phpBB Falling Behind?

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wGEric
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phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by wGEric » Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:57 pm

This is sort of a reply to the topic about moving to vB. That topic has since disappeared so I'm creating a new one.

I can fully understand the frustration of that person. Little things that make someone's web experience better are missing. Many people are visual and BBCode is hard to understand so a rich text editor or WYSIWYG editor is a must. AJAX makes tasks easier and quicker. The person that posted the original topic mentioned changing the order of forums. Drag and drop or if you still clicked and the page didn't reload would make this task easier. I can beat this to a dead horse. Most of you know how and where AJAX/Javascript could be used to make phpBB easier to use.

At this point it is safe to say that phpBB is behind the times. Even when phpBB3 was released it was behind. I fear that phpBB will fall even further behind and will have a hard time catching up.

A few weeks ago I looked to see what progress had been made, if any, on implementing AJAX, WYSIWYG or anything else to make the UI easier to use. I was disappointed. There is a pull request implementing some AJAX functionality and some discussions from years ago about a WYSIWYG editor.

I would like to know if phpBB has any plans to implement any of these features. There seems to be little interest in the AJAX pull request.

I understand that what makes the UI easier to use is subjective so what I want might not be what the devs have in mind.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by tbackoff » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:40 am

If I remember correctly, the problem on implementing an WYSIWYG editor is that there isn't one that is up to the development team's standards (if I can find it, I'll link it).

I'm not that experienced in AJAX/Javascript, so I'll stay away from such subjects.

With all that said, I would hope that you of all people understand that features aren't added just because such-and-such software includes it. Also, users are more than welcome to post RFCs for features if they wish to see them in future versions of phpBB.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Pony99CA » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:27 am

t_backoff wrote:If I remember correctly, the problem on implementing an WYSIWYG editor is that there isn't one that is up to the development team's standards (if I can find it, I'll link it).
Here's a post by Marshalrusty saying something similar. And here's one by Kellanved saying that one is (was?) being worked on. (Yes, both posts are more than two years old....)
t_backoff wrote:I'm not that experienced in AJAX/Javascript, so I'll stay away from such subjects.

With all that said, I would hope that you of all people understand that features aren't added just because such-and-such software includes it.
Right, but I presume that phpBB.com wants people to use its software -- and people do use it, obviously. I think that Eric's point is that the world is moving to more "cool" and (arguably) more usable things with AJAX/JSON/watever, and if phpBB doesn't support some of these features, people will choose something else. If enough people move on, phpBB will become irrelevant (and eventually die off). This won't happen overnight, of course, but if phpBB 3.1 (or 4.0) don't knock people's socks off, it might start happening then.

When people are looking for a bulletin board solution (or any software, really), I think that there are two primary things that they look at -- cost and features. phpBB can't be beat for cost (unless somebody else actually pays you to use their software :lol:), but phpBB isn't big on adding new features that often (and hence may be seen to be falling behind other software).

For example, the last feature release was 3.0.6 (almost two years ago). In my opinion, there should be a feature release every year (if not every six months).

That said, I'm very happy with phpBB 3.0.x, especially compared to phpBB 2.x. There are some features that I'd like to see (especially BBCode improvements), of course, but this is a volunteer effort and I'm getting free software, so I can't complain too much.

And, if phpBB does support AJAX/whatever, I hope that's in addition to how things work now, not instead of the current system. User choice is a good thing. :)

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by tbackoff » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:27 pm

Pony99CA wrote:Here's a post by Marshalrusty saying something similar. And here's one by Kellanved saying that one is (was?) being worked on. (Yes, both posts are more than two years old....)
Those weren't the ones I was thinking about, but you are right that they seem to state the same thing. Thanks!
Pony99CA wrote:the last feature release was 3.0.6 (almost two years ago). In my opinion, there should be a feature release every year (if not every six months).
:shock: Please tell me you are joking! The development team does their best to roll out the software as fast as they possibly can (only 9 people). Also, unless they revisited this decision (I'm not sure), the development is split between 3.0.x and 3.1.x (maybe one of them can chime in on this). They only way I see feature releases being rolled out that quickly is if more people started contributing to the core (we certainly have the talent). Development isn't closed anymore and anyone can submit patches (I have, when my abilities allow me to :D ).
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by wGEric » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:11 pm

