Topic: Migration Procedure 2017e

Dear members;

The time has come (all together: "FINALLY!") to plan the so-long pending migration of the WAAPT forum in Informer's punBB to a new software backend - specifically phpBB, the forum backend used by among others Ars Technica, Debian Forums and xkcd Forums.

The current backend is starting to show its age and it is difficult to work with and keep updated without losing the various WAAPT-specific additions, as has been the case with things such as the Youtube embeds, support for tags and polls that eventually had to be removed, and other finer details.

The overall procedure will switch us to a new, phpBB-based forum more in line with what other sites such as Serebii use. As a procedure goal this current forum will still be accessible albeit in read-only fashion.

Of course, no migration procedure is perfect, ask any of us regulars who works in IT, so the idea is to plan this with collaboration from the userbase and given enough time and help to get things done and to iron things out. As such, it is important that the userbase is informed and takes decisions.

So, let's start with the basics:


At the moment I don't have a good timeframe for performing the migration, as not all steps are thoroughly tested. However the idea is to perform the migration as soon as possible, ideally before Jan 2018 ends.

The migration procedure takes me about one day with all checks in place, and it can take up to two days if extra adjustments have to be done in the new server (which still has to be discussed with Tangent). For the duration of the migration the forum will be locked down or inaccessible so keep that into consideration.

This means it is important to take the decision of when to perform the migration? Right now I have two main candidate timeframes:

a) During the week of Dec 26 (Tue) to Dec 30 (Sat). This is the best potential timeframe for performing the migration as a lower overall activity is to be expected with people being occupied with their own holidays and families.

Of course, it is also the most dangerous time to perform the migration, as I myself would be expected to be just as busy and, more importantly, I'd rather not have the migration interfere with ongoing events such as Mezzo's Ice Level Month if I can avoid it.


b) During the week of Jan 09 (Tue) to Jan 13 (Sat). This is also a pretty good migration time for me, as I won't be as busy with work or other events compared to other times in the month. It also gives us more room to adjust for ongoing events, and it helps making sure that all 2017 content falls into the archival.


Of course, I could try during other times in the Dec 21 - Jan 30 timeframe if possible. Thoughts?

Migration Effects

After a migration considered successful, official forum links (in the wiki etc) will be repointed to the new forum, and the current one will be reenabled on read-only mode.

The current forum location is http://forum.waapt.tropi.us/punbb/.

The new forum location is expected to be http://forum.waapt.tropi.us/f/

Switching to the new backend gains us a small number of advantages, among them I could cite:

* Well supported backend, with security updates and stuff, something that Tangent will be grateful for.
* Formatting for lists, tables and quoteblocks will actually work correctly.
* Official support for extensions that will allow us to implement things like @mentions, board announcements, a senseful PM system, user notes, text formatting helpers (buttons in the posting toolbar, multiquote, etc).
* Better compatibility for cross-posting content between the WAAPT Forum and other services such as Serebii or PokéCommunity.
* Better Antispam, including the ability to choose between a number of captcha methods that work better for our userbase.
* Ability to directly export threads as PDF or in printable format.
* Better mobile support - in theory; I have not tested features yet.

Of course all migrations come with their costs, and users will be expected to go through a number of hurdles, the most important of which that come to mind:

* All passwords and other identification information will have to very, very likely be reset. In the worst case scenario, this means users can not post in the new forum until they have taken assistance from a mod (me, maybe Tangent) to rebuild their user information.
* People will have to get used to some differences in the new posting system: the Quick Post / Quick Reply post box is actually for "quick" - it offers no helpers, toolbars or buttons, so you musts witch to Advanced to have a functioning toolbar.
* Smileys and symbols will be different, I expect there to be some potential problems with international characters (though at least é is working OK).
* For the first few days the antispam system might give us some trouble as it lears what little it has to learn.
* Searching threads or searching posts will not work for the first several days as the caches are rebuilt, a procedure that is too intensive for me to carry out right after the migration proper.

Backups! \o/

(hi Tangent)

While all information in the present forum will be preserved, not everything migrates correctly or at all to the new backend. That's why it is important that those members who are interested keep some backups of things so that they can readjust their profiles when they want to. In particular, no migration procedure tested so far preserves the avatars, so those must be handled separately.

All users interested are welcome to keep their backups of:

* Their Avatar.
* Their Signature text, if any.
* The e-mail address that they used to register (not fully necessary but it can be of use).
* Their password (not fully necessary but it cam be of use).

(Our server doesn't send mails, but the addresses themselves are used for some configuration procedures)

You can obtain all these things from your User Profile.


The idea is to avoid killing off any links from external or internal sites to the content that is posted so far; be assured that all links to the forum will continue to work. However, there is one place where links might have to be adjusted:

* WAAPT Wiki, the {{post}} template helper must be cloned into a new one such as {{post2}} that points to the new forum.


So, this would be about it as it goes for a migration plan. Hopefully this will be the only migration procedure we will have to undergo for about five years, the rest being simply the upgrades for the backend (security fixes and the like).

A working migration set already exists with an installed forum that has all posts until Dec 15, but for security reasons I will only be providing the URL for people to take a look at over PM. And of course, posting new content there makes no sense because it'll be lost once the real migration begins.

Of course, I welcome any questions and concerns to take place as we try to move forward. Feel free to post questions in this thread.

Migration test results as well as discoveries of future problems or fixes will also be posted here, until the migration is carried out of course.

Thou hast forgotten the face of thy Lord. Remember, mortal, and fear pet me.