After "upgrading" to vB5 it feels like I've lost a child

NovoCiv

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
6
Last week I woke up one day to broken forums. Looking into it, my webhost forced everyone into the modern century by upgrading all servers to PHP 7.4. It was only then that I found out vbulletin 4 is incompatible with PHP 7.4.

I weighed my options.
-Going to a new webhost that allows out-dated PHP versions would be a temporary fix that could have many issues and doesn't solve the core problem.
-Trying to hack vbulletin 4 to work with PHP 7.4 sounded possible, but there were no public resources on how to do it and I'm only one guy.
-Downgrading to vB5 would be quick and easy and save the forums, which were totally broken. At the cost of all custom code.

A few users offered to co-finance the vB5 license so I went for it. 4.0.5 -> 5.6.4. Now the forums are functional, but without any of the custom code they just feel like an archive of our history.


See, for more than 10 years I put everything I had into these forums. They have been the only constant in my life. In the past decade I've moved to a foreign country, been engaged and split up, gotten a bachelor's degree, changed my career, got a master's degree. Yet my website has always been there. It was never monetized, just a pure passion project for a small group of users. This community came from another website, and has been together for around 15 years.

A lot of the custom code on the website came from vbulletin.org, but at least half of it was custom programmed entirely by me. My biggest project was making pokemon Go on the forums:
https://imgur.com/a/2Jr8PZp

The website had an active economy, and I did my data science Master's Thesis on building a data warehouse for the website.

Losing everything to just become a generic vB5 platform that can't even support the virtual currency has gutted me. 10 years of passion ended in a single day.

I have a backup of the database and files from before the "upgrade", but I'm afraid that exploring options of other forum software is just going to get my hopes up and burn me. I'm one guy doing this out of pocket. I have a full time job, so learning an entirely new platform and trying to reprogram everything just sounds like an impossible task.

Forums are out of date and us users are dinosaurs refusing to move forward with progress. I hate it.

Thanks for listening to my rant.
 
Last edited:

we_are_borg

Administrator
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Messages
5,702
The only one that might be able to help is Paul M he would know if it can be done to run vb 4.0.5 under php 7.4. I would close the site for one or two days and see what can be done. I hope you have a backup of the database.
 

NovoCiv

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
6
Yes, I have a backup. To upgrade I backed up the database, renamed the existing forum directory to forum_old (preserving all the files) and then installed vb5.6.4 in a new directory.

Reverting to the old broken version would just involve uploading the database backup and connecting it to the old directory.

The problem is that I don't know enough about modern web development to keep vb4 compatible with new versions of PHP. Everything I know about PHP I taught myself by tinkering with the code and reading things on stackoverflow and php.net.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,264
Did you check with your webhost to see if they support multi-php ini (i.e., separate php versions per directory/subdomain)? That way you can happily run your old forum while perhaps working towards updating it to a new software.
 

NovoCiv

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
6
Did you check with your webhost to see if they support multi-php ini (i.e., separate php versions per directory/subdomain)? That way you can happily run your old forum while perhaps working towards updating it to a new software.
In an ongoing effort to bring you the very best products and services, we will be upgrading all of our servers to PHP 7.4. In addition to improved data processing, which can boost your site’s speed and performance, you’ll also gain increased security. Newer versions of PHP have more frequent security updates to help protect your site against unwanted hacks or malware.
When will it happen?
At some point during the upgrade window -- January 12, 2021 through January 17, 2021 -- your account will be updated, and older versions of PHP will no longer be supported. You may experience a brief disruption in service during this time
Do I need to do anything on my end?
Yes, if you have any custom code or plugins, we recommend that you upgrade all of your web installations to the newest PHP software available before we upgrade your account. Newer versions of PHP are already available on your current server, and you can set your site to use those versions with this helpful guide. You should also backup all of your website files.
What if a newer version of PHP won’t work on my site?
We’ve put together a list of fixes for the most common errors here.
We assure you that we will try to minimize the risk to your site. However, if you need help with these changes before they occur, we are available for you via chat or by phone at (866)964-2867.
Sincerely,
Your HostGator Support Team

Based on their email and the fact that its just shared hosting, I don't think so. I don't really know how multi-php ini file would work either.
 

we_are_borg

Administrator
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Messages
5,702
I would close the site for few days and wait until Paul M has commented. If someone can help its him.
 

