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General Ship Modeling
Discuss modeling techniques, experiences, and ship modeling in general.
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Floating an idea about the new forum
staff_Jim
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New Hampshire, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 02:36 PM UTC
Hi all,
You probably aren't all aware of this, but I have been working on replacement platforms for the site for several months now. This is going to be a migration to shiny, powerful, and up to date content management software and forums. This is going to take a while though as it means transitioning our active members to these new platforms.

What are we going to gain?

- Users will be able to add photos directly to posts in the forums without the need of a 3rd party image host or uploading to the gallery.

- Users will be able to create content like news, reviews, and features directly via a browser and again upload photos directly without the need to email text and photos, wait for an editor to act on them, etc. We will still have an approval queue but that should be quick and easy to get things posted.

- Forum topics will be linear. No pagination. Your last read position will always be saved on each post.

- Like... a zillion more forum features I can't list. Seriously this forum is considered THE best software our there right now and is being used by many large companies. This is just a few: https://www.discourse.org/customers

- More simply this is 'smart' software. It makes my forum code look like a slobbering babe.

What are we losing?

- Well we aren't losing the old sites content. That will all be saved in archive versions. So users will still be able to find and view old posts, reviews, etc.

- The unified login. All the new sites will have unique logins. On the plus side you will be able to use Facebook, Google, or other systems to login so that should make logging in or creating new accounts pretty easy. Also if you are a forum user and don't contribute articles to the sites, you will only need one login; the forums.

- Some of the unique scale or scale modeling centric aspects of the sites might not immediately be available on the new sites. Remember it took me 5-10 years to get the sites to their current state and it will likely take me a few years to make the new sites the best they can be. So I will ask for your patience on that score.

Why are we doing this change?

Age. I know that's something most of us can identify with. To be blunt the site is reaching end-of-life for some of the systems this code is designed to run on. Updating them is not feasible due to the probably 50,000+ or so lines of code this site runs on. So rather than the sites just die one day, we believe it's better to archive them as flat HTML and move to newer platforms.

Okay so what's this topic all about?

Well I was thinking tonight. This is a fairly small group (our ship guys). And as some of you have noted we have had some issues getting new articles up lately due to staffing issues. So I was thinking, perhaps some of you would like to be our first group of beta-testers for the new Model Shipwrights site and forums? If we can get enough of you using the new forums for example we can really set a good path for moving the other groups (and lastly Armorama) over to the new platforms.

Mind you I haven't even created the MSW content site as yet (but the forums are up and staff have been using them). So this is not going to be like tomorrow or anything.

If you're interested post a reply here saying as much. And if you have questions by all means let me know.

Thanks,
Jim
RussellE
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Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 04:38 PM UTC
Hi Jim

yer, totally understand where you're coming from re keeping up with the technology moving forward... Have similar challenges here at work, as older operating systems become redundant and trying to update to newer more current operating systems is like dragging along a weighted chain...

So, as a MSW nutter, I'm happy to have a crack at it (Aussie slang, for yer, I'll try it ), but first, some questions:

- What will the new site look like?
- Will our current user profiles still be valid/appear?
- What about our current user names and passwords
- Lastly will our photos on the KM Gallery still be available or is that site going to become "archived too"?

Russ
d6mst0
#453
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Texas, United States
Joined: August 28, 2016
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 01:47 AM UTC
Jim,

Sure I am interested. Those upgrades you mention sound wonderful and needed.

Mark
Littorio
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England - South East, United Kingdom
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 02:03 AM UTC
Hi Jim,

I'll give it a go, I do have the same questions as Russell though and also like a lot of members that visit MSW I also visit most of the rest of the network so how will that work on the new forum?

For me the first place I visit when I open the site is the latest posts page.
PasiAhopelto
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Uusimaa, Finland
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 02:15 AM UTC
I'm also willing to try the new forums.
md72
#439
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Washington, United States
Joined: November 05, 2005
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 02:25 AM UTC
Not that I've actually finished a ship this century, but I'll be glad to help.
staff_Jim
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New Hampshire, United States
Joined: December 15, 2001
KitMaker: 12,490 posts
Model Shipwrights: 260 posts
Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 02:37 AM UTC

Quoted Text

- What will the new site look like?



