A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

04 May 2007
It's been a long time coming. No, really it has. You wouldn't believe it, being on the outside, but here on the inside our internal software team has been working hard in solving this, that, and several other kinds of problem. It's one reason why there haven't been any blog posts here for a little while: we've been holding off on them in case they got lost in the transfer.

In case you didn't get the email (and believe me we're very careful these days about who we send them to), we launched our new forums this morning and have retired our old, original newsgroups.

This effort is in response to a large number of our customers who have been asking for searching facilities on our peer support newsgroups. And not just our customers either: search in these days and times is all-pervasive, and we ourselves needed some ability to see what had been discussed before. And what better search engines than those that we don't have to purchase? That are available to all, the prime example being Google.

So moving the peer support newsgroups to a web-based system makes a great deal of sense from that viewpoint.

Another aspect to newsgroups is that, these days, many customers have moved away from that style of discussion forum. We didn't particularly want to use an aggregator (like Google Groups, for example) since they're generally read-only and so you could have two different places to go (one place to read and one place to post). Google Groups can be even more confusing: you can reply to a post in an aggregated newsgroup that's displayed in Google Groups, and it won't appear on the original newsgroup.

Along with that move away from newsgroups, there's been a move towards newreaders and RSS to notify us of new information rather than us having to go look for it. I use FeedDemon and Newsgator for this, but there are many different applications that do this for us nowadays: Outlook 2007, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and so on. Newsgroups, being rather old-guard, don't have this support and so you are forced to regularly (and in person!) go to the newsgroups to see if there are any new posts.

All in all, then, newsgroups seem to have had their day, especially where we're concerned.

Over the past year, we've been blogging on a fairly regular basis using Community Server. It's worked extremely well for us: in fact, I don't recall it going down unexpectedly during this period (whereas our overall internet connection has gone down a couple pf times in that time).

So, we've decided to use Community Server for the new forums that will replace our old newsgroups. It has some extremely good forum support with some nioce features (including a tree view of a thread, which is something I wish a lot of forum software would support). We've migrated over all of the posts in our newsgroups to the forums, and, even better, matched up those users we could identify to their logins on our main system. To ensure that no posts are lost in the transfer, and afterwards, we made the newsgroups read-only. From now on, all peer support posts will be made via the forums.

Once Google spiders the new forum pages and indexes them, we'll all be able to search for information on our forums to much greater degree than we can at present, all by using the "site:community.devexpress.com" parameter.

Anyway: enjoy!

Tags
9 comment(s)
Brent Seufert

Looks good, the only challenge is that I used Firefox tags on news items that I wanted to have 'at my finger tips', and now my last two years worth of tags are useless :^(

4 May, 2007
Marco Dissel

Hopefully you fix the slowness... it's really slow at this moment!

4 May, 2007
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Marco: I quite agree it's too slow. I think it's a combination of too many people trying it out (stop it! <g>), and a server issue. We're tuning and fiddling. Already. comapred with this morning, it's a lot better. Still got a way to go though.

Brent: ouch, sorry about that.

Cheers, Julian

4 May, 2007
Andrew Connell

Julian-

Whiel I commend the effort to merge the NNTP and webforms experience for those to pick their poison, I beg for the support team to double their efforts on fixing the speed issue. While the web forms have spead up ~a bit~ since Thursday (two days ago), they are still way too slow to be useable. Even more so, the NNTP access is non existant. I've yet to be able to download messages from either the read-only news.dx.com but neither the community.dx.com via NNTP. I can tell my connectivity isn't the issue because I was able to get a list of NG's and pull around 10 messages total, but my connection always keeps failing.

Look at it this way: with challenging documentation building plugins, the newsgroups were all we were really left with. Now, ~all~ support has been cut off completely (only thing that's really available is the web forms which don't have the history of the read-only groups). We're left in the dark :(

Another thing, please, even if they are listed under some anonymous account, please please please import the messages from the old read-only groups into the new forums. This will give his a historical context. Otherwise, we're simply throwing away all that fantastic documentation for plugin devleopment and such. This is killing us!

Again, this isn't a rant... I really want to see this succeed... if you can really deliver a seamless web forms + NNTP access where you get the same core functionality in both experiences (read/post, view threaded & offline), I'm all for it. But it REALLY feels like this effort was rushed without any load testing of any sort. Please see this as constructive criticism. :)

-AC

5 May, 2007
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Andrew: Believe me we're working on it. Our tests prior to this involved just a few people trying it all out. We didn't (possibly, with hindsight, rather stupidly) expect the slow response time. And as you can gather from my blog post, I didn't even know (or had forgotten) about the NNTP access, and we're suffering internally with the Community Server NNTP problems (we use newsgroups, not forums, for team discussion with various projects).

So, we are well aware of the issues our customers are facing: we are facing them ourselves, without even taking into account having to reassure customers that we're doing our best to remedy the situation.

5 May, 2007
Andrew Connell

Julian-

Thanks for being so candid about this. Your (DX) track record speaks for itself so I'm not at all going crazy over this... as always, happy to see you guys jump on it to get it fixed ASAP.

Thanks!

5 May, 2007
Andrew Connell [MVP MOSS]

DevExpress rocks - they've

5 May, 2007
ctodx

In my blog post last week about our new forums , I was both remarkably up-beat and singularly uninformative.

6 May, 2007
ctodx

Despite our early issues with implementing the new forum software (the switchover was -- and I&#39;m

8 July, 2007

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