On vacation July 18 – 25

I’ll be on vacation during the dates shown in the post title. Even worse, I don’t expect to be very internet accessible, so please don’t expect any correspondence from me during this period. I’ll start working on service requests again starting Monday, July 27.

If you need service during this period, it’s best to look elsewhere. phpbb.com itself is a useful place to find qualified consultants. Often those offering services will put notices in their signatures in forum posts. Of course, anyone you try to get help from over the Internet is inherently suspicious. See phpbb.com’s warning page.

Smartfeed extension update

I’ve spent a couple of weeks trying various approaches to the last big chunk of Smartfeed, generating the feed itself. For much of that time I was mired in confusion on how to integrate an external feed into the extensions framework. I think I finally figured out an approach that will work and it will simplify things. Meanwhile I was diverted with other issues, such as how to not use an include file for constants. The solution seems to be to build these into the extension’s main object when it is constructed. A lot of things require rethinking with the new architecture.

Anyhow, what I am likely to do is collapse smartfeed_url.php and smartfeed.php (as they were called in the modification) into a single program. Since the two programs share a lot of similar code, it gives me the opportunity to move the shared code into functions. I was using a 3rd party library (the Universal Feed Creator) to create the feed. Now it looks like I will simplify the approach and simply use phpBB’s template system, with a switch based on the feed type (Atom, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0). Now that I am over this major bottleneck, I think the rest of the development will proceed in a fairly straightforward manner.

June 2015 work summary

  • I embedded a total of 6 ads, 2 on index only and the rest on forum pages only on a phpBB 3.1 forum. I had to do this manually because there is currently no extension for placing ads for phpBB 3.1. I did it by embedding template switches in the appropriate templates. I made a search field behave and look similar to a vBulletin site. I also went into the stylesheets and removed some padding/margin around certain elements and blocks in a 3.1.5 prosilver style because the customer wanted a tighter look to the page.
  • Upgraded a forum from 3.0.7-PL1 to 3.1.5, ditching old style and using the default prosilver style.
  • Moved a 1 post forum with lots of dense of text and images in the post (integrated with phpBB Gallery) to a new domain. The database was very large. To move the tables over successfully, I removed rows in some unneeded tables in the export, since otherwise timeouts occurred when the database was loaded, making it impossible to complete the database migration. The data in these tables could be recreated during forum use. mbstring errors were encountered on the new domain due to new PHP configuration.
  • An administrator on a domain could not see new posts. Had to add the user to Administrators group and set group forum permissions for administrators to full access for some forums, so the search permission would exist for all forums.
  • A Smartfeed 2.2.27 installation did not work for customer that installed it himself. He wanted me to fix it. He missed some language file changes that needed to be applied to the French language pack. I also applied missing user interface changes to his default Supernova style. The PHP warnings he was getting was caused by a BOM marker at the bottom of /language/fr/acp/board.php. Once removed that issue went away.
  • To address a crushing amount of spam registrations, I installed the Advanced Block Mod 1.1.14 on phpBB 3.0.11 instance. Had to make template changes for adm/style/acp_log.html to accommodate 3.0.11.
  • Provided troubleshooting assistance for a client that was getting HTTP 500 errors. After looking at his web server error logs, I determined these were related to his using a shared server and resource limitations. Offered advice on upgrading to better hosting plan.
  • Client wanted to keep the size of his web server log down to a manageable size, as his popular forum was creating huge web logs. I changed his Apache configuration so that the web server log kept no more than three 3 months of web log statistics. Also upgraded his forum from 3.0.13-PL1 to 3.0.14, accommodating the Advanced Block Mod.
  • For one client: investigated an issue of IE11 and phpBB logging out when Quicktime is not installed. Can’t replicate since I don’t have Windows 8.1 to test, but it’s probably not a phpBB problem. It is more likely an infrastructure issue that could be addressed by Windows update or similar software. Researched and responded to question on how to require moderation in particular forums for particular groups. Researched extensions for client in preparation for call and responding to forum questions. Had a Skype call with client on phpBB upgrade requirements. 2 hours unsuccessfully trying to upgrade from phpBB 3.0.14 to phpBB 3.1.5 on their Windows servers. Eventually determined the upgrade stopped because Windows file permissions on folders that needed public write access were missing. 2 more hours upgrading phpBB to 3.1.5, installing numerous extensions and integrating their logo.
  • Previous customer accidentally deleted his forum’s database making the board inaccessible and did not have a copy of it. I still had my backup. I tried to recover it and upgrade it to phpBB 3.1.4 but every attempt to upgrade to 3.1.4 caused TWIG template errors. database_update.php ran very quickly as well, suggesting that a lot of stuff needed to be done that wasn’t. Test database would update to 3.1.4 using 5/23 database instance, but production would not. Stopped at a step during database_update.php and would not progress. Tried to replicate success with test database and experienced similar issues. Eventually I figured out the button at the bottom of the page wasn’t working, and I succeeded in getting it to continue by pressing the browser refresh button instead.