VB 5.3.0 - Impartial Review

Discussion in 'vBulletin' started by BirdOPrey5, May 17, 2017.

  1. BirdOPrey5

    BirdOPrey5 #Awesome

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    I know, people are going to claim that a part time support contractor for VB can't be impartial. I can only say that I disagree. Over the years I have not been a fan of VB5 and those who have come to me for personal recommendations can attest, I could not not in good conscious recommend sites upgrade to VB5. For the first couple years I didn't recommend anyone use it. For the last year or so I started seeing how vBCloud has become a product that fits the segment of the market of people who want to have forums, quickly, but not be responsible for installing, maintaining, or otherwise keeping the site updated. Those with no knowledge of PHP or MySQL, and no intention of learning.

    However, I still was of the mind that anyone with large, established, forum stay away. I didn't think it was quite ready, in fact, part of me believed it never could be. I am surprised to say, I see now, I was wrong.

    Recently, in order to help another tech solve a possible issue related to impex imported content after an upgrade to 5.3.0 I decided to upgrade the one site I had access to that had Impex imported data- my main off topic discussion site with some 3.5 million posts. Now, I didn't bother with attachments but I have very few attachments for a site that size, I have always preferred members link to images rather than attach them- most usergroups never had permission to upload them. But everything else, avatars, post icons, smilies, ranks, notices were used.

    Also this VB 3.8 site is running on a shared plan on URLJet. I was going to install the VB5 version in a different (but still shared) URLJet account I have so I made the backup of the database SQL file, downloaded it, uploaded it to the new location, and asked the host to please import the 2.5 GB .sql file into a new database. I then uploaded the 5.3.0 files, setup the config.php file, and began the upgrade script, not truly confident it would complete.

    Now I knew from experience the upgrade would take hours, that is just the nature of upgrading from 3.8.x to 5.3.0 with over 3 million posts and an unknown about of PMs, all of them becoming "nodes" in the radically different VB5 database structure. I started in the afternoon and knew it would run through the night, if it didn't get a fatal error.

    It had run for at least an hour when I stopped checking on it even couple minutes. At some point it hit some seemingly random error, whether it was stopped for 1 minute or 2 hours, I didn't know, but I refreshed the upgrade.php page and the upgrade continued from where it left off.

    Bed time came and it was still chugging away. I kept the laptop open to the upgrade screen beside my bed as I expected it would require a refresh again. (I wondered if there was a way to code in an auto refresh if the upgrade is stalled for too long...) but anyway sometime around 1AM I woke up, saw something about a timeout, and hit refresh... again around 3am I hit refresh. Around 5am I saw it was stopped but didn't read the text, just hit refresh. Finally when I was ready to get up for the day closer to 6am I looked again and was ready to hit refresh but in fact it was the upgrade complete screen. I realized it may have been the same screen at 5am, I didn't look close enough- in which case I re-ran the final steps of the import an extra time- no harm done.

    So the upgrade completed, I deleted (renamed) the install folder and was eager to log into the Admin CP. Except I couldn't because the forum was closed. Wait.... what? Oh yes, the bug introduced in 5.3.0 (and fixed in 5.3.1) if you close the forum before upgrading (as you generally should) and you go to sleep (like me) so that your Admin account logs out due to inactivity, you can't log back in without using the tools.php file to turn the forum back on first. Oh well, but easy enough. So the forum is back on. The admin cp is familiar. The homepage (surprisingly) loaded fine. No avatars yet, forgot to copy them over, but that was easy enough, as were the smilies, as were the rank images, as were the default avatars (besides the custom avatars I copied first....)

    That looked better- it looked like a forum. Then I clicked on a forum with 1.5 million+ posts in it. And... Some long error.

    Exactly what I suspected! I affirmed my initial opinion of the software.

