is now BSD licensed. BSD is one of the easiest OSS licenses to work with. In theory, one could grab the code and turn it into a commercial product asking $100 per license and it would legally be ok (not that I have such plans as I will definitely stay on the open source path, but just saying...).
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
#7
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 07, 2011, 21:33:10
Hi,

Well, years ago I was active and had released the "SMF Aqua theme" for SMF 1.0 but that must have been 5 or more years ago.
Hmm I wasn't even in the SMF community by that time... I registered around 2005, posted a couple of hacks in 2006 and really got into it in late 2007. Became a beta tester in early 2008, wait for years to be taken as a developer in the team, in the meantime I made a gallery mod and other things. Then I got invited to the team, and kicked out of it a couple of months later because of internal fighting. I'm not one to keep my tongue in my pocket and they have a... strange team spirit, where democracy rules and, well, democracy never works in software like that. So basically, as I had insider information that SMF was going to go BSD (because in short, previous developers threatened to withdraw the authorization to use their code), I decided to team up with another well known community member (Arantor) to make 'our' dream SMF -- show what the software can be when it's ruled by dictators/developers/people who care about it and who can put time into improving it.
That's the whole story ;)

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Later, when the first RC builds became available, I started to port this theme for 2.0, but then lost interest because of all the political and legal fighting over at SMF.org.
See, eh!

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I felt that the future of SMF wasn't so bright back these days, so I decided not to invest time into a project with an uncertain future.
I went with the guys who left the SMF team in January 2010 to create a BSD software. It kinda fell apart though because they tried 'democracy' as well, and it took weeks just to settle on the software's name, and even that fell apart as soon as we announced the name. Most of that team rejoined SMF later. I did, too, but not with the same enthusiasm.

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Heh.. And I thought I was the only one and not aware of other forks :)
That's because the SMF team won't let anyone link to other forks, AFAIK. Well, apparently it's "allowed" to mention them, but not to link to them. (I suppose they never heard about Google... Let's keep it at that.)
You know, if you google 'smf fork', I think I'm in first position :P

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I started coding on this about 2 weeks ago, so not much done here..
That's what I figured out about it.
If you're serious about your move though, I'd rather be in good standing with you. As you can understand from my earlier story, we're at odds with the SMF team and had way too many flame wars, so we're a "hostile fork", meaning we won't allow them to reuse our code and improvements until they settle things down with us in public.
But it doesn't mean we can't be cool with other people who fork SMF, obviously. People who don't carry all the baggage :)

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Well, right now, I have no idea how close this will stay.
Depends what your priorities are. Adding new features is not too hard but testing them, with the mess of code that SMF has become, can prove difficult. That's why the codebase underwent a complete overhaul under our watch, and we're still a long way from completion I'm afraid. This is a decision we took last year and it has forced us to postpone several of our planned 'big' features until probably next year.

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Like said, it's in a very, very early stage and not much has been done yet, but I definitely have plans to change some of the lower level core stuff and I will get rid of legacy code (i.e. drop support for old browsers, old PHP, maybe non-mysql databases and replace the curve theme with a completely new and modern HTML5/CSS3 theme).
That's a good thing to do, it's one of the first things I did, too. And it was fun, too!
Look, our fork is not BSD so I'm afraid you can't start from our codebase (plus, we haven't released anything yet), but if you need advice, feel free to ask.

Oh yes, I forgot to introduce the fork -- it's called Wedge and you can read more about it at http://wedge.org
The website runs a modified SMF, not Wedge, and the design sucks but there are screenshots of my default Wedge theme, should give you a good idea. That theme is originally based on the Curve code, I rewrote it largely over the year.

All of the other things you listed are done in Wedge, too. We discuss our implementation largely, there's also a full changelog with dates, to give you an idea of the time investment it takes to develop a serious fork. As I said it's been a year, and we're still far from what we originally planned.

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Also, the old JavaScript stuff should die as I'm a fan of jQuery which would make a lot of these things in script.js a lot easier.
Ditto. I converted everything in jQuery, took a few weeks (and endless finetuning). script.js went from 46KB to 24KB and it looks way better. A real pleasure!

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I have no plans to do so. I see open source as a way to express creativity and learn from each other. There has been enough fighting and arguing about this product in the past, it's now time to stop and move on. Developers should write code and leave the fighting and arguing to others :)
Absolutely agreed. Although I get into the occasional fight with the SMF leaders (see Runic's forum for examples :P), it's mainly because I'm foolishly waiting for them to make moves in our direction, when all they're doing is trying to suppress us. I mean I wrote their most popular mod ever (according to their download numbers at least), and they censored the mod page in my back to delete the couple of links I'd put to Wedge. Way to go SMF...

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Good luck, you're going to need it, as forking SMF is not an easy task.
Why is this so? I mean, the code base is now BSD licensed. BSD is one of the easiest OSS licenses to work with. In theory, one could grab the code and turn it into a commercial product asking $100 per license and it would legally be ok (not that I have such plans as I will definitely stay on the open source path, but just saying...).
Yeah, BSD sure is great. But that's also the thing: SMF is a 120k-line codebase, it will take you months just to make its internals look 'modern' to a geek that wants to view the source code. I know, I went there and it doesn't help the end user at all. HTML5 is fantastic, but you can do the exact same website in XHTML, or even just simply change the doctype and not care about validation issues like cellpadding etc. The more you finetune it, the more side issues you find -- and the more time you end up spending on the project.

