UtaForum 5.0β | The Great Relaunch

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Transition Recap

After a variety of server issues and being down for almost a week we are finally back. If you noticed something different with the forum, indeed, we have our beta tag back and I incremented us up a number. We are upgraded to the latest version of Xenforo 2.2.X and with this change, almost everything about the forum got recoded.

While there are a variety of new features, some of which I will be going over later, the main thing to note, and why I increased our version number, is almost nothing from the 1.5.X line of XenForo is compatible, besides the forum content itself, none of the themes, plugins, and customizations ported over and we essentially started from scratch. We needed a new theme, updated versions of all our plugins, and I had to learn completely new systems and re-implement all the tiny changes and tweaks I did to our forum software over the years, UtaForum was built on years of customizations.

Since the forum was down for the server migration, I decided to take care of the version upgrade as well. I figured it took 5-ish days to get the server sorted out, what was another day or two to finally take care of the move I have been putting off for a long time. XenForo 1.5.X has technically been ‘End of Life’ since December 31, 2019, and I had planned on doing the move sometime last year but was interrupted by the pandemic thing that threw off all my plans. It normally would have taken longer than 2 days to move but it was mostly smooth since I was preparing for a long time.

New UtaForum Features

  • Better mobile device support, more friendly to tablets and mobile phones.
  • Support for “progressive web app” so you can add the site as an app to your device. (once I figure it out)
  • Emoji supported in both message text and thread titles.
  • Improved custom smiles, easier to add, organize, and insert custom smiles.
  • Improved rich text editor. New and updated forum post editing/creating interface.
  • Improved attachment manager and using attachments in-line with a post.
  • New GIPHY support. Easily insert the GIPHY gifs you already use on Discord.
  • New media embed features. Embed tweets, sites, more video/audio sites supported.
  • Improved navigation and menus. Forum features should be easier to get around.
  • Widgets are now official. I can customize the various sidebars on the forum.
  • Alerts in favicon. The forum will now show on your browser tab if you have alerts.
  • Member tooltip. Clicking on user name now shows a tooltip summary. Click again to see the profile.
  • What’s new section. Now able to see at a glance all the updates from the community.
  • New thread type system: Discussion, Question, Poll, Article.
  • New forum type system: Announcements, Support Forums, Suggestions, Discussions
  • User profile banners. You can now add a cover-style image to your user profile and tooltip.
  • User name change management. Self-service name changes, with username history. (still subject to mod approval)
  • New post/comment reactions. Facebook-style reactions instead of just likes.
  • New content bookmarks. Save things for future reference or later review. Add notes/labels.
  • New social share tools. I dunno, in case you wanted to share your Showcase thread or something?
  • New showcase drafts. Can no save Showcase items as Drafts in case you are not ready to publish yet.
  • New showcase co-owners/contributors. Showcase items can be collaborative with multiple users.
  • Taxonomy and tagging as an official feature. Everywhere on the board tagging functions have been added.
Beyond the above new stuff, there were a ton of “under the hood” infrastructural changes that most of you will never see, security improvements, speed improvements, a ton of developer tools, plugins were made easier. The XenForo team redid almost every underlying system.

One thing you will all appreciate is the new theming system is 1,000x easier to use than the old one so expect way more new child themes. They will all share the same base themes because maintaining 5x base themes was a nightmare in old XenForo, but the development of new child themes is much more intuitive and takes a fraction of the time than under the old system.

Old Issues Fixed & Some Lost Features​

Also, some of the persistent bugs from UtaForum 4.0 have been fixed.
  • SSL support fixed. UtaForum now supports and is HTTPS by default.
  • Image proxy added. Fixes “mixed content” errors while under HTTPS.
  • Cookies save and persist properly. The forum should now remember you.
  • Twitter API & SSO fixed. You can now log in again via Twitter.
  • Google API & SSO fixed. You can now log in again via Google.
Waiting on my Facebook Developer account to be reactivated in order to fix the Facebook API.

That being said we have lost some features, not all of our old plugins made it with us to 2.X.
  • New chatbox is not as robust as the old one.
  • Banner rotation and featured albums are gone.
  • Medal system got replaced by an alternative.
  • Credits system didn’t make the cut. No longer supported.
  • Global threads are gone.
  • Staff page listing is gone.
  • Quick reply preview is gone.
  • Find unanswered threads is gone.
  • Some auto-promotion & user title ladder gone.
  • I lost some of my moderation & spam protection tools.
We actually lost more, but some of our old features that were previously powered by addons, are now core XenForo features (bookmarks, social share, attachment handling, etc.) so I didn’t list them here as “lost” because they are still here, just in a different form.

