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Best practices for upgrading to vBulletin 4.0.

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  • Best practices for upgrading to vBulletin 4.0

    rss.jpgThe best method for upgrading your community is to be informed and prepared before hand. Today, I hope to give you some hints and tips that will ease the transition for you, your staff and the users of your community. Upgrading to a new major version of a software package can be time consuming and shouldn't be handled while under a time-crunch or hastily. The first thing you want to do is plan for the upgrade and make sure your community is aware of potential downtime when the upgrade is performed. Hopefully these steps will help you do this.

    Preparing For Your Upgrade
    Plugins and Addons
    If you have plugins or products installed in your community, you will want to make sure you have a copy of the current version on hand. Keeping a copy allows you to maintain critical installation and uninstallation information. You most likely won't want to use these addons but the documentation will come in handy.


    Custom Styles and Graphics
    Your custom style is your site's identity. You will want to maintain this identity as much as possible when you upgrade. To do this you will need to document your style and backup any custom assets (images, flash, fonts, etc...). Documenting your style is going to take a little work. So open your favorite text editor or grab a pad of paper. You want to write down the following things:

    1) A list of all colors used in your style. If you had your style professionally designed, the designer may have given you a color sheet as part of the style. What you need here is the color codes so you can recreate them. vBulletin 4 has different classes and color mapping so your existing codes won't be used. Write them down in this format:
    Body - font: fontname; font-size: XXpx; color: hexcode; background: image url, color; etc...

    2) If you customized templates to add functionality than you will probably want a list of the templates that you modified. This should include the template name and a description of what you did. The code you changed would be nice as well.

    3) Backup all your graphics. Make sure to include your smilies, backgrounds and other customized graphics. vBulletin 4 includes new graphics but they may not fit your taste or your site. If you're not a graphic designer you may need some graphics altered to fit in with the new style. Many of your current buttons will not be used. vBulletin 4 uses text links styles with CSS to create buttons. However you can still make them look like traditional graphic buttons if you want. This is also a bonus to people translating the software because you don't need to make new buttons for each language.

    4) Finally, a list of phrases if you modified any of them will be helpful. vBulletin 4 has modified quite a few phrases to make them more friendly. Plus it has a lot more inline help throughout the system to help new users more.

    Creating a Test Environment.
    Now that you have answered the questions above you want to create a test environment for your system. This environment should be as clean as possible but contain enough raw data for an adequate test. The easiest way to do this is to create a new installation of vBulletin in a directory called vbtest and using a new database. Double and triple check that the config.php for your test installation is pointing to an empty database. You do not want to overwrite your live forums.

    Once the test environment is up and running, make sure it works similarly to your live forums but without any products or plugins. Update the settings, usergroup permissions and forum structure so that is closely matches your live installation. Also make sure to create users for each of your custom permission setups as well as the standard groups. This will allow you to test permissions and other settings properly.


    Educating your Community.
    Some things will work differently in the new version. The hope is that the functioning of things is improved. However some things are different enough to illicet concern both on your part and your user's part. To resolve this you need to make sure to educate your community on the changes. You can use announcements, stickies, and notices to do this. Hopefully on the user end everything will be easy enough to pick up. Some key things to look for is wording changes and location changes of key elements. For wording, the goal is to make the phrasing more user friendly. For example, instead of User CP the text reads Control Panel or My Account. Another example is that instead of the New Reply button being on the left side of the screen, it is on the right inline with other controls.

    Before upgrading your live forums, I suggest you develop your own Quality Assurance testing to make sure everything works and you'll be able to support your users.


    • malmazan
      #26
      malmazan commented
      Editing a comment
      It makes no sense that thousands of vBulletin owners try to invent the wheel and go around like chickens with no head educating users. If VBulletin has made the software complicated to use, then it is vB should should be preparing educational materials for ALL of us to use.

      For God's sake, ¡¡the forum FAQ is the same as v3!! The new and confusing attachment thing is not even mentioned.

    • اليزيد للحاسبات
      #27
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for this achievement and continue to update

    • Oracle simsim
      #28
      Oracle simsim commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you for the information. you are great
    Posting comments is disabled.

About the Author

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Wayne Luke A curious juxtaposition of nature, technology and sustainability. Find out more about Wayne Luke

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