To give you an idea, we started work on Wedge on August 25, 2010 and made over 900 commits to our SVN. I myself spend on average 60 to 80 hours a week on Wedge, I'm not paid on this (neither is anyone obviously), and I know it's going to be free software so I'm passing on potential paid jobs to bring this alive. Still, some days it's tremendously great fun to see the software starting to get a life of its own, become its own entity and get small perks that no one will notice and suddenly will go, "oh, I never noticed that, it's cool..." Even then, the load of work is killing me, and obviously I'm not going to let the SMF leaders take advantage of my work after the lack of respect they generally showed me, hence our choice to use a closed source license.

So I was a bit weary of seeing another SMF fork out on the market, as you may imagine. But it turns out I was pretty glad to find out about yours. That someone is even attempting to do it, is a pleasure to me. I just thought I'd mention Wedge in passing, mostly so you can avoid wasting time trying to reinvent what we did over the last year -- most especially wasting time doing the same mistakes I did at some point. There are a few elements in Wedge that are eventually going to be BSD'd though, and later possibly even the entire software if we manage to get our SMF situation settled, so it's worth a look at us for 'competitive' projects, but in any case, if you need advice on ways to improve SMF and hints on choosing directions that will make your fork an interesting alternative to both SMF and Wedge, I'm sure we can find time to try and help.

See you :)
__
  Wedge
« Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974.
It's a scientific fact. » (Homer Simpson)
#8
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 07, 2011, 23:32:23
Hmm I wasn't even in the SMF community by that time... I registered around 2005, posted a couple of hacks in 2006 and really got into it in late 2007. Became a beta tester in early 2008, wait for years to be taken as a developer in the team, in the meantime I made a gallery mod and other things. Then I got invited to the team, and kicked out of it a couple of months later because of internal fighting. I'm not one to keep my tongue in my pocket and they have a... strange team spirit, where democracy rules and, well, democracy never works in software like that.
Yeah, true. There are people who think that open source is all about democracy, but they're just wrong. Open source is much more like anarchy, because there are little rules and, in theory, you can do almost anything you want with the code. Too much arguing kills productivity and this is something a lot of OSS projects have suffered from.
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That's because the SMF team won't let anyone link to other forks, AFAIK. Well, apparently it's "allowed" to mention them, but not to link to them. (I suppose they never heard about Google... Let's keep it at that.)
Maybe they still want to stay in full control, but they should know it will no longer be possible. People will start to use the SMF code base for all kind of projects, maybe even commercial ones - after all, it is a decent point to start off, because the core is pretty solid. Not beautiful, but fairly solid and efficient. It's a bit like old-school coding, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It depends on what they'll do with the code. If they come up with some nice ideas and features, people might stick with SMF, otherwise they will look elsewhere. If they continue to argue about every small feature and whether it belongs to the core or not, progress is not going to be fast for sure. SMF 2.0 took way, way, way too long already. I remember how fast [Unknown] was making progress back these days and he was basically alone (as a coder).

The point is: The best product can be brought down by poor management. Look at vBulletin. It was the leading forum software for almost 10 years and for the last couple of years, it has lost a lot of its former greatness. Why? Because the new people in command are - well, incapable of managing the product. On the other side, look at XenForo and what just two excellent developers can do in a bit over a year.
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You know, if you google 'smf fork', I think I'm in first position :P
Well, I know. After you posted here, I google'd it and found some site about "Wedge" :) I was just a bit surprised to see how long your project has already been alive.
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If you're serious about your move though, I'd rather be in good standing with you. As you can understand from my earlier story, we're at odds with the SMF team and had way too many flame wars, so we're a "hostile fork", meaning we won't allow them to reuse our code and improvements until they settle things down with us in public.
Well, understandable. I cannot say that I'd been closely following all the fights over there, but some stuff didn't go unnoticed even by occasional visitors :) Personally, I never had any close relationship with the people at SMF nor did I have fights with them. In fact, I was inactive for years and occupied with other open source projects, completely unrelated to forums and web development at all.
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Depends what your priorities are. Adding new features is not too hard but testing them, with the mess of code that SMF has become, can prove difficult. That's why the codebase underwent a complete overhaul under our watch, and we're still a long way from completion I'm afraid. This is a decision we took last year and it has forced us to postpone several of our planned 'big' features until probably next year.
Long term, the goals are to make a modern open source forum. For example, I have no plans to integrate things like blogs or media galleries, because I believe a forum is a forum and should do these tasks and should do them well. I like the good old Unix rule: One tool for one job.

What I would really like to pursue would be a well working integration with some content management system. WordPress comes to mind, because I'm quite familiar with it, but Drupal might be a better (but also much more complex) choice.

I'm definitely not going to write some CMS addons for this forum - experience shows that most of them - even the commercial ones by vBulletin and IPS basically failed. I can't tell much sites using one of them as they are just way too limited for serious jobs.

