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

Ridemonkey

Well-known member
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

I think this right here is really important. You're looking for vBulletin to be duplicated in another platform. That's not XenForo, and this problem crops up a lot in the IT world.

Many times, I've proposed a change to our corporate software and too-often the answer is, "okay, existing software does <list of a hundred specific things>. Does new software do that exact list?" Well, no. It's missing some things. But there are these other things that it does a whole lot better, and a few new things that the old stuff doesn't do, and I think it's worth the tradeoff.

If you want to wholesale-duplicate an existing list of functions, you're probably never going to be happy. Different software designers have different philosophies and it's unlikely that they'll both settle on the same solution. This isn't VB on a different code base. It's different. You'll have to change some things. You might lose some things. The question is, do XF's strengths outweigh those for your purposes? Only you can answer that, and maybe your existing answer (no, we need all those things) is the right one. But it doesn't appear that you've considered that you maybe can't retain all backwards functionality forever, or that you could change up how you're doing things. So just consider it.

Google Analytics might be helpful for this. Sometimes I grab onto things and I think they're absolutely critical... and then we check the analytics and it turns out only 5% of the community use them.

Anyway... just some thoughts from someone who is converting a sizable board over and is accepting that a few things will get lost, a few things will be gained, and hopefully we'll be a better community at the end.
 
I don't want a whole site duplication. I want a system that utilizes my existing data. I'm very open to it being used in new, different, and exciting ways, but I want a meaningful way for the last 5 years worth of content to be used.

In my list there is not a single AdminCP option from vbulletin (Of which, there are thousands I care nothing about).

I have no mention of the blogs, the calendar, the administrator and moderator logs, hundreds of other bloated features I have absolutely no problem axing (The calendar would be nice, but I'd certainly live with out).


The things I do mention are absolute integral parts of my community. A few of the social groups I have are 250+ members and several thousand posts, as they were created as a niche within a niche. Convert those into individual forums? Okay, I had almost reserved myself to that.

5 years worth of event photos and comments (thousands). No way to do anything meaningful with them with first party or third party solutions without going custom.

5 years worth of painstakingly created custom content in the form of race results, tutorials, reviews, and editorials (editorials are easy to convert, all text. Anything image or table formatting heavy though, whew).

Simply discarding this content does not sit well with me when it was created by my user base. I don't mind re-purposing it (Thats exactly what I'm trying to do), but tossing it to the wind because its inconvenient isn't in my cards.
 

Slavik

XenForo moderator
Staff member

Excellent post.

I don't want a whole site duplication. I want a system that utilizes my existing data. I'm very open to it being used in new, different, and exciting ways, but I want a meaningful way for the last 5 years worth of content to be used.

Everything can be imported / re-purposed etc, I have just done a custom import test for a customer which moves a whole bunch of addon data from VB into the XenForo resources manager. You just need to decide what system you would like to use, and then look to if you can afford to have that done if it needs to be custom coded for you.
 

Ridemonkey

Well-known member
5 years worth of event photos and comments (thousands). No way to do anything meaningful with them with first party or third party solutions without going custom.

Xen Media Gallery has a direct import from VB. I just did this on my test site.

5 years worth of painstakingly created custom content in the form of race results, tutorials, reviews, and editorials (editorials are easy to convert, all text. Anything image or table formatting heavy though, whew).

How are you storing those? I'm not sure why "custom" seems to be a bad word for you - I've literally never, in all of my years in IT, done a migration that didn't require at least a little custom importing/conversion. It might even be cheaper than you think. Virtually anything that is stored in the database can be migrated to another database without too much pain.

Simply discarding this content does not sit well with me when it was created by my user base. I don't mind re-purposing it (Thats exactly what I'm trying to do), but tossing it to the wind because its inconvenient isn't in my cards.

I didn't mean you should discard the content, just that the previous function might end up discarded for something else. For instance, maybe instead of news articles being a separate entity, they get migrated as threads into a News forum. You're absolutely right - it may require a custom solution. That's pretty normal with any large data migration, though.

There are a number of things in XF that have actually saved me a lot of money from what I expected. For instance, I found a great, responsive theme framework that meant I didn't have to spend a penny on a designer, freeing up a little money for some custom SQL scripting to pull in data from VB.

I hope this doesn't come across like I'm arguing with you - just trying to help you figure out if indeed you're at a dead end, or if there's a path forward.
 
Xen Media Gallery has a direct import from VB. I just did this on my test site.