    But... I did know that VB5 still has issues when there are large numbers of forums, usergroups, and I don't know, maybe styles. And let me tell you, since I started my forum in 2008, I never deleted a single one of those things, though I only actually use a small fraction of them. So I visited the Admin CP. First I deleted 15 VB3 styles, all of them incompatible with VB5 anyway. (Wondered if there should be an option to delete old styles during upgrades?). Next was a look at forums (channels in VB5 lingo.) Sorry to say I had like 40 unused forums over years, I got rid of them. Finally, usergroups... Probably another 10 unused and unnecessary usergroups gone. The ironic part is that beginning in 5.3.1 none of these deletions would be necessary as it will finally stop loading everything into memory on every page load.

    So... back to the front end. I tried again... sure enough, it worked. I tried an even larger 1.5 million post forum, it worked too. The speed wasn't that bad. Then I remembered I could upgrade to PHP 7.0. (7.1 wasn't available on the shared server.) Once I upgraded to PHP 7.0 I realized I was browsing posts and forums with similar speeds to my VB 3.8 forum still running PHP 5.6.x. Further, things were working.

    I uploaded a logo, changed to a different built in theme, and it looked, and more importantly ran, like a forum. And that is to say nothing for the Blogs, Articles, and Groups so easily accessible now. (Yes I forgot my 3.x site actually had groups. They were almost never used, but there they were.)

    ai.imgur.com_TnUV0Ae.png

    It wasn't a seamless upgrade, there were hiccups, and it would not have been as easy for someone inexperienced to upgrade as I did. I wondered what it would be like for someone who isn't me to try to upgrade their 3.8 site to 5.x while needing to make a support ticket for each issue found and waiting for a response, even on the assumption they explained the issue enough to get the correct answer on the first reply. It certainly underscored the need to upgrade a test site first so you (as a customer) have a chance to see what you may need to do during or immediately after an upgrade.

    Still, here was VB5, working, on a 3.5 million post forum, and working well. I had never considered upgrading my 3.8 forum to VB5 but for the first time I was actually considering it. It was a fundamental shift in my thinking. Prior to last week when I did this I honestly did not believe large forums could succeed on VB5. (Now I know, 3.5 million is nothing compared to forums with 30 million posts) but still, it is one, possibly two orders of magnitude higher than I ever previously considered. Certainly VB 5.x improved far more than I had given it credit for.

    Perhaps in my role as a support provider I was seeing nothing but problems reported, daily. People don't often make support tickets that say "All's well, no problems today." There had been the occasional posts on the vBulletin support forums from people happy with VB5, even defending it from harsh critics.I tended to stay out of those discussions.

    Realistically, will I upgrade my live site to VB5? Probably not. My members are still anti-change. The only members I still have are those angry other forums have moved away from VB3 to VB4, Xenforo, and other software. As this upgrade was happening I got a sincere thank you from one of my members for not upgrading the forum- unsolicited. They just wanted me to know the fact we were still on VB3 was something they appreciated. This person probably doesn't know it's a VB3 forum, he just knew that 8 years ago almost all forums were what I'm still running, and over the years, many of them have changed to something else, and he's disliked all the changes.

    I suppose my forum will be one of the last 3.x holdouts but for the first time I can't claim a non-viable upgrade path within vBulletin, it's because my users hate change. And that is a tremendous change in itself.:tup:
     
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  2. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    A handful of sites running vb5 load really fast for me, so I'm curious about how much difference was realized since, especially regarding the ressource consumption load for servers/webhosts (especially shared hosts).
    A technical rundown of the changes in the latest vb5 compared to the original vb5 release would be nice.
     
  3. Paul M

    Paul M Cable Forum Admin

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    I will be right there with you.
    As I have mentioned many times, I have no intention of moving to another software version in the forseeable future, and wont ever use vB5.
     
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  4. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

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    It's nice to hear that things are working well for the latest versions of vB5. I will consider moving one of my smaller, less busy forums to give it a shot at some point. Most of my forums are still running vB3 and my busier forums are running vB4. I'm still in the experimental phase with XenForo - but I REALLY like it...
     