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Oh yes, I forgot to introduce the fork -- it's called Wedge and you can read more about it at http://wedge.org
The website runs a modified SMF, not Wedge, and the design sucks but there are screenshots of my default Wedge theme, should give you a good idea. That theme is originally based on the Curve code, I rewrote it largely over the year.
Already seen this and the permanent side bar is something that I'd considered as well (I would place them on the right side though), but for now I'm working on a few core features I was always missing in SMF and some minor enhancements like that special permission for using signatures to piss off people who go through all the registration just to realize they cannot place spam into their profile :) Also, theme work is one of the major priorities at the moment. The current user profile pages and a lot more needs serious work.

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Ditto. I converted everything in jQuery, took a few weeks (and endless finetuning). script.js went from 46KB to 24KB and it looks way better. A real pleasure!
To be honest, script.js is a mess :) Looking at it just scares me - the charset stuff alone is more than just ugly and I'm tempted to kill all the character set crap from everywhere and just go with UTF-8 and nothing else. Who needs to mess with character sets anyway today? I hate this stuff with a passion, because I have had my fair share in dealing with character set issues on old Windows applications without unicode support in the past and I'm not exactly excited with a possible deja vu.

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To give you an idea, we started work on Wedge on August 25, 2010 and made over 900 commits to our SVN. I myself spend on average 60 to 80 hours a week on Wedge, I'm not paid on this (neither is anyone obviously), and I know it's going to be free software so I'm passing on potential paid jobs to bring this alive.
Well, I'll most likely not being able to spend that many time on this project, so I guess, progress will be slow, but that's ok for me as I'm not in a hurry.

That said, having multiple projects based on the same code base cannot be a bad thing. Diversity is always nice to have and in the end, users will benefit from having more choices and more powerful software. There aren't exactly many good free forums - PhpBB goes slow, I do not expect SMF picking up development speed and MyBB might be the only real exception.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
#9
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 08, 2011, 08:29:39
Yeah, true. There are people who think that open source is all about democracy, but they're just wrong. Open source is much more like anarchy, because there are little rules and, in theory, you can do almost anything you want with the code. Too much arguing kills productivity and this is something a lot of OSS projects have suffered from.
Yep.
In fact, modern democracy (in countries or work) is as such: people elect a president, who in turns elects a team of 'capable' people to do the main work. The president has a right of veto, oversees decisions and gives a direction to the project. When a decision can't be made, he will make the decision instead.
I don't see much of that in the SMF team... The 'leader' makes no decisions. The 'capable' people are AWOL most of the time.
It's actually a miracle they managed to release SMF2 Gold and not have too many bugs reported in the process... (Mind you, they had dozens of bugs. They just are lucky enough people are not bothering with them.)

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Maybe they still want to stay in full control, but they should know it will no longer be possible. People will start to use the SMF code base for all kind of projects, maybe even commercial ones
I don't know about that.

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It depends on what they'll do with the code. If they come up with some nice ideas and features, people might stick with SMF, otherwise they will look elsewhere. If they continue to argue about every small feature and whether it belongs to the core or not, progress is not going to be fast for sure. SMF 2.0 took way, way, way too long already. I remember how fast [Unknown] was making progress back these days and he was basically alone (as a coder).
Yeah, he did a lot.
Still, I think Pete and I did a lot on Wedge in a year, too.

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The point is: The best product can be brought down by poor management. Look at vBulletin. It was the leading forum software for almost 10 years and for the last couple of years, it has lost a lot of its former greatness. Why? Because the new people in command are - well, incapable of managing the product.
It lost ground mainly because of the unjustified price increase. It was already overpriced at the time...
IPB, for instance, is a much more realistic solution in terms of both price and software elegance. If I had to go for a paid-for solution, I would probably choose it -- after all, I was using IPB until it became commercial.

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On the other side, look at XenForo and what just two excellent developers can do in a bit over a year.
I'm not a big fan of xenForo myself. I can imagine you're into it (your forum theme looks a bit like xenForo here and there, it has animations on the message index, etc.), but I'm not convinced by it. Also, I can hardly believe a full-featured software solution can be built in a year by two people. As I said, Pete and I have been doing the same, and we had a codebase to start from... Maybe they discretly outsourced to an anonymous Indian company or something. ;D
Still, they're becoming a de facto market leader for commercial software -- at least for innovation. That's why Pete bought into them. I myself would have 'bought' it if they'd settled on a more realistic price (IMHO), around $50. There's a huge gap between free forum software and the paid-for software which is always at a minimum of $100 and the big boys are at $150-$250... We're talking about software that does barely more than the free forums can do...! And they make tons of money on it. It baffles me.

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Well, I know. After you posted here, I google'd it and found some site about "Wedge" :) I was just a bit surprised to see how long your project has already been alive.
Well, as I said, we had insider information that it was going to go BSD. (There were public rumors at the time, but we had confirmation from some friends at the SMF team.) And it happened right at the time where the SMF team kicked us out... Let me just say that whatever they think about Wedge, they're responsible for it :P

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Well, understandable. I cannot say that I'd been closely following all the fights over there, but some stuff didn't go unnoticed even by occasional visitors :) Personally, I never had any close relationship with the people at SMF nor did I have fights with them. In fact, I was inactive for years and occupied with other open source projects, completely unrelated to forums and web development at all.
I started with win32 game development, myself. Had a nice thing going but I lost a bit of interest after 10 years and wanted to learn more about web development.