Things to Look Forward To

Throughout 2021 I am planning to leverage many of these new features in fun and interesting ways.

For example, a recurring event I thought up of was combining the new Q&A Threads which introduces a Reddit-like reply upvote system with the new and easier-to-use Custom Smiles system. I was thinking of announcing a theme or prompt like ‘Angry’ and some basic resolution specifications and allowing users to submit their own UTAU-themed custom smiles. The community would upvote their favorites and all the top submissions would be added as official forum smiles.

I think events like this could bring the community together, encourage activity, and really personalize UtaForum to be its own unique and funky little thing that isn’t made redundant by a subreddit, discord, Facebook group, or social media that have been replacing traditional forums over the years.

With child-themes being much easier to develop I plan on reviving the Skin Development and having AT LEAST a dozen unique child themes for you to choose from by the end of 2021. How exactly I am going to execute this I don’t quite know yet, but as long as I can find collaborators for art (DM me) I want to me a lot of UtaForum skins.

Continuing Development​

I am doing the cardinal sin of development, I am actively developing in Production. So don't mind the dust, everything here is a work in progress. You can help me by posting a thread and tagging me or starting a conversation with me about any issues you encounter. Also, feel free to offer any suggestions you have to make UtaForum 5.0 as best as it can be. I love to receive feedback.
 

Hentai

Technical Admin
Administrator
Supporter
Defender of Defoko
Thread starter

Things That Didn’t Make the Cut

There were some plugins I wanted to add, but I couldn’t afford. I have been keeping a detailed accounting of our financials on the Help/Fundraising page (not counting the hosting costs, which I subsidize) and most of the “leftover” funds from the 2014 Kickstarter & Lifetime Support upgrades have been exhausted. I dumped maybe $120-ish of my own money on licenses for the transition. I will probably/maybe pickup these down the road.

Note, this is not a solicitation for donations, we decided early on we would never open a generic donation pool, but if you want to “sponsor” a specific feature listed below, I think that’s different and doesn’t conflict with my previous ethical objects of websites begging for money. Sponsor the plugin, get credits on our Help/Fundraising for making that feature possible. This is everything that I wanted to get, but couldn’t afford.
  • UE Smileys Bar
    $12 - QOL Add-on
    Moves the custom smiles to the bottom of the editor with an expanding full selector. If we want to utilize the new custom smiles in XenForo 2.X this makes them more accessible.
  • Registration Spaminator
    $30 – Moderation Addon-on
    Holy shit we get a lot of SPAM registrations. Google ReCAPTCHA barely helps. I will need to buy this eventually to make my Mod Approval Queue less swamped with SPAM users.
  • Activation Reminder & User Purger
    $10 – Moderation Add-on
    Besides spam we have a lot of inactive accounts. This would help streamline the form and help remind old users to activate their accounts and get rid of users whom never activate.
  • Attachment Manager Pro
    $87 – New Feature Add-on
    Allows users to manage, list, search, browse, delete, reupload, and reuse any attachment they have ever uploaded to the forum.
  • Social Groups sponsored by Hentai
    $50 – New Feature Add-on
    Imagine the old “Fanclubs” from VocaloidOtaku but instead of a thread, you could have an official system with your own automated members list, photo album, event calendar, and subforum where you can be the mod. Make your groups public or private. Use it as a fanclub or your own UtaLabs-like collaboration area where you can work on things collaboratively with other forum members.
  • XenMedio 2 (Media Gallery) sponsored by Hentai
    $40 – New Feature Add-on
    A media gallery but not. Unlike VocaVerse Media which is powered by Xenforo’s official media gallery plugin, this third party addon instead focuses on embedded rich media rather than user uploads. Supporting YouTube, NicoVideo, DailyMotion and more it embeds 3rd party video, has its own comments, and the ability to add tags and categories (developer demo). Automatically creates a forum thread for the media in the appropriate subforum. Would be to UtaWorks what Showcase is to Voicebank Directory.
  • XenRio 2 (Stream Listing)
    $40 – New Feature Add-on
    Live streaming seems really popular right now. This feature would add an interface to XenForo to show member’s streams, sort them by category, (art, music production, vtubing, games, just chatting, etc.) and promote members live streams on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, SmashCast and more.
  • Discord Integration
    $30 – New Feature Add-on
    By popular demand. Assigns roles based on usergroup in XenForo. Enforces user name matching with XenForo. Enforces bans and moderation across Discord and XenForo. Auto syncs threads replies and status updates to Discord channel.
  • Chat 2 by Siropu sponsored by NordGeit
    $35 - QOL Addon
    A well-developed and better-supported chat plugin with a lot more features than we need. Our current plugin is free, has less features than our old chat, and is a bit unstable. This paid plugin would bring back all our missing features (like chat notifications of forum posts) and is better supported but is paid rather than free.
  • Dragonbye Credits
    $75 - New Feature Add-on
    A credit system for XenForo 2.0. Not compatible with our old 1.5.X system it would be a fresh start but it allows the gamification of forum activities and rewards active users with fun points to... I dunno brag about how rich they are.
Down the road, I might burn my stimulus check on buying some of these for you guys because I like you that much. Though, obviously, I will likely prioritize additional mod tools over new features lol.