NovoCiv

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
6
Hey, aren't you the guy from reddit? We talked about you on here.
Wow, it's a wild experience to read an old discussion about myself. Thanks for pointing that out. I posted in that thread giving a history of my website that maybe explains why I did things the way that I did.
 

DigNap15

Fan
Joined
Sep 14, 2019
Messages
549
I can't comment on your situation
But it is always not good to do things in a hurry. (like Parler is being forced to)
You should have talked to other people in the same position

And yes running a forum is a big hassle
DNS
Webhots
email servers
Getting members
Moderating content
Paying for it (ads or donation)
Add ons and styles etc
 

Alpha1

Administrator
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
4,070
As I see it you have a few options:
  1. Revert to vb4 and have it updated to php7.4.
    Considering vb4 is old and EOL this requires to hire a vb developer who will be available in the future.
  2. Revert to vb4 and move to a different host.
    IMO this could be an attraction option for the short time while you figure out what to do. I would move away from hostgator in any case. No host should force you into this situation.
  3. Migrate to a better platform like XenForo, IPS or BuddyBoss.
    You will need to test the software and do test migrations.
My advice would be to first move to another host with vb4 and then select new modern software that suits your needs. Whatever you do, make sure to get your community on board. So that they understand why changes are made and if possible let them be part of the decision for a different platform.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,752
If you can't see a future running on vBulletin 5 (something I and I suspect most owners would want to avoid), Alpha1 has suggested the best way forward in my opinion.
My advice would be to first move to another host with vb4 and then select new modern software that suits your needs. Whatever you do, make sure to get your community on board. So that they understand why changes are made and if possible let them be part of the decision for a different platform.

That gives you some breathing space, time to evaluate the best way forward. I'd suggest running up a test version of Xenforo and Invision Community. Both products are far superior to vBulletin 5.
 

Al.Ch

Aspirant
Joined
Jun 1, 2016
Messages
35
How large is your forum?

Maybe I can help you at least for a short time and host you on one of my servers till you decide what you would like to do. I completely understand what you are going through as I was in your shoes before.

If you are interested send me a private message and then we can figure something out :)
 

Paul M

Dr Pepper Addict
Joined
Jun 26, 2006
Messages
3,997
I would close the site for few days and wait until Paul M has commented. If someone can help its him.

Its largely a lost cause I'm afraid, the last version of vB4 was designed for php 7.1
You could (in theory) modify a few bits, and turn off all error reporting, and it should limp along.

But even if you did, how long before this terrible host forces you to an even higher php, and it breaks forever.
You seriously need to move host, they are dreadful, they KNOW such a move will break many sites, so clearly dont care.

If you cant, my advice would have been to move to Xenforo, it has a vB4 importer, and is pretty easy to learn for someone used to vB.

I would never advise anyone to move to vB5 (for the record, I have no experience of Invision, so I cannot say how good/bad it is)
 

Delfi_R

Neophyte
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
3
I work with a hosting company that allows me chose something as PHP and stay on it, without upgrading. So I keep frozen servers with outdated specs if the need arises to downgrade (some people need that and I can help them in the meantime).

I stay on vB 4.25 because I don't need to upgrade for a non monetized and slow working forum. But if my forum was a big thing perhaps I would moved elsewhere sooner than later.
 

NovoCiv

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 17, 2021
Messages
6
Thanks to everyone for the advice, and thanks Paul M for the sobering analysis of my options wrt vBulletin.

