All visitors are urged to read this post in full for details of the latest upgrade which resulted in the site being unavailable for a week.
LAShTAL.COM was beginning to show its age. In terms of its visual impact, for example, one member recently described it as looking like a ‘car rental website’ and another, not to be outdone, as looking like a ‘car crash.’ Add to this, the site was not ‘responsive’ and, as a result, didn’t look great on mobile devices.
Built on the ‘Joomla!’ platform, LAShTAL.COM was becoming increasingly slow, sometimes frustratingly so, and introducing additional functionality became problematic. Behaviour of the Forums software (built on the ‘SMF’ platform) was becoming erratic, with more than one user complaining that posts were not appearing when saved and the accidental loss of a whole thread during a simple moderation task.
What has been upgraded?
In short, News and other functionality has been exported (or sometimes laboriously copy-and-pasted) from ‘Joomla!’ into a new, professionally designed site. The 80,000+ Forum posts have been imported into the industry-standard phpBB application. The two platforms (main site and forums) have been integrated using professionally-sourced software. All this technically challenging work has been completed by eol, without complaint and with the greatest enthusiasm throughout.
The site has been given a lick of paint, too. On the basis of ‘Accessibility’ concerns, the old ‘blue and light brown’ theme has been replaced by a far more modern set of colours and with graphics provided at short notice by the remarkably generous Aaron Tatum.
Add to all of this greatly enhanced integration with modern social media functionality and you have a LAShTAL.COM site that is ideally placed to meet the need of members in the future.
What’s been lost?
Inevitably, a site as large and as old as this couldn’t be migrated to a modern platform without some impact on content. Those I’m aware of include:
- News posts have lost their author details – all published items to date are shown as having been written by ‘lashtal’. This will be corrected in due course.
- Passwords need to be re-authenticated. Members details have been retained but the site will prompt for the password to be authenticated.
- Quotes in Forum posts haven’t imported well – the text is there, still, but not as elegantly as before. Again, this will be corrected in due course.
What’s left to be done?
The main objective has been to retain News and Forums and to minimise downtime. As a result:
- The Galleries are currently offline: they will return soon.
- The Blogs have, against my better judgement but as the result of strident complaints from two members, been retained. However, Blog posts are having to be manually copied-and-pasted so not all are yet available.
- Downloads are being retained but adding the files manually means only a couple are available so far.
I trust that this very significant upgrade, involving a great deal of work by eol, Aaron and me, not to mention investment in professional add-ins, meets with the approval of members. Please feel free to leave Comments to this post with your observations, or use the post-specific Chat Box below for something spontaneous.
Owner & Editor