The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

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Son of a Beach
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The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:28 am

I'm very sorry to anybody who dislikes what I'm about to say, because I expect this is likely to ruffle some feathers. However, that is not my intention, and what I'm about to say is what I genuinely believe.

I think that in light of the known slow progress of phpBB development, and the existence of other very good free open source forums software out there, the best thing that phpBB can do for its users is to merge with another forums project, provide a seamless migration path for the users to the other software, and to add any features in phpBB that don't already exist in that other software.

I've been a keen user and vocal support of phpBB for about five years. But I'm currently in the process of investigating the replacement of my popular phpBB based forums with myBB forums. It's sooooo nice to have a real plugins system, and some simple features that I've longed for in phpBB, such as a built in warnings/bannings system, where warnings can have levels, timeouts, and thresholds that automatically cause bans of preconfigured periods (or other outcomes).

The features that myBB lacks that phpBB has are few, and are not essential to me (eg, setting a default/only theme without completely deleting all other themes still eludes me). However, it would be great if they could be implemented.

So what are the goals of phpBB? If it is to provide the best free open source forums software, then perhaps the most efficient way to do this is actually to combine resources and knowledge with another project which is developing at a more acceptable rate, and which already has a good plugins system in place.

Anyhow, this is what I've been thinking about for a few days so I thought I'd throw it out there. I hope it doesn't upset people too much. I'd be interested to hear other people thoughts on such an idea.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by callumacrae » Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:44 am

I actually like the idea of merging with another forum system, but it is impossible. Such questions would arrive as what current forum system should it be based on, phpbb or x? What should the name be?

And I reckon about 50% of each development team would disagree and leave anyway, meaning that there wouldn't really be any increase in development.

phpBB 3.1 is going to improve the plugins system, but adding support for "extensions" - effectively mods that don't require file edits and use "events" to interact with the forums.


Keep in mind that the more features a bulletin board has, the more bloated it will be. How many of these features that you think should be added will actually be used by 99% of phpBB users?
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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by CaNNon_ » Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:58 pm

I really would not like to see that Merge, newest link for phpbb3 is 09.
Says a lot for what they do here and how they do it!

https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:56 pm

callumacrae wrote:I actually like the idea of merging with another forum system, but it is impossible. Such questions would arrive as what current forum system should it be based on, phpbb or x? What should the name be?
In my proposal, the other product would retain the name of that other system. phpBB would merely be responsible for making a smooth migration path from phpBB to the other system, and for implementing phpBB features that are not yet in that other system. That way we'd end up with a system that is superior to both of them, with somewhat less effort than it would take to get phpBB 4.0 developed!

NB: These other systems can already fully import a phpBB forum with very few problems. There would not be much work left to be done in that part of it. Just the adding of missing features.

[/quote]And I reckon about 50% of each development team would disagree and leave anyway, meaning that there wouldn't really be any increase in development.[/quote]

In my proposal, the phpBB team would be a sub-team focussed only on the migration of phpBB, and the addition of phpBB features that are not in the new software. There would be little scope for disagreement. Of course the phpBB team would probably not like this as they would no longer feel like they're in charge. That's the main reason why I think this is just a dream. The developers here are (quite rightly) very attached to phpBB and would hate to let it go (even if it was in the best interests of the community - which is clearly debatable).
phpBB 3.1 is going to improve the plugins system, but adding support for "extensions" - effectively mods that don't require file edits and use "events" to interact with the forums.
Yes, I know this, and have been waiting for this for the entire 5 years that I've been using phpBB. That's like an eternity in software development cycles. I believe that 3.1 is nearly done, but how long is it going to take for all the plugins I want to be done too? And besides plugins, the slow development of other phpBB features is still a well known problem (as evidenced by several other topics in these forums).

This slow development cycle is why I would recommend that the best way forward is to reduce the work load to phpBB developes and increase the benefits to phpBB users by folding the project into another system (and therefore only requiring polishing the import/migration procedure, and adding a few features to that other system).
Keep in mind that the more features a bulletin board has, the more bloated it will be. How many of these features that you think should be added will actually be used by 99% of phpBB users?
I see this kind of thing all the time on these forums. I don't think it's a very good excuse though. The more features a system has the more people it will suit. If those features can be disabled or hidden, and don't cause system slow downs or other problems, then what possible reason could there be to not implement them. The only reason I can think of is that the developers don't have time to implement them because they are (quite legitimately) very busy with other things (including the new plugins system).

