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Site upgrade v2021 early plans

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Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby iKarith » Monday July 19th, 2021 12:26am

Nothing here set in stone. So offer comments if you've got 'em. It's all a priority, but it can't all be done at once, so don't think we're neglecting anything because something else gets done first.

I've offered to help drathe update the site, the forum software,etc. There's a few things that go into the Inn that I've noticed:

  • The versions/languages pages
  • The forum
  • The gallery (part of the forum depending on how you look at it)
  • Other hosted/archived sites

The other sites first. Never asked if the creators of these sites are likely to pop back in and pick up where they left off or if what drathe's got here is intended to just be an archive so those things aren't lost. Either way, I'm not planning to touch them. When all else is "done" I might look for dead links and update the others or mark dead links if I can't find an archive.

drathe's intent was that the Inn was fully translated to every language it was released into. Hasn't worked out, and we don't even have versions of everything officially released in every language it was. We've had people offer us bits we're missing and we haven't done anything with those offers. It's not working out as intended.

drathe notes that Google/Microsoft translate are readily available now and … decent, if not amazing. The choice of that over nobody to translate when someone's available to do the web mastering … Easy choice. There's some stuff we can do at the HTML level that'll make machine translators' jobs easier. Humans' jobs too, actually.

What it means though is folding all of the versions and editions into a single English page. So on the Game System page, you'd have Rules of Play/Instruction Manual, for each edition, and then for each translation of that edition. MB/licensed releases will be there, but also fan localizations, clearly marked as such and credited for their benefit and to avoid stepping on Hasbro's toes.

Gotta say, if I'm gonna be helping drathe with stuff, I've gotta behave myself. :mrgreen: And Hasbro has a right to make money with their property, if they can. So … you won't see Hasbro Edition stuff there unless or until it's definitely out of print. Wouldn't mind a discreet inquiry with Hasbro about e.g. converting/translating stuff in ways that don't hurt their bottom line. If you know someone who knows someone (who knows someone) who can send a discreet query up the chain of command at AH/Wizards/Hasbro, someone at one or more of these companies already knows all about the Inn. The question is whether they're allowed to know that they know without being expected to take some steps… Hence discreet inquiries. To avoid drawing the wrong kind of attention to the wrong part of the site.

The gallery … the one we have doesn't work with a new version of phpBB, as drathe said. And frankly, it doesn't work very well anyway. Those 503 errors, for example. There's no good reason for those, but drathe's got no idea why they happen. We don't want to lose that content. Fortunately, it's all just stored in a database. If someone here can read the code of the existing forum to determine what the format is (hi!) and knows a little SQL (hello!) and can do that kind of thing with any replacement we might use (I'm over here!) the gallery info can be preserved. Comments maybe not automatically, we'll see what the new gallery has/wants. But they'll be saved one way or another.

That leaves the forum itself. Currently it runs phpBB and we have a couple of plugins that won't port to 3.x. When drathe last looked, there was no dice roller plugin for phpBB 3.x. I did find one for myBB, which is a potential alternative to phpBB. It works way different than the one we have now, but it can be customized to do what we need (though with potentially different syntax!) I don't actually have a major preference either way for software, and neither does drathe. Of the two, myBB is certainly easier to get up and running. It's easier to get set up and to use/maintain, but of the two platforms it's got less of an installed base (less of a bug base too), it pretty much insists on MySQL relatively recent version of PHP (both of which are already in place), and while it's got fewer modules and plugins available than phpBB, they're honestly easier to write/rewrite.

Also myBB is considered "less good" on mobile by default than phpBB. There are good and bad themes for mobile for both and we'll have to (re)build the YeOldeInn theme from scratch for either.

My intention most likely is to try both, perhaps get them running side by side in VMs or containers, stuff the DB of each with some data converted from the Inn's DB, and get a couple of people to pound on both to see which one is more worth the effort of writing a theme from scratch. I intend the new theme to be zoom-friendly, dark-mode-friendly, and mobile-friendly to the best degree I can with the time I've got (which is way more than drathe has these days.)

As you can expect, we're waiting on drathe to have a few moments to set things up so I can get started and it'll be a little while before we have anything to show for it since the bulk of the work will be done elsewhere and only pushed to the Inn proper when it's ready.