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Long term, the goals are to make a modern open source forum. For example, I have no plans to integrate things like blogs or media galleries, because I believe a forum is a forum and should do these tasks and should do them well. I like the good old Unix rule: One tool for one job.
That's the SMF rule, too. :)

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What I would really like to pursue would be a well working integration with some content management system. WordPress comes to mind, because I'm quite familiar with it, but Drupal might be a better (but also much more complex) choice.
Not a big fan of Drupal. I like WP better, but I didn't use it for long (I converted my blog posts to use the SMF engine by 2005, actually.) My favorite CMS has always been SPIP, but it's not very well known.
Anyway-- WP has a healthy developer base, so it would make sense to bridge with it, especially now that the license change eliminates any issues with that. Since we're going to do blog support (like http://nao.noisen.com/), we'll have an import tool for it. Wondering which is best... I'm not into bridges myself.

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I'm definitely not going to write some CMS addons for this forum - experience shows that most of them - even the commercial ones by vBulletin and IPS basically failed. I can't tell much sites using one of them as they are just way too limited for serious jobs.
Yeah, but basically most of the CMS world seems to be occupied mostly by WP and ExpressionEngine these days. Joomla is no longer 'hip', and others... Hmm, I don't know, maybe Drupal is gaining ground as well. But it's mostly WP. And WP is not suited for CMS development to begin with. So we can say that 'CMS addons' work sometimes. Maybe it's just about adding support for taxonomy, lol.

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Already seen this and the permanent side bar is something that I'd considered as well (I would place them on the right side though),
It's going to be movable, like at wedge.org and noisen.com (there's a sidebar menu entry).

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but for now I'm working on a few core features I was always missing in SMF and some minor enhancements like that special permission for using signatures to piss off people who go through all the registration just to realize they cannot place spam into their profile :)
Pete already wrote that as a mod a couple of years ago I think :P He added it to Wedge as well.
I'm not 100% convinced this is the right way of doing it, though. Noisen.com (my French-speaking site) does it differently: it allows one to enter a signature -- it just won't SHOW it until you've reached a stage where you can. So you basically can fill in your details and never think about them again.

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Also, theme work is one of the major priorities at the moment. The current user profile pages and a lot more needs serious work.
Yeah, Pete is redoing the admin area. I redid a lot of pages myself but I'm still a bit baffled by the profile area. It's a big one, too. Both the summary and option pages.

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To be honest, script.js is a mess :) Looking at it just scares me - the charset stuff alone is more than just ugly and I'm tempted to kill all the character set crap from everywhere and just go with UTF-8 and nothing else. Who needs to mess with character sets anyway today?
No one. Yeah, that's the way to go. But don't forget that if you only support UTF8, like us, you'll have to write a converter if you want people to be able to convert their SMF site to yours. (SMF's UTF converter is not very reliable. I never managed to convert Noisen.com to UTF8, for instance.)

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I hate this stuff with a passion, because I have had my fair share in dealing with character set issues on old Windows applications without unicode support in the past and I'm not exactly excited with a possible deja vu.
Ah ah :) Good times.

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That said, having multiple projects based on the same code base cannot be a bad thing. Diversity is always nice to have and in the end, users will benefit from having more choices and more powerful software. There aren't exactly many good free forums - PhpBB goes slow, I do not expect SMF picking up development speed and MyBB might be the only real exception.
I don't know much about MyBB. I just don't like their theme, but it doesn't mean the internals are bad, I just didn't look at them. (Just the opposite of FluxBB, where the front end is very exciting, but the back end isn't.)

Are you interested in looking at a demo of Wedge, BTW?
__
  Wedge
« Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974.
It's a scientific fact. » (Homer Simpson)
#10
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 08, 2011, 14:25:47
In fact, modern democracy (in countries or work) is as such: people elect a president, who in turns elects a team of 'capable' people to do the main work. The president has a right of veto, oversees decisions and gives a direction to the project. When a decision can't be made, he will make the decision instead.
I don't see much of that in the SMF team... The 'leader' makes no decisions. The 'capable' people are AWOL most of the time.
It's actually a miracle they managed to release SMF2 Gold and not have too many bugs reported in the process... (Mind you, they had dozens of bugs. They just are lucky enough people are not bothering with them.)
To be honest, I've no idea who the current leader is and generally know little about their internal hierarchies. Back when I was more active in the SMF forum, it was [Unknown] who ruled there and it was a time of high productivity and progress. I had high expectations for SMF and that's why I converted my support forum (this one) to SMF.
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Still, I think Pete and I did a lot on Wedge in a year, too.
Seems so. I've read your feature pages and there is really a ton of stuff... Granted, a lot of these things might not be visible to the end user, but I know that this ground work can often be much more time consuming and difficult than adding new features.
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It lost ground mainly because of the unjustified price increase. It was already overpriced at the time...
Not only the price. While expensive, there is nothing wrong with spending a few hundred $ for a forum script, especially not if you are a commercial user (and that has always been the target audience for vB). The few hundred for the license are *nothing* compared to the other costs for running a corporate site.

