Currently scheduling our forum software conversion for Monday, August 29th, 2016 starting mid-morning PST. If all goes according to plan I expect the site to be offline most of the day, returning Monday evening. This is a major site upgrade by the vendor, Invision Power Services (IPS), basically a rewrite of the entire product offering. It will add many new capabilities members have been requesting like drag and drop image posting, thread preview and support for phones and tablets without needing an app. As with any change thinks will look a little different when you log back in so a couple things to remember:
If you registered with a user name but set up a display name, you will need to use your display name or your registration email address for login. (IPS no longer supports registration names and display names). If you don’t have a display name defined use your registration name or registration email address. So before we shut down Monday be sure you know your login name and password.
Not all site functions will immediately be available after the conversion as some have not yet been upgraded to work with the new software. The site critical functions including the forums, photo gallery, chat, blogs, store, assist database and downloads will be available. The reference articles need to reformatted for the new release and won’t show up till later. The links page is a 3rd party add on and not yet currently available for this release. If a new version is not released in the very near future I will need to re-write that page, so it may be a couple weeks. The member map is available for the new release, so it will updated as soon as I’m confident the new site is stable.
Why are we doing this? The current IPS version is 3.x and at the end of the year will be unsupported with no additional feature or security updates. This makes the site very vulnerable to a hack attacks and potentially spreading malware to members. New feature releases actually ended for version 3.X January 2016, and IPS is only addressing critical security issues through the end of 2016. To keep the site safe for visitors we need to move to version 4. Since I often see over 50 attempts to attack the site a night security is critical.
Second, version 4 is a total rewrite by IPS using modern coding techniques and products. This help provide the best performance, security and support for the widest range of client platforms. And, as you will see, many new features. Having worked in the software industry for over 35 years any time I hear “rewrite” I get nervous. However version 4 has now been in the field for 20 months so I confident any major show stoppers have been addressed. For months I have been running test installs on my local server so I’m confident everything should work. If not we have backups and will fall back to the previous release and try again later in the week.
One change is a slightly different menu structure based on function. Give it a try. I may move back to the old one but a lot of members never knew we had menu choices in the header and missed a lot at the site. I’m hoping the new menu approach helps people explore the site in more detail. All topic threads, photos and members will be moved over with the conversion so nothing is being thinned down to save space. Some functions like new registration and email notification of PMs may not work immediately after the conversion as they have to be reconfigured for the new software. Lastly when the site comes back up it has around 50 background jobs that initially run to rebuild caches and indexes for the site content. Some run in a matter of minutes others take many hours hours. Until that is complete you may see thing like missing thumbnails from images or profiles. Don’t panic, the data is the database, it just needs the indexing process to finish.
If you are interested, I will be posting a temporary home page reporting on the state of the conversion process as it moves along. And don’t forget to check your username/password before we shutdown Monday morning. If you have any questions post them in this thread. After the conversion if you see something critical please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the new site!