For now, lifetime supporter upgrades have been discontinued. We may replace it with an alternate system later, but that will take some thought and discussion amongst the staff.
 
Last edited:

sangv

Ruko's Ruffians
Defender of Defoko
Out of curiosity, will we get any themes in the future that are a bit more compact? I find the new default theme feels a bit... I dunno, like some things take up some slightly unnecessary amounts of space. On top of that, the sidebars being semi-transparent on top of a somewhat detailed background makes the text a bit hard to read, so it'd be nice to potentially have future themes that change that. Otherwise, I'd say I largely like it!
 

Hentai

Technical Admin
Administrator
Supporter
Defender of Defoko
Thread starter
Out of curiosity, will we get any themes in the future that are a bit more compact? I find the new default theme feels a bit... I dunno, like some things take up some slightly unnecessary amounts of space. On top of that, the sidebars being semi-transparent on top of a somewhat detailed background makes the text a bit hard to read, so it'd be nice to potentially have future themes that change that. Otherwise, I'd say I largely like it!
The transparent sidebar is only really visible on the forum index, I made sure to make sure all the forum threads and page contents have solid BGs.

That being said, if you want to hide the sidebar there is an option to do so.

chrome_2021-03-04_20-14-01.png

it the little hamburger menu on the forum index and it will hide the sidebar.
 
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sangv

Ruko's Ruffians
Defender of Defoko
The transparent sidebar is only really visible on the forum index, I made sure to make sure all the forum threads and page contents have solid BGs.

That being said, if you want to hide the sidebar there is an option to do so.

View attachment 9939

it the little hamburger menu on the forum index and it will hide the sidebar.
Oh, I meant it'd be nice if it was changed in a different theme by having the background be solid instead, but that's good to know too!
 

VocAddict

The Voice Within Us
Defender of Defoko
Rest in peace credit system. I would miss converting points to tokens for the sole reason of having tokens lol.

The moderator addons seem like a must have at this point considering the lack of active mods we have currently but wow some of those add-ons seems hefty.

I guess I should have bought a lifetime supporter badge when I had the chance haha
 
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Hentai

Technical Admin
Administrator
Supporter
Defender of Defoko
Thread starter
Special thanks to @NordGeit who sponsored Chat 2 by Siropu.

For this we are crediting him on our Fundraising page, awarding him a Lifetime Supporter upgrade and a Defoko Purple Heart medal. We got a significantly better chat plugin, with more features than we need, that I am still learning to get used to and configuring permissions for, it has a lot of features.

Also, strike 2 more features off the wanted list. I went ahead and purchased Social Groups and Media*booro as outlined in my recent news post.
 
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VocAddict

The Voice Within Us
Defender of Defoko
Thank you @NordGeit!

I'm not sure if this is an option on the new chat add-on but one thing I really liked about the old one back on UF4.0 was the backup of the chat into a thread for easy access. Not gonna lie, the chat archive would make filtering much easier the way it is implemented now but I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic of the old way.
 

NordGeit

Teto's Territory
Supporter
Excuse me if I appear a bit too prideful from time to time for sponsoring the chat plugin... I still have a few confidence issues I need to work on...
 

Hentai

Technical Admin
Administrator
Supporter
Defender of Defoko
Thread starter
I'm not sure if this is an option on the new chat add-on but one thing I really liked about the old one back on UF4.0 was the backup of the chat into a thread for easy access. Not gonna lie, the chat archive would make filtering much easier the way it is implemented now but I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic of the old way.

The archive is now an official feature! Instead of writing history to a thread, it has its own database and archive page:

https://utaforum.net/chat/archive/

It even has an integrated search function if you remember keywords, users, or dates. Chat archives and searches are limited to Members+.