Nah, vB lost ground because of totally wrong development decisions. Instead of rewriting large parts of it and going with a modern design (like Kier wanted to do before he left vB), the new owners opted for evolution instead of revolution, probably because they feared a rewrite would take too long. They wanted to milk the existing code- and user base by adding a few new things and sell it as vB 4. They failed.

Almost any release since 4.0 was a disaster in terms of bugs and problems. I've never before seen so many bugs in vB when the old developers were still in charge.

A hefty price tag is ok, but you really need a quality product then. Asking for lots of $$ and delivering crap rarely works :)

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I'm not a big fan of xenForo myself. I can imagine you're into it (your forum theme looks a bit like xenForo here and there, it has animations on the message index, etc.), but I'm not convinced by it.
Yes, I like it. I don't have purchased a Xf license yet, but if I had to decide to go with a commercial solution then it would be a match between Invision and XenForo, totally ignoring vB. What I like about Xf is that it is different and doesn't follow the old forum paradigms we have seen for a decade or more.  Some things like the alerts and profile pages are pretty cool and sometimes, I'm tempted to shamelessly implement them here :)
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Also, I can hardly believe a full-featured software solution can be built in a year by two people. As I said, Pete and I have been doing the same, and we had a codebase to start from... Maybe they discretly outsourced to an anonymous Indian company or something. ;D
Well, to be honest, I don't think so. Kier and Mike are just two really good developers and you cannot beat 10+ years of experience in developing and supporting forum software.

Plus, their approach of using excellent frameworks (Zend for PHP and jQuery) and a pure MVC design pays off in terms of development speed. It's usually a slow start, but once you have the basics in place, you can pickup speed like crazy. Pretty much like good old Win32 in plain C vs. a modern framework like Qt. It's no secret that you can actually be 5 times faster with a good framework, especially for UI stuff. Xf's code is really beautiful and shows it had been written by excellent devs.
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Well, as I said, we had insider information that it was going to go BSD. (There were public rumors at the time, but we had confirmation from some friends at the SMF team.) And it happened right at the time where the SMF team kicked us out... Let me just say that whatever they think about Wedge, they're responsible for it :P
So, the decision to go open source had been made a long time ago, they just kept it secret from the public to avoid pre-2.0 forks?

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That's the SMF rule, too. :)
And it's basically a good rule, but it can be dangerous when exaggerating. The difficult part is to draw the border line and to specify what features define a good forum software. Do blogs and media galleries belong to a forum? Probably not (but they can be a really nice addition, of course), but if you're telling your users that topic prefixes do not belong to the core, it's just ridiculous.

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Anyway-- WP has a healthy developer base, so it would make sense to bridge with it, especially now that the license change eliminates any issues with that. Since we're going to do blog support (like http://nao.noisen.com/), we'll have an import tool for it. Wondering which is best... I'm not into bridges myself.
WordPress can be insanely powerful and flexible with almost unlimited capabilities if you know how to code, so my opinion on this is pretty clear: If you want to get really nice CMS features for a forum, then you have 2 options:
  • bridge it with a good CMS / blog
  • Implement your own system and be ready to write A LOT of code :)
I prefer option 1) any day as option 2) would be totally out of reach, because I simply don't have the time for it.

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Yeah, but basically most of the CMS world seems to be occupied mostly by WP and ExpressionEngine these days. Joomla is no longer 'hip', and others... Hmm, I don't know, maybe Drupal is gaining ground as well. But it's mostly WP. And WP is not suited for CMS development to begin with. So we can say that 'CMS addons' work sometimes. Maybe it's just about adding support for taxonomy, lol.
Drupal or TYPO3 are just huge. You really don't need such a CMS for most of the jobs. WordPress covers most of the features required for a normal web site and if it lacks a specific feature you're very likely to find an existing plugin for it.

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Pete already wrote that as a mod a couple of years ago I think :P He added it to Wedge as well.
I'm not 100% convinced this is the right way of doing it, though. Noisen.com (my French-speaking site) does it differently: it allows one to enter a signature -- it just won't SHOW it until you've reached a stage where you can. So you basically can fill in your details and never think about them again.
Must admit, that's also an interesting approach, because I can imagine the missing signature field in the profile might upset most real users joining the forum. Right now, the signature field is just absent and I really think there should be at least a hint telling them why they cannot edit their signature.
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Yeah, Pete is redoing the admin area. I redid a lot of pages myself but I'm still a bit baffled by the profile area. It's a big one, too. Both the summary and option pages.
I hear you. It's also a complex mess :)
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No one. Yeah, that's the way to go. But don't forget that if you only support UTF8, like us, you'll have to write a converter if you want people to be able to convert their SMF site to yours. (SMF's UTF converter is not very reliable. I never managed to convert Noisen.com to UTF8, for instance.)
I'm aware of this, yes, and I think there are lots of (especially older) boards not using UTF-8, so I'm aware it would be a lot of work.
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I don't know much about MyBB. I just don't like their theme, but it doesn't mean the internals are bad, I just didn't look at them. (Just the opposite of FluxBB, where the front end is very exciting, but the back end isn't.)
It's probably the most feature rich of the free forums. It really has lots of stuff, but yeah, their theme looks like vB 3 did look 6 or 7 years ago. They really, really need a new default theme.