I did not know about the vB -> XenForo converter, so that makes the option a lot more appealing. I think my next step is to get a test site working with xenforo and seeing how likely it is that I can adapt to programming there, or if it's too big of a task until I reach a slower time of the year with work.

Thanks for the offers here and in PMs for hosting. The problem is I am heavily reliant on cPanel, because I never learned how to do most of the serverside stuff manually. Thinks like redirects, subdomains and most embarrassingly, phpmyadmin. The biggest cost with a host is access to cPanel, and its pretty much the main reason I never went with a dedicated server provided through friends.

I think for now the members should tolerate vb5, since we already got it working and paid for the license. If I back down to vb4 it will get their hopes up seeing all the custom code back, and then it's a disappointment for anything which can't be easily ported to xenforo. I can just use the vb4 database backup and then import the few posts a day right now from the new vb5 database.

Could anyone here link some good resources for learning XenForo coding? I really have no idea where to start other than just opening files and tinkering. It would be nice if there's some kind of guide for making a custom mod in xenforo that outlines things like accessing variables, hooks, plugins etc from vb4.
 

Kevin

Oooh, something shiny!
Joined
Jul 13, 2004
Messages
3,450
Could anyone here link some good resources for learning XenForo coding? I really have no idea where to start other than just opening files and tinkering. It would be nice if there's some kind of guide for making a custom mod in xenforo that outlines things like accessing variables, hooks, plugins etc from vb4.
I don't think you'll find a direct "If you did this in vB then his is how you do it in XF" type guide but there are some good resources available.

When you're ready to see what the admin side of XF looks like before making a purchase... https://xenforo.com/demo/

When you're ready to ask some questions before making a purchase... https://xenforo.com/community/forums/xenforo-pre-sales-and-feedback.5/

When you're ready to start learning the XF concepts & terminology... https://xenforo.com/docs/xf2/

When you're ready to start reading over the dev' docs.... https://xenforo.com/docs/dev/

When you're ready to create a local dev' environment... https://xenforo.com/community/threads/local-dev-environment-recommendation-2020.187813 (it's an updated recommendation by Kier of a local dev' environment, the XF2 docs still has the original recommendation)

When you're ready to follow along step-by-step creating a sample XF addon... https://xenforo.com/docs/dev/lets-build-an-add-on/#lets-build-an-add-on

When you're ready to see what the XF coding standards are before working on your own addon... https://xenforo.com/community/help/resource-standards/

When the inventible help is needed and you want to ask for help from other devs working on XF stuff... https://xenforo.com/community/#development-help.51

When you're ready to release your XF addon to the public... https://xenforo.com/community/help/resource-guidelines/
 

Taylor J

Fan
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
896
I'm kind of sad and surprised they didn't make a new MacOS guide on setting up a local dev env for XF seeing as how Kier posted he doesn't recommend a vagrant at all anymore. I'm also surprised they just don't use Docker.
 

Paul M

Dr Pepper Addict
Joined
Jun 26, 2006
Messages
3,997
I did not know about the vB -> XenForo converter, so that makes the option a lot more appealing.

A vB4 importer has always been available, in fact, before they had an official one, there was at least one available that I wrote. :)
 

Jeremy8

Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
175
I'm kind of sad and surprised they didn't make a new MacOS guide on setting up a local dev env for XF seeing as how Kier posted he doesn't recommend a vagrant at all anymore. I'm also surprised they just don't use Docker.
I tried using Docker, but was having some difficulties. In the end I found that MAMP was the easiest to set up.
 

BGObsession

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Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Messages
131
I found Xenforo much more intuitive and simple than vBulletin (as a self-taught site Admin/webmaster). There are some differences, particularly in how the admin cp is set up, how add on options are managed, and customization of the site (which really depends on what it is you are customizing). I am always glad to be a resource to help where I am competent to do so. We are about a year in to the switch and not for a second do I regret it. I also highly recommend mysiteguy as an extremely meticulous migration expert who can get you where you want to be and handle the heavy lifting. He did a great job for us as I know he has done for many others.
 
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