Well it will be site(s) first off. We are looking at Discourse to be our forum solution. The forums will be pretty clean overall. I think we will let the user uploaded images take center stage on the forums much like our forums do now (just will be a whole lot easier to add them). The content sites will be Armorama, AeroScale, Model Shipwrights, Model Geek and AutoModeler (at least starting off). Those sites will house user or editor added content like features, reviews, news, photo features, etc. Any time we add a new article to those sites it will have a snippet in the code to automatically add a discussion topic on our forums and the replies to those topics will show up on the content sites (but you will post comments from the forums because it will give you more flexibility, etc. For example images can be embedded in the replies and they will show up on the content site. Something our current view of replies on this site doesn't do.

But in general the sites will graphically look different to what we have now. At some point I can start sharing the development URL of Armorama's content site as it's the only one up atm.


Quoted Text

- Will our current user profiles still be valid/appear?



Other than showing up on the archived versions of the old sites, no. You will have new profile pages and profiles. New systems. New database. There is simply no way to port any info from one system to the other and even if I did it would be very limited in scope (username, emails, etc.)


Quoted Text

- What about our current user names and passwords



You'll be able to keep your username if you get on and reserve it. I don't see that being a problem with our core users. Of course if you wait too long than some popular user names could get scooped up. Passwords... well... How secure is your password? Probably not very. I am pretty sure there are base minimums for password length on the new systems so yeah it will depend on your current password. If you have a social account (Google, Facebook) I would honestly suggest just using that as your login/gateway. You can still set a username/password I believe but your social login will allow you to bypass those and get in, etc.


Quoted Text

- Lastly will our photos on the KM Gallery still be available or is that site going to become "archived too"?



Hmmm... I hadn't considered that, but off-hand, no. The galleries themselves were really meant for content storage. So any photo that is IN the galleries that is used somewhere on the site WILL be saved and archived. However it's it's not, then there is not really a strong reason to save the entire gallery (and duplicate any of those images again). Of course you could save any image yourself prior to the switchover and upload it to the new forums. While there is no 'photos' or 'gallery' plugin currently available for Discourse I will keep an eye out for one and add it if it's created.

Ripster
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Wien, Austria
Joined: June 01, 2005
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 02:52 AM UTC
The new developments sound great. I'd be happy to help out with beta testing if required.
Littorio
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England - South East, United Kingdom
Joined: September 15, 2004
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 03:26 AM UTC
Hi Jim,

Thank you for the answers, I think I need to see it. I partake of several different forums across the net and although clunky at times (showing its age) I still prefer the layout here.

Just thought of a couple more questions.
What will happen if there is a campaign running mid change over (this applies to all forums) will the first page/s be lost. May need to put in a change freeze on campaigns.
And along the same lines, if someone has an active BLOG running, will that be lost?

One last one not related to MSW, as you can see I'm a Bulldog (did have admin access) so will IPMS British Bulldogs still have a home here?
staff_Jim
Staff MemberPublisher
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Joined: December 15, 2001
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Model Shipwrights: 260 posts
Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 07:38 AM UTC

Quoted Text

What will happen if there is a campaign running mid change over (this applies to all forums) will the first page/s be lost. May need to put in a change freeze on campaigns.


I think we will be able to adapt regarding campaigns. If there is a campaign running mid-change-over they can create a new campaign topic on the new forum, link to the cached page for people who want to go back and look at that, and then continue on with any group build related posts. One element of campaigns that we will likely lose is ribbons. We are looking at ways to do something like that though.


Quoted Text

And along the same lines, if someone has an active BLOG running, will that be lost?


Again pretty much the same scenario. Although that said, you will have to see how good this forum is at cutting and pasting existing content in from a page (or forum topic) before you understand just how easy it will be to replicate a previous blog post (or posts) from the old (this) forum. Of course I am talking about the topic creators prior posts, not replies by others, etc.


Quoted Text

will IPMS British Bulldogs still have a home here?


