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myff admin

phpbb3 and myff portals

Not sure how yet, but I think these are going to be very changed in the way they work with phpbb3, one way or another even if not immediately we will have portals, things like the shop are to good to lose, but the portals were designed around the phpbb2 template system and have been been "made" to work with the phpbb3 template system that we already run on our phpbb2 forums.

If we are to go phpbb3, then we don't want to start off with that sort of issue.

This may mean we start off with a release without portals and only add them when I am confident on the best way of doing things.
myff admin

A bit of inspiration may just have struck on this issue which I will try out tomorrow. It would be rather good if this key feature did make the first release.
myff admin

First attempt died badly... but with some more work I do now have a myff portal working in phpbb3 and in what seems to be a much happier marriage than our current way of integrating the phpbb3 template system and the portals. I may even backport at some stage, though if it ain't broke don't fix it!

Rewriting the portals for the new system is trivial structurally, but so many of our portals need a lot more than a structural change to work with phpbb3, in essence all our XPROFILE stuff needs now to map to phpbb3 profile fields.
myff admin

Note to self   Current code could be muchly simplified, getting us back to basic code compatibility between portals on both phpbb2 and phpbb2 which can only help. I was so pleased to get anything working I missed the fact that I had over complicated things  
myff admin

Now satisfied with how the portals fit in.

But there is no means for people to set the portals or edit the templates yet.

There is a conundrum in this, in that I have quite a belief in software evolving to fit peoples needs, and I think this has worked well with phpbb2 developing into what we have here.

phpbb3 is different and should not necessarily totally follow all the patterns we have here, and in fact cannot do so sensibly as the architecture is very different.

So whilst it is important that we get in they key stubs, like establishing the portal system will work, it may be best not to hurry with making it available.

Then again the actual template editing is very tied into template operation on phpbb3, so it probably does make sense to get that done for portals, and when that it done it may seem a bit daft not to finish the job  
myff admin

Close to being able to edit the portal templates.

But it is bugging me a lot that phpbb3 has a policy of :

Quote:

Here you can edit your template set directly. Please remember that these edits are permanent and cannot be undone once submitted. Please take care when editing your template set, remember to close all replacement variable terms {XXXX} and conditional statements.


There is no concept I can see like our editor user and template slots that allows any one prepared to take basic precautions to protect themselves
myff admin

portal template editing now in place, and a cache cleaning bug fixed.

I guess the next stage is to integrate portal setting and possibly web page editing into the admin panel. Must admit I am still far from totally understanding all the ways the phpbb3 admin panel is coded
myff admin

Well portals and web page categories are at least showing in the admin panel now. Functionality should follow...
myff admin

but quite slowly...


It has taken some time to become familiar with  how the heck categories, sub categories and modules all hang together in the admin panel   What phpbb3 calls a module I was more inclined to call a menu item, though that was a mistaken idea

Getting from menus into the actual functions is going to be some work, I have a feeling that a lot of this is going to need rewriting almost from scratch.

This will not actually be much work with the portal admin functions, as the portals are all coded in XML, so a new portal in the admin panel is ever so easy, and once phpbb3 can do one portal, it will do them all with no work at all

The web page stuff will be more involved.
myff admin

I'm now reminded of  a "doomed" project I worked on (we rescued it from this particular doom, but it was still doomed anyway   ), this was a really complex mathematical modeling project, where some algorithms had been defined, but the software engineering design as given by the project manager was really no more than some proposed menu structures  
Menus do not a design make  

Anyhow I do now have my webpage and portal menus showing....

actually I fancy things may not be too bad, a lot of they way phpbb3 works at the template level is something we have need doing for ages with things like the QUIZ or SHOP portal, and some of the webpage code is already working in the image upload part of the template editor, so it may all fall into place quickly.
myff admin

Well the list of portals is now showing in the admin panel, and the rest of the portal code is in place.

Much still to do, but at this rate we could be days away from the wind down to being able to release.

I am still not in a tearing rush to release though.
myff admin

Individual portals displaying but not yet updating...

I do note one improvement over phpbb2 in the way templates work, the template now has easy access to the language constants, in phpbb2 every darn bit of text you wanted displayed had to be passed to the template, which was laborious and made the code a lot less concise.
myff admin

And now the portals are updating, also spotted a small omission in what has been done so far, that left some things working in the office, but which would have messed up live.
Its a reminder that this is not that small a job, and less than a week work has been done so far.
myff admin

Portals admin now also live.

That did not take much more than 30 minutes to get in, as some of the patterns are now falling into place

User web pages are the next big issue.
myff admin

back to portals and the main portal index page now displays, albeit barely populated as the search portals all need rewriting for phpbb3.

One issue proving a little tricky is the myriad levels of caching involved, both in the database and the file system.

As we are storing the cms templates in the file system, a template automatically gets the status of a template file that a user has their own copy of, and hence no longer gets changed if it is modified in the file system.

It maybe that I should kill off phpbb3s habit of doing this on the fly. It is one thing if the user has edited a template, but given all the other caching going on, I see little but trouble coming from this feature as it stands.
myff admin

Much to my surprise a LATEST portal is now doing something, not everything and not the same as our current LATEST portal, but it is a good start
myff admin

Anther observation on portals is that even though some portals like the gallery would be easy to include as they stand independent of the forums system, they will not always be included in the phpbb3 system.

The philosophy here is to cut back to what clearly is useful. e.g. the quiz, the webpages, the shop, some search type portals and many others will be there, but anything where if we were starting from scratch on phpbb3 we would have done differently will be scrapped.

I see no gains in backwards compatibility for the sake of it. going to phpbb3 is a big enough change as it is, it is best to make as clean a start as we can.
myff admin

I may easily be wrong, but it looks to me like there is a bit of a bug in the phpbb3 template caching system.

The checks on cache date are based on the file time, which does not work when as will be the case the templates are stored when edited in the database. In practice this may be hidden as when the template is edited it may also be cached, hence in no normal situation would an issue arise.

But that does not mean it is not a bug.
myff admin

Okay,

Basic display of latest posts, and latest topics portals are now live.

I may leave that at that point for now.

There are issues with whether the way the portals worked on forums was sensible, and the idea of setting global "portal" forums was never one that I thought really worked.

So I think we prune back to the roots and do something better.
myff admin

Quiz portal seems to be done.

Next is the shop portal, which is the biggest challenge as we need to integrate with phpbb3s equivilent of XPROFILE fields.

This may be a problem as our XPROFILE fields are I think more powerful and flexible than phpbb3, but at this stage I do not want to be changing phpbb3s fields.
myff admin

The shop is now displaying  but not processing orders, one notable glitch is that the shop template relied on one of the extra macros we have always got defined in myff templates like USER_ID, this was not passed into phpbb3 templates.

There is going to be backwards compatibility issues here for some templates I am sure. As whilst USER_ID was not there at all, and has been put in, phpbb3 does have macros that cover some of the additional macros we have put in, and I see no gain in duplicating the macros. It would be a performance hit for all time, and that is not acceptable.
myff admin

Have just managed to buy something from the shop which is good

Had to manually give myself CASH to do it... which is bad

This is a general quandary at the moment, there is a phpbb3 cash mod in development, here in phpbb2 we did roll our own powerful portal based system.

Do we:

1) Stick our portal system in. It is powerful and more general.
2) Go for the phpbb3 cash mod.
3) Wait and see.


Actually I think this may be a no brainer.  Portals have proved their worth and are the basis of ongoing development of powerful features, and I think we should stick with them.

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