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Are you interested in looking at a demo of Wedge, BTW?
If you have one - sure, I would. So far, I've only seen the screen shots.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
#11
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 08, 2011, 14:58:45
It looks great! :) Keep up the good work :)
1 Like It 
#12
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 10, 2011, 10:14:44
To be honest, I've no idea who the current leader is and generally know little about their internal hierarchies.
Leader is Oldiesmann ('compliance manager' I think he calls himself), but the president of SMF (the non-profit) is Kindred, who used to be team leader as well. Before him, it was Amacythe.
Then they have team leaders for each of their internal teams (customizers, support, ...)
In the SMF terminology, though, "team leader" means "lazy ass".

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Seems so. I've read your feature pages and there is really a ton of stuff... Granted, a lot of these things might not be visible to the end user, but I know that this ground work can often be much more time consuming and difficult than adding new features.
Glad you noticed  ;D

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Not only the price. While expensive, there is nothing wrong with spending a few hundred $ for a forum script, especially not if you are a commercial user (and that has always been the target audience for vB). The few hundred for the license are *nothing* compared to the other costs for running a corporate site.
I suppose so.

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A hefty price tag is ok, but you really need a quality product then. Asking for lots of $$ and delivering crap rarely works :)
Remember Windows Vista? It still sold a lot :P

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Yes, I like it. I don't have purchased a Xf license yet, but if I had to decide to go with a commercial solution then it would be a match between Invision and XenForo, totally ignoring vB. What I like about Xf is that it is different and doesn't follow the old forum paradigms we have seen for a decade or more.
It certainly is a good thing that they're not afraid of trying. That usually happens at the beginning -- when you have to innovate to draw people's attention. Once you have an established user base, you tend to become afraid of turning them off by releasing more innovations, so you'll do your best not to innovate at all.
One of the good things with Facebook is that they went through several redesigns and major UI changes and always managed to keep their member base (and even increase it.) So that's definitely doable. I agree that vB (and now SMF) totally represents the "let's keep it down" spirit. Possibly IPB too, haven't used it in years.

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Some things like the alerts and profile pages are pretty cool and sometimes, I'm tempted to shamelessly implement them here :)
I don't know if I'd take anything from them. What's original in their profile pages btw? Looks like vB to me...
I wouldn't hesitate to copy a concept that works perfectly. It's legal, and it's not a matter of ego but of doing what's best for your users. If something works, there's no need to rewrite it.

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Well, to be honest, I don't think so. Kier and Mike are just two really good developers and you cannot beat 10+ years of experience in developing and supporting forum software.
Hmm. I don't believe you can use that argument.

I wrote my first forum back in 2003, so that's 8 years of experience. Wrote a way more complete forum system from scratch in 2004. PHP forum/blog code experience dates back to 2005 as well, and I've been developing since 1987 (Basic for 2-3 years, assembler for a couple of years, Object Pascal for 10 years, PHP+JS for about 6 to 8 years). I wrote a small chess game when I was 12, a full-featured antivirus at 15 and a best-selling videogame at 22. I think I can safely consider myself a seasoned developer. Even after all this, I was still unable to write more than what I've done on Wedge in the last year.

Look at Dragooon (over at Wedge), he started PHP when he was like, 9 or 10, and at 13 he wrote the first version of SMF Media Gallery. You don't need 10+ years of experience to be good at something.

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Plus, their approach of using excellent frameworks (Zend for PHP and jQuery) and a pure MVC design pays off in terms of development speed. It's usually a slow start, but once you have the basics in place, you can pickup speed like crazy. Pretty much like good old Win32 in plain C vs. a modern framework like Qt. It's no secret that you can actually be 5 times faster with a good framework, especially for UI stuff. Xf's code is really beautiful and shows it had been written by excellent devs.
I have yet to see their code. I don't doubt it's beautiful. I only doubt that it only took 2 people to develop a full-featured commercial-quality forum in one year from scratch.

As for Zend, I don't even know what it does. But I don't see why a framework would help at all. That's still something you have to learn. (Plus, it adds a strong dependency to your forum install. Not so good.)

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So, the decision to go open source had been made a long time ago, they just kept it secret from the public to avoid pre-2.0 forks?
It wasn't that long ago -- you just didn't follow ;)
A small chronology from memory:
- January 2010: the original team split. Members ask for SMF to be BSD'ed. SMF refuses. Members start work on their own software.
- March 2010: the split members end up rejoining SMF, mostly because there are discussions around BSD'ing it and changing the ways things go.
- Summer 2010: at some point, it becomes clear that SMF2's final release should be 'legally clear', and they want their previous devs to officially give SMF the right to use their code -- but it turned out they said they'd only do it if SMF2 was BSD'ed.
- August 2010: when I left -- it was understood that SMF2 Final would be BSD, but all earlier versions and betas etc would still be under the SMF license. So internally, we knew that we could develop a fork, we just couldn't *release* it until after the release of SMF2 Gold.
- September 2010: SMF goes officially NPO. Word goes out to the public that SMF2 will be BSD'ed.
- March 2011: we announce our fork, explaining how we'll have to wait until SMF2 is out to release it.
- Circa June 2011: word is that some of the ex-devs aren't giving any more signs of life, and have yet to sign away the rights to their code. Someone in the leadership says, 'fuck it'.
- June 2011: SMF2 goes Gold. Wedge is not ready because of all the features we added while waiting :P
- July 2011: second fork is underway (yours.)

