Executive Summary - CustodesTechnologia/System Wiki

Bolter and Chainsword

Results from the Site Upgrade

This is an executive summary of the project and the standing of the process.

Summary

The new site is operational on the InvisionCommunity 4.6.12.1 version. The legacy database from the preexisting server was imported and processed by their software to produce a new database. The new software (IPS) accepted the database and has been operational since June 16th, 2022. There are a small set of important tasks that have to complete for the full effect of the upgrade are realized, but the execution of those tasks can and will run in parallel with the re-opening of the site.

The new SW provides a retooled version of the familiar features of the old site (Topics, Gallery, etc.) The new SW provides two key features that we did not see in the prior version: Blogs and Clubs. Another feature that has been present but not activated is the Articles feature of IPS.

A component of the old site was the Painter software. That software is not going to be ready for the new site when the new site launches. The basic processing of that Painter software will work, but there's an usually large amount of rework and reengineering that needs to take place to make the Painter run efficiently.

In the end, the re-launch of the site will bring the many users of Bolter and Chainsword back online to the same content they saw prior to the temporary shutdown. The users will be enabled for restarting their communication and dialog among the members of the site.

The rest of this document will cover the highlights of unresolved issues and make recommendations for the next step.

Operational with Issues

The operational readiness of the site is solidly true. But there are a series of tasks that must complete (tasks that are part of the IPS) that will reconfigure the database and data related existing content from the site. This task-set is an obligatory step if we wish to have the site be most operational.

The estimate at the time of this writing (June 21, 2022) is that the task-process will complete in about 15-20 days if left running 24hrs per day.

There are few more issues that should be covered.

BBCodes

In the legacy site, copious use of BBCodes was evident. The main location of these codes was in the Forums and in user Signatures. There are other places where content written by users contains BBCodes, but that impact is minimal.

When the upgrade took place, the IPS SW did not (and could not) re-interpret the BBCodes into the native HTML/CSS that represent the code. In the legacy site the IPS SW dynamically interpretted the BBCode and rendered the HTML/CSS on the fly.

This is not the case in the current IPS SW. The current IPS SW does not allow the content created by users that has BBCode to be inserted in the database as BBCode. The built-in editor parses it before it's inserted into the database. For his reason, when users add new content after the upgrade, that content (even if they use vanilla BBCode) will be inserted correctly and the result will be as expected -- the content marked up in HTML/CSS. The user will never be able to "see" the BBCode again. Once submitted, the BBCode is already translated.

The upgrade as mentioned before did not re-parse legacy BBCode. It wasn't designed to because the new IPS SW is too far ahead of the legacy SW database. The legacy SW database was officially unsupported.

As a work-around, effort was made to manually translate some BBCode into HTML/CSS. This work is on going, and a bulk of the important codes have been translated, but there is still more work to do. The impact is that content using BBCode un-modified will be rendering incorrectly. In time (sooner than later) all of those special BBCodes will be translated. A spreadsheet is maintained for this process and status.

Simply put:

  1. Users can enter some BBCode in the new IPS SW, but the codes will never be editable as BBCode again once the content is submitted. The BBCode will assist the format of the content, but the BBCode is never persisted as BBCode. It's persisted as the HTML/CSS it represents.
  2. Users who see content that was inserted prior to the upgrade may see literal BBCode in the content because those BBCode literals have not been converted to HTML/CSS yet.
  3. Users will have to be patient.

Forums

Like most of the site the look and feel of the site has obviously changed. There will be slight differences in the icons, text, spacing, decoration, etc.

There is also some behavioral changes to the Forums in terms of displaying information about the Forum moderators. The new IPS SW does not work in the same way as the legacy SW. There are work-arounds to mimic the old behavior. One is to purchase a plugin that tries to solve the problem, the other is to put static information into each Forum (under the Forum Rules section).

Gallery

The gallery for the most part works like the legacy version, but there have been some comments during testing that the ease to find the gallery is different than the legacy site. The gallery is an integral part of the site and it is also an integral part of users anticipated use.

Basics:

  1. The Gallery is still in the site.
  2. Users can leverage the capabilities of the gallery like in the legacy site.
  3. All of the content that was recovered by the upgrade is in the new site.

Miscellaneous

  1. The site still supports banners for various purposes (events, status, and announcements)
  2. The organization of the Forums is closely matched to what the legacy site used.
  3. The concept of "Follower" does not exist in the new site SW. All "Followers" are converted to "Friends".
  4. Avatars are by default an alphabet letter based on the users name with a color background. But, users can as usual select their own Avatar.
  5. There are different features with respect to the way the site gives notification (followed content, liked content, new device login events, and so on.) All of these notification features are enabled but the user has to opt-in for them.
  6. The site will not send bulk email. If at another time a different set of circumstances permit safe and reliable bulk email, the site may do it. But the conditions for sending bulk email with the current system are not ideal. The site does still send individual email on a case-by-case basis.
  7. Password-resets are self-serve. The site will send the user an email to begin the reset process. Users do not contact the Administration for password resets. But in some cases (subject to Policy) they can still request support. The best path for resets is self-serve.

Documentation

For the nearly all that was done to perform the upgrade at a system level is documented. The wiki you are reading now is part of the documentation set. The documentation covers the details that went into the planning, execution and mitigation of events for the whole upgrade process.

Despite whatever results of the upgrade are, the reader and the users of the site should have confidence that every reasonable effort was made in the time allotted to do the best for the user base.

The documentation also includes an Issue tracking system (see the links below). Users of the site may have been used to entering issues from within the site itself. That is still the preferred solution for nearly all kinds of problems to report. But, the Issue tracking system in this repository is for much lower level system issues and bugs. Any issue reported here in the Issue tracker is valid for the site to be aware of. However, not every issue logged in the site Forum is going to be translated or exposed to the parties that deal with system level issues -- unless the bug/issue is posted on this repo.

Consult with the Moderator(s) and Admin(s) of the site directly if you have concerns of this nature.

Moreover, the documentation here, albeit more on the technical side of the issue is also a basis for creating documentation for the member community. And as such any and all documentation for the membership community should be stored and organized in the site itself (Forums usually).

Email Communication

In the near term, a set of email aliases and contact addresses will be shared. They will be established so that email based communication is normalized in the domain of the site. While members in the staff are still going to use their personal email addresses as they wish, the site is going to support a set of domain specific email aliases and groups so that the site itself is in control of those "accounts".

Related, the social media presence of the site is another area that is being looked at and there are still unresolved tasks to cinch up the control of the site's presence in social media. The email account scheme is the first step.

Acknolwedgements

A project of this size is a huge undertaking for just one person. Luckily it was not just one person who was involved in planning and executing the upgrade. The upgrade would not be possible without the vested interest and constant assistance from the following.

  1. Brother Tyler (aka BroT)
  2. Brother Argos (aka David, our Founder)
  3. Kurgan the Lurker
  4. Every Moderator who took part in the Bug Bash (you know who you are, and you have the Badge)

Final Thoughts

There is work to be done. There are members to help. There are bugs to find and fix.

No site with almost 20 GB of data, three main servers used in testing, and many many hours of time spent coding, processing, and diagnosing problems could be easy. But, the effect is a great site with a great looking design.

My advice is to think about what the site will be like a year from now. There is a lot to look forward to.

I hope that the Bolter and Chainsword membership enjoys their new web site.

Thank you.