Securing the future of the KAP forum - PLEASE READ!

Dear KAP Friends,

I wanted to share with you all that our illustrious Admin, Cris, has taken up my offer to take on the running of the Notes on Kite Aerial Photography forum that we all value so much.

Cris has invested over 2 decades of his time looking after the KAP forum and is understandably ready to step away.

As many of us are very aware, the site is still 'housed' at Cris' former workplace and there is an ongoing feeling that there is a danger that it may be switched off imminently. As the person who recently raised this question in last July's Zoom meeting, I feel it is right that I drive a migration project forward to a platform that can be our new home for decades to come.

While I have no technical background, I believe that my epic Googling skills can help us find a suitable solution at minimal cost!! If there is anyone out there with experience of porting data between software platforms then please do speak up and share your valuable knowledge. The exercise at hand is essentially transferring a large amount of text from over 6000 discussion threads. I believe the trickier aspect will be dealing with the almost 2000 member accounts that have accrued over the years.

I have done some research on the options available to us and am gravitating towards one of two options (please note that I am very open to suggestions on a potential new home for the forum - share on this thread or drop me a message):
Option 1: phpBB (the forum software used by our French KAP friends), or
Option 2: Use a forum/community template available from Wix.com.

It's relatively early days yet and some bright spark might have a very clever, simple and painless solution to make this happen that I would never think of! If there are no quick wins to be had then that is no problem - I will crack on by whatever means necessary to retain all the wonderful information that lies here.

Best wishes to all,
Kevin







Comments

  • Hi Kevin - while I have no experience porting forums from one system to another, I did just find this about moving from Vanilla to phpbb. I don't know what version of Vanilla the KAP forum uses but it seems others have gone down a similar path. Given this I think it's likely to be easier to move to phpbb than to set up a forum using Wix.
  • Thanks for volunteering!

    My preference would be phpBB. I've used it for many years on several other forums, and the functionality and usability is pretty good.
  • I’ve done a bit of poking around this site and discovered that:
    There are about 6000 discussions (in 12 categories) - many have hundreds of posts
    There are roughly 2000 user accounts (far fewer active users)
    I don’t know much storage is required but given that it’s all text (no images or videos) I suspect it’s less that a gigabyte so hosting need not be too expensive.

    Cris has several times indicated the difficulty of upgrading to newer versions of Vanilla - lots of features break each time and take a lot of skill to fix. I suspect that migrating to another forum package(such as phpbb) would be worse. Perhaps we should proceed in three steps:
    1. Obtain a domain and hosting space
    2. Install current vanilla on the site and migrate the current forum to it (we might try simplifying things to avoid breakages
    3. Try porting it to phpbbb (or whatever package we decide on)

    Steps 1 and 2 will mean we don’t have to worry about Berkeley pulling the plug.
    I’m happy to pay for 1 years fees for the new site. I’m also happy to help set things up.

  • Mart, thanks for the comment.

    Dave, appreciate the link (Cris had sent me a similar one too) and also the offer of assistance.

    FYI, Cris has advised me that the sum total of all the information held on the forum is less than 100MB!!!!!

    In terms of running costs, phpBB or otherwise, that's an unknown at this stage.
  • Thank you for taking on this task.
  • Kevin,

    Agree this is a critical task.

    Vanilla / phpBB are not my strengths - have used both but only from an end user perspective. Both could work.

    A second area of equal importance is the old "archived" KAP site - I suspect the total size of the old site is less than 100MB.

    After the transport is complete I am willing to help run tests (searches) to verify the information was transferred.

    I am also willing to help with backup admin routine maintenance duties as needed.

    WW
  • Hello everyone.

    Kevin, you're a saint for taking this on. I'd like to help if I can. I have a fair amount of experience with programming and databases but only a little experience with web-oriented stuff. Some years ago I secured a domain, howtokap.com, and purchased hosting for it. It's been neglected, though, and is in a ruined state at the moment. But I would gladly donate the server and the domain if it will help. I recently renewed it for another year. (Alternatively, getting a new domain and new hosting account is a very affordable proposition, too.)

    I think a good first step would be to get a snapshot of the current database and other files for the current forum. That would verify we have the ability to capture the current discussions. Then we could use it to explore how a migration to phpbb might work.

    Dave Wheeler


  • Kevin I thank you. This forum is a precious resource.
  • Just a quick update. I have obtained the KAPFORUM.ORG domain and 3 years of hosting from hostpapa (rated 2nd in hosting companies this year). As David Wheeler said, the cost was trivial (less than £120) which I’m happy to bear. Cris has agreed to supply the data when we are ready for it. My plan is to install Vanilla as well as phpBB and start by trying to ‘upload’ the current forum (probably on my home machine first). Cris is pretty certain that things will break (the forum is currently on an obsolete version of vanilla).

    If anyone wants administrator privilege for the new site let me know (zenoshrdlu@gmail.com) - I’m happy to accept all the help I can get - I have access to PHP expertise but I’m sure we’ll need more than that!
  • edited August 26
    Thanks for all your efforts. I have no experience in programming stuff like this but I don't mind paying a fee to help cover the cost.

