MBT Question and Answer website

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daveh
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Hi William,
William12 wrote:
"The 'other mod' is 100% stable (at least as much as the core code is stable)."
What evidence do you have of that?
I did a line-by-line review of the code changes for the mod. It was written for phpBB version 3.0.7 and Ted is running 3.0.11 here, so only a very minor update difference. It duplicates existing code lines (biggest change being in the 'set_priority' case statement) and changes some text strings to provide an admin entry box for the priority level. The only 'unsafe' element to the mod is the UPDATE statement to modify the database, but that is hard-coded to only update the new 'topic_priority' field and has been properly cast to prevent injection hacks, so I consider it to be 100% as safe as the core phpBB code.
William12 wrote:It is simply a contribution by a community member and it is explicitly Not supported
This is such a minor mod that it does not require ongoing support (the version of phpBB hasn't changed significantly since the mod was written). It is what it is. Yes, if Ted upgrades to phpBB version 4 at some future date, it will need to be reviewed before re-adding the mod, but that's a long way off yet (and it is such a minor mod that updating it to match future core changes would also be a minor task).
William12 wrote:Having done a ton of production system DB work, the biggest red flag to me is any changes in DB Schema. That takes a very high bar to me. Schema changes are a big deal, now and in the future, and should never be done lightly.
Agreed in general, but in this specific case the change is the introduction of one field in one table. Ted already has the systems backed up, and I'd expect the person making changes to take backups anyway if they're trusted to have this level of access to the system.
William12 wrote:Especially if you can find a solution that does not require it, I would look there first.
Totally agree with that.

Your suggestion of a mod that just changes the date of the topic is interesting (assuming Ted isn't interested in retaining the original date) - but, unless you have found a better solution (I'm possibly wrongly assuming you are thinking along the lines of using the last_modified date as an 'order' mechanism by manually setting dates to force the display order of topics), the main problem I forsee is that it would have to be re-applied every time someone posts to the topic, and be re-applied to a specified sub-set of topics rather than all. This requires an admin interface to choose which ones should be updated and a re-write of the post storage code to force the date changes - which introduces additional unnecessary overhead every time a post is created. The overhead is minor, but it is added to every new post created which makes it less than minor. At least Topic Cement causes no additional overhead.
William12 wrote:For example, if you have to rewind a schema change back to default schema because of some issue six months down the road, then good luck rewinding it and migrating data back to old schema. Ton of import/export work and testing
There's rather a lot of scaremongering here for no reason. Topic Cement introduces one new field which only contains data relating to itself. This field can be ignored or deleted at an point (no difficulty in 'rewinding') without any detriment to the existing system, and certainly doesn't need a 'ton of import/export work'.
William12 wrote:I could say take my word for it, but don't have time to explain all the reasons and learning's over the years right now.
I don't personally need the explanations, but I'm assuming you are doing what I am doing, which is talking to the wider readership rather than just between us 'developers'.
William12 wrote:This is not all or nothing. Trying the change and testing it is the lowest risk option at this point with what we know. If it does not deliver what is needed, he always has the option to go with another Mod.
Have you the time to put it on your phpBB test site so Ted can see it in action?

Dave
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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William12 wrote:I am still trying to understand the essence of what feature this QA thing needs. Why is it different then a BB like this board is? Stackoverflow is a just a BB with tags. Are we strictly talking about Tags here? What features are required? Can someone enumerate specifics? This whole board is QA. Are we talking about capturing just a special subset of good QA like in a FAQ? Please help. tia
The reasons for suggesting the Q/A package are...

Because it separates specific elements of data into separate database fields (ie. question, tags, answers are all stored in their own fields), making it much easier to manipulate into more appropriate display formats.

No, it's not the 'perfect' solution, but it is a better solution than a forum or wiki and the software exists so it is relatively easy to implement.

In lieu of this ongoing conversation though, I think a custom site is going to be worth the effort to trial rather than implement the Q/A software and add the required mods to it. At least then the specific data will be properly 'normalised' (can't go with a noSQL option right now) so that it can be easily extracted and re-purposed at a later date if necessary. At the very least it will give a starting point for further discussion to try and clarify the requirements.