That's, AFAIK, the whole story of SMF2's BSD'ing & forking.

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And it's basically a good rule, but it can be dangerous when exaggerating. The difficult part is to draw the border line and to specify what features define a good forum software. Do blogs and media galleries belong to a forum? Probably not (but they can be a really nice addition, of course), but if you're telling your users that topic prefixes do not belong to the core, it's just ridiculous.
Media galleries and blogs belong to a forum system. At least a basic version of them.
PunBB didn't have avatars and attachments. SMF does. You know what that is? A media gallery. It's just not visually built in order to help you view all items in a convenient manner. But it's really the same after all...
As for blogs -- it's the same as a topic. You just have to ensure the first post is visible on all pages, and use a different template, at least for the first post. Heck, just adding a special class to the first post would be enough, with enough CSS tweaking...

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I prefer option 1) any day as option 2) would be totally out of reach, because I simply don't have the time for it.
I don't like bridging. I prefer to foolishly reinvent the wheel. :)

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WordPress covers most of the features required for a normal web site and if it lacks a specific feature you're very likely to find an existing plugin for it.
That's probably true.
But look at WordPress's forum systems... They really lack in quality. SimplePress is horribly ugly, and BBPress is far behind and it's actually not really a plugin IIRC, rather a bridge.

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Must admit, that's also an interesting approach, because I can imagine the missing signature field in the profile might upset most real users joining the forum. Right now, the signature field is just absent and I really think there should be at least a hint telling them why they cannot edit their signature.
Exactly my point. Glad you agree :)

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Are you interested in looking at a demo of Wedge, BTW?
If you have one - sure, I would. So far, I've only seen the screen shots.
I'm currently working on said demo. You should register at our place and starting posting around, if you're interested. I'll try to make you a Friend member ASAP (might depend on your involvement) and then you'll have demo access. I'm planning (hoping?) to make a demo available in late August though, so you might just wanna wait if you can't bother. ;)
__
  Wedge
« Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974.
It's a scientific fact. » (Homer Simpson)
#13
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 10, 2011, 13:44:37
Leader is Oldiesmann ('compliance manager' I think he calls himself), but the president of SMF (the non-profit) is Kindred, who used to be team leader as well. Before him, it was Amacythe.
The names are familiar. I particularly remember Amacythe...
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Then they have team leaders for each of their internal teams (customizers, support, ...)
In the SMF terminology, though, "team leader" means "lazy ass".
Well, not only in SMF terminology - that's a fairly common issue :)
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Remember Windows Vista? It still sold a lot :P
Not really. In raw numbers - yes it sold quite a bit. Compared to XP and 7, it sold very poorly.
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It certainly is a good thing that they're not afraid of trying. That usually happens at the beginning -- when you have to innovate to draw people's attention. Once you have an established user base, you tend to become afraid of turning them off by releasing more innovations, so you'll do your best not to innovate at all.
Well, of course, nobody wants to alien their customers, especially not if they are paying customers. It's also a fact that many users and even administrators are scared of drastic changes - understandable to some point. But evolution instead of revolution should always be possible.

Forums are a strange species of software. Most of them are basically still using the same concepts as they did 10 years ago and people are still loving them. vBulletin was once the leading force behind forum innovations, but they lost it years ago. IPB is really cool now, but still a very classic forum system. XenForo appears fresher, but maybe that's only because it is also much simpler. It still lacks many features that are present in vB or IPB and it needs to prove its scalability for very large boards.
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I don't know if I'd take anything from them. What's original in their profile pages btw? Looks like vB to me...
Newsfeeds, alerts, followers and so on. While the features are basically the same as in vB, they are much better implemented. Alerts are particularly cool - you get notified when someone likes or quotes one of your posts or when one of your followed members updates his status or submits a new post. The alerts are very discreet, working pretty much like the red facebook icon (yes they copied a lot of UI ideas from fb, so I think it would be fair to copy from them :P ).
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Look at Dragooon (over at Wedge), he started PHP when he was like, 9 or 10, and at 13 he wrote the first version of SMF Media Gallery. You don't need 10+ years of experience to be good at something.
No, but it still helps. Experience is something you cannot ignore. It might not make a you better developer, but certainly a more efficient one, because experience can help to avoid mistakes you've done before and you've learned from. We all have made them and there is nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you learn from it (unless you do work where there is a chance you may not survive the mistake, but that's another story).
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I have yet to see their code. I don't doubt it's beautiful. I only doubt that it only took 2 people to develop a full-featured commercial-quality forum in one year from scratch.
But so had it been told :) Whether it was really just one year or more close to 2 - nobody knows for sure, but fact is, they are developing very fast. Soon, version 1.1. will be available, with a fair amount of new things.

