phpBB Falling Behind?

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by callumacrae » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:38 am

Features = bloat. Why on earth would you need to include a blog in the core of a forum software?!
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by SilentDeath1226 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:00 am

Callum95 wrote:Features = bloat. Why on earth would you need to include a blog in the core of a forum software?!
Seriously?

You do know there are many forum owners who want to expand the user experience. I for one would love to include a homepage, blog, and many more pages.

Custom built pages are not my worry. Dynamic pages are what I lack on. A blog could come in handy to many people.

So yes, features may make phpBB a bit more bloated but since when was it bad to have too many features? I mean with a simple on/off button you can just disable the feature.

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Peter77sx » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:23 am

Hmm no it's not the MOD's phpbb needs. The ones available now, either beta/dev or modb have that outta-date feel to it no matter how great work was put into it. Just try wordpress, for example, for a day and spend time just in the admin panel alone. look for a plugin and find a theme.. any theme or plugin. and install. Play with the widgets.. You will probably smile at what ease and up-to-date it might feel.

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Ger » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:02 pm

I've follwed this topic from a distance, I don't really like the tone of it (from neither "side", both aren't really constructive IMHO). However, I do have my opinion on the matters.
It seems to me there are 2 major concerns:
  1. phpBB should miss certain features that a some persons think are necessary
  2. Contributing should be a pain in the ass because it's way too complicated
Ad 1: I too think that phpBB misses some features. However, when 3.1 is done, there's a very nice hook system available. When this is the case, phpBB becomes even more flexible than it is today, while the core remains lightweight. From that point on, blogs, chats, galleries, calandars, social media stuff an all that other kind of add-ons can be really that: an add-on. Download it from the customisation database, upload it to your site and run the installer. Many people say phpBB is "bad" because it requires MODS instead of plugins, referring to Wordpress and such which is much simpler. But when 3.1 is here, how much does phpBB differ from Wordpress in that department?

Ad 2: Contributing is quite difficult indeed. I'm quite experienced with both phpBB as PHP and SQL. Therefore I have a good understanding of the code and know how certain changed should be made. And even now and then I have some spare time that I could spend on contributing to phpBB.
However, contributing is quite a challenge. First, there is the RFC forum. There are a few dozens of open RFC's to pick from. Second, there's the tracker, where several hundreds of open tickets. Wow, where did those come from? There aren't that many RFC's. Sure, there are links here and there, but not all tickets have a RFC linked and vice versa.
Also, there's usually a discussion in both the 3.x discussion forum, the RFC topic and the tracker ticket itself. Especially with the more thoroughly discussed RFC's it's quite some work just to understand what the eventual RFC is.

When I finally understand what's going on, ideally I could just download the latest development version, install it and make the required changes. Upload it again, summerize the changes made and be done with it. However, I'm forced to use GIT, something entirely new to learn. Pull request, push requests, all that kind of gibber-gabber I don't really understand. While basically I think GIT does just that: provide an interface to merge changes.
I've took the effort to look at working with Git on Windows, but it assumes you already have experience. The other provided option is using it command line, but that's only voor Linux Users as far as I know. Most people use Windows however.

Understanding GIT is therefore a major barrier the way it's now. Sure, it's said several times that devs will want to assist potential contributors through IRC, but then I have to also install and learn IRC, just to install and learn GIT, just to be able to contribute... That's quite some effort to be made.

Summing it up, I have 2 suggestions:
  1. Assign someone who regularly summerizes all the discussions about an RFC in the TS of that RFC. That should at least contain the agreed change and the approach to be taken, including denied fixes if any (and why those are denied). That way, someone who wants to contribute can quickly assess the situation and decide wether or not he can and still wants contribute.
  2. Create a easy, step-by-step instructions for both Windows and Linux users how to install and use Git. Also provide a complete example involving both file and database changes. Don't hide it far far away in the Wiki, but link to it from the Get Involved page.
    In addition, you might want to add the Get Involved page tot the development start page or at least the submenu of development.
Thanks for reading. 8-)
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by keith10456 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:37 pm

@ Ger - Good post... Not saying I agree or disagree. It was good reading some possible solutions to the issues being discussed. There were a few similar posts in this topic - all good reads ;)

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by MichaelC » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:26 pm