Other alternatives: Yes, it IS possible to add plugins to MediaWiki to force pages to be edited through a fixed 'form' layout. This would allow a section of the wiki to be formatted specifically for cataloging of Thom's videos, but it lacks the commenting capabilities (although I'm sure there's a plugin for that too). MediaWiki also has an API for interacting with the pages for data extraction too. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the internals of MediaWiki as I tend to use DokuWiki. I think a forum such as phpBB is least suited to cataloging videos in the way Ted wants, but yes it can be done with some poking and concessions. This is all virtual, anything can be done with enough focussed intent ;-)

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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Aha, just want to mention that I finally found something called 'autoMod' which does automatic install/remove of phpBB mods...

https://www.phpbb.com/mods/automod/

So we would probably want to install that autoMod mod first if Thom can Ok it. (Again it would be great if @William12 could install it on his test board to check it out).

And, another user has reported in regard to Topic Cement that they have it 'Installed and working on a test board running 3.0.11 using autoMOD without any problems.' (https://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/ ... 9-t_102258)
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

Digging for buried treasure?!

It would seem like you are working towards a simple and comprehensive solution for us. You both, Dave and William, have Shawn's e-mail address and hopefully between you can reach a consensus on how to proceed. If we don't burden Shawn with future problems and we can get these new functions up, organized and running, then all is well.

Thank you both for all of your effort and input towards upgrading the board.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Ted and William,

Can I ask what web browser(s) you use (or have available)? I'm wondering what browser plugins are available to aid collaboration.

*edit: I use Chrome mostly, but have Firefox, Opera and IE available.
Ta,
Dave
Last edited by daveh on Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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I use Firefox but have IE (32 & 64 bit), Chrome and Safari available. I only routinely use Firefox and don't particularly like the others. I particularly don't like Apple update and what it wants to force on you.

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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

Shawn is working on doing a copy of production site for this kind of testing work. He will try for tonight, but he will let Ted know. Once he has test site up, he can install any kind of mod in low risk environment and Ted can verify it for function, etc. After testing, it should be easier for Shawn to then migrate any changes/mods to production and pull the trigger as it where.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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daveh wrote:
William12 wrote:I am still trying to understand the essence of what feature this QA thing needs. Why is it different then a BB like this board is? Stackoverflow is a just a BB with tags. Are we strictly talking about Tags here? What features are required? Can someone enumerate specifics? This whole board is QA. Are we talking about capturing just a special subset of good QA like in a FAQ? Please help. tia
The reasons for suggesting the Q/A package are...
Because it separates specific elements of data into separate database fields (ie. question, tags, answers are all stored in their own fields), making it much easier to manipulate into more appropriate display formats.
No, it's not the 'perfect' solution, but it is a better solution than a forum or wiki and the software exists so it is relatively easy to implement.
n lieu of this ongoing conversation though, I think a custom site is going to be worth the effort to trial rather than implement the Q/A software and add the required mods to it. At least then the specific data will be properly 'normalised' (can't go with a noSQL option right now) so that it can be easily extracted and re-purposed at a later date if necessary. At the very least it will give a starting point for further discussion to try and clarify the requirements.

Other alternatives: Yes, it IS possible to add plugins to MediaWiki to force pages to be edited through a fixed 'form' layout. This would allow a section of the wiki to be formatted specifically for cataloging of Thom's videos, but it lacks the commenting capabilities (although I'm sure there's a plugin for that too). MediaWiki also has an API for interacting with the pages for data extraction too. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the internals of MediaWiki as I tend to use DokuWiki. I think a forum such as phpBB is least suited to cataloging videos in the way Ted wants, but yes it can be done with some poking and concessions. This is all virtual, anything can be done with enough focussed intent ;-)
Dave
May I suggest we slow down and back up a bit. I still have not seen a cogent need statement yet and use case. We need to clearly define that first. Lets not charge into a solution without knowing the customer needs very clearly first. Let us pretend this is a commercial customer project. Tom and Ted are the customer and we are solution providers helping them understand their needs what can be done within their constraints. So from the beginning.

