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DonationCoder Major Upgrades - Progress Report Thread

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Ok I'm going to use this thread to document progress on some major DonationCoder upgrades that are long overdue.
If you're not interested in reading insider useless progress report notes for the next month, please ignore this thread, otherwise read on.

Inspired by the success of the last fundraiser, I've decided that the time has finally come to bite the bullet and spend a couple of months modernizing the donationcoder website and forum.

At first I wrote a giant manifesto on a revolutionary new approach to DonationCoder, including a long harsh critique of the current system, and showed it to the DonationCoder moderators.  Everyone who read it told me it was a depressing read and a grossly impractical proposal. So that idea was dumped.

SO.. Instead, we are going to simply focus for now on sustainability, by finally moving DonationCoder to a proper cms and upgrading our forum system from an older and *highly* customized/kludged version of smf1.x which has become hard to keep updated.

This first stage of upgrades involve a large amount of behind the scenes work, will take many weeks, and will result in little or no outward improvements -- in fact it's virtually guaranteed that things will get occasionally worse and buggy during the process until the kinks are all worked out.  Some of our non-critical features may be removed from the forum during the process -- probably just temporarily.

So the current goal is not to bring new features or fancy looks to the site -- but rather to clean up cruft and make the site much easier to maintain, moderate, and update.  After we achieve that we can talk about adding stuff.

No changes are being made on the CURRENT LIVE site -- so you're not going to see any changes here for a while!
Instead I will be creating a mirror site and working on that.  When the time comes to move everything -- we will simply shut down the current forum and move all forum messages and then turn on the new one.
No forum posts, attachments, or user accounts will be lost.


If there is something I can test, help, etc let me know

Some additional details on the upgrades:

Those who know me know that I tend to spend inordinate amounts of time weighing options before i pull the trigger on large projects.  This vacillation and hesitation can be extremely unproductive.  Part of what has hung up the modernization of DC has been a struggle to decide what direction to go in.

In the end I/we decided that what was best for the community that hangs out here, at least at this point, is to move to the Drupal CMS, and upgrade from our highly customized SMF 1.x to the latest version of the SMF 2.0 forum (and minimizing any customization that makes maintenance/upgrading too difficult).

There was quite a bit of discussion regarding moving to a more modern and actively developed forum system -- but in the end several things seemed to weigh against that: First, this forum community seems to be comfortable with a more traditional system; secondly, if we did eventually want to move to a more modern forum like Discourse, it would still be helpful for us to first go from a highly-customized version of smf1 to a more stock smf2 before doing that.

And as for using Drupal as the CMS.. I have a long love/hate relationship with Drupal.  I had really hoped to move DC to a completely customized new kind of cms system that I have been working on part time (Mewlo), but waiting for Mewlo to reach a usable stage is not practical.  Drupal represents a conservative stable choice.

If there is something I can test, help, etc let me know
--- End quote ---

A major additional motivation for finally moving the website to a proper cms, is to be able to have additional moderators and content creators who can help maintain pages and add new content.  So I am hoping that when it's all set up we can finally revisit the idea of having some regular DC folks add more new content to the website on a regular basis.  This might take the forum of having a bunch of dc regulars writing weekly columns like we tried in the early days of DC, etc.

Also: Converting the hundreds of static html pages into CMS pages is going to be a huge amount of work.  After I get the basic infrastructure and process set up, I would love to have volunteers help in the process.  It won't be particularly difficult work, mostly a matter of copy and paste then fixing links and formatting.

A bit offtopic: I have experience in moving from a cms to WordPress, non static of course and good amount of headaches due to db  collation among other issues.

Unless something comes up, I should be available for some copy paste as well.


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