Ger wrote:Ad 1: I too think that phpBB misses some features. However, when 3.1 is done, there's a very nice hook system available. When this is the case, phpBB becomes even more flexible than it is today, while the core remains lightweight. From that point on, blogs, chats, galleries, calandars, social media stuff an all that other kind of add-ons can be really that: an add-on. Download it from the customisation database, upload it to your site and run the installer. Many people say phpBB is "bad" because it requires MODS instead of plugins, referring to Wordpress and such which is much simpler. But when 3.1 is here, how much does phpBB differ from Wordpress in that department?
One thing, although there is a hooks system in phpBB olympus, its not a very good hooks system granted but there is a hooks system. And this sort of this is possible. I have a fully functional blog MOD (In development) which has 1 edit to overall_header.html (less than a lot of small MODs) for the link to the blog. Quite often, because the current hooks sytem isn't as powerful as maybe it should/could be, it is very very rarely used (only seen this in a few modifications), even when it can be. But still, 3.1 should streamline the hooks system and result in widespread adoption.
Ger wrote:Ad 2: Contributing is quite difficult indeed. I'm quite experienced with both phpBB as PHP and SQL. Therefore I have a good understanding of the code and know how certain changed should be made. And even now and then I have some spare time that I could spend on contributing to phpBB.
However, contributing is quite a challenge. First, there is the RFC forum. There are a few dozens of open RFC's to pick from. Second, there's the tracker, where several hundreds of open tickets. Wow, where did those come from? There aren't that many RFC's. Sure, there are links here and there, but not all tickets have a RFC linked and vice versa.
Also, there's usually a discussion in both the 3.x discussion forum, the RFC topic and the tracker ticket itself. Especially with the more thoroughly discussed RFC's it's quite some work just to understand what the eventual RFC is.

When I finally understand what's going on, ideally I could just download the latest development version, install it and make the required changes. Upload it again, summerize the changes made and be done with it. However, I'm forced to use GIT, something entirely new to learn. Pull request, push requests, all that kind of gibber-gabber I don't really understand. While basically I think GIT does just that: provide an interface to merge changes.
I've took the effort to look at working with Git on Windows, but it assumes you already have experience. The other provided option is using it command line, but that's only voor Linux Users as far as I know. Most people use Windows however.

Understanding GIT is therefore a major barrier the way it's now. Sure, it's said several times that devs will want to assist potential contributors through IRC, but then I have to also install and learn IRC, just to install and learn GIT, just to be able to contribute... That's quite some effort to be made.

Summing it up, I have 2 suggestions:
  1. Assign someone who regularly summerizes all the discussions about an RFC in the TS of that RFC. That should at least contain the agreed change and the approach to be taken, including denied fixes if any (and why those are denied). That way, someone who wants to contribute can quickly assess the situation and decide wether or not he can and still wants contribute.
  2. Create a easy, step-by-step instructions for both Windows and Linux users how to install and use Git. Also provide a complete example involving both file and database changes. Don't hide it far far away in the Wiki, but link to it from the Get Involved page.
    In addition, you might want to add the Get Involved page tot the development start page or at least the submenu of development.
Thanks for reading. 8-)
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If you are interested in learning git then here is a good guide but nothing beats being taught by a friend if you know anyone who can use git.

However you can just submit a .patch file or a diff or even just a list of changes in a ticket and a developer will review/commit it for you. Knowing git is helpful but it isn't required. ;)

As to learning IRC, its easier than installing phpBB.
First connect to irc.freenode.net using an IRC client such colloquy or an IM client supporting IRC such as Trillian or Pidgin. Then you can register with nickserv but you don't have too if you don't want too. Then use the command /join channel name.
Channels for phpBB:
#phpbb
#phpbb-dev
#phpbb-coding
To change your nick use the /nick Newnick
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by callumacrae » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:54 pm

Unknown Bliss wrote:IRC client such as Trillian or Pidgin
They're both horrible! And not IRC clients xD
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by MichaelC » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:58 pm

Callum95 wrote:
Unknown Bliss wrote:IRC client such as Trillian or Pidgin
They're both horrible! And not IRC clients xD
They work with IRC and their both free. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean their not any good.

Anyway...
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Ger » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:50 pm

Thank you for your input.
Unknown Bliss wrote:One thing, although there is a hooks system in phpBB olympus, its not a very good hooks system granted but there is a hooks system.
--//--
But still, 3.1 should streamline the hooks system and result in widespread adoption.
That's the major case: in 3.0 hooks are rarely used because it already was more common to MOD than to hook. 3.1 however will probably be more hooked than modded from the release of the first RC. Using hooks should than be almost as easy as adding a plugin to Wordpress and such. No need to put everything in the core anymore. The way I see it, the development as a whole will than be much more open since MOD authors (or Hook authors) will effectively contribute almost as much as developers, at least for the experience of the end user (board admins).
Unknown Bliss wrote:Git CLI is linux and windows. mysysgit includes a GUI and a CLI version. http://code.google.com/p/msysgit/
If you are interested in learning git then here is a good guide but nothing beats being taught by a friend if you know anyone who can use git.