  5. ManagerJosh

    ManagerJosh Enthusiast

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    Great write up that one is able to migrate, but we still lack real world server loads from actual usage.
     
  6. maksim

    maksim Serial Entrepreneur

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    When we went from IPB 3.4 to 4.1 we did a clean upgrade... ie, deleted everything but the uploads folder and config file, then installed new files....

    Why not do the same thing with VB? Keep core files needed for upgrade and voila... remove all of the old crap.

    i did visit a number of vb5 forums and I like them. am a fan of how easy it is to add pages and widgets, something that is now easy to do with ipb 4.... and missing on XF?
     
  7. Solidus

    Solidus Stupid machines!

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    Still really ugly.
     
  8. GTB

    GTB Tazmanian

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    But you make it sound as though you actually would upgrade to vB5 now. The only real reason you're not doing is because of your members.
     
  9. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    So who do you run your forum for, yourself or your members?
     
  10. GTB

    GTB Tazmanian

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    Me, I have no members. :p

    My point was (which I think you missed). He sounded as though he quite liked vB5 after the conversion going through (that he didn't expect would work). But in the end he's decided to stick with vB3/4 because of his users. Not saying there's anything wrong in that decision, but users are notorious for not liking change. That can hold a forum back from moving forward using newer forum software.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2017
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  11. ozzy47

    ozzy47 Moderator

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    He does his forum for himself. :sneaky:
     
  12. BirdOPrey5

    BirdOPrey5 #Awesome

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    It's a major reason. There is also the fact we'd have to forego some 3rd party mods I've gotten used to that I can't recreate in VB5.

    Ultimately the members, without them I might as well just run the forum locally and forego hosting expenses.

    I've had my site privately upgraded to VB4, Xenforo, and now VB5. Select members had access, and all hated the changes. "If it's not broken, don't fix it." is the consistent feedback.
     
  13. ozzy47

    ozzy47 Moderator

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    So then bottom line is, vB5 is not all much of nothing if it is not as extendable as its predecessors.
     
  14. BirdOPrey5

    BirdOPrey5 #Awesome

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    I don't know I can say definitively it's not as extensible as VB3 or VB4, only that I am incapable of extending it. It's much easier for someone like me (relatively low skilled) to code for VB3 and VB4 than either Xenforo or VB5.
     
  15. ozzy47

    ozzy47 Moderator

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    Ahhh, then we are in the same boat. :p
     
  16. BirdOPrey5

    BirdOPrey5 #Awesome

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    Unless my main site moves to a different platform I doubt I am going to find the patience to sit down and learn a new way of doing things. Not until it really matters to me.
     
  17. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    Fair enough!

    I was aiming my question at GTBGTB but I certainly agree with your reply.
     
  18. GTB

    GTB Tazmanian

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    Yep, there's vast difference in moving from vB3 to XenForo coding. Even I could change things with vB3.
    Everyone is different. Take somebody like Shawn Hogan who moved his very large forum from vBulletin 3 to XenForo. He could see the benefits of spending months coding over a million lines of code to switch from vB3 to XF. Mainly because it was a better coded - more modern software - he could see that being a coder. No idea like, but wonder if he ever took into consideration what he his members thought about switching away from vB3, or would he have done it regardless of what they thought?
     
  19. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    I would imagine it was a case of making judgement call based on long term sustainability. Sometimes doing the best for your members means using your expertise to anticipate their future needs rather than asking for opinion.
     
  20. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Habitué

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    Often users don't know they like something better until they've used it a while. I heard the same thing moving from a site from DCForum to VB 2.x and later to 3.x, but there's no denying each upgrade was for the best. I heard the same moving to XF on a couple of forums, but it's amazing how quickly they not only like, but love it's features over VB 3/4.

    “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” - Steve Jobs
     
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