How are you storing those? I'm not sure why "custom" seems to be a bad word for you - I've literally never, in all of my years in IT, done a migration that didn't require at least a little custom importing/conversion. It might even be cheaper than you think. Virtually anything that is stored in the database can be migrated to another database without too much pain.



I didn't mean you should discard the content, just that the previous function might end up discarded for something else. For instance, maybe instead of news articles being a separate entity, they get migrated as threads into a News forum. You're absolutely right - it may require a custom solution. That's pretty normal with any large data migration, though.

There are a number of things in XF that have actually saved me a lot of money from what I expected. For instance, I found a great, responsive theme framework that meant I didn't have to spend a penny on a designer, freeing up a little money for some custom SQL scripting to pull in data from VB.

I hope this doesn't come across like I'm arguing with you - just trying to help you figure out if indeed you're at a dead end, or if there's a path forward.


No problem or animosity, just a spirited discussion :)

The problem with custom work is 2 fold-

A: It costs money, a lot over a long term.
B: There is no other upgrade or migration path after you've converted, without more custom work and more of A. This is the biggest frustration.
C: The competition offers this already natively. Is it pretty and functional, not really, or I would have already done it. But I'd rather be here.

If you have a large income producing forum and can afford to pay a coder for a couple weeks worth of work, then everything is well.

If you have a not as large, not as income producing forum, and can't make the #s work to pay someone to do all the conversion process and importing, you're kind of screwed. For the last 6 months I've tried to learn to code almost specifically for this project. If I could code myself, I'd certainly justify the work involved in doing it. But I can't, and I can't justify the expenses I've been quoted on converting, especially since it isn't to convert to anything natively. I mean where are all these mods that you'll have to use going to be at in 5 years, with newer versions of XF and different technologies on the web?

I guess I'm a little bit frigid from vB, but thats not really a chance I want to take again. I could spend between $2 and 4,000 and then never have a clear upgrade path from there without doing the same thing again, seems suicidal to me. If something ever breaks, I'm screwed without paying someone to fix it. I'd feel more secure and better if I had to convert into a XF with 8 different mods all created by one person. But 8 different mods all created by different people with different ideas, visions, I just see it as a recipe for disaster in the future.

I don't expect or want a swiss army knife solution - but some kind of a guide for a defined migratory path, even amongst the addon developers and community would sure be helpful.
 

Ridemonkey

Well-known member
Fair enough.

I'm not sure why custom work would leave you in the lurch, or cost you more in the long term, though. I'm not saying you need to write custom functionality from scratch, I'm saying that the import/conversion process may require some custom work. Once it is imported into the system, it should be normal/fully supported data with all of the standard upgrade paths that everyone else has.

In terms of the mods, you're right - there's always the possibility that mods will languish. On the other hand, VB hosed their entire code base (IMO) with VB4 and made it a disaster for us to support, so it's not like you're secure with the core code either. You're talking about web technologies that change over time - nothing is permanent, and nothing is assured.

With our installation, I decided that VB4 is currently a lousy platform for our community. I don't feel that VB5 looks to be much better. I feel the XenForo, as it exists today, is a better platform. That puts me and my community in a better place. The worst case? I become utterly reliant on a mod that the developer stops updating, and I'm stuck at this version of XF. I still feel that this existing version of XF is better than VB so that's still a win. Look at the number of sites still running happily at VB 3.8.

Additionally, the plugin system appears far more modular, which means updates are less likely to break them.

Not sure if any of that helps you. Web technologies change so quickly, though, that I personally can't look at the forum software is needing to be permanent and immutable. As long as I've got the data, I'll figure out what form to put it in... good luck with your choice!
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
In terms of the mods, you're right - there's always the possibility that mods will languish. On the other hand, VB hosed their entire code base (IMO) with VB4 and made it a disaster for us to support, so it's not like you're secure with the core code either. !

I couldn't agree more. Weigh up what is happening to vB vs moving to a fast, responsive, well supported platform with a very obvious future. Lose a few things, gain a lot more - that's what I did.

I used to dread every vBulletin upgrade as it would break my style - and there were may upgrades to vB4 just to fix the horrible bugs.
 

Amaury

Well-known member
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.

:)

XenForo also has a lot of add-on equivalents.
 
Fair enough.

I'm not saying you need to write custom functionality from scratch, I'm saying that the import/conversion process may require some custom work. Once it is imported into the system, it should be normal/fully supported data with all of the standard upgrade paths that everyone else has.