Pony99CA wrote:Here's a post by Marshalrusty saying something similar. And here's one by Kellanved saying that one is (was?) being worked on. (Yes, both posts are more than two years old....)
I'm guessing Kellanved was referring to CKEditor. The CKEditor team was going to work on implementing it into phpBB but then turned around and said the phpBB development team needs to do that. They have since released a BBCode plugin for CKEditor which appears to be pretty good. I'm using that plugin here.
For example, the last feature release was 3.0.6 (almost two years ago). In my opinion, there should be a feature release every year (if not every six months).
Agreed.
t_backoff wrote::shock: Please tell me you are joking! The development team does their best to roll out the software as fast as they possibly can (only 9 people).
2 years on the internet is ancient. They can do small feature releases more often. Currently it is do large feature releases less often which makes the project seem stale.

If they can't keep up with their industry then they need to get more than 9 people or start paying developers to work on it full time.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Pony99CA » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:09 pm

t_backoff wrote:
Pony99CA wrote:the last feature release was 3.0.6 (almost two years ago). In my opinion, there should be a feature release every year (if not every six months).
:shock: Please tell me you are joking! The development team does their best to roll out the software as fast as they possibly can (only 9 people). Also, unless they revisited this decision (I'm not sure), the development is split between 3.0.x and 3.1.x (maybe one of them can chime in on this). They only way I see feature releases being rolled out that quickly is if more people started contributing to the core (we certainly have the talent). Development isn't closed anymore and anyone can submit patches (I have, when my abilities allow me to :D ).
Nope, I wasn't joking. I was referring to how things should be, not what they are today. As Eric said, adding more developers would go a long way toward helping the situation, as would incorporating some of the more popular MODs.

For example, I've seen the following features requested many times:
  • The ability to get E-mail on every post, not just the first unread one (possibly with the contents of the post).
  • Topics where only the starter and moderators/admins could post (easily done with a permission).
  • A permission the allows you to see the topics in a forum but not read them.
  • A URL permission like the IMG and Flash permissions.
Those four items all make sense for a bulletin board and would make a nice feature release and I don't think they would be time hogs to develop. And that's leaving out bigger items like BBCode redesign (mentioned above), karma/thanks/reputation and an event system (not a calendar, a means to trigger actions based on other board actions; for example, promoting the user to a new group after one year).

In fact, I would make every release have new features except for emergency security or bug fix releases. Give people something cool to make them want to upgrade. (How many times have you seen people ask, "phpBB 3.0.x is working fine for me. Do I really need to upgrade to the latest version?" We say that we don't support anything but the latest release, but we do; we certainly don't take the hard line that do with phpBB 2.x.

I know that people are worried about keeping the core light, but my official plug-ins proposal would allow that. In fact, you could possibly move lesser-used features (maybe Jabber, birthdays, whatever) into officially supported plug-ins, making the core even leaner. :shock:

Steve

P.S. Of course, Eric isn't the first to make this argument. There was also the Falling behind somewhere? topic from May and the Discussion: phpBB is falling behind? topic from 2009 (just after phpBB 3.0.6 came out). However, neither of those topic starters had the gravitas that Eric does.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by tbackoff » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:44 am

I guess both of you missed this:
t_backoff wrote:Development isn't closed anymore and anyone can submit patches
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by 3Di » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:03 am

wGEric wrote:
Pony99CA wrote:Here's a post by Marshalrusty saying something similar. And here's one by Kellanved saying that one is (was?) being worked on. (Yes, both posts are more than two years old....)
I'm guessing Kellanved was referring to CKEditor. The CKEditor team was going to work on implementing it into phpBB but then turned around and said the phpBB development team needs to do that. They have since released a BBCode plugin for CKEditor which appears to be pretty good. I'm using that plugin here.
For example, the last feature release was 3.0.6 (almost two years ago). In my opinion, there should be a feature release every year (if not every six months).
Agreed.
t_backoff wrote::shock: Please tell me you are joking! The development team does their best to roll out the software as fast as they possibly can (only 9 people).
2 years on the internet is ancient. They can do small feature releases more often. Currently it is do large feature releases less often which makes the project seem stale.