Certainly they will have a home on the forum site. Although I don't know if we will go the route of an entirely separate content site as we have now. We haven't posted a new article on that site since 2016 after all. I will still archive the old Bulldogs site however so we don't lose any content there.
RussellE
#306
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Victoria, Australia
Joined: June 27, 2010
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 09:32 AM UTC
hmmm... okay, that raises more questions, including the all important $3.95USD/month question:

- Given that people would be allowed to log in using their Facebook or Google accounts, what are the implications for subscribers? (Personally, I am not a big fan of either Facebook or Google, and certainly don't like allowing them to access other sites I am a member of-surely they get enough of our information already?)

- Will there still be subscription based users?

- If not, what then happens to the images hosted on the KM Gallery on the proviso that a subscription is held, if subscriptions are no longer required?

- How would you compensate for the fact that if subscriptions are no longer required, all those memberships (and fees paid) now are meaningless?

- Surely there must be a way to acknowledge campaign ribbons? For many people, and even more so in these times of isolation, the campaigns and ribbons, have been a positive in all this darkness...

Tough questions I know, but need to ask...

Just my 2cents...
staff_Jim
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 12:54 PM UTC

Quoted Text

including the all important $3.95USD/month question:


It's $3.50.


Quoted Text

- Given that people would be allowed to log in using their Facebook or Google accounts, what are the implications for subscribers? (Personally, I am not a big fan of either Facebook or Google, and certainly don't like allowing them to access other sites I am a member of-surely they get enough of our information already?)


People that want to use their social logins can use them, if you don't trust Google or Facebook don't use them. That's a matter of personal choice I think. If you really want to secure your info/login the forum even offers a Two Factor Authentication mode that will make hacking into your account pretty unlikely.


Quoted Text

- Will there still be subscription based users?


Not as we have them now no. I will be asking users to move to a Patreon style of support and potential user benefits rather than PayPal. The subscriber system has always been a way for members to help support the site and gain some minor perks. This new forum is going to be using a whole lot more bandwidth due to members being able to upload photos directly. So we will definitely be needing as much member support as we can get. Advertisers are not as plentiful as in the heyday of the internet, and obviously Covid has dampened some of that as well.


Quoted Text

- If not, what then happens to the images hosted on the KM Gallery on the proviso that a subscription is held, if subscriptions are no longer required?


All subscriptions would be terminated prior to the gallery going offline. And users would have a chance to download and save any images they might not have saved on their local PC.


Quoted Text

- How would you compensate for the fact that if subscriptions are no longer required, all those memberships (and fees paid) now are meaningless?


I wouldn't. I never promised that images would be maintained forever on the current gallery. So I am not sure what you mean by 'meaningless'. If there was a way to port the whole gallery over to a new one and carry on I would. But again this isn't the case and the gallery is one of the PRIMARY offenders in making the server run more slowly. In fact it's a miracle it lasted as long as it did considering I was trying to replace it with a gallery of my own making as far back as 2012.


Quoted Text

- Surely there must be a way to acknowledge campaign ribbons? For many people, and even more so in these times of isolation, the campaigns and ribbons, have been a positive in all this darkness...


As I said we are looking at a way to carry on the campaign ribbon or acknowledgment, but it's not likely we will have anything like that out of the gate. Keep in mind I wrote the campaign module for KitMaker myself. And that didn't happen until many years after the current site was built. Some features like that we will have to build so I would ask people to be patient.
RussellE
#306
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 01:31 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

including the all important $3.95USD/month question:


It's $3.50.



Good point


Quoted Text


Quoted Text

- Given that people would be allowed to log in using their Facebook or Google accounts, what are the implications for subscribers? (Personally, I am not a big fan of either Facebook or Google, and certainly don't like allowing them to access other sites I am a member of-surely they get enough of our information already?)


People that want to use their social logins can use them, if you don't trust Google or Facebook don't use them. That's a matter of personal choice I think. If you really want to secure your info/login the forum even offers a Two Factor Authentication mode that will make hacking into your account pretty unlikely.



I like that there is a two tier authentication option... So often these days it seems like our online presence is fodder for those who seek to profit from others by unscrupulous means...


Quoted Text


Quoted Text

- Will there still be subscription based users?


