Transition RecapAfter 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.
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 FeaturesAlso, 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.
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.
Things to Look Forward ToThroughout 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.