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To those that have imported a vb4 Suite community - (This is long)

Discussion in 'General XenForo Discussion and Feedback' started by BillyGoat4130, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    Hi everyone,

    I am currently and have been doing some research on trying to see what I have to do to port over my very active vbulletin 4 suite website. Its almost a 15 year old community and we are 30,000+ accounts, close to 1.5M posts. I have a bit of a conundrum in the fact that I and my community seemed to use pretty much all facets of the software including the CMS, User groups (Which became niches within niches and thrived), and the user albums feature.

    I have done a test import and have been playing around with a few modules. I used the "unofficial" importer to get my CMS data, Albums, and user groups imported in subforum/thread type format into XenForo.

    My question I guess is - has anyone ever actually used and re-purposed this data? I've taken several recommendations that were given to me for crossover modifications and I'm just really struggling on how to make it all re-integrate and work properly and still have a similar process to using it...

    For example, I purchased and downloaded XenZine on the recommendation that it was the best replacement for the articles system in vb4. Ok, so after quite a bit of hassle figuring out some issues the old importer caused I was able to convert a thread (which was originally an article on my vb4 site, but was imported as a thread in a subforum) I got it to mostly work. However, it appears now that the only way to import these threads into XenZine is to manually go to each thread and promote it. I have close to 500 articles...there's got to be an easier way? And the mod author, while very good and extremely helpful with my attempts to port into his mod (Including some sql commands to fix a bug from the import), he seemed somewhat perplexed at the whole idea of importing CMS content from vbulletin 4 into XenForo- which I guess was my first red flag.

    On the social groups, its the same thing. They are imported as threads and sub forums, but I haven't found a specific mod that actually utilizes this data in a meaningful way.

    Lots of good gallery mods (Xen Media Gallery is very nice) but again...no meaningful way of using the imported data.

    On the CMS / Front page aspect, I've been playing around with XenPorta, and I have contributed to version 2 - this is a really difficult mod for me to get my head wrapped around the logic of its operation but it is powerful and I do see the possibilities of it, so for the most part, I'm okay with it.

    I don't want to seem negative, but I don't really see many examples of anyone completely porting over to XF from sites that used all aspects of VB, and the ones that do appear to be totally custom coded from almost scratch to retain a lot of the features. Am I doing something wrong here? I have a very strong desire to migrate because Facebook and the mobile stuff is killing me, but this just seems like a real up hill battle, and I'm frustrated because I've gotten a lot of great recommendations for replacement modifications, but no real way to port into them. It'd be fine if I was starting from scratch or had a very small community where there was only 3-4 user groups that no one ever used to lose, same for albums, etc. but these are very active integral aspects of my community that need to be ported over...

    I'm fairly tech savvy, but I am not a programmer or an sql wizard. There just seems to be a big gap in actually porting over all the content and having it in a usable fashion vs just kind of dumped into what amounts to a useless archive.

    Suggestions and comments welcomed...

  2. Deriel

    Deriel Well-Known Member

    Our situation was pretty much like yours.

    What I did was to import the data to paid add-ons.:
    The difference is that we didn't used the Articles from vB (we have a Wordpress CMS).

    The bad news is that you'll have to spend well above $100 to have these functionalities in your XF.
    Rigel Kentaurus and sonnb like this.
  3. Chris D

    Chris D XenForo Developer Staff Member

    Version 2.1 of Xen Media Gallery (currently in beta testing) also has a vBulletin 3/4 albums importer.
    BillyGoat4130 and Deriel like this.
  4. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    Thanks for the replies Deriel and Chris D. I will check into Waindigo's a little bit better, I didn't think it worked with the vb4 stuff, only older 3.8x?

    Blogs were lower priority, I could probably almost do without those being imported, we always used the CMS more than it I guess.

    Chris D, thank you for that update and mention - that certainly makes things a lot easier. I liked your mod a lot anyways but was unsure about the import process so I will definitely look closer at it as well.

    Any other advice and comments also welcomed :)
  5. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    @Deriel Could you tell me a little bit more about your wordpress setup? I have strongly considered that as well but I have a feeling running a bridge and porting the content over into that would be a bit nightmar'ish in the long run..
  6. Deriel

    Deriel Well-Known Member

    Well... er... somewhat shameful, but we don't have a bridge - just a normal wp instalation and a RSS feed bringing the new posts to XF

    In the past we had some bridges (joomla/vB, wp/vb) and none was perfect so we did a survey with he community and decided for a non-bridged solution. To our surprise we discovered we hadtwo separeted communities that didn't want to merge - the forum guys and the article guys. So we let it be that way.
    FredC likes this.
  7. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    @Deriel Thats interesting you basically split the site and that it functions that way. I would not have ever really thought that possible. Different communities and groups have different interests though for sure!