In terms of the mods, you're right - there's always the possibility that mods will languish. On the other hand, VB hosed their entire code base (IMO) with VB4 and made it a disaster for us to support, so it's not like you're secure with the core code either. You're talking about web technologies that change over time - nothing is permanent, and nothing is assured.

Additionally, the plugin system appears far more modular, which means updates are less likely to break them.

Not sure if any of that helps you. Web technologies change so quickly, though, that I personally can't look at the forum software is needing to be permanent and immutable. As long as I've got the data, I'll figure out what form to put it in... good luck with your choice!

Right, and because of vBulletin is the exact reason I'm a bit on the edge of paranoia in wanting to see where I'm going to end up, because I bought and upgraded myself right into the corner of a box with it that is going to require a custom solution to get me out of it appears, and I would surely like to avoid that at all costs if possible on the next adventure :)

With our installation, I decided that VB4 is currently a lousy platform for our community. I don't feel that VB5 looks to be much better. I feel the XenForo, as it exists today, is a better platform. That puts me and my community in a better place. The worst case? I become utterly reliant on a mod that the developer stops updating, and I'm stuck at this version of XF. I still feel that this existing version of XF is better than VB so that's still a win. Look at the number of sites still running happily at VB 3.8.

It is a lousy platform absolutely. The mobile flexibility and ease is the #1 reason forums are getting their asses handed to them by Facebook, and vb4 is terrible at it. Its just frustrating - I will say I looked at this about a year prior to making this post and never even got this far, so atleast in the year between then and this original time I started the thread, things progressed and got better enough for me to buy several addons and try things out. Perhaps in another year things will be ready to go to the extent I'm desiring. I just at all costs absolutely do not want a dead upgrade and improvement path, and thats what I'm scared of getting using such a mixture of different addons and having to custom program my way into them on top of it.
 

Ridemonkey

Well-known member
Hope you end up with something that makes you happy.

Just remember that nothing is permanent, so you can wait forever for something perfect or you can make your current situation better... and there's just as much of a chance you'll be having this same discussion again in a few years.

If I'm eating my words in 6 months, I'll be sure to update this thread :)
 
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0ptima

Well-known member
The things I do mention are absolute integral parts of my community. A few of the social groups I have are 250+ members and several thousand posts, as they were created as a niche within a niche. Convert those into individual forums? Okay, I had almost reserved myself to that.

5 years worth of event photos and comments (thousands). No way to do anything meaningful with them with first party or third party solutions without going custom.

5 years worth of painstakingly created custom content in the form of race results, tutorials, reviews, and editorials (editorials are easy to convert, all text. Anything image or table formatting heavy though, whew).

Simply discarding this content does not sit well with me when it was created by my user base. I don't mind re-purposing it (Thats exactly what I'm trying to do), but tossing it to the wind because its inconvenient isn't in my cards.

For your groups, did you try this addon, which has an importer?

Your photos can be imported into Xen Media Gallery.

The rest of your content could probably be imported into the Resource Manager.

Is the only remaining issue the formatting and old BBcode? No matter what platform you switch to, old BBCode will most probably be an issue. You can try to have an addon created to deal with this or have your community help you out with editing your content post conversion.
 

mistypants

Well-known member
I used Jake's unofficial importer to move from vBulletin 4. Back on vB4, my users did use the social groups feature, and I wanted to preserve those when moving, like you. With Jake's importer they were converted into threads. It's a messy solution, but I take manual social group import requests -- I ask the users to browse the imported vB4 group data and find the thread(s) they want to be moved to their newly created social group (using Waindigo's add-on). I move those threads to a private dump node, then run the query Waindigo posted here: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/social-groups-by-waindigo.34152/page-41#post-751804 to move them to their social group.

Like I said, it's not ideal and requires manual admin work and the user to re-create their group. It's something, though.

As for a portal solution, I previously used vBadvanced, which already stored news posts (posts that went onto my portal) as threads, so it was an easy change to XenPorta. XenPorta isn't the most user-friendly add-on (hoping that 2.0 will fix that) but it's fairly simple to have the RecentNews block pick up all threads within a certain forum, no manual promoting required.
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
It is a lousy platform absolutely. The mobile flexibility and ease is the #1 reason forums are getting their asses handed to them by Facebook, and vb4 is terrible at it. Its just frustrating - I will say I looked at this about a year prior to making this post and never even got this far, so atleast in the year between then and this original time I started the thread, things progressed and got better enough for me to buy several addons and try things out. Perhaps in another year things will be ready to go to the extent I'm desiring. I just at all costs absolutely do not want a dead upgrade and improvement path, and thats what I'm scared of getting using such a mixture of different addons and having to custom program my way into them on top of it.