Again, this problem would be solved if the project was folded into another forums software project.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:58 pm

CaNNon_ wrote:I really would not like to see that Merge, newest link for phpbb3 is 09.
Says a lot for what they do here and how they do it!

https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
phpBB 3.x has a very good security record so far. But no system is perfect. I don't consider any system to be flawless. But again, if the merged with another project, they could get a similar security audit done there, and apply the lessons learnt, and the new system should end up just as secure.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by CaNNon_ » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:18 pm

Son of a Beach wrote:
CaNNon_ wrote:I really would not like to see that Merge, newest link for phpbb3 is 09.
Says a lot for what they do here and how they do it!

https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
phpBB 3.x has a very good security record so far. But no system is perfect. I don't consider any system to be flawless. But again, if the merged with another project, they could get a similar security audit done there, and apply the lessons learnt, and the new system should end up just as secure.

Just 1.6.6, plugged what 14 holes... and you don't think they are pushing stuff out the door to fast?
Second why should phpbb3 do an audit on there code?

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by MichaelC » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:30 pm

Son of a Beach wrote:
CaNNon_ wrote:I really would not like to see that Merge, newest link for phpbb3 is 09.
Says a lot for what they do here and how they do it!

https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
https://www.google.com/search?client=ub ... 8&oe=utf-8
phpBB 3.x has a very good security record so far. But no system is perfect. I don't consider any system to be flawless. But again, if the merged with another project, they could get a similar security audit done there, and apply the lessons learnt, and the new system should end up just as secure.
Security Audits don't come cheap. They are thousands of pounds. ;)

Who would you suggest we merge with? Why should we merge? Ultimately merging will not make phpBB any better as it will require a re-write? That would be what a merge is, your talking about a take over.

I am aware as well as everyone else is that development of 3.1 has been slightly slower than what many would have hoped, and there are numerous discussions going on about how to prevent this from happening in the future.

Most of the things you've mentioned are feautres that phpBB doesn't have. You can suggest them on Area51. A new and improved extensions system is being adding in 3.1

In your latter post it seems your basically saying phpBB will shut down and tell all of its users to go to another forum software? That isn't a merge? Thats a takeover. Why would we to close phpBB and tell the users to go somewhere else? phpBB is used by over 2 million boards (I think), to me that doesn't sound like phpBB is anything even remotely near closing.

How long it takes extensions to migrate is not to do with phpBB but phpBB will of course support authors who wish to migrate/port their 3.0 MODs to 3.1 extensions and its not like other software's don't have this problem?

You say the extra features don't make an impact on speed/performance, I'm assuming you have benchmarks to back up this statement? As I can tell you there is no way it can be true. If phpBB added more and more features, it would decrease performance, as would happen to any other forum software which you add features too.

Yes, developers are busy, but even if they weren't, I can't think of many developers that would agree to adding calendars and CMS' and blogs to the phpBB software, even if they had time, because its just bloat. If you want a forum software, then a forum software is what you can get. The core is the core. You add things onto a core. It is the piece of paper onto which you write/sketch the things the make your piece of paper different (MODs, Styles, Language Packs, Bridges etc).

I go back to my point, why should we merge? phpBB isn't doing badly? Just because development has been slower than a few people would want we should fold? phpBB is current the most used open source bulletin board software, and your telling us we should fold?
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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:33 pm

CaNNon_ wrote:Just 1.6.6, plugged what 14 holes... and you don't think they are pushing stuff out the door to fast?
It's a really tough decision isn't it. A stale system that doesn't progress much at all over the last 4 or 5 years (since phpBB 3.0) but is relatively secure or one that actually implements features the users want in a timely manner, based on the users' own feature request rating system, but which is less secure.

It's not a simple decision. But I've made the choice to cut-and-run. I can't wait for phpBB any longer. I know I'm not the only one.
CaNNon_ wrote:why should phpbb3 do an audit on there code?
Is that a trick question? I'm talking about a merge here. If they did not merge, then of course there is no reason. If they did, then surely it would be in the best interests of the phpBB users migrating to the new system. Because it would be their system. The same reason they might want to do an audit on 3.1, or 4.0.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by /a3 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:41 pm

It should be mentioned that there would be a number of incompatibilities when merging with another project:
  • Differences in ideas, different features, etc.
  • Different licensing. phpBB3 is licensed under the GPLv2. MyBB is licensed under the LGPLv3. SMF is licensed under a BSD-style license. All of these are incompatible. Relicensing would be an expensive and time-consuming task. Examples? Apache relicensing OpenOffice is taking ages. Mozilla's relicensing was a big effort in the past as well. And of course there are differing opinions on licensing.
  • Merging communities would be difficult. There are zealots on every side. ;)
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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:05 am

