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thomas

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Dear valued Members,

after having relied on vBulletin for over twelve years, the day to convert the Japan Forum to a new software has finally come.

Our current forum software is no longer actively developed and supported, and the latest version of vBulletin is of such inferior quality that the company owning the software is rapidly losing ground. We have decided to abandon ship and move to Xenforo, a small British developer and without doubt the shooting star in forum development, founded by the very same programmers who were responsible for vBulletin until 2009.

Some of you will remember our efforts in the spring of last year (here and here) to convert the forum as well as the ensuing database discrepancies we faced due to inconsistent language encoding. While we still have not solved those database issues, I have decided to tackle the conversion and to clean up the database manually. The reasons for the rushed upgrade are mostly of technical nature.

Schedule:

I'm planning to start the upgrade on Monday, October 6th around 0800AM JST. Today, I conducted a dry run, importing the vBulletin DB into Xenforo which took about 8 hours. Add a few hours to set up the redirects, implement a few add-ons, apply some make-up, etc and I expect to be back online Monday night. We shall keep you informed on a splash page right here on the forum as well as on the JREF Facebook page.

Expected issues:

Encoding! Unfortunately, most of the threads in the 日本語 fora will not be properly imported, resulting in what I estimate to be 80-90 percent mojibake. We therefore have to embark on the Herculean task of manually editting thousands of posts, a procedure that I reckon will take many weeks and months, which however I'm willing to take on in order to save the integrity and the totality of 12 years of posts and threads, discussions, joy and tears, controversy and language study.

Yes, there will be change(s), there will be things missing and brand-new features alien to everyone, there will be - yet again - a new design, but bear with us and we shall soon be able to make the forum a cozy place that's ready for the future.

I thank you for your understanding, your patience and your continued support!
 

thomas

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Miscellaneous

- No blogs: the new forum will have no blogs. The old blogs will be ported over into a new forum called "Vox populi", "Kuchikomi" or something of that sort.

- The Japan Gallery will be converted to a new and modern gallery software.

- I am quite certain not to enable Tapatalk anymore. I know that some of our members use it quite frequently, but the new forum skin will feature a responsive design that is extremely user-friendly on mobile phones and tablets.

- Detailed instructions on how to use the new software shall be posted in due time.
 

thomas

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Update:

- in contrast to my last post, there will be a blog system integrated into the forum. Thus, all the old blog entries will be preserved as such (not as forum posts)

- the passwords will be ported over as well. We recommend you to log into your account once the upgrade is accomplished in order to familiarise yourself with the new system. Also, please reupload your avatars (they will be converted, but will probably be slightly cropped).
 
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Looking forward to it. I found this forum after the one I had been following tried to upgrade their vBulletin site. They decided it was too much work and gave up. Seems to be a very daunting task, but the effort is appreciated.
 

thomas

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I am exalted to pronounce: "Mission accomplished", at least as far as the technical conversion is concerned! :)

First: I have not even started to work on the layout and the zillions of details that still need to be taken care of. Please be patient, there will be a lot of experimentation, updates and changes over the next few weeks.

Secondly: we have a lot of mojibake in the language section. That too shall be straightened out over the weeks to come.

We were able to import all threads and posts, reputation and vB-Likes have been converted into XF-Likes. The blogs were fully imported (but still need to be cleaned up), the gallery was ported over to Xen Media Gallery and can now be accessed via "Media". My biggest concern was the seamless redirection. I'm glad that all the old vB URLs redirect perfectly to their new XF counterparts.

Although it's still too early, I am looking forward to your feedback and error reports.
 
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thomas

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Thanks ND! That's the default "Georgia" in posts, will change it to Open Sans.
 

Uncle Frank

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Glad to see the red color gone. I set mine on default style and have zoom on 150% and it seems a lot like the old style which I like. Congrats on all your hard work Thomas , glad to be back on-line!