Again, just about all of this is subject to change. This is what I'm thinking based on what drathe and I have talked about. He's got final approval over any and all of it because it's kinda his site—I just volunteered to help since I'm pretty useful at nerd things and have a lot more free time to poke at HTML, PHP, and forum admin stuff than he's had lately. As things begin to move along, there might be room for other nerdily-inclined people to help. I know my code, but you might be tempted to say that the average blind man has more visual design sense than I do, since I'm not exactly average. :D
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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby Stig » Monday July 19th, 2021 3:52am

Wow iKarith sounds great that we'll be keeping the Inn up to date. Thanks for the post and volunteering to look after us. Just to clarify the reason we'd be making these changes:

1) The gallery doesn't work with the latest version of phpBB
2) To allow automated translation software to translate the content into any language
3) Some plugins (eg dice roller) wont work with the latest version of phpBB. Which other ones are there?

Is that basically it? Is doing nothing not an option?


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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby iKarith » Monday July 19th, 2021 6:29am

Stig wrote:Wow iKarith sounds great that we'll be keeping the Inn up to date. Thanks for the post and volunteering to look after us. Just to clarify the reason we'd be making these changes:

1) The gallery doesn't work with the latest version of phpBB
2) To allow automated translation software to translate the content into any language
3) Some plugins (eg dice roller) wont work with the latest version of phpBB. Which other ones are there?

Is that basically it? Is doing nothing not an option?


The current gallery doesn't work most of the time as it is (503 errors). I find it works a lot of the time in the wee hours of the morning, but almost never during "daylight hours".

The current forum uses an ancient version of phpBB. Neither one of us wanna think about what security flaws exist in such an old version. And a previous attempt to upgrade to phpBB 3.x failed and hadd the forum offline for four days. Additionally, the language/content pages are using older browser technologies which means they only work well on desktop browsers and don't support modern features that'd make them easier to maintain, more accessible, and more usable on more devices. (You can design pages that work on 20 year old machines but still have support for modern devices. Most don't, except for weirdos like me, but you can…)

The existing forum software doesn't support modern text entry and language standards. I can type things (and routinely do type things) that I guarantee will create errors the moment I click the submit button. A single emoji will do that much, actually.

Newer forum software would also allow us to do things like … let you upload an image to imgur and put it directly into your message, more or less sort of solving the problem of old messages full of "Image" with pictures long lost that were directly attached, or 404 because someone no longer has an imageshack or flickr account or deleted those images to make space a decade ago or whatever. We could also streamline the process of people coming from the very popular YeOldeInn facebook group who want to join the forum by letting them quickly use their Facebook email address to register.

There's stuff we can do to make site mods' lives easier too, if we decide to go with it. Not ready to discuss details of that yet—not because drathe isn't sold on the idea so much as that I'm not. :D The current site's pages are all generated via PHP. Most of them could be static though. If we decide to go with stuff to make mods able to do more stuff more easily, it requires making them LESS static, not more. It's a lot harder to find an exploit to do unintended things to a static site. (The forum cannot be static, obviously.)
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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby Stig » Monday July 19th, 2021 9:16am

iKarith wrote:
Stig wrote:We could also streamline the process of people coming from the very popular YeOldeInn facebook group who want to join the forum by letting them quickly use their Facebook email address to register.


Now THAT would be super. I'm worried we're losing a lot of traffic to the FB group and losing the depth of the HQ conversations we have here.

Sounds great - best of luck with the whole thing!


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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby Daedalus » Monday July 19th, 2021 3:56pm

Long live iKareth, Inn Architect!
..
UNCLE ZARGON
Image
WANTS.. YOU


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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby HispaZargon » Monday July 19th, 2021 6:25pm

Thank you iKarith for such titanic effort and good luck!!


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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby lestodante » Tuesday July 20th, 2021 1:24pm

The gallery always works fine if you are not logged with your account.
Adding an auto login by facebook account can be useful as we've already tested people do not want to register new sites, especially newbies using only their smartphone to surf the web.


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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby iKarith » Tuesday July 20th, 2021 3:40pm

Stig wrote:
iKarith wrote:
Stig wrote:We could also streamline the process of people coming from the very popular YeOldeInn facebook group who want to join the forum by letting them quickly use their Facebook email address to register.


Now THAT would be super. I'm worried we're losing a lot of traffic to the FB group and losing the depth of the HQ conversations we have here.

Sounds great - best of luck with the whole thing!


Thanks. I hear from drathe every couple of weeks or so, and hopefully when next I do, I can get started.

I think where I'm starting first is the language pages because they're relatively easy. They're just out of date HTML (that I could probably start working on now since the HTML part I've already got) and a little PHP that probably gets used for templating and not much else.

I'll throw them in git when he sends them to me (I'll use git on my end, but no promises drathe will want to use it—I can teach it, it's not hard to work with, but it is a thing he's not used before…)


Daedalus wrote:Long live iKareth, Inn Architect!