    One suggestion/comment: I like the current feature of being able to read the forum on a smartphone without having to zoom-in / zoom-out. I don't know if this would be difficult to keep.
  • edited August 28
    Hello all.

    I thought I would chime in to thank Kevin, Dave, and everyone else offering to help! For several years now I have been concerned about the future of our KAP Forum and have pondered how we might arrange a soft landing for it when change becomes mandatory due to software and server issues. The discussions underway to establish a new home for the forum are most welcome. Read on for a longish explanation of how we find ourselves in need of a reset.

    Background

    I have been quite proud of the KAP Discussion Page. It reflects an imaginative and cooperative community of international folks. The tone of the site has been remarkably positive and supportive. In retrospect, I am delighted that it prospered without having to be part of some larger Google, Facebook, Yahoo type of environment – no ads, no data harvesting (by us anyway), no fees. I am sure we all hope to see it continue this way.

    I began hosting discussion software for the KAP community back in 1996 – well over 20 years ago. The site has always been hosted (generously) on my college’s WWW servers and over the years I benefited from advice offered by the college’s tech staff. As professors go, I was quite involved in early Internet media at Berkeley, which led to a good working relationship with our server folks and administration privileges for my little corner of the server. In the current day, my situation has changed. My friends, the longtime WWW staff at the college, were replaced a few years back and the replacements have since been replaced. Since my retirement, now eight years ago, I am not onsite at the university and I have not developed much of a relationship with the new staff. With each passing year, there are heightened pressures on our discussion site from spammers and hackers. The defensive measures require some time and effort on the part of myself and the college’s new computer staff. I sense they are starting to ponder the "now why exactly are we hosting this site?" question. I would not be surprised if hosting services were withdrawn, especially if there was a hacking incident related to our site. While this is yet to come, we are running on outdated and potentially vulnerable software.

    My duties in running the site have been quite straightforward. I check it a couple of times each day and vet (via email) applicants who have requested accounts. This has kept posts from spammers largely at bay. I respond to occasional requests from users for account resets or finding a post deep in the archives. Only once have I had to intervene when the tone of discussions turned dark and a note counseling politeness remedied this. Every year I have to wrestle with some sort of software / database failure, but these are usually resolved in a day or so. For instance, our site’s header disappeared due to a change in the configuration of the college’s server. I was able to re-establish it after a bit of head scratching. Finally, I have maintained and upgraded the software that runs the site. This last task, absent the handy advice of the college’s tech staff, has finally proved too difficult to manage without proper server access.

    I started the discussion page using Microsoft Frontpage and it has evolved through several software environments. It is currently run using the Vanilla 2.1.8p2 software, a typical PHP/MySQL package. Packages of this sort – WordPress, Drupal, Vanilla, etc. – are frequently targeted by hackers. As vulnerabilities emerge revisions to the software are issued and these must be installed. The last major software upgrade over three years ago was relatively complex and another is definitely due. I have not undertaken this new update because it will invariably break aspects of the site and lead to a round of debugging.

    In thinking about the site over the last couple of years or so it has become clear that the role of server administrator – the management of software, security, and design for the site – is something I cannot continue. I mentioned this circumstance during the ZAPi Zoom 2020 event Jim organized in July. Bravely, Kevin and Dave stepped forward to help take over the site and they have been supported by other volunteers. I am, of course, delighted to help out in every way I can. I think this is a wonderful start to a new chapter in the KAP Discussion Forum.
  • edited August 28
    I am not a major player in the world of KAP, but I do enjoy building rigs, kites, and of course taking some KAP adventures. Broox was my equipment supplier from the outset. Windwatcher has been an inspiration for the stratospool reel and for camera evaluations; his adventures and KAP images are awe-inspiring. I value my dynamic spreader, 3rd edition (?), for the Levitation Delta, thanks to Mike Leduc. Dave Mitchell has guided me into the world of remote control; but I am still very much an experimenter In that area. Needless to say many others have offered comments and observations about KAPing that I have taken the time to consider. I have a Powersled 24 because of Sue Storey! And SMAC has wonderful kite design ideas. As this transfer is facilitated I for one am prepared to pay a membership fee should that be necessary or helpful. Whatever the fee would be would not outweigh the benefit that I have derived from this source. Thanks, Cris, for taking this initiative on behalf of KAP all this way forward.
  • Hi to all,
    I do not have the knowledge to give help or opinions on this matter but I'm ready to do whatever necessary so that this forum should continue

    Thanks very much to Cris for all his long long long work.. and thanks for all helping to extend life

    Note: I have a RICOH GR thanks to Pierre Lesage, a ipernity page thanks to Sue Storey, it has been a long positive exchange of opinions with Piotr BKT that is a friend from the forum, positive contacts with Cris, Dave, Bill Blake, WW and several others....

    SMAC from Italy
  • edited September 14
    Please read my new discussion - "Migrating the KAP Forum - Current Status"
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