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Updating GI

Posted 18-05-08 at 13:37 by RaMarcus
Updated 27-05-11 at 12:01 by RaMarcus
Time to tell the tale of GI's upgrade and style change. I will assume you know nothing about how GI is created and what software (scripts) it runs on.

Where to start? GI runs on a script called Vbulletin, it's a paid for forum software that is proffesionally supported and has lots of great features that you just don't get in free software. You can check out the pricing HERE, it's not cheap but it's worth it (cheaper than Invision Power board though!).

Vbulletin release updates to their forum every few months, fixing bugs and adding new features. We were running version 3.6.8 and version 3.7 got released at the end of April. This was more than just a few updates, the core software had been given an overhall and many great new features were introduced, you can find specific details HERE.

When you start an upgrade of any sort you need to take the forum offline, closing it to members while you do a back up of the database (where all of the member details, posts etc are kept) and test the changes. Actually doing the updates isn't too hard, it's just the fact it can all go so horribly wrong and for no real reason, that's why we do a backup so it can be restored if it does.

3.7 came with a lot of new features, personal albums, social groups, thread prefixes and a load of other back end stuff you will never see. This is the stuff that then takes more time, you have to go through all Usergroups (admin, moderators, designer levels) and ensure the settings are correct and acceptable.

Vbulletin also has a great add-on feature, you can easily install new features on the forum that have been created by the members of VBulletin.org. Chances are the current version we're using will work with the 3.7 but some don't and you have to grab and install the latest 3.7 versions. Some just don't work at all or clash with other features. I still have a couple to sort out.

Once this is all done you can open up the forum to members again, I was on MSN etc during the time to field questions. People love GI and like to know what's going on.

I almost forgot to mention the new skin. This came from ExtremePixels (EDIT: Since I originaly made this post the site is under new management and I would strongly advise against buying skins from them, they are never updated and you just get spammed with offers). Our last skin came from there and they offer very solid styles at a reasonable price. Their always quick with any updates as well as when Vbulletin updates, 9 times out of 10 the skin needs some tweaks as well.

We used THIS skin, obviously I've tweaked it a bit as it wasn't perfect but it is now

The changes to the skin take more time than the forum updates, changing the banner and buttons is only half of it. Forum width and CSS needs tweaking to match the style I was after takes up a lot of time. I think it was a great success and everyone seems to agree. People will always miss the old brown style but we were due a change, we had that skin for almost 2 years!

I still have a few changes to do and I have done certain things to the site to allow some "interesting" competitions in the future.

If you have read all of this, thank you for your time. I will leave it there and let you get on with your life.
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Interesting to know about it all, thanks for the blog entry Marc!
Posted 18-05-08 at 18:59 by Bensta Bensta is offline
Happycamper's Avatar
wooh long entry, but anyways interesting to read the details though. Nice entry
Posted 19-05-08 at 02:09 by Happycamper Happycamper is offline
RaMarcus's Avatar
Cheers guys, this was always going to be a long entry, really it should be longer. Might add a couple of images to "spice" it up a bit
Posted 19-05-08 at 07:11 by RaMarcus RaMarcus is offline
EthanML's Avatar
Phew. You're due a pint or 4 I think
Posted 19-05-08 at 12:57 by EthanML EthanML is offline
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