One thing going in your favor is that if you are on vb4, you can stay at your current version and wait things out, rather than attempt to move to vB5. vB4 had been out for quite awhile but we had to stay on vB3.7, due to having too many customizations in place, all of them to improve efficiency for our "big board". I just parked myself on 3.7 and waited until something better came along. (And hope nobody hacked into it.)

It took me over a year before I felt there were enough features for us to make the move, and we did take a chance on converting when "that legal thing" was going on, but we've adapted, and wait patiently for features we need to be added. It didn't stop us. But our needs were more about running efficiently--we used nothing beyond the core forum product.

I do have to make a note that add-ons can come back to haunt you. We had a couple minor ones on vB fizzle out, which were no loss, but one of the XF add-ons that we used which was abandoned actually brought the forum down unexpectedly, months after an XF upgrade. (Something in user data wasn't compatible.) Another one we relied on presented such a heavy load (via one expensive database query) that I had to uninstall it and lose some of our work. As a result, I try to rely on as few add-ons as possible. Uptime and smooth running are the top priorities for us, and features are second. While custom programming is expensive, as are updates for future XF versions, at least you have the option to keep custom add-ons working at all times.

I'm sure you can find something, though! It's great that we even have all these choices today. :)
 
Well, 2 years later I'm back and xf2 is looking really great. How's everyone else that replied to this before, positioned now? Lack of mobile usability my vb4 site has been killing me along with fb, but so far xf2 is looking and working really cleanly for me here. I like it! Hope I can revisit the challenges I have and solve them soon, finally.
 

0ptima

Well-known member
Assuming you still have the same requirements, I doubt you would be able to convert to XF 2 any time soon as some of the addons you need have not been re-written. With the amount of addons, importers and skills available for XF 1, converting to XF 1 is probably your best option if you want to convert all you custom data. Take a look at https://xenaddons.com/ for your articles and the XF media gallery for you media.

Converting from VB years ago was the best thing I did for my communities.
 
Well, time for another 2 year check back in :)

How is XF2 doing with the add-ons and official mods? Is everyone still happy with things? Has anyone else made a vb4 transfer for a large or customized board in the last 2 years since this with some insight they can offer?

With the vb4 required php versions coming (and already at ) EOL this is probably going to have to happen for me sooner, rather than later.

Now a days my fear is that completely changing up the format and UI of the forum and site will hinder an already dwindling existing user base unfortunately :(
 

Ray-

Member
Not vb4, but I converted my forum from vb 3.8 to XF2 about a year ago.
I've been using vbulletin since version 2 for various communities but now I was pretty much stuck with the forum I've been running for about 10 years that was now slowly losing visitors. I've been using quite a lot mods but mostly a custom album mod and a CMS for a homepage and some other non-forum-pages. I never felt the urge to 'upgrade' to vb4 or 5 because it actually felt more like a downgrade and therefore stuck with an old website. 'Old', mostly because of lack of mobile support and ease of use compared to Facebook.

Converting all the default stuff, such as posts, users, forums, avatars etcetera was a breeze with the importer.
I didn't convert the photo albums and CMS pages. The photo's were quite small compared to today's standard (I think they were max 600x600px) and converting them turned out to be quite a hassle. The CMS pages were outdated, so I accepted to lose some of my content. In return I got a new forum and the userbase has been growing for the last couple of months.
To my surprise, the users are barely using the albums functionality in XF, but instead are happier with the easy way of including images in posts.

I'm glad I made the switch to XF before the forum would completely turn into a ghost town.
I'm currently using the default XF skin with some customisation. I'm trying not to customise too much to avoid maintenance and instead buy some mods here and there (16 mods in total over the last year).

I really like a lot coming from @ThemeHouse : I've been using their Q&A resource for some time, bought UI.X 2 and Nodes (tho not really using it yet) and their support is really good. In the near future I really want to have a decent homepage again and some static pages. I think I'm going with Xpress for that. They got some other nice mods I want as well (my next purchase will probably be Featured threads) and I probably should've bought UI.X pro which already has most of the mods and saved me some money...

For events I've been using Xenatendo and while I've been quite happy with previous mods by Jaxel, I'm dropping this one since it's not really what it should've been and I'm still looking for an easy way for members to register for events.