Unknown Bliss wrote:Security Audits don't come cheap. They are thousands of pounds. ;)
So they either do it or they don't. Does it matter which product is the new forum software of choice for the developers? Surely they're planning to do it for phpBB 4.0 anyhow? If they did merge (which of course I don't think is at all likely), then they'd do it on the other product, and it would cost no different. They are both completely different products to phpBB 3.x.
Who would you suggest we merge with? Why should we merge? Ultimately merging will not make phpBB any better as it will require a re-write? That would be what a merge is, your talking about a take over.
Who? myBB. Free, open source, nearly all the features phpBB has, plus several features that phpBB doesn't have that I've been waiting years for, plus a real plugin system (phpBB is going to have this REAL SOON NOW, apparently ;-) ), etc, etc, etc.
Why? Please read my earlier posts. I'm not going to repeat myself except to say that what is the goal of phpBB. Is it to make phpBB the best, or is it to provide whatever is best to the free-open-forum-software using community. If that is not phpBB, then would it be better to work with whatever that actually is?
I am aware as well as everyone else is that development of 3.1 has been slightly slower than what many would have hoped, and there are numerous discussions going on about how to prevent this from happening in the future.
If you think it's been merely "slightly slower than what many would have hoped", then that is quite sad. It is a reflection on how disconnected phpBB people can be with what people want or expect. I don't have any faith in such discussions. If the problems have not been rectified in the last two years, then I have no expectations for that to improve. Of course I hope that they do improve, and that phpBB 3.1 gets released before May 2012 and that phpBB 4.0 gets released before the end of 2013. But I'm not holding my breath.
Most of the things you've mentioned are feautres that phpBB doesn't have. You can suggest them on Area51. A new and improved extensions system is being adding in 3.1
At the rate new features get added to phpBB, I don't think I'll waste my time getting them added to the end of that queue, when I can have those features next week by switching to another forum software product, and importing all my phpBB data. It took me just a few hours to create a theme that looks like my phpBB theme.
In your latter post it seems your basically saying phpBB will shut down and tell all of its users to go to another forum software? That isn't a merge? Thats a takeover. Why would we to close phpBB and tell the users to go somewhere else? phpBB is used by over 2 million boards (I think), to me that doesn't sound like phpBB is anything even remotely near closing.
Close, but not quite. I'm suggesting the phpBB do whatever work it takes to make the takeover seamless for the phpBB users (same as they would do for the migration to phpBB 4.0), AND to work with the other developers to implement the phpBB features that the other software doesn't have (there's not many).

Why would not NOT want to close phpBB and tell the users to go somewhere else? Serious question. IF (and it's a big IF), if that other software had all the features of phpBB, PLUS MORE, and the migration to that software was as seamless as upgrading to phpBB 4.0, AND it was easier for the phpBB developers to make this happen than to develope phpBB 4.0 (the migration path already exists, and works well), then why would you not want this to happen? The only reasons I can think of are more in the interests of the phpBB developers wanting to hang on to phpBB than in the interests of phpBB users who want to get an improved system sooner rather than later.

No of course phpBB is not anywhere remotely near closing. I don't expect it will close. But I think it would be a reasonable thing to do, if it was in the interests of the users. In the model I've suggested, I genuinely think it could be in the interests of the users.
How long it takes extensions to migrate is not to do with phpBB but phpBB will of course support authors who wish to migrate/port their 3.0 MODs to 3.1 extensions and its not like other software's don't have this problem?
This is not a problem if moving to another software product that already has all the plugins people might want. Instant gratification as far as switching to real modular plugins go! ;-)
You say the extra features don't make an impact on speed/performance, I'm assuming you have benchmarks to back up this statement? As I can tell you there is no way it can be true. If phpBB added more and more features, it would decrease performance, as would happen to any other forum software which you add features too.
No, I did not say that. I said, IF. ie, IF extra features that are disabled don't add a performance hit, or interfere with the usability, then it would be reasonable to have them built in. Of course this is all a moot point once a real plugins system is in place.
Yes, developers are busy, but even if they weren't, I can't think of many developers that would agree to adding calendars and CMS' and blogs to the phpBB software, even if they had time, because its just bloat. If you want a forum software, then a forum software is what you can get. The core is the core. You add things onto a core. It is the piece of paper onto which you write/sketch the things the make your piece of paper different (MODs, Styles, Language Packs, Bridges etc).

I go back to my point, why should we merge? phpBB isn't doing badly? Just because development has been slower than a few people would want we should fold? phpBB is current the most used open source bulletin board software, and your telling us we should fold?
phpBB isn't doing badly? That's clearly a matter of opinion. There are several (locked) topics here that would suggest otherwise. If you think that phpBB 3.x being fairly stale feature-wise for 4 or 5 years is not doing badly, then you clearly have a very different world view than I do. It doesn't mean that either you or I are right or wrong. It merely means that it is clearly debatable whether phpBB is doing badly or not.