    I left a message in Waindigo's thread about importing group messages, but haven't gotten anything back. It looked to me from what I found that the importer was only for 3.8x. Did you use that one, or what was your process for getting stuff in there?
  8. DJ XtAzY

    DJ XtAzY Active Member

    I also have XenZine (with some of my custom coding for my needs) as well with thousands of articles still in threads. I was planning to create my own importer or create an auto-convert bot to convert them all to articles, but since I want to take advantage of custom fields and have an article thumbnail for each of them, I rather go through manually and update each article. I asked for help on my forum and a bunch volunteered, so I treated them as my separate temporary mods, but since they're motivated, I kept them as staff. You should do something similar if you want to speed up the conversion process.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
  9. Sadik B

    Sadik B Well-Known Member

    Hey Billy! I recognize that name... :) Nice to see u here. The grass is definitely greener here...

    My general advice to you would really be that try and remain as close you can to stock XF and not have large parts of your site depend on too many addons. Honestly I think just XenPorta, Xen Media Gallery and XenForo should be fine for you. Social Groups, Blogs, can really be integrated with XF and yet be made to appear separate by a different way of placement.

    I would really say that stay away from bridges and trying to run too many softwares for the same site. It Always turns out to be a management nightmare. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you as a admin think you want. What matters is what members use, and why they use it and can change for them be better?
    Chris D likes this.
  10. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    Hey Sadik,

    Yes - there is some activity and discussion here the pertains to things other than security exploits, which is a good thing! Its good to see you here as well.

    I totally agree about trying to stay as simplistic and "factory" I'll call it, but I guess that has been my struggle so far from researching, is trying to figure out how to port this stuff over and really make it usable, and not a complete 100% departure from my current setup. My userbase isn't the most tech savvy, and most are middle aged or older, so having an easy transition that makes sense to them is really, really important to me. I will have to continue messing around with XenPorta some to try and figure it out and try and brush up on some CSS so I can figure out how to make the XenZine articles display in the manner I'd like.

    @DJ XtAzY I still can't believe there isn't some sort of an importer someone hasn't come up with, although its good to know you were wondering the same way I am. I wish I could rely on community participation to convert mine over manually, but thats not going to happen :)
  11. Dennis B

    Dennis B Member

    Hi @BillyGoat4130, I've been considering the move to XF and like you, I have a 5.4M-post, 260k-user community that pretty much uses a lot of the stock features of vB4 and quite a few add-ons. I'd really appreciate a quick update on your findings so far. Thanks.
  12. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    I will probably be chastised but some of the membership here, but I gave up. I purchased several different modifications, and tried a lot of different things. I actually took time (3 days in a row, with a weekend) away from my day job to try and sit down and really figure some of this stuff out, and I just never could come up with anything satisfactory. If you want a direct conversion, you might as well throw the towel in because the features (and modifications, I'm sorry) are not mature enough, nor is there a clear conversion path. You'd be looking at basically custom coding import tools for a lot of different things, and at-least for my forum and membership, it will never function closely enough to be used the same way it was again. And the worst thing is, you're still sort of at a dead end or at the mercy of other people for what you've converted over. At the time, that was the beauty with vb4, everything was native feature wise and you knew that there was always going to be an upgrade path from it. So we all thought anyways.

    If you were exactly "forum" centric in your community and did not use the CMS, blogs, groups, photo albums and comments, etc. much porting isn't bad. If you made good use of all of those features, then its really, really tough. I was looking at a minimum of 8 different modifications to cover everything, and my board was fairly vanilla without a lot of super custom stuff installed or used.

    I've reserved myself to sitting back a bit longer. I'm watching IPS 4.0 pretty closely, and am considering actually staying with vb4 and maybe just starting to do some serious customization with it even. There is no doubt the bones of XF are the best out of any other software suit available now, but man, getting everything ported over into it is a nightmare.
    woei and Dennis B like this.
  13. dawg

    dawg Well-Known Member

    I just migrated from vBulletin with 7 million posts and a very busy forum.

    I could not be happier and my members cannot be happier.

    Migrating is simple if you understand group structure.

