Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

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cpreston
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Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by cpreston » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:05 am

Longtime siteowner of a PHPBB-based board that has been forced to stay at PHPBB2 due to a mod that hasn't been written for PHPBB3 yet, and now I find myself in the position of being able to finally address this.

I am able to finance the development of this mod, and I'm looking for guidance before I plunk out the cash. I have the money. I just want to make sure I spend it wisely.

I have a PHP development company that has done a lot of Joomla development for me and I have a good relationship with. I hired them to do a prototype of this mod and to give me a solid quote for the amount of time it would take to turn it into a full-fledged mod. I got a quote and it's a lot more than I expected. (C'est la vie, right?) I'm just dotting my i's before I move forward.

FWIW, part of the RFP said that all code must conform to the PHPBB mod practices and be submittable as an official mod.

Here are my questions, in no particular order.

1. Would I be better off finding and hiring a developer who is already familiar with the riggers of developing specifically for PHPBB?

2. If so, where do you suggest I find such a person/team? I have drawn a blank using my usual sources. (BTW, if you are a PHPBB mod developer with references, feel free to PM me.)

3. I remember reading something about PHPBB possibly changing the way mods are installed, making them plugins instead of mods, and that this was on the horizon. Am I wasting my time/money writing this mod from scratch the old way?

4. If I wanted to write the code the new way, how would I get access to beta PHPBB code that would have the new way?

5. The mod would be a PHPBB3 version of a PHPBB2 mod (mail2forum) that has been forcing me to stay at PHPBB2. (I'm dying.) It would be a fork/rebirth of the open-source PHPBB3 mail2forum code that was abandoned for unknown reasons by the original developers (it's on sourceforge). The project has been stale for over two years, the project's website has been down for over a year, and I've attempted to contact the original project owners to no avail. What's the protocol here?

Respectfully submitted. TIA for any guidance/suggestions/whatever.

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DionDesigns
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Re: Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by DionDesigns » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:33 am

Here's some answers to your questions...mostly biased personal opinion, so be forewarned. ;)

1) The modification you desire has little to do with phpBB, so extensive knowledge of phpBB is not that important.

2) see (1).

3) phpBB 3.1 is a ways off (it's not even in alpha yet), and the API for 3.1 plugins/extensions is not exactly user-friendly compared to either Wordpress or Joomla, so stick with 3.0.x.

4) see (3), but if you're interested, the code is available on GitHub.

5) The reason the mail2forum modification was abandoned is IMO they tried to do too much and finally realized they could never complete it. The reason no one has used it as a basis for a simpler modification is IMO in this day and age, there is little interest in listserv/NNTP products. This modification would be akin to developing a Windows 8 bridge application for Wordstar.

Have you thought about moving to Google Groups? It's pretty much what you want, and it's a lot cheaper than spending mid-four-figures (an estimate based on what I saw in the mail2forum abandoned code) to keep your site running like it was 1999...

cpreston
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Re: Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by cpreston » Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:47 am

Your bias is duly noted and noticed. ;)

Here's my most important question: It sounds like 3.1 is far enough off that I can not worry about it for now, but do you know if 3.0 mods would still be installable, or would an existing, working 3.0 mod be forced to recode in order to be installable in 3.1?

I'm not sure why you think it doesn't have that much to do with PHPBB. It's creating and editing posts, and should be managed within PHPBB and fit within the PHPBB mod framework, so i was thinking that this requires extensive knowledge of the PHPBB world.

As to whether or not this is a bad idea in general, I'll have to completely disagree with you for a number of reasons. First (and foremost) our current listserver <-> forum system generates 100s of thousands of pages and millions of resulting pageviews for our site that generate both significant traffic and google ranking. Second, in the world I live in (IT admin), listservs are still more popular than forums, and way more popular than groupware-type sites like facebook that many people are replacing forums with.

Google groups. No thanks. Yeah, that's what I want to do, surrender my site's millions of page views and revenue to Google.

Forums are great and some people love them. Listservs are great and some people love them. A gateway lets each of those groups have what they love and still communicate with each other.

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DionDesigns
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Re: Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by DionDesigns » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:47 am

It's unlikely that a 3.0.x modification will work in 3.1 without at least some minor changes. There are times when a 3.0.x modification doesn't work properly in the next release of 3.0.x!

As I said, I looked at the abandoned mail2forum code. Making it work in 3.0.x would not require much knowledge of phpBB internals. Some knowledge...absolutely, in particular the inner workings of the submit_post() function. But a good PHP developer will IMO be more important than someone with intimate knowledge of phpBB internals.

I never said that updating the mail2forum modification was a bad idea -- I said there was little interest in listserv/NNTP products, and IMO that was why no one has bothered to complete the work for the modification. It is clearly a good idea for your needs.

And yeah, if your site is generating revenue, Google Groups is a bad idea. Have you checked whether there is a listserv plugin that would work with bbpress?

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Re: Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by cpreston » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:42 pm

Wow, I glossed right over the NNTP thing. Forgot that the old mail2forum did that.

I'm quite surprised to see someone recommend the use of another forum software on the phpbb developer's forum. But since that's fair game, let me say this:

Before I decided to look at redoing the mail2forum piece, I did look at forum packages that seemed to have the functionality already built-in. Using the reviews over at http://www.forum-software.org/forum-reviews I came up with a few, most notably phorum and FUDForum.

The problem is that when I look at their communities and/or download lists, I don't get the feeling of the massive community behind them that Phpbb has. I'm worried about porting such an important part of my site to a forum software that ends up disappearing or not being updated from a security perspective.

Thoughts?

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DionDesigns
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Re: Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by DionDesigns » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:41 pm

cpreston wrote:I'm quite surprised to see someone recommend the use of another forum software on the phpbb developer's forum.
I prefer honesty over "user-car-salesman" tactics. You know your options if you decide to use phpBB3...it would IMO be wrong to not suggest that you look at other options if phpBB3 does not meet your needs.

However, it would also be wrong to discuss those other options here, and I will not do so. My only comment is that phpBB3 has outstanding security, better than its competitors and FAR better than its predecessor. If that is an important consideration, phpBB3 is the way to go. And as I said initially, 3.1 shouldn't be a consideration if your goal is to start work on this now -- you would be wasting both time and money.

FWIW, I have no plan to migrate to 3.1 (note I didn't use the term upgrade), and I've already told friends/clients/etc that they should hold off as well. The next planned release, 3.2, looks like it will have a completely new template system, which would break styles/mods a second time. IMO it's best to wait for 3.2 and not look back...

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Re: Suggestions for starting/managing mod project

Post by acharles » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:56 pm

This is an often requested, and quite useful, feature. There are several MOD's to do this linked from my phpBB 3.1.x extension request:

viewtopic.php?f=496&t=2322076

Did you make progress on this project? Please add your experience or comments on that thread, and share with interested php coders.

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