Not as we have them now no. I will be asking users to move to a Patreon style of support and potential user benefits rather than PayPal. The subscriber system has always been a way for members to help support the site and gain some minor perks. This new forum is going to be using a whole lot more bandwidth due to members being able to upload photos directly. So we will definitely be needing as much member support as we can get. Advertisers are not as plentiful as in the heyday of the internet, and obviously Covid has dampened some of that as well.



I can't speak for others, but I'm more than happy to keep supporting this great site you've built and the community that it has built... Look forward to seeing what "perks" there will be...


Quoted Text


Quoted Text

- If not, what then happens to the images hosted on the KM Gallery on the proviso that a subscription is held, if subscriptions are no longer required?


All subscriptions would be terminated prior to the gallery going offline. And users would have a chance to download and save any images they might not have saved on their local PC.


Quoted Text

- How would you compensate for the fact that if subscriptions are no longer required, all those memberships (and fees paid) now are meaningless?


I wouldn't. I never promised that images would be maintained forever on the current gallery. So I am not sure what you mean by 'meaningless'. If there was a way to port the whole gallery over to a new one and carry on I would. But again this isn't the case and the gallery is one of the PRIMARY offenders in making the server run more slowly. In fact it's a miracle it lasted as long as it did considering I was trying to replace it with a gallery of my own making as far back as 2012.



I understand the gallery is causing problems... It's great that it has lasted this long. "Meaningless" was probably a poor choice of word, what I meant was, say you've hosted your blog images in the KM Gallery using a subscription as a means to the additional storage allowance, but then that subscription is no longer valid and the KM Gallery is shut down, does that mean that all those blog posts will lose their images?


Quoted Text


Quoted Text

- Surely there must be a way to acknowledge campaign ribbons? For many people, and even more so in these times of isolation, the campaigns and ribbons, have been a positive in all this darkness...


As I said we are looking at a way to carry on the campaign ribbon or acknowledgment, but it's not likely we will have anything like that out of the gate. Keep in mind I wrote the campaign module for KitMaker myself. And that didn't happen until many years after the current site was built. Some features like that we will have to build so I would ask people to be patient.



Will do. All of us here are really grateful that all those years ago you took it upon yourself to create this site... One wonders what life would have been like had I not stumbled across it...

It's become such a good community, I guess it's hard not to feel a bit concerned when there's the possibility that it may be lost...

Without meaning to be presumptuous but I believe your creation has outgrown your initial vision and taken on a life all its own
staff_Jim
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Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 02:29 PM UTC

Quoted Text

but then that subscription is no longer valid and the KM Gallery is shut down, does that mean that all those blog posts will lose their images?



Well no if you mean blog posts on this site. As I said above (which granted was probably easy to miss). The archives of all the sites will retain any image used on any topic in the forums. This actually included all images on OTHER hosting platforms as well so you can imagine that makes these archives rather... umm... large.
McRunty
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Missouri, United States
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 05:44 AM UTC
I am always happy to help and support this site in any way I can so would be happy to be a beta user
TUGA
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Setubal, Portugal
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 10:27 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Hi Jim,

... also like a lot of members ... I also visit most of the rest of the network so how will that work on the new forum?

For me the first place I visit when I open the site is the latest posts page.



Hi,

I also start at 'Latest posts', will we have that or we have to check site by site?

I'll help as I can, has I've been doing since I discoved it more then 15 years ago.

RussellE
#306
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 11:21 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

but then that subscription is no longer valid and the KM Gallery is shut down, does that mean that all those blog posts will lose their images?



Well no if you mean blog posts on this site. As I said above (which granted was probably easy to miss). The archives of all the sites will retain any image used on any topic in the forums. This actually included all images on OTHER hosting platforms as well so you can imagine that makes these archives rather... umm... large.



Well, yes, I can imagine

Ok, sounds fine to me then.

Am ready to give it a go with the next salty build I'm planning
staff_Jim
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 12:23 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Hi Jim,

... also like a lot of members ... I also visit most of the rest of the network so how will that work on the new forum?

For me the first place I visit when I open the site is the latest posts page.



Hi,

I also start at 'Latest posts', will we have that or we have to check site by site?

I'll help as I can, has I've been doing since I discoved it more then 15 years ago.




Hi Jose! So nice to see you! You have indeed been here quite a while. More than 15 years I think.