However you can just submit a .patch file or a diff or even just a list of changes in a ticket and a developer will review/commit it for you. Knowing git is helpful but it isn't required. ;)
While I thank you for this info, the point I'm trying to make is that to make a contribution at all, it requires me to do much more than simply downloading - changing - repack - upload. While for smaller changes some summed up modifications may be accepted the way i did here, for more complex changes that just won't work. Not for me, but surely not for the dev who should implement it.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not against learning Git, but it would be very useful to read a step-by-step guide just how to use Git in phpBB. Take a wide-spread Git client, provide an install guide and an example how one should use it when contributing to phpBB. That basic guide simply isn't here right now.
When someone able to contribute knows these basics, he'll probably learn the rest quick enough while using it or otherwise he'll be able to use Google.

Trust me: a basic guide like this is needed. Over te past 22 pages of this topic I saw many complaints of users that simply don't contribute because of Git. These aren't unwilling or lazy persons, but the Git barrier simply is too high. Try and lower that barrier and you'll see much more active contributers.
Unknown Bliss wrote:As to learning IRC, its easier than installing phpBB.
Probably, but the point I was making was this very likely situation:

8:00 PM - X wants to contribute (something that should be easy and should be encouraged).
8:30 PM - X has resolved all the discussion in the RFC topic and the tickets and wants to start writing code
8:35 PM - X discovers he can't actively contribute since X doesn't know Git.
8:40 PM - X downloads and installs some random Git Client, not really knowing what he's doing.
9:00 PM - X looks back at phpBB, they tell him to use IRC and the'll explain
9:05 PM - X doesn't have an IRC client, nor does he really knows how to use one.
9:15 PM - X downloads some random IRC client and tries to understand how it works
9:30 PM - X connects to the right channel and finds someone willing to help him to learn Git
10:15 PM - X finally understands Git
10:30 PM - X is finally able to contribute but his spare time of the day is now almost over.
X is disappointed in contributing, he lost a couple of hours and achieved nothing.
X decides he won't try to contribute anymore.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by MichaelC » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:17 pm

Ger wrote:Thank you for your input.
Unknown Bliss wrote:One thing, although there is a hooks system in phpBB olympus, its not a very good hooks system granted but there is a hooks system.
--//--
But still, 3.1 should streamline the hooks system and result in widespread adoption.
That's the major case: in 3.0 hooks are rarely used because it already was more common to MOD than to hook. 3.1 however will probably be more hooked than modded from the release of the first RC. Using hooks should than be almost as easy as adding a plugin to Wordpress and such. No need to put everything in the core anymore. The way I see it, the development as a whole will than be much more open since MOD authors (or Hook authors) will effectively contribute almost as much as developers, at least for the experience of the end user (board admins).
Well, the aim is for almost all hooks and file edits being very very rare (meaning MOD authors need to start submitting hook RFCs for their MODs if they intend to continue their MODs for 3.1).

Ger wrote:Don't get me wrong: I'm not against learning Git, but it would be very useful to read a step-by-step guide just how to use Git in phpBB. Take a wide-spread Git client, provide an install guide and an example how one should use it when contributing to phpBB. That basic guide simply isn't here right now.
When someone able to contribute knows these basics, he'll probably learn the rest quick enough while using it or otherwise he'll be able to use Google.
*Snip*
I'm sure some people wouldn't mind writing a wiki article (similar to whats being done here) as to how to use Git GUI and/or CLI from installation to a pull request being merged. I wouldn't mind doing this (except I've only ever used mysysgit but I've used mysysgit GUI and CLI/Bash) if people agree and I'll write it up today/tomorrow for posting on the wiki maybe this weekend. If you think it would help?
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by noth » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:31 pm

As far as I am concerned phpBB is not falling behind.

This thread is a jolly good read and hearing other member's opinions is an education, that is for sure.

3.0.6 gave us Q+A captcha and for me this was a MAJOR UPDATE, it has stopped spambots totally on my site AND enabled me to go back to allowing GUEST POSTINGS.

phpBB sites that have sadly not switched to Q + A Captcha (it's an option) I am sure, are plagued ever more by spam registrations and spam posts.

But there have been several more changes since then that I won't bother going into, but phpBB3 has my vote, I note the concerns of others in this topic and look forward to 3.1 with interest, but am more than content to wait for that day to arrive.