Uncle Frank
 

thomas

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@Uncle Frank, you mean the default XF style? It's not available for the general public, lol. The JREF UI.X style is still red, white and what I imagine to be tatami colour. Also, as stated above, the design is far from being finalized.

Coming from vBulletin, XF is a significant step forward. No more problems with encoding, no more DB issues. And, I really like the notification system! :D
 

Uncle Frank

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Hope I can keep using the XF , love the blue. The Admin section is a bit different. I'll have to spend some time exploring and using it. Kind of like Xmas morning , opening a bunch of new presents.

Uncle Frank
 

Uncle Frank

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One thing I can't locate is how to change the way I see the posts. I was set up before so the last and newest post showed first. I'm now back to where it starts with the oldest or first post. I looked under preferences , but did not see it there. It's probably stareing me in the face , but I don't see it?

Uncle Frank
 

Mike Cash

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Is there any special reason why Tapatalk will no longer be supported? Expense? Hassle to set up? Causes extra work on an ongoing basis?

While Xenforo seems to be VASTLY superior to vBulletin for mobile device web browser access, I must say that so far it looks like Tapatalk still holds a large advantage for ease of use.

I haven't seen the site yet from anything except my iPhone, but I can imagine it must be an improvement on a regular computer. But as someone who participates almost 100% by phone these days, compared to the ease of Tapatalk...so far it is just annoying.
 

thomas

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Hi Mike, I knew that this would be coming up soon.

Admins are lazy and dread the weekly updates. Also, I was hoping that the responsive design of the current theme employed here on the forum would make the use of a third-party application redundant.

Cons
  • Tapatalk doesn't allow for a lot of customization, unless you go for their branded (=paid) app
  • they had a few security issues in the past
  • nasty pop-up when accessing the forum on a mobile device
Pros
  • user-friendly, convenient
  • cross-platform
In short, while admins hate it, users love it. Therefore, I shall reinstall it. Could you just tell me, Mike, what exactly annoyed you in the mobile theme?
 

Mike Cash

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Don't feel obliged to go through the hassle on my account. If I have to, I can get used to it.

Some things I don't like:

1. Having to use a browser for one forum, when all the others I participate in are conveniently together in one app.

2. Seems to load slower.

3. I have to manually scroll text input box upward when the current input line drops below the on-screen keyboard.

4. Harder to open threads without accidentally clicking on the other clickable content bunched together with the thread title.

5. Push notifications are nice.
 

Mike Cash

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Thanks, Mike. Tapatalk has been reactivated.
I am sincerely grateful. So much so that it pains me to report it isn't working...
 

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thomas

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Hm, it appears to work on my mobile. I can even edit and moderate posts.

Have you tried closing and reloading the app?

Thanks, I really appreciate your feedback.
 

Mike Cash

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That was after closing and re-opening. I can try reinstalling.

EDIT TEST
 

Mike Cash

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Sorry about the trouble, Mike! I hope it works after re-installation.
Test reply.

Thanks, Thomas. The reinstall seems to have fixed things!
 
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Congrats on what must have been (and still could be) a gargantuan task!

One thing I've noticed: When not logged in I can see "recent posts" at the top and can easily go directly there. But when logged in, and maybe after having posted something, when I go back to Forums it's no longer there. This link then seems to be buried within the Quick Navigation link at the bottom of the page, which, well, is not very convenient for the possibly idiosyncratic way I browse here--I only ever start with or look at recent posts.

(This is on an up to date mac/safari system.)
 

thomas

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Thanks @johnnyG, the DB clean-up will probably take months, but no regrets.

Excellent idea, I will add a "Recent Posts" link to the submenu.
 
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To clarify, it would be nice to have "Recent Activity" (Recent Posts?) somewhere easily clickable when I've clicked on Forums or the home icon. I do realize it's early in the upgrade, and you've got a zillion things to do, and that I'm just moaning about having to scroll to the bottom and find it via that Quick Nav popup, but that one little click is how I approach this forum. New Posts doesn't seem to lead to the same thing.

And I'll buy all the beers if you ever happen to come thru here again.
 
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