StoryBB

Pete

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This has been a bit stagnant but it's about time I properly talked about it.

Back in 2015 my then-partner (now wife) floated the idea of running an online roleplay site. We were both established SMF people and we were going to test drive then SMF 2.1 with some add-on stuff to handle multi-accounting in a grown-up and sensible way. Life got in the way.

2017 I... uh... lost my patience with SMF for reasons and forked. And it's been a wild ride since trying to add in RP features while trying to modernise the base. I've been more successful on some things than others.

Part way through 2020 I just stopped owing to some influences in my life that were less than ideal and finally this January my wife suggested we actually do the RP site we always wanted to do. So now we have.

The software is still evolving, it's still buggy as anything in places but there is nothing like trying it to get a feel for it, right?

The only real live site at present is the Harry Potter inspired roleplay over at https://floo.network/ - welcome to come take a look but unless you're interested in RPing 1969/1970 era RP in the Harry Potter universe you might not find it all *that* interesting.

Highlights from the development since January 3rd when we kickstarted this monster:

  • The default theme is no longer living in a folder called 'default' but has been renamed to Natural and lives in a folder accordingly. It's very rough at the moment and is mostly in a debug-friendly manner with ugly colours.
  • Themes now support the full power of SCSS making it much easier to create simple colour variants with just picking a few main accent colours.
  • Revamped the theme to have a sidebar with chunky icons rather than a classical menu.
  • Ability to add new fonts and colours to the editor.
  • Overhauled the entire menu system for profiles and PMs, with a more modern look and feel.
  • Revamped poster area and quick reply to match the profile area and bring visual consistency.
  • Topic bookmarks got added.
  • Custom fields now work separately for accounts and characters.
  • Built in support for affiliate forums.
  • A lightweight page editor that can also show off your custom fields - building out face claims, for example, is trivial now.
  • Easily upload all the different sizes of favicon you need for mobile support.
  • Also the ability to show off a Discord server much like the site's "Who's Online" widget.

And this is just what I've done in the last 6 weeks. Imagine what we could do if there were a team of people all doing this. The only downside in some respects is that it's RP focused rather than a generic forum package, but honestly, you already have XF and IPS and I'm in no hurry to take *them* on.

Happy to upload screenshots of things if folks are interested.
 

Nabix

127.0.0.1
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
532
Fantastic job Pete !

I've thinking for years that I would love to create a forum project of my own. I just lack the coding experience to do so (currently studying). I looks fantastic, you really out did yourself.

xoxo
 

Pete

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Thanks :)

The biggest thing I've learned in that department is simply to be realistic with your expectations of yourself. I'm certain if you wanted to learn, you could learn - but what kills most people is that they learn a little and immediately rush out trying to take on the world... in that situation, the world wins.

It's also why I had to step back from StoryBB for most of 2020 because I was trying to modernise all the things at once and dying on that hill doing it.

But I'm really happy with how Floo is coming along and by extension, StoryBB - it's also weird now that I think about it... things like affiliates were old hat a decade ago in regular forums but they're utterly alive and well in the RP scene.
 

Nabix

127.0.0.1
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May 20, 2010
Messages
532
I'm certain if you wanted to learn, you could learn

I sit down and do some courses then the next day rolls around and life gets in the way. It's hard to stay focused on something like that with no immediate monetary outcome or 'reward' if you will. I have a project name in mind and a domain secured. Just no php skills to do such work atm.

things like affiliates were old hat a decade ago in regular forums but they're utterly alive and well in the RP scene.

I noticed that. I gotta say, haven't seen that in a good minute. lol
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,751
If you can build something as impressive as that in 6 weeks imagine what you could do for SMF! :cautious:

More seriously their loss is your gain and I also believe that affiliates have value. Reaching out to like minded communities makes a lot of sense.
 

Pete

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I walked away from the SMF dev team 7 years ago today. Nothing I have seen in the last 7 years has convinced me this was the wrong decision.

The thing is, as much as this is quick, the biggest reason is that it's not much of a debate. We outline what features we want and how they should work and I... just build them. It's so much more efficient than trying to involve an entire team in a debate just to appease everyone's mentality.
 

vbgamer45

Adherent
Joined
Sep 22, 2005
Messages
294
I do like the discord online feature neat idea. I would also suggest adding a link to github to the project.
 

Pete

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vbgamer45 fair point on the GitHub link but I'm not really ready to have real users, there's a lot of broken things... and honestly the last couple of people who contributed, weren't particularly good for the project :(


Anyway. Just trying to get into the swing of a monthly announcement of where we're at:

* Improved SEO - some meta descriptions for sites, automatic use of site images where possible. Looks great in Discord where we've been sharing topics with each other while writing.

* Very simple (and in much need of improvement) editor for editing the standard emails the site can send.

* Topic Trackers! One of the big features we keep seeing people talking about in RP spaces is the need for topic trackers. This first step is about being able to automatically list all the threads your characters have posted in. There are some future enhancements coming for this, around showing/hiding threads that aren't current, as well as the upcoming topic invites feature.

* Topic Prefixes! The admin now has the ability to create a variety of topic prefixes that can be configured (in terms of which boards have which prefixes, who can use which prefixes etc.) and with a variety of colour schemes. Everywhere that displays a topic will naturally also show the prefixes off.

* Various other minor tweaks and bug fixes. It's not as drastic as the last update but mostly we've just been poking around, trying it and just using it. (It continues to baffle me why not every developer *does this*.)

The next big focus is the achievements system which we'll hopefully have news on in time for next month - I'd like us StoryBB to share its own story more regularly than before.
 

Study Force

Participant
Joined
Oct 29, 2012
Messages
73
Hope it grows and thrives. Now, on the surface is doesn't feel all that different from SMF 2. So what constitutes a fork versus a modded forum?
 

Pete

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Hope it grows and thrives. Now, on the surface is doesn't feel all that different from SMF 2. So what constitutes a fork versus a modded forum?
Well, it started out life as SMF 2.1 RC1 so it won’t look so different at first glance. Though the basic forum experience is fairly consistent, so... the one big change I did is that avatars are actually displayed.

What constitutes a modded forum versus a fork? The level of modding, basically.

For example, have a glance at the code for our default theme: https://github.com/StoryBB/StoryBB/tree/master/Themes/natural and note that we support SCSS files in the theme, as well as not having raw PHP templates any more.

Writing “mods” is also a completely different exercise because the SMF package manager was removed entirely, and a new plugin manager based loosely on what I wrote for Wedge is present for using hooks and so on.

In our world though the most pervasive change really comes down to the nature of our niche needing multiple personas to post as (e.g. I have several characters I post as) and this isn’t just reflected on the post display but in a whole host of places including who is listed as being online at any given time. While you can (and I did) write this as a mod, making it all “core” and ignoring SMF upstream bug fixes turned out to be somewhat beneficial to me. I’ve been able to make changes that are simply too big to manage as mods.
 
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