I loved phpBB2 in 2005 "during the lull" and took some persuading to actually move to phpBB3 (my members didn't even like it at first, haha!) in 2008, so to the phpBB team (past and present) I say GOOD WORK MATIES, you have my thanks at least :D

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by BK67 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:12 pm

I've noticed quite a few tit-for-tat knee-jerk responses from some who claim, in their replies, that, "Judging by the number of people who use phpBB..." is justification enough to base fact upon. In reality, this is not an adequate figure to base *anything* on, other than hypothetical opinion.

The fact is, a large number of users who download this software end up changing the core code in an effort to give them more features -- some features that exist elsewhere -- and in the process, make the task of converting from phpBB to any other forum software that much more difficult. A forum that has 15 or more modifications with a custom theme isn't going to be converted easily. Even if the conversion process is successful chances are not all features from phpBB will transfer to the selected replacement. This means, a lot of folks either are, or feel stuck with this software, in fear of making changes that could potentially trash their community. Some have gone as far as hiring outside sources to handle conversion for them, but not everyone who is dissatisfied with this product can, or will go that route. Most, I would imagine, who aren't technically savvy beyond using "find and replace" might just stay with phpBB because they *have to*, not because they *want to*.

I have to also add that I was a previous user of SMF and thought I'd try phpBB after I'd learned of the attachment feature being added. A new forum, a new community, a new idea and new software. Having the opportunity to do it over again, I'd stick with SMF. And I am currently working out the issues of converting my current phpBB 3.0.10 to that very software on my local machine.

I honestly don't mean to trash the software, as I've said, it's okay. But it could be a lot better, and some of the people here could be a lot more accommodating. And a whole lot less condescending and combative.

Lastly, I'd also like to point out (in response to someone pages ago), that just because I personally don't contribute here in any technical manner, doesn't mean I don't contribute elsewhere, and in an effort to help make this software better than it is in certain respects. You never really know who is behind a given user name, unless you are privy to IP data that can be cross-referenced elsewhere, of course. The point is, I don't need (nor desire) to prove myself here in any capacity other than a user of this software who has opinions based upon my own personal experience. Likewise, who has experienced support (sometimes, lack of) from this, and other forums related to this software.

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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:34 pm

BK67 wrote:I've noticed quite a few tit-for-tat knee-jerk responses from some who claim, in their replies, that, "Judging by the number of people who use phpBB..." is justification enough to base fact upon. In reality, this is not an adequate figure to base *anything* on, other than hypothetical opinion.

The fact is, a large number of users who download this software end up changing the core code in an effort to give them more features -- some features that exist elsewhere --snip......
in your second paragraph you do what you are accusing people of in your first paragraph.

stating things as facts when in reality they are only your opinion and you have no numbers to back it up.

It is not that I necessarily disagree with your opinion about how many people add MODs to give them more features. It is just that you dismiss other's justification for their opinions and then do the exact same thing.

and, like others, you mention features that phpbb does not have that other bulletin boards do but you do not mention what those features might be.


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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Malphas » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:38 pm

Callum95 wrote:Features = bloat. Why on earth would you need to include a blog in the core of a forum software?!
Perhaps if you wanted to have a front page of your site generated using content from your board. You know like phpBB.com has right here? Albeit through some custom implementation I guess.

That said, I've tried to steer of the whole more features vs. bloat debate and concentrate on strictly forum-related advancement that phpBB is lacking like AJAX, WYSIWYG and general look-and-feel qualities that are making phpBB feel increasingly dated compared to the rest of the web as a whole.

But perhaps now is a time to rethink the approach to features, and what solution phpBB is designed to fill exactly. To my knowledge phpBB has never set out a philosophy of being a minimalistic, bare-bones forum solution, in the way PunBB - for instance - has, and it was only really in response to increasing features in vBulletin and Invision that prompted developers to start this line of argument in response to user feature requests (and I'm talking way back in the mid 2000's with 2.0.x here). So really those in the community that cry bloat and that phpBB is strictly for discussion board related features are really basing their stance on nothing - especially since phpBB already includes features like private messaging which some could argue are non-board related (more minimalistic software like PunBB generally don't include PM in the core).

A solution that might keep everyone happy would be a fairly bloat-free core, much as we have now, with some officially-supported MODs for the most heavily requested features, that get updated and verified along with every new core release.
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Re: phpBB Falling Behind?

Post by Malphas » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:41 pm

Lumpy Burgertushie wrote:and, like others, you mention features that phpbb does not have that other bulletin boards do but you do not mention what those features might be.
Actually, he listed a detailed list of grievances here.

You're another one this applies to:
Malphas wrote:There's also a tendency to get hung up on countering individual users' suggestions (e.g. stating why specific feature x shouldn't be included by default, or isn't important) rather than step back and look at the bigger picture of general dissatisfaction that's growing from the lack of progress in phpBB development.

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