The new forum is very good at showing you recent posts and will do it on a forum-wide level or drilled down to smaller categories. As all our new content will generate new forum posts it will work much the same as our current sites do in that regard.

Cheers,
Jim
Klaus-Adler
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 01:37 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

- What will the new site look like?



Well it will be site(s) first off. We are looking at Discourse to be our forum solution. The forums will be pretty clean overall. I think we will let the user uploaded images take center stage on the forums much like our forums do now (just will be a whole lot easier to add them). The content sites will be Armorama, AeroScale, Model Shipwrights, Model Geek and AutoModeler (at least starting off). Those sites will house user or editor added content like features, reviews, news, photo features, etc. Any time we add a new article to those sites it will have a snippet in the code to automatically add a discussion topic on our forums and the replies to those topics will show up on the content sites (but you will post comments from the forums because it will give you more flexibility, etc. For example images can be embedded in the replies and they will show up on the content site. Something our current view of replies on this site doesn't do.

But in general the sites will graphically look different to what we have now. At some point I can start sharing the development URL of Armorama's content site as it's the only one up atm.


Quoted Text

- Will our current user profiles still be valid/appear?



Other than showing up on the archived versions of the old sites, no. You will have new profile pages and profiles. New systems. New database. There is simply no way to port any info from one system to the other and even if I did it would be very limited in scope (username, emails, etc.)


Quoted Text

- What about our current user names and passwords



You'll be able to keep your username if you get on and reserve it. I don't see that being a problem with our core users. Of course if you wait too long than some popular user names could get scooped up. Passwords... well... How secure is your password? Probably not very. I am pretty sure there are base minimums for password length on the new systems so yeah it will depend on your current password. If you have a social account (Google, Facebook) I would honestly suggest just using that as your login/gateway. You can still set a username/password I believe but your social login will allow you to bypass those and get in, etc.


Quoted Text

- Lastly will our photos on the KM Gallery still be available or is that site going to become "archived too"?



Hmmm... I hadn't considered that, but off-hand, no. The galleries themselves were really meant for content storage. So any photo that is IN the galleries that is used somewhere on the site WILL be saved and archived. However it's it's not, then there is not really a strong reason to save the entire gallery (and duplicate any of those images again). Of course you could save any image yourself prior to the switchover and upload it to the new forums. While there is no 'photos' or 'gallery' plugin currently available for Discourse I will keep an eye out for one and add it if it's created.




Hi Jim,

with regards to campaign galleries, how will that work out? I'm a fan of the campaign ribbons but I do realise they might have to take a back seat while you focus on the key infrastructure.

also, will you be altering each forum to contain it's own organic campaigns section which is what exists now in the armour and aviation section but not in the sci-fi and ship builders sections? Or perhaps just one universal campaign section that covers all group builds?

kind regards,

Klaus
staff_Jim
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 02:38 PM UTC
I think we will have a campaign (or group build) sub-category in each of the main forum genres. If we need to switch to a single campaign main level topic that would give us the option to create campaigns as sub-categories. However I am not sure how that might work over a lot of time (10 years is a lot of campaigns). So we will have to give that thought. There is a post tagging system so if people tagged their posts as the campaign name (and did it consistently) then that would help people find all the posts if they weren't all in a single thread that is. As far as the galleries go I don't think we will need them as peoples campaign topics would be able to have images posted directly to them so no need to look elsewhere for them.

Cheers,
Jim
AussieReg
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AUTOMODELER
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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 - 07:11 PM UTC

Quoted Text

with regards to campaign galleries, how will that work out? I'm a fan of the campaign ribbons but I do realise they might have to take a back seat while you focus on the key infrastructure.



For the last few Group Builds (Campaigns) over on AutoModeler we have done away with the gallery idea completely. The entrants just post images of their completed builds in the main thread, and I collate these images and create a Photo Feature after the end of proceedings. We find it works well because you don't need to navigate away from the Forums area to find the Gallery. It's easy for me to do because we have only a few Group Builds, whereas on Armorama and Aeroscale perhaps this could be part of the Campaign Leader duties.

I've had a bit of time exploring the new site and it looks good so far. As with anything, there will be a period of learning and adjustment, but as Jim said, much better than the alternative.

Cheers, D