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Updated Migration Announcement Post. What do you think?

803 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Jan
Below you'll see a more detailed write up for when we introduce a community to the new platform. I'm interested in your feedback, and p.o.v. on when something like this would be posted to your communities, and what else you would include. This is an example specific to Skyscraper City.

Here, here, and here, are some examples of the previous version. Fully aware this new one is longer... it assumes people ask "Why?", we're being proactive about answering it, and these threads live on for some time, so they can always be referred back to -- especially as new members have more and more feedback.

There's no urgent-urgent-urgent rush on the feedback. It's always welcome.

Another other update we'll likely advance on: making the tutorial more interactive and modern by creating an introductory motion graphic video.


It’s obvious, we’re live on our new customized XenForo forum platform. It’s an exciting time for Skyscraper City. We want your thoughts and feedback. Our goal is to provide a more engaging, personalized, modern design with more reliable technology that makes the site run faster and smoother.

It’s been a long time coming. Let’s face it… sometimes the older forum technology is behind other parts of the internet (though there is something to say about why we love forums the way we do, but that goes beyond outdated, unsafe, slow software that we’ve been dealing with). A good example of improvements are forums based on XenForo, and that’s just what we’re doing.

The change to a customized version of XenForo will never be 100% smooth. Part of the challenge is that every one of these communities we’ve supported was running some form of unmaintained, unsupported, and undocumented custom code usually in the form of plugins from 3rd party developers that are no longer in business. To be clear though, staying on the old vBulletin software was not an option for a few reasons:
  • vBullletin 3.8 runs on an old version of PHP that is at “end of life” and is no longer supported. It is also very slow. We originally attempted upgrading a few sites to the newer versions of PHP, but it caused many many problems.
  • vBulletin does not support IPv6. As many ISPs begin moving users to IPv6, vBulletin would actually not allow them to register or post, as it was built when this did not exist and does not recognize those types of IPs. This was causing existing users to be unable to post in many communities.
  • vBulletin was built in 2004, and does not support modern web APIs or frameworks, and is not responsive on mobile devices. Continuing to hack away at old software just didn’t make sense anymore. We were literally playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with bugs and end of life cycle code.
The days of dealing with an out of date platform that isn’t supported are over. We have teams dedicated to building a world-class community for you. The development has been steady with over 45 software releases from May through mid-March, going out every Tuesday or Wednesday, and these releases will continue. Giving us feedback and coming up with ideas on ways to improve is what we want. We’ve migrated millions of unique visitors, and as we’ve done that, more than anything, we’ve listened to members to make improvements, like having a Dark Mode, a more dynamic Advanced Search, and a Premium Membership option that features Focused Reading Mode.

The parts of Skyscraper City that make it what it is haven’t gone anywhere. All of the valuable content within the community is still here, even though the layout may look a little different. If you notice any missing posts, sections or other content, please do report it to us by replying in this thread.

I know I said this earlier this week, but I’ll just mention it again: security will continue to be a top priority, image uploading will be much easier, the ad formats have changed (hopefully you agree for the better, and if not, we offer ad-free viewing with a premium membership) and load quicker, and the site will be device-responsive, so there’s no need to use a third-party app or mobile skin.

Below, I’ll post more detail on feature updates like the new home page experience, and tips on navigation.

Keep the feedback, questions, and ideas coming in the comments below. The Admins and I will be here to help along the way taking note of your comments.

Welcome to your new home!
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Speed and Reliability Are Key
No one should have to wait for information. This site has been built to be much faster and more reliable, period.

New Homepage Experience
Your home page now features the most active forums, trending discussions, featured showcases, and top contributing members. This will help keep you up to date on what’s happening in your community and eventually become a very personalized experience for our members with all the great content you love surfaced effortlessly for you.

We have introduced new search algorithms, powered by an industry-leading AI platform, that will help you find information faster. We plan to roll out new features to continue improving search, and to power many additional areas of the forum.

Due to the volume of content, our search platform may take some time to complete indexing. During this process, you may see a limited number of posts until indexing has been completed. We appreciate your patience.

Easy to Use and Navigate
We have made the design clean and simple to use. Near the upper right-hand corner of the community, you will see navigation icons.

The first icon is for what’s new on the site.

Clicking on it, by default, will take you to new unread posts. On that page, you can click on additional tabs as well, such as Popular, if you prefer to view active topics.

Clicking the list icon next to “NEW” will bring you to the full forum listing.

You can also navigate by clicking the 3 vertical dots.

Clicking on your avatar will give you a drop-down menu for all things related to your account.

Dark Mode
We have introduced Dark Mode. One of our favorite features allows you to access the site with a power-saving, and easier on the eyes dark mode. You can access it in the drop-down menu under the 3 vertical dots.

Save Bookmarks
Now you can save your favorite discussion threads and posts! Bookmarks are a handy way to remember and easily find great content or stuff you want to read later.

We also wanted to make it easier for new users to understand the lingo of forums. We have cleaned up various language to more commonly recognized phrases including:
  • Following - Thread subscriptions, and Watched are now known as Following
  • Conversations – Private Messages or PMs are now conversations and can be accessed from the user avatar drop-down in the main navigation
  • Showcase – Showcase is designed for users to "showcase" items/projects through the use of uploaded images, text descriptions and custom content categories. It’s a way to visually and textually provide detailed information on the content you wish to share. The showcase would be similar to a catalog, whereas the gallery would be like a photo album. It can be accessed from the drop-down menu with the 3 dots.
These are just a few of the great new functions and features to try on the site. Take a tour and look around! If you have any questions, just ask.
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It ain't perfect yet by a long shot, that is my opinion. Spam, random slowness, drop outs, premium member rites regain.
Love it! The more detail the better. Those who want to skim over it can but those of us who like details have them.

Images in tutorials like that go a long way. The only trick to those is remembering to update them if any layout changes are made to the site.

Real forum folks also like the reassurance that their sites aren't being forgotten and at risk of dying on the vine. I think maybe a line about how previously migrated sites are seeing increased activity compared to the declines of the old software might help with that.
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I especially like the second bit with the images. Since no one reads announcements it'll be good to point to it when people ask (before they look). ;)
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