Other small mods are some of @AndyB from xf2addons, which has a nice business model as well with a single price for access to all his mods.

Long story short: I sacrificed some of my custom content to convert my 90's looking forum to modern standards with decent integrations. Yes, it'll cost you some to make the forum do exactly what you want since the mods aren't free, but in return I got an active forum again. Don't wait too long, or you'll end up with a dead forum instead.
 
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Not vb4, but I converted my forum from vb 3.8 to XF2 about a year ago.
I've been using vbulletin since version 2 for various communities but now I was pretty much stuck with the forum I've been running for about 10 years that was now slowly losing visitors. I've been using quite a lot mods but mostly a custom album mod and a CMS for a homepage and some other non-forum-pages. I never felt the urge to 'upgrade' to vb4 or 5 because it actually felt more like a downgrade and therefore stuck with an old website. 'Old', mostly because of lack of mobile support and ease of use compared to Facebook.

Converting all the default stuff, such as posts, users, forums, avatars etcetera was a breeze with the importer.
I didn't convert the photo albums and CMS pages. The photo's were quite small compared to today's standard (I think they were max 600x600px) and converting them turned out to be quite a hassle. The CMS pages were outdated, so I accepted to lose some of my content. In return I got a new forum and the userbase has been growing for the last couple of months.
To my surprise, the users are barely using the albums functionality in XF, but instead are happier with the easy way of including images in posts.

I'm glad I made the switch to XF before the forum would completely turn into a ghost town.
I'm currently using the default XF skin with some customisation. I'm trying not to customise too much to avoid maintenance and instead buy some mods here and there (16 mods in total over the last year).

I really like a lot coming from @ThemeHouse : I've been using their Q&A resource for some time, bought UI.X 2 and Nodes (tho not really using it yet) and their support is really good. In the near future I really want to have a decent homepage again and some static pages. I think I'm going with Xpress for that. They got some other nice mods I want as well (my next purchase will probably be Featured threads) and I probably should've bought UI.X pro which already has most of the mods and saved me some money...

For events I've been using Xenatendo and while I've been quite happy with previous mods by Jaxel, I'm dropping this one since it's not really what it should've been and I'm still looking for an easy way for members to register for events.

Other small mods are some of @AndyB from xf2addons, which has a nice business model as well with a single price for access to all his mods.

Long story short: I sacrificed some of my custom content to convert my 90's looking forum to modern standards with decent integrations. Yes, it'll cost you some to make the forum do exactly what you want since the mods aren't free, but in return I got an active forum again. Don't wait too long, or you'll end up with a dead forum instead.


Awesome information...thank you very much for the reply.

Did you do the entire process yourself, or hire someone to help out?

I remember vb2 and vb3 (very fondly). My forum has been around since 1999 in one form or another, so there is a lot of history, information, and stuff used i just want to make sure the next iteration uses to the full potential.

The one way forums will always be able to compete with Facebook is long tail content. I just want to make sure the pathway forward utilizes all that content the users and even myself put together in the best way possible.

So you've noticed an uptick in usage of your board since the upgrade? Mostly old or new members? One paranoia of mine has been losing the older members that will get frustrated with the new setup/layout and not use it as much. However - if it's more mobile friendly and easy to use then of course that should negate that.
 

Ray-

Member
I did the conversion myself. At first the old members became a bit more active. An active board leads to more registrations, so pretty soon new users would follow. I'd be lying if I said i had a really active board again, it's been losing traffic for the last couple of years. Here's a graph from Analytics with users per month, starting from January 2012. It's pretty clear at what point I finally decided to do something about it. (It's also pretty clear it suffered from the changes Google made around September 2018)
Screenshot 2019-10-01 at 09.17.36.png

It's a niche forum (Dutch only and for a specific car model), so no dazzling numbers here, but you get the point.
In order to follow the trendline I'm planning some updates, but I wanted to see an increase of traffic over the last year before putting more effort in the forums again.

Regarding your last point: some of the regulars will complain. It's different and they have to search for some of the features they were using for years, so the first reaction will probably be negative. Most of them will accept the change and eventually everyone will discover that things have become better.
 
Boy our overall traffic patterns back in the day were pretty similar!

I have had GA ever since I started with vb4 (and some back before it when we were on vb3 still;

1569927910926.png

Looks like i had the same taper off since September of last year you've had.

Pretty interesting stuff, glad to see yours climbing back up. Looks like it is time for me to get serious about getting this done.
 
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