September 2021 work summary

As is typical of most months since March of last year, my work in September was primarily focused on one particular commercial client. The focus there has been to get to a code complete stage for a formal test prior to moving this large phpBB 3.0.11 board to phpBB 3.3 with lots of extensive customizations intact. At the end of August I felt we were nearly there, but September proved me wrong.

There were a number of peculiarities with the mobile look, which had to replicate the site’s mobile look. For example, a hamburger menu should put up a popup window, and clicking outside of it should remove it. Getting the context to flow with various mobile device widths also proved challenging. In addition, integrating my Smartfeed extension to give acceptable performance also proved challenging and discovered I needed to add an index to the phpbb_posts table for acceptable speed, something that will be rolled into the next version of that extension. The client also has an old Atom/RSS Newsfeed solution that had to be rewritten to call the equivalent Smartfeed URL instead. The client’s needs are requiring me to make some other change in Smartfeed, for example, a public-only mode, since they only have public facing forums.

Toward the end of the month the programming part settled down and we began to plan for testing. I put together a deployment document and set of steps needed to formally test this version.

Other work that I did for other clients in September:

  • I rehosted board to DreamHost. This mainly meant moving a lot of files (about 10,000 files were in the files folder) and the database. Lots of timeouts loading the database meant it had to be moved in chunks requiring care in my processes. Otherwise there were no surprises, it was just tedious to do. Later, I updated the board from phpBB 3.3.0 to 3.3.4 and updated Board rules extension from 2.1.2 to 2.1.3.
  • I did a challenging upgrade from phpBB 3.0.11 to phpBB 3.3.4. There were lots of mods, but most didn’t need to transition to an extension. The board contained about 300,000 posts. I backed up the relevant files but the web root was used to serve other content, so care was needed to make sure the non-phpBB parts of the site still worked, and these used a different application. Before upgrading, I removed content in two forums that were to be trashed first. I used the phpBB Support Toolkit to remove a lot of garbage in the database. One issue during the database upgrade required removing a BBCode that had embedded PHP. I changed PHP to 7.4 from 5.3. Client wanted me to retain an ad in top left, so installed Search on NavBar extension to move search bar to make room for the ad. I disabled the contact form and set up reCaptcha V3 spambot countermeasure. I installed the prosilver_se style and tailored it to add the site logo and to serve the ad. I installed the advertisement management extension and ported over one ad served in two locations. I edited three non-phpBB programs for the main site to get them to work under PHP 7.4 to change links to board and to remove recent topics links/buttons. I made a new resources button as requested. Certain ads on the site’s home page were not showing so I got them working again. Later, I added the recent topics extension but could not get the feature to show recent topics on a separate page program to work because it’s buggy.
  • I did a simple upgrade on an unmodified phpBB 3.0.11 board to 3.3.4. There were a small number of posts too. PHP 7.3 was already installed. Could not use phpMyAdmin but it turns out I didn’t need it. There were no errors during database upgrade. I disabled the contact form, set up reCaptcha V3 and created home link.
  • Rehosted a board from old MediaTemple OS6 hosting to new MediaTemple OS7 hosting. There was an issue where a TXT record needed to be on the domain for MediaTemple to switch to the new hosting. I had to wait until Monday to get that done because the domain registrar did not offer weekend support. Otherwise there were no issues with the move. I installed a new Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. A test email worked. Set up an admin email account which forwards to client’s real email. My digests extension and new topic/posts notifications still work. A couple of domains are still attached to the old hosting and presumably should be moved if they are used.
  • I updated phpBB from version 3.3.3 to 3.3.4, Cleantalk to 5.7.4 and Advertisement Management to 2.0.5. I also reapplied the logo manually.