I think, it can be done.. 2 good developers working hard, 8-10 hours per day (maybe more) - they could get a lot of stuff done in 1-2 years, especially if they start with a clear design and don't need to rewrite parts of the code over and over again, because something had been forgotten in the design stage :)
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As for Zend, I don't even know what it does. But I don't see why a framework would help at all. That's still something you have to learn. (Plus, it adds a strong dependency to your forum install. Not so good.)
No dependency at all. The framework files are distributed with the product. It helps, because you don't have to write everything from scratch, you basically extend the existing code to fit your own needs. MVC is the big deal in web application development, because it makes it so easy to separate the program's logic from the presentation and UI and this goes much further than just having
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It wasn't that long ago -- you just didn't follow ;)
Not very close, that's probably true. I was more like an occasional lurker on the forum...
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That's, AFAIK, the whole story of SMF2's BSD'ing & forking.
So, the process took about 15 months and I guess, during this process, a lot of people became pissed and development progress slowed down.
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Media galleries and blogs belong to a forum system. At least a basic version of them.
But how basic? You know, if you keep them too basic, users will start flooding you with requests and tell you that so many features are missing.

I'd rather stick galleries and blogs into a portal system around the forum and combine that with basic CMS features like static pages, file downloads and such things...
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As for blogs -- it's the same as a topic. You just have to ensure the first post is visible on all pages, and use a different template, at least for the first post. Heck, just adding a special class to the first post would be enough, with enough CSS tweaking...
Well, that's not really a blog as I understand it :) But yes, a separate postbit template for the first post shouldn't exactly be a problem. Keeping the first post on top of all topic pages sounds like an easy job as well.
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But look at WordPress's forum systems... They really lack in quality. SimplePress is horribly ugly, and BBPress is far behind and it's actually not really a plugin IIRC, rather a bridge.
BBPress 2 is a plugin. Doesn't matter though, it's still not quite up to the task and lacks so many things. It's also not exactly beautiful, but on the plus side, it integrates very nicely. Vanilla is probably the best plugin-able forum for WP, but even Vanilla is a very basic one.

Nah, SMF fully embeddable in WP would be nice to have.
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I'm currently working on said demo. You should register at our place and starting posting around, if you're interested. I'll try to make you a Friend member ASAP (might depend on your involvement) and then you'll have demo access. I'm planning (hoping?) to make a demo available in late August though, so you might just wanna wait if you can't bother. ;)
Yeah, I'm probably going to register now :)

But I guess, wedge.org running on wedge is nothing that would happen soon?
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
#14
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 12, 2011, 06:59:42
Interesting project. :)
1 Like It 
#15
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 12, 2011, 08:15:46
This stuff looks fascinating, really smart work you've got here. Nice to see someone taking advantage of the BSD license to do something positive with the software.

I'm known as Eliana Tamerin on SimpleMachines.org, you may or may not have seen me in green (support) back in 2008-2009, but I've been off the team since then.

After reading your conversation above, I just wanted to clarify, the development started to slow down long before January 2010. It had slowed pretty well by the time I joined the team, which was just after JayBatchero and Thantos had left, who were two strong devs on SMF 2. The combination of departing developers leaving unfinished features and team politics rearing its ugly head meant for a long and difficult development schedule.

Anyways, that was all, best of luck on everything here. I will watch this progress with great interest.
#16
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 12, 2011, 15:00:55
This stuff looks fascinating, really smart work you've got here. Nice to see someone taking advantage of the BSD license to do something positive with the software.
Well, I'm not the only one as you may have read here and my guess is there will be more in the future. The SMF code base is a very nice starting point and the BSD license makes it very easy to reuse the code for almost any purpose, even commercial spin-offs or forks are possible (not that I plan this, but just saying..).
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After reading your conversation above, I just wanted to clarify, the development started to slow down long before January 2010. It had slowed pretty well by the time I joined the team, which was just after JayBatchero and Thantos had left, who were two strong devs on SMF 2. The combination of departing developers leaving unfinished features and team politics rearing its ugly head meant for a long and difficult development schedule.
This is a disease that plagues a lot of other free and/or open source projects. SMF just followed that rule, but it was hit harder than usual after the initial enthusiasm died off. Also, the proprietary license was not exactly helpful as most of the true open source devs (myself included) wouldn't invest much time into a project covered by such a license.

If you're not making money from it, you are either doing it for the fun only or because you need that piece of software that doesn't exist anywhere else and if there is no active developer community around a project, the fun can die off quickly and you lose developers. Then add some political or legal "issues" and you get a doomed project, because most developers don't care much about such issues. It's the code that matters :)

Releasing it under BSD terms was really the best thing they could do to keep the code base alive.
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Anyways, that was all, best of luck on everything here. I will watch this progress with great interest.
Well, this site will always run the the "live code", because it doesn't matter much when it breaks every now and then. So you can always see what's new and if you want to know the bloody details, follow the repository on GitHub.
__
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to a single instruction that doesn't work.
My SMF-based forum fork
3 Like It 
#17
Re: What the... is this all about? |
August 23, 2011, 20:11:27
Looks good. Keep it up :)
#18
Re: What the... is this all about? |
January 08, 2012, 19:06:35
Syntax highlighting was something missing from smf i felt.