    I would suggest that you hire an expert because Xenforo is far superior at this point. I wouldn't touch vBulletin with a stick now.
    wcbryant and Dennis B like this.
  14. Dennis B

    Dennis B Member

    Thanks @BillyGoat4130, I've been patiently watching for over a year, and I'd have no doubt starting up a new site with XF, but I agree with you that there should be a more straightforward migation path from vB.
  15. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    "More straightforward" in what sense?

    It can't get much more straightforward than a built in importer which requires a few clicks.
    dawg likes this.
  16. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    Brogan, I think what we're talking about here are the "other parts" of vbulletin 4. No one will say or ague that XF doesn't do a great job at importing the meat and potatoes (it does it infact very well). But the things I mentioned up above, and what Dennis seems to be concerned about also are what were for a lot of other people lesser used in vbulletin 4 and jsut simply discarded in the import process entirely, OR as I have mentioned in posts previously, there is no clear path to use or do anything with that data once its been imported. The import method works fine for someone that has the capability of custom coding and re-integrating the "non-essential" parts of a vb4 suite into what is going to amount to a totally customized XF installation. But for the common joe, and even the power user that isn't a coding guru, there is absolutely not a path way to use any of it. Not a bit.

    Respectfully, I got recommendations for waindaigos social groups mod, xenmedia gallery, and a plethora of CMS mods (your featured threads mod was one of them), bought the resource manager and tried to turn it into an article manager or CMS with another addon -all of these things turned into a giant cobbled together mess. NOTHING ported. Was it possible to get content into it, yes, of course. Was it an enjoyable process? Far far from it...
    Dennis B likes this.
  17. Dennis B

    Dennis B Member

  18. BillyGoat4130

    BillyGoat4130 Member

    And this isn't a knock on XF, I don't mean these things in a derogatory manner or as a hit to anyone. I was a Jelsoft customer back into the 2.x days of VB, so I have a customer history and a lot of respect for Mike, Kier, and this whole project for everything they had to go through. But when you look at the "official" importer, it doesn't account for or do any of the things I mentioned above. It completely ignores them. If you want to even attempt those things, you have to use Jake Bunce's "Old, deprecated, unsupported importer". Even the premium importer by Slavik and DP don't seem to support those things; http://xenforo.com/community/thread...-3-vbulletin-4-paid.52796/page-33#post-769258

    And Jakes importer, bless him for providing the support he does and allowing it to work as well as it does, has its own issues; http://xenforo.com/community/thread...ntrest-style-layout.52769/page-33#post-727279
    So you get past that, and then there is only ONE MOD that allows you to bulk convert your "imported articles" into anything usable, and that is a modification that Optima had coded to convert threads to resources, with a bulk selection tool.

    In addition to that, the manner in which the VB4 CMS's rich text editor used BB codes to insert attachments into articles with certain operators for positioning, image scaling, etc, totally unsupported and wont even display the image as an inline attachment without some more custom coding; http://xenforo.com/community/threads/another-bb-code-question.74662/

    Making use of imported vb4 suite social group data with Jake Bunces importer? No pathway to anything natively, again, without custom coding...http://xenforo.com/community/threads/nobita-social-groups-teams-paid.68681/page-4#post-746245

    This was a far as I was willing to beat my head up against the wall. By all means, please, somebody, make a "Complete vbulletin 4 suite import process for dummies" and I will be the first one in line for it, but it doesn't exist at the moment and the sad thing is I keep seeing this mindset of "why, what else do you need? it does everything already." which indicates theres not any desire or thought to make these things work in the immediate or even near future...
    Dennis B likes this.
  19. Dakis

    Dakis Well-Known Member

    I realize your frustration, but XenForo does not have some of that functionality available in the core, therefore an official importer that would cover the import of all that data would have to take into account third party addons for XenForo, which is far from ideal, considering all these addons are from different developers, may or may not have similar functionality to the vb stuff, etc.

    As someone that had an immense amount of add-ons in his vbulletin forums and have nevertheless converted to XenForo and feels happy about it, I would invite you to keep a more open minded approach to the conversion; XenForo is a very modern software, with a minimalist approach, that is not bloated with features and options, and likes to keep things as simple as possible for the users. vBulletin is now an old-school 1000-functionality system that worked great in the past, but technology and people change, and converting to a fresh and modern piece of software will also mean you adopt some of its principles, and let some of the old things go, or do them in the new, modern way instead of trying to replicate exactly what you had in vbulletin.

    Amaury and dawg like this.
  20. dawg

    dawg Well-Known Member

    Agreed 100%

    If you want to keep the bloat of all those addons and vBulletin then why change software. You usually purchase new software for new use not to duplicate old software. If you want to duplicate vBulletin then I suggest not switching.

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