Again, I'm not suggesting that phpBB should merely fold (as in drop their users completely). I'm suggesting that they should consider what's in the best interests of their users, not what's in the best interests of the developers. I'm suggesting that the developers time could be better spent providing their users with a smooth migration path to another system which would be better than the current phpBB (in every way, if the phpBB developers also put effort into adding phpBB features to that other software).

Being the most used forums software is irrelevant. It seems to me that being the most used software is what is important to some people. Having the best software is more important to me. Making the best software available to the users in a timely manner is what I would like to see as being important to phpBB. It is my belief that this could be best achieved by merging/folding/migrating into another product.

Of course I don't expect people to agree with me, but in at least some cases, that will be due to an emotional and/or technical investment in phpBB.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:09 am

/a3 wrote:It should be mentioned that there would be a number of incompatibilities when merging with another project:
  • Differences in ideas, different features, etc.
  • Different licensing. phpBB3 is licensed under the GPLv2. MyBB is licensed under the LGPLv3. SMF is licensed under a BSD-style license. All of these are incompatible. Relicensing would be an expensive and time-consuming task. Examples? Apache relicensing OpenOffice is taking ages. Mozilla's relicensing was a big effort in the past as well. And of course there are differing opinions on licensing.
  • Merging communities would be difficult. There are zealots on every side. ;)
Agreed. But in the model I've suggested, not such a big deal. The phpBB developers could be focussed solely on the phpBB features that the other software doesn't already have (only a few of these). There there would be no missing features.

Licensing would not be an issue, as the old phpBB software would not be used in the new product. No doubt they'd be techinically incompatible anyhow. The features would have to be developed from scratch without copying from the old software. Makes each one a big deal, but there are seriously few features missing.

The zealots? That's the real issue, in my opinion. The emotional (and technical) attachments that people have to phpBB are the main issue. I felt the same way up until about 3 days ago. And in that 3 days, I've already done the vast majority of the work to migrate my forums to the new software, INCLUDING recoding my in-house extensions to work with another forums product).

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by CaNNon_ » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:23 am

Son of a Beach wrote:
CaNNon_ wrote:why should phpbb3 do an audit on there code?
Is that a trick question? I'm talking about a merge here. If they did not merge, then of course there is no reason. If they did, then surely it would be in the best interests of the phpBB users migrating to the new system. Because it would be their system. The same reason they might want to do an audit on 3.1, or 4.0.
I don't mean offence but a merger is something between equals (or at least close to it) when I try to value the 2 products it's more like phpbb acquires.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:29 am

CaNNon_ wrote:I don't mean offence but a merger is something between equals (or at least close to it) when I try to value the 2 products it's more like phpbb acquires.

No offence taken. It's a good point.

I was using the word "merge" differently than you, and debatably I may have used it incorrectly. I did deliberately use it in the way that many commercial companies do when one buys out the other completely. They deliberately call it a merge because it sounds better the users, and pleasing the users is important. But lets not get hung up on that one word though, because I think I made it fairly clear what I actually meant by it in my reasonably long posts, even if I used a wrong word to try to summarise it.

Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so is value. I don't regard slow development (I mean REALLY slow - no significant new features in how many years???) to be of much value. I do regard a software product for which the developers implement features as voted for by the users, and which they implement in a timely manner, as valuable. Clearly we have different value systems, and different world views. :-)

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by CaNNon_ » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:48 am

Were going to agree to disagree, I place the value in security and function first and your into a plugin feature first.

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Re: The Best Thing that phpBB Can Do: Merge

Post by Son of a Beach » Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:54 am

CaNNon_ wrote:Were going to agree to disagree, I place the value in security and function first and your into a plugin feature first.
I agree that we'll have to agree to disagree, but I disagree with what you think I think. :-)

I don't place value into a plugin feature first. If that was all I was worried about, I'd wouldn't have jumped ship at the last minute just before that feature was completed in phpBB 3.1 (so I'm led to believe).

What I value is software that progresses in a timely manner, in response to what the users want. phpBB does not do this, by any stretch of anybody's measure (I would think).

I would normally rate security very highly, but enough is enough, and I'm heartily over the slow progress. I would like to see phpBB move on, and what I outlined above is what I believe would be the best way (in the interests of their USERS) to move on.

Of course, as I said in the original post, I don't expect to hear a lot of agreement with me, as this is a fairly radical proposition that hits hard to the heart of developers and anybody that loves phpBB (which most of the people on this forum obviously do).

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