I'm not sure that I qualify as an architect. Maybe general contractor.


lestodante wrote:The gallery always works fine if you are not logged with your account.
Adding an auto login by facebook account can be useful as we've already tested people do not want to register new sites, especially newbies using only their smartphone to surf the web.


Right. They're still registering an account, it just looks and feels like they're using their Facebook credentials to do it. This somehow makes them happier because … I have no idea how non-security people think.
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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby iKarith » Wednesday July 28th, 2021 11:05am

Y'all are probably pretty familiar with this image…

Image

Let me direct you to this jsfiddle

I didn't try very hard to recreate the button's shape because I'm not very skilled at it and … how many layers of box-shadow did you want, exactly? And I can't really just drop the HeroQuest font into a jsfiddle (at least I don't think I can) but I've done that locally. In woff2, woff, and using my own locally installed font, actually.

If someone would like to do this one better, please feel free to create a SVG sized for 148x26(ish) using gradients and I'll gladly use it instead. Actually svg would be great because I could generate a png version for old browsers if someone is trying to browse the Inn from Windows 98 or something. (Don't do that.)

Actually, is anyone using anything older than about Windows 7 or macOS Catalina at this point? Those OSes can use modern browsers, and for security reasons you shouldn't really be using anything older. I mean yeah, I do, but not to the public Internet at large…
Last edited by Daedalus on Wednesday July 28th, 2021 6:08pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Site upgrade v2021 early plans

Postby iKarith » Tuesday September 21st, 2021 4:07am

Did you know we have 16 GIGABYTES of HeroQuest content here at the Inn? We do. And it's ballooned to 23GB on my hard drive because for the time being, I'm gonna have to have multiple copies of some of it. At this point, the way I'm doing this is:

  • Separate the stuff into separate chunks
    • the main site
    • the site downloads
    • the forum
    • agin's archive
    • phoneix archive
  • Put the three (mostly) static sites into a version control system called git. This makes those pages take up a lot more space, but it allows me to easily make/test/compare changes, undo mistakes, and generally improve the site in stages.
  • Do the "low-hanging fruit" cleanups:
    • Many files have "trailing whitespace". It messes with "diff", a tool that compares files. Remove it.
    • Line endings. If you know what I mean bu CRLF and LF, YeOldeInn mostly uses CRLF, but has some LF-only files mixed in and a few files that … somehow use both. Clean up on aisle 3.
    • A number of files are "nearly identical", differing only in relative vs. absolute links. Others differ more, but feature the same stuff over and over again with slight variances. Standardize and reduce this (even if it makes the files temporarily larger) so that…
    • Merge the common stuff. The inn's site is pretty complicated. A large part of why is that there are 15 copies of everything (16 sites in total, plus the forum, plus agin's, plus phoenix) and the organization of nearly all of it is basically flat.
    • Note, having done all of this, I still won't have appreciably changed a single bit of what you see visiting the site! Seriously!
  • Determine the best solution for re-organizing where the downloads live. They're too big for git and I've never had reason to use git-lfs. They might just live in an "ignored" directory for the time being. They'll probably get reorganized following a common naming scheme (I should probably post a cheat sheet for that when I do it), but these things aren't likely to change much unless I come up with a good way to reduce the size of PDF scans by removing visibly imperceptible noise in the white backgrounds or something.
  • Convert page headers/footers/etc. to use more modern HTML styles. This won't (much) affect the way the pages look, but it will make them smaller, leaner, and a lot of things that are http links will automatically upgrade to https if your browser doesn't try to enforce https everywhere.
  • Begin modernizing the HTML for the content of ONE of the language pages … English or North American (or probably a mix for the different editions). This'll become the basis of the new site.
  • Figure out how we want to handle languages exactly. Having 15 languages hasn't worked out because we don't have people to do translations and, honestly, Google Translate is a million times better than it was when these pages were created. Ideally I want to have curated translations, but we don't need 16 sites to do that in 2021. Anything that gets changed … I'm thinking maybe Google can translate it for us and we can find a way to make it easy for someone to view both English and their native language and suggest edits to us.
  • Oh, all those graphic buttons? I'm working on that. Site get smaller. And more accessible. Yes, dark mode is going to work if you use it.
  • Once this all gets tested, it'll become the new baseline.
  • While doing all of that, I'll be getting to understand all the customization done to phpBB here on the site. There's quite a lot of that, and hopefully by the time I'm done with all of the above, I'll have duplicated the setup on my own system and worked out a good upgrade path.

This is a massive project and it's going to take quite awhile. But it's been needed for a long time and I hope it'll be worth the wait. I'm still in the middle of the low-hanging fruit

That's it from your friendly(?) neighborhood Web Mage for now. *whew*
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