1) We need to clearly define the customer use case and need. Need a clear customer need statement. What problem they trying to solve? Why the current product will not work? Can it be made to work with least effort and still fill the need? Products options are not looked at until this is understood. What are board member needs. Are we trying to fill a need that does not exist?

2) Customer defines their constraints. Ted and Shawn have time constraints and do not have unlimited time or resources for new development experiments or increased support burden. Any solution needs to keep this primary. Even though we are here to help, we can not be assumed to be around after the fact. Priorities change, etc. I have seen too many projects go south because the current guru thought it was great idea because he knew product xyz, but was not the best for the customer and the next guy then wants something else. Huge waste for customers.

3) With the need clearly defined, then you can look at product options. What solutions exist that fill the need without coding? What is cost. What is effort to implement and support. Will everything integrate into whole system with user accounts, permissions, etc? How many things will remain to support (wiki, bb, qa site)? Customer does not want to build "Islands of Technology" that all need different support needs and admin tools if possible. If you can make something work inside the constraints of the current system, would this not be better then separate products? And if you start looking at other product, you may as well reevaluate the current product to see if it is not able enough to encompass all. Should another total solution be considered.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

daveh wrote:
William12 wrote: I think a forum such as phpBB is least suited to cataloging videos in the way Ted wants, but yes it can be done with some poking and concessions. This is all virtual, anything can be done with enough focussed intent ;-)
I guess will just have to disagree on that one. Based on what I saw from Ted's example posts, it looks great and should fill the use case quite nicely. Videos are topics, and QA flows below using existing infrastructure. It is almost perfect for the need. No need to charge off and fork lift a new solution where I see little value returns. Analyze the common usage scenario from the common user perspective. Not the solutions we may dream about at night, which commonly turn out to not align with primary market and customer need.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

From my point of view, and I suspect that Tom would not disagree but do not know until we get through and ask, what we have done works just fine for videos. The second version works better than the first, has the videos proportioned to the standard, and automatically provides a link to YouTube in case you need another version than is embedded. We can get the videos into the board just fine now.

The next thing is to make some relatively simple modifications to allow threads to be fixed in display order so that I, and others, can set up the arrangement for 'findability'. The Mod, Topic Cement, seems like it would handle this just fine. I think that Shawn was saying that it doesn't look that bad to implement but he plans to dig into it further. Then we have autoMod which is supported by phpBB, and it purportedly makes mod installation relatively effortless. The practice here is to wait for a new version of phpBB to stabilize before installing it, making sure that it won't show bugs and require an immediate upgrade and reinstallation. This allows time for any necessary upgrading of an existing mod to match the new board version. Please sort this out between the two of you and Shawn.

Judging by comments made, I am not clear about the use of this Q/A software. I don't see how Tom's 'answers' can just go into a data base. They tend to be long, frequently. He is not typically stating yes, that is correct or no, that is wrong. He has long explanations to short explanations of concepts, not short data base entries, even when his answer is short. The same goes for myself.

What I see the need for is the improvement of the structure of the Wiki so information becomes more findable and presented in a structure that makes it more comprehensible to a user. We are far from exhausting the potential for that in the Wiki. A lot of that can be handled by myself and those working on the Wiki already, especially if I can actually get back to working on it. I know the material relatively well and historically have been oriented towards pulling information and order out of relative chaos in my own engineering career.

How it might be done, this Q/A software or something else, it would also be desirable to have a way to draw information out of the original books, the Board, the video section of the board and the Wiki to integrate it into one overview of MBT. Part of making this happen is to transcribe all of the Videos and produce a clean text for each. This will not get done right away but on a time available basis. This should link back to the video timing, eventually. There should also be a 'markup' as meta information within the transcripts that key to subjects, and time signatures, within the videos. Then there will sometimes be extracted audio which may or may not also be keyed into the data base and timing.

Now how this presumed software might provide an interface into the resulting data and present it, or how it would extract this data, I do not know, having seen nothing illustrating the software as it functions as yet. I have over the years tried to look into many options for this including even a gaming approach and a video version of the model as well as various software for graphically linking concepts in a large mapping system that can be explored. Nothing has ever appeared good enough to invest the time required. I have this 'model' mapped out internally and can explore and extract data as needed from it. How to put that into a computer or server and make it available to others, I do not know.

