I had a series of six posts where I compared phpBB3 with what I called “phpBB-Dave” which is my custom implementation of phpBB2. I have stated more than once that I don’t plan to upgrade, at least not right away. My timetable for upgrading was probably a year out at the earliest. The general idea behind the posts was to step back and take a more generic look at the features provided by phpBB3. By going through a feature list line-by-line I hoped to be a bit more objective about the potential urgency of my upgrade.
The net result was that after reviewing the feature list provided by phpbb.com I felt like there were more reasons to stay with what I am using today (four) than there were compelling reasons to upgrade (one). To be very clear: this comparison was a feature comparison only. I recognize that there are clear advantages that the phpBB3 codebase provides as far as efficiency and coding style and standards. That didn’t come into play. Why not? Because my board users don’t see coding standards, they only see features. As far as efficiency goes… I have spent several years tweaking the code for phpBB-Dave and it’s certainly as efficient as I need it to be right now. I am able to support a full load of users without my server breaking a sweat.
Is that the end of the story?
It turns out that there’s more to the decision than simply deciding if phpBB3 offers features that are better than what I already have. I also have to consider which features exist in phpBB-Dave that don’t exist in phpBB3.
Banner Management System
I spent many hours writing my banner management system for phpBB2. It includes complete admin control panel control, email subscriptions for banner advertisers, and an almost completed paypal interface so existing advertisers can extend their account without any interaction with me. I am not using this system on the phpBB Doctor board, but I am using it on my largest board. It would definitely have to be converted to phpBB3 before I could upgrade. The design is sound, so I don’t need to recreate it from scratch. I just need to rework it so that it fits into phpBB3.
There are also a number of cron jobs that are php code using the phpBB2 DBAL and other features. All of this would need to be converted before I can switch.
I’ve also written code that allows me to post Amazon.com links on a “shop” page. The links include my referral code. I don’t make a lot of money from this feature, but it’s something I would not want to leave behind. There are admin pages that allow me to add authors, categories, book information, and anything else related to listing items. This does not have to be ready prior to a conversion but it would be nice.
I have written a Contact form that integrates with phpBB2. The contact message is stored as a post in a hidden forum. It features flood controls, IP address tracking, and other features as well. This page would have to be updated to work with phpBB3.
Canned Messages – I wrote a MOD that allows my board moderators to select from a drop-down list of canned messages which can be automatically inserted into a post. We use these when closing posts for being cross posted, advertising, or other moderator tasks. We also have a standard “welcome” message that can be used. This feature is not a requirement, but it would be missed if it were not available after an upgrade.
Other Dave MODs – Pros and Cons
There are several MODs that I install now on any phpBB2 board that I launch. These include the Page Permissions MOD, the Checkbox Challenge MOD, Post Notes, Topic Prefixes… none of these features are currently in phpBB3 (and some were already mentioned in the “smackdown” topics) and all are important to the way I manage my boards now. Some others (User Medals, Country Flags, Board Announcements) are more cosmetic and I could update without them if I wanted to.
I have a profile change log, but I think that’s in phpBB3 as well. My profile change log allows me to make a selection from a list of fields from the phpbb_users table (even new ones that are added) and mark which ones I want to track. Those that are marked get logged anytime a user changes them. If this is not in phpBB3 then it’s another update I have to write. It doesn’t have to use the same interface, but it has to provide the same functionality.
My sub-forums MOD frankly stinks, and I would be glad to get away from it. My Rebuild Search MOD isn’t required since phpBB3 offers this as a built-in feature.
This is a two-part conclusion. First, I have decided that I won’t be upgrading to phpBB3. Notice that I didn’t include a time frame, as in, “I won’t be upgrading for … weeks || months || years” or anything like that. At this point I believe that I have decided that I won’t be upgrading to phpBB3. Ever.
What I will do instead is plan on getting comfortable with phpBB3 so I know how to write code for it, but at this point I expect that I will skip this release and go to phpBB3.2 when it comes out. I realize that’s a long time off (insert “It will be done when it’s done” here) but that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s perfect, at least for me. I have finally marked another large client project off of my list (only one left, yay!) and can spend some time upgrading my server so that I am more current on php and MySQL. Those activities have been on the list for quite some time.
Then, finally, I will start looking at phpBB3 and see what I need to learn before 3.2 is released. Hopefully they will give me a few years for that.