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Moving To XenForo


Well-known member
This post is about my experiences of moving to XenForo, and a bit about the history of the community I manage. It will give (some hopefully meaningful) context on my move to XenForo.

In April of 2003, DWO launched a community forum using the Ezboard forum provider. This solution is similar to the Proboards service and by its very nature was not a self-hosted solution, thus it did not offer us the flexibility to make the customisations we may have liked. Although, perhaps customisation did not matter a great deal during the infantile stages of the site, and hence, Ezboard would be sufficient for the time being. Shortly after opening, our membership was starting to increase and this led to us refreshing the forum to the YaBB software. YaBB is written in the Perl language and is flat-file, meaning there is no database, but rather, individual text files containing all necessary forum data (posts, user information and private messages). This forum solution gave us more flexibility in terms of styling and being able to manage our own content. However, on certain days when we would receive a large number of visitors, the forum would hang, causing intermittent service. We had made a lot of custom changes to the core code, and one of the things this meant was that we were often reluctant to upgrade to newer releases. Despite the aforementioned problems, I believe this was a very successful era in the life of our forum because of all the changes we had made to make it "just-so".

In 2009, we moved the community to the YAF forum software. YAF is written in C# and uses a MS-SQL database. The conversion from flat-file storage went well, and we had successfully converted everything (which in the past had been stored in text files) into a database. This would be the first time our forum was database-driven, and for the first time, our content became more accessible. The performance of the forum was greatly improved because of its different architecture, and we were able to offer a more consistent service than before.

As it says on my profile, I joined the XenForo community in June of 2011 because I wished to follow the progression of the forum software. I didn't post at this time, but I read as many of the threads as I could to learn more about the software. It would be another two years before I would make any serious plans, or indeed, plans of any kind, to move our community over to the software. In 2013, the forum moved from YAF to MyBB. I saw this as preparation for moving towards XenForo in the coming few years. It was towards the end of 2013 I started looking at XenForo in more detail.

One of the problems we faced when planning our move to XenForo was something that we had encountered in the past when transitioning from one software to another - each piece of software expects different data to be available (and to have been recorded for the life of the forum). Lack of recorded data became a problem when we wanted to move from MyBB to XenForo. This was because of un-recorded poll votes. XenForo does not allow guest voting in polls, and so must have a user to correspond to each voted response. We had *some* of this information from MyBB, but not all of it. The lost data did not necessarily originate from MyBB (because MyBB does record *who* voted), but rather a much earlier iteration of our forum. When we were using YAF, this software only recorded the number of votes for a given response, not the user who actually voted for it. We found that we had some poll vote information; this was gathered when we were using MyBB. When it came to preparing for the move to XenForo, we decided to sort this problem out prior to the import. This would reduce downtime, and it would also allow us to see that it was possible to achieve what we wanted. We decided assigning absent poll votes with faux users was the best approach. All of the votes we did have recorded were still valid, however, we simply needed to make up the “who voted” information. (Thank you to @Mike who gave advice with this.)

We successfully moved our community over to XenForo last Friday. So far, I would suggest the change has been met positively by our users.

I would just like to thank the staff and community members, and I look forward to the development of the XenForo software.
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