Universal convertor?

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marcovo
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Universal convertor?

Post by marcovo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:36 am

Hi all,

Maybe this is a stupid idea, or maybe it is brilliant. Whatever it is, I do want to opt it.

Personally I do not have much experience with converters, but from what I've read till now, converting to/from other forum software is either perfectly possible because you have just the right version to do it, or nearly impossible because you have only a slightly different version...

My idea is that of one 'universal' forum system. It should not provide any displaying-options, like viewing forums/topics/posts, posting, editting, et cetera, nor should it provide any other way of viewing the contents online. (Or maybe it does, but then very minimally.) What it does provide, is for every forum software package, a convertTo and convertFrom module, allowing to convert back and forth between e.g. phpBB and the universal system. These convertTo/From modules should be implemented by the communities/dev-teams of each respective forum system.

As such, it is guaranteed that it's possible to convert to and from all supported forum systems, and for developers it is not needed to have any experience with any other forum software than the project they contribute to, except for the universal system. Besides, in the current situation, there may exist up to n*n convertors, where n is the number of different forum software packages. With the above idea, this will be cut down to 2*n convertors, 2 for each forum software package (one from-convertor, one to-convertor). At the same time, this means you won't have to maintain n convertors, but only 2, if either your own board is updated or the universal system is updated.

What the universal system would include is:
  • A definition of what it does include, and what it doesn't include. (It does include posts of course, but should it also convert photo galleries?)
  • A framework to build the convertors upon.
  • (Unit-) Tests for developers, helping them to create solid convertors. These should e.g. check the validity of the data (no 'orphan posts', belonging to no topic; the post & topic counts should be the same after conversion, etc..).
The only problems that cross my mind are:
  • How does one define a universal system? It should include most concepts that all boards have in common, but there should be drawn a line as to what will be included and what will not. (e.g. Is a photo gallery considered a common feature?)
  • Would it be feasible at all? :P
  • Would there be interest is such a system, and would there be volunteers to help build this up?
Any thoughts on this?

I'm a bit in doubt whether this topic is in the right forum, but if it isn't I trust it will be moved to the right place.

Regards

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Lumpy Burgertushie
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Re: Universal convertor?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:29 pm

then all bulletin boards would have to be exactly the same or this universal convertor would be a massive massive bit of code to cover all possibilities.

just not gonna happen.


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marcovo
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Re: Universal convertor?

Post by marcovo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:31 pm

That's why I included this phrase:
It should include most concepts that all boards have in common, but there should be drawn a line as to what will be included and what will not.
I mean, there are things that you'll absolutely want to take to your new board, like all forums, topics, posts, users and groups. Then there are also things I won't consider as absolutely necessary, such as attachments, user's privileges, moderators, smilies, avatars, bbcodes, banned users/ips/emails, etc. Most of these ones can be converted, but leaving e.g. the moderators won't hurt very much...

I think most people that want to convert their board, will be satisfied with a say 90% conversion. In grand total, if anyone would be able to convert for 90%, I think it would be better than only a few people being able to convert for 99% while the others remain at 0%.
It is true that such a converter will never reach a 100% coverage, but then again, I think no converter will ever reach that, just because all bulletin boards are, indeed, different.

Maybe put it in another way. Let us imagine forum software packages A, B, C, D and E. One of these forum software packages (say E) could as well be promoted to universal converter, instead of creating a new package. (In practice, I guess SMF has quite a lot converters, so let's imagine SMF as universal converter, and we call it E here.) One can of course convert through A->B, but can also convert like A->E->B. The only information that will be lost when using the second method as opposed to the first method, will the the information that can be present in the database structures of A and B, but not in the structure of E. (Which causes the conversion to drop down from 100% to say 90% .)

Hope it clarifies :P .

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Re: Universal convertor?

Post by ][Moon][Shine][ » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:57 am

Isn't that what the SMF guys are doing? They have one converter script and one sql file containing the database queries. I'm certainly not qualified to comment this, but there must be a simple solution that they offer such a wide range of converting possibilities.

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