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Fall 2018 Site/Forum/Discord updates

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Fall 2018 Site/Forum/Discord updates

Post by Roots » Wed Oct 10, 2018 11:25 pm

This month I've started working on a number of initiatives to improve the site and community in preparation for our next release. I want to outline what my intentions are and open it up for any further feedback or suggestions. If you'd like to assist with any of this work, let me know because it's a lot to handle by myself. :eyespin:

Forum Upgrade
Tonight, I performed a major upgrade of our forums. I'm hoping to add a few extensions to take advantage of, including the following:
  • Improved automatic anti-spam protection
  • Topic previews
  • Board announcements
  • Board rules (maybe)
Expect some small changes such as these here and there. I also need to fix the forum logo image (it reset to the default for this style). I'd like to see if I can make the forums take up more horizontal space as well, because it's a pretty narrow style and I don't like that.

Discord Integrations
It's obvious that our discord channel has long since replaced the forums as our primary means of communication. This leaves new forum posts often unseen and unaddressed. We've seen great success with integrating activity on bitbucket to discord to make people aware of project activity. I'd like to do similar integrations with our other services, if possible, to make discord not only where our chatter happens, but a sort of activity feed for all things going on in the world of Allacrost. Specifically I'm looking to create the following.
  • #forum-updates: any new forum posts will be linked here along with a summary of the first few words
  • #site-updates: any posts to the main website will be linked/summarized here
  • #wiki-updates: any changes made to pages in the wiki will be linked/summarized here
All of these will be grouped with the current #project-activity page that reports bitbucket updates. (Channel names are subject to change). I realize that not everyone may be interested in seeing a notification for these, but it's easy enough for users to mute these individual channels if they so choose. By default, nothing will be muted though. I'm still not certain if I'll be able to add integrations for all these, but I'll see what I can do. I'm placing priority on adding the forum update channel.

Site Updates
I probably won't get around to this anytime soon, but our website could use some love as well. The formatting is pretty awful and unprofessional, and some of the content needs improvement. Some items I'm looking to do here include:
  • Update the software running the site to the latest version
  • Possibly apply a new freely available style to fix some of our graphical issues. Or at the very least fix the existing style because the UX on our pages is pretty awful.
  • Add some new screenshots based on the upcoming release
  • Improve the left sidebar, possibly making it a little wider to fit more content
  • Improve the top navigation bar, centering elements and hopefully making it look a bit nicer
  • Add some sort of discord integration so you can see the latest chatter directly from the website. (To encourage people to join the discussion, and also better show recent project activity). This might be done on the front page, or on a new completely separate page.
The top priorities here are to update the site, then do the discord integration. Those I'll try to complete within a month, but the others might have to wait until later.

Security Updates
I'd also like to make the entire site run on https to protect everyone's security. This I'll need to learn how to do so it may take some time (and I think it will also cost me some money). But it's been something we've needed to do for a while now.
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Re: October 2018 Site/Forum/Discord updates

Post by Roots » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:58 pm

Upgrades, changes, and improvements are ongoing. If you have trouble accessing any services, please let me know by either posting to this thread or letting me know on Discord.

Weekend status update

  • We migrated the site successfully to a new server on Friday night that has more recent versions of software that some of our services require.
  • I've begun researching an upgrade strategy for our site. There's a few different options and I'd like to change some things, so this may be moderately difficult to very difficult.
  • I was hoping to complete the upgrade this weekend, but it's more likely to happen in a couple days or next weekend.
  • Improvements to the site style, etc. can't begin until the upgrade is complete.
  • Some of the extensions I've installed don't seem to be working (like topic previews)
  • Anti-spam measures seem to be 100% effective so far.
  • Unfortunately, there is no extension for doing Discord notifications so I'm looking at a couple different options.
  • The wiki was successfully upgraded to the most recent version.
  • Discord notifications for wiki changes are now active and functional.
  • A few existing spammers got in, but I deleted their accounts and deleted all spam on the forum.
  • Spam countermeasures are now in place and are so far proving completely effective.
  • I'm working on improving the wiki page organization so it's more structured and easier to find content. This includes categorizing all existing pages and utilizing a new "breadcrumbs" extension to provide a navigational header.
  • No progress

Here's what I'm working on moving forward, in no particular order. I probably won't get this all done in the next week, but I'm trying to do as much as I can.
  • Wiki: continuing categorization of content
  • Wiki: URL shortening (removing the "index.php" in the URL for each page)
  • Forum: I've decided to take a stab a Discord notifcation extension for phpbb myself. If that's successful, we'll use that. My fallback plan is to use a bot that reads the RSS/Atom feed from the forums and posts that to Discord instead.
  • Forum: investigate and fix non-working extensions
  • Forum: improve style -- might "fork" our existing style completely and increase the page width and change the logo and forum icons, but leave everything else untouched
  • Site: decide on a plan for the site upgrade and then begin the upgrade process
  • Site: upon successful upgrade, add discord notification hook
  • Security: find an affordable provider so we can put the entire site under HTTPS
  • Discord: once forum, wiki, site, and bitbucket webhooks are all functional (currently 2/4 are), I'll post a project status update on the site.
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Re: Fall 2018 Site/Forum/Discord updates

Post by Roots » Mon Nov 05, 2018 10:00 pm

I completed the phpBB extension that I've been working on and installed it on our forums. Any content changes on the forums will now have a notification sent to our Discord server in the channel #forum-activity, complete with links to the relevant post, topic, forum, and/or user that caused the content change.

I'm pretty pleased with the result, and submitted it to be included as an official phpBB extension. It took me longer to complete this work than I initially thought, and unfortunately it consumed all of my time during the development process. So now I'm going to get back to performing the updates and improvements I listed in my previous post.

If you want to check out the source code for the extension, you can find it here: https://github.com/rootslinux/phpbb-dis ... ifications :approve:
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