If they can't keep up with their industry then they need to get more than 9 people or start paying developers to work on it full time.
Eric.. totally agreed.

As for our cheer leader practizer: pls read the history of phpBB before to state such of statements that are for us very well known, you are not speaking with noobs, instead? I think all of the old statements the Team gave us in the years are old schools, so.. a brand new life or else: die. oopppss. :ugeek:
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Phil » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:27 am

t_backoff wrote:I guess both of you missed this:
t_backoff wrote:Development isn't closed anymore and anyone can submit patches
Eric is actually doing just that.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by A_Jelly_Doughnut » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:16 am

wGEric wrote: At this point it is safe to say that phpBB is behind the times. Even when phpBB3 was released it was behind.
Absolutely safe to say this.

I think its also safe to say that development has decelerated in the last couple of years, something that was hard to imagine when I was a developer. A quick check of GitHub shows that there are 40 open pull requests at this moment dating back six months.

I won't be "jumping" because I don't currently operate a board, but I do check in every few days to see the happenings.
Pony99CA wrote: For example, I've seen the following features requested many times:
  • The ability to get E-mail on every post, not just the first unread one (possibly with the contents of the post).
  • Topics where only the starter and moderators/admins could post (easily done with a permission).
  • A permission the allows you to see the topics in a forum but not read them.
  • A URL permission like the IMG and Flash permissions.
Those four items all make sense for a bulletin board and would make a nice feature release and I don't think they would be time hogs to develop. And that's leaving out bigger items like BBCode redesign (mentioned above), karma/thanks/reputation and an event system (not a calendar, a means to trigger actions based on other board actions; for example, promoting the user to a new group after one year).
The four highlighted items are pretty doggone easy. I wrote the "only topic poster and moderators can read topics" as a MOD in a day or two (memory is fuzzy: this was 2008).

A talented developer could probably knock out all seven of your items in 300 man-hours -- if (s)he didn't get caught up in the definition of "reputation."
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Pony99CA » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:26 am

t_backoff wrote:I guess both of you missed this:
t_backoff wrote:Development isn't closed anymore and anyone can submit patches
Bad guess. :D However, while I may be able to make an improvement (I've made a few minor ones for my test board), trying to learn Git (or make them into MODs) adds another layer of complexity.

Also, what about moving existing useful MODs into phpBB? Is that up to the MOD creator, or would a developer ask the MOD creator if it was OK and then do it himself?

Finally, just because I create a patch doesn't mean that it will be accepted, right? Presumably stuff done by a "real" developer will be because it's on his to-do list. I'd hate to go to all of the trouble of learning the process and creating a patch only to be told, "Sorry, that doesn't fit our plans; maybe next release" or some other reason it wouldn't be included.

If you want other developers, maybe they should be included in the release planning process; otherwise they're really just outsiders. (But, as I'm not privy to the development process, I could be way off, too.)

Anyway, I'm not criticizing the developers or the current process, really. I'm just discussing other possibilities to get more feature releases, which is what I think part of Eric's goal is.

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by wGEric » Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:40 am

A_Jelly_Doughnut wrote:I think its also safe to say that development has decelerated in the last couple of years, something that was hard to imagine when I was a developer. A quick check of GitHub shows that there are 40 open pull requests at this moment dating back six months.
Agreed. The list of RFCs in the 3.1 Status topic aren't very big items (minus the MOD installer). Also most of those RFCs users won't care a whole lot about. Most probably think their bbcodes work just fine or they won't be affected by a hooks system. There is very little that will make people want to upgrade. Yes, I know there has been more done than what is on that list.

At this point it appears like it is going to be at least 1-2 years before 3.1 is released and it will be obsolete on day 1 because of the feature freeze.
Pony99CA wrote:I'm just discussing other possibilities to get more feature releases, which is what I think part of Eric's goal is.
I'm all over the place.