That is what I am looking for.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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I suppose I am getting lost in the distinction between a forum (like this) and a QA site. Seems they are just basically Forum sites. IMO, there is really no fundamental difference between this forum and something like stackoverflow. They both have forums, topics and discussions. They call there topics questions, so there is a naming difference.
The obvious difference it has more bells and whistles (votes, etc) and has Tags. So it seems to me to boil down to Tagging support for the most part. stackoverflow is cool and would be ideal sw, but is not available for use to public. The closest thing I have found that looks close, is free, and has categories, tags, and search is MVCForum http://chat.mvcforum.com/. If we can not find a Tag Mod for phpBB, then you are kind of faced with migrating to something else that can do the job or just live with what you have which seems to be doing the job. The one phpBB Topic Tag Mod (https://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtop ... &t=1435045) I found was abandoned by the author, which tends to happen to these Mods over time (which is why we love open source right?)
Another is http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

William,

Did you see the following post in the thread discussing that abandoned mod for tagging:
Re: [Beta] Topic Tagging System 1.0.0

Postby madd74 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:26 pm
I am very looking forward to this MOD. I was following the other one and noticed it was here. have you been to the tech support guy forum? They use bulletin and have a tag system there that I very much like, and wondered if this was similar to that one?
They (tech support guy forum) are findable on a search but I see no indication of what software their BB runs. The implication to me is that it is phpBB with the reference to "They use bulletin". I was wondering if this tagging system referred to in red could be available? Then there is the question of what was he talking about in blue? I get the implication that there is in fact another tagging system mod out there, based on this comment.

The last link has an option for a free trial, but only for 72 hours. I gather that you can reregister and extend this tryout. I would have to look at some of the listed user sites to get an idea what it can do. It is not fantastically expensive, although I have not seen their charges structure to see if there is an ongoing license and perhaps volume charges or just the initial $400. Not a fantastic amount of money.

Actually, I'm not sure how and if a tagging system would do anything for us, at least in terms of what I am really looking for. I am trying to figure out how to enhance understanding, not just make phrases more findable.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

In regards to collaboration...

Some projects I watch use a website called Trello (https://trello.com) to plan their developments. Does this look appealing to you (Ted & William)?

It would allow all these ideas an options to be explored in a better format I think.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

Dave,

That seems to just be a list sharing service, fundamentally, a BB. I don't understand how it would work as a development tool.

How about this as a development tool? http://www.aptana.com/ But then we are not talking a developer type project.

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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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daveh wrote:In regards to collaboration...

Some projects I watch use a website called Trello (https://trello.com) to plan their developments. Does this look appealing to you (Ted & William)?

It would allow all these ideas an options to be explored in a better format I think.
I actually like that from 20 second look and feel. It reminds me of a Kanban board (i.e. aircraft carrier Ouija board) which I have used in past (a LEAN methodology). I like Lean and Kaizen and they seem to be applying those ideas. Not sure yet if it could apply for MBT. And a developer team system is more appropriate for code if that is what we talking about, not sure. Well executed system from what I see and like the direction of it. Seems great to organize work and tasks and ideas for a small team and keeping the flow going without a lot of ceremony. Something like Visual Studio Express and TFS is an integrated killer app for that kind of thing. Having absorbed more what I think Ted needs is more in line with a CMS (content management system). Sort of a balance between free form and having some structure and easy data entry. There are many to look at from open to paid. The better ones are naturally a few dollars. I don't have a recommendation as I never had to use one yet. I have installed a played with few over the years. The other extreme would be just doing web pages and formatting the look and feel as you like (i.e brute force). Seems to me a problem of data presentation and how to summarize complex information. Age old problem. On the one hand, you don't just want to duplicate data putting it another context. You actually want to summarize and simplify it. So an index type of thing (i.e. tree) without looking like a Sears catalog. Maybe it would just be easier to just web page an index outline that uses a bunch on links to source content.
Last edited by William12 on Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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