One issue I can see, from my limited vision, is that it appears like the developers don't care or don't have time. There are pull requests 6 months old. There are accepted RFCs that haven't been started more than a year after the feature freeze. A quick check shows that only about half the topics in the 3.1 Development Discussion forum are moved to a point where you can consider them closed. Here are some open ones:

phone template support: No reply saying what mobile features phpBB will include. This is something that should be address since mobile devices are being used more and more. Saying subsilver works fine on mobile devices is an answer but many people install Tapatalk or some other mobile friendly style. Mobile friendly version is becoming something everyone wants.
Including external projects in phpBB: month without any discussion except "we need to do this". This is something for the developers to decide.
Multi Quote (or even Multi Moderation): One reply from a developer over a year ago saying it should be looked at. Nothing since then.
Prosilver CSS update: a reasonable request. Hard to discuss when the responses are "I don't like it" with no reason. No follow up.

Even this topic hasn't had a reply from a developer yet. You'd think a topic like this would elicit a reply from at least one of them by now. I would like to know what happened to the topic that made me want to start this one.
Eric

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by tbackoff » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:55 pm

3Di wrote:As for our cheer leader practizer: pls read the history of phpBB before to state such of statements that are for us very well known, you are not speaking with noobs, instead? I think all of the old statements the Team gave us in the years are old schools, so.. a brand new life or else: die. oopppss. :ugeek:
I have a name, but just in case you missed it, it's "Tabitha" or you can use my username - "t_backoff". Thanks!

I never said I was speaking with noobs. Both of you have been around for quite a few years here. My perspective is that everyone (not just you two) seems to be complaining that phpBB is behind, phpBB is missing xxx feature, phpBB will go the way of the dinosaurs, etc, etc, etc. but nobody wants to help when development is opened up. I've seen the same set of developers working on phPBB with a few registered users pitching in. Which brings me to this:
Phil wrote:
t_backoff wrote:I guess both of you missed this:
t_backoff wrote:Development isn't closed anymore and anyone can submit patches
Eric is actually doing just that.
That's good to know. Thanks for the link! ;)
Pony99CA wrote:while I may be able to make an improvement (I've made a few minor ones for my test board), trying to learn Git (or make them into MODs) adds another layer of complexity
Git is definitely different the SVN, however, once you have it setup, SmartGit is a wonderful program that makes Git much much much easier.
Pony99CA wrote:Also, what about moving existing useful MODs into phpBB? Is that up to the MOD creator, or would a developer ask the MOD creator if it was OK and then do it himself?
MODs are never added to the core, but if a patch is submitted that meets the development team's standards (and I'm not sure exactly what those are), then I'm sure the development team has no problems merging that patch into the correct release (remember, 3.0.x and 3.1.x are feature frozen).
Pony99CA wrote:Finally, just because I create a patch doesn't mean that it will be accepted, right? Presumably stuff done by a "real" developer will be because it's on his to-do list. I'd hate to go to all of the trouble of learning the process and creating a patch only to be told, "Sorry, that doesn't fit our plans; maybe next release" or some other reason it wouldn't be included.
Again, if it's up to development team standards, I'm sure they won't have a problem merging it.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by wGEric » Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:19 pm

t_backoff wrote:MODs are never added to the core, but if a patch is submitted that meets the development team's standards (and I'm not sure exactly what those are), then I'm sure the development team has no problems merging that patch into the correct release (remember, 3.0.x and 3.1.x are feature frozen).
In a way, MODs are patches. MODs are usually written to make them easier to install but it wouldn't take much effort to integrate them better if it were to be included in the core. Most of the work has already been done. Just because it isn't presented in a form that the developers want doesn't mean it should be ignored.

The 3.1 feature freeze is going to bite phpBB in the butt. When the feature freeze happened the developers should have then polished what was completed and released a beta within one to two months. Now it won't be current since the internet is constantly evolving. It will be last years style before it is even released. phpBB2 was the top dog that everyone tried to copy. phpBB3 isn't. phpBB3.1 on its current track won't either.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by IronDogg » Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:57 pm

wGEric wrote:Now it won't be current since the internet is constantly evolving. It will be last years style before it is even released. phpBB2 was the top dog that everyone tried to copy. phpBB3 isn't. phpBB3.1 on its current track won't either.
I was hoping they would just skip right over 3.1 and 3.2 and release a beta of "4.0 - Rhea"...

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