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Migrating JavaRanch to a Java based forum

Michael Yuan
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Why does JavaRanch use Perl based UBB forum software? Is this bad for the Java community?
OK, I know this topic has been brought up over and over again. But read on, I have some (probably) new thoughts.
For some Java advocates, using a Perl program to drive JavaRanch is almost a sin because it "tarnishes" the Java image (like the anti-Unix web site using a Unix server ...). Some ranchers volunteered to write a new Java based forum software for JavaRanch. Some pointed out an existing project called Jive Forums.
For JavaRanch bartenders, the current system does the work and there is no need to spend valuable resources to replicate the effort especially when all JavaRanch staff are unpaid.
I think both sides have made valid points. Actually, as I understand, JavaRanch wants to use Jive but is stuck with UBB because all the legacy data. It will be a quite difficult task to migrate all UBB data to a new platform. And since JavaRanch is not a for-profit company, there is no justification for the costly migration effort.
But do not forget that JavaRanch has a very competent developers community. Migration does not have to be bartenders' job! As I have mentioned, many ranchers have volunteered to write open source software for JavaRanch. JavaRanch does not need a new Jive-like forum software because it will have the same migration problems. The open source effort, should instead be organized and focused on the migration process itself.
Therefore, I think a very helpful open source project would be the migration tool to move UBB database to Jive XML databases. That would:
1. Take advantage of the Jive effort;
2. Help JavaRanch to build a better image for Java;
3. Help to convert many other UBB sites and promote the use of server side Java.
Actually, we might even ask the for-profit Jive corp to sponsor this effort! Anyone interested?


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Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
Why does JavaRanch use Perl based UBB forum software? Is this bad for the Java community?

IMO it would be rather bad for the community to become blindfolded and believe that everything must be done in Java.

For some Java advocates, using a Perl program to drive JavaRanch is almost a sin because it "tarnishes" the Java image (like the anti-Unix web site using a Unix server ...).

I don't think that JavaRanch is an anti-Perl (or anti-anything-that-is-not-java) site; if I would, I wouldn't be here.
I think of it as professional attitude to know more than one language and to use the one most appropriate for the current needs. And obviously the forum software doesn't need to be rewritten in Java, does it?


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Actually there has been quite a bit of effort that has gone into investigating the JIVE possibility. The JIVE folks have been very helpful. However it is NOT nearly as straight forward as it would seem. In addition to the seemingly ZILLIONS of customizations that need to be programmed, even some of the basic set up and functionality issues are not going well.
Thomas has put a great deal of work into playing with this possibility. Perhaps in the end TIME is really the major issue.


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Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Michael Yuan:

I think a very helpful open source project would be the migration tool to move UBB database to Jive XML databases. That would:
1. Take advantage of the Jive effort;
2. Help JavaRanch to build a better image for Java;
3. Help to convert many other UBB sites and promote the use of server side Java.
Actually, we might even ask the for-profit Jive corp to sponsor this effort! Anyone interested?

An open-source project aimed at migrating data from one proprietary product to another?
I'm missing your outline of the technical benefits altogether, Michael. What is JavaRanch's stake in promoting to the user community at large a means to move from UBB to Jive?
What we know now is that UBB has for us some limits that chafe. My take on our JIVE efforts so far is that Jive represents significant tradeoffs to us. For starters, the customization effort is necessary and non-trivial.
We know that many of our users like what they have seen of Jive, and some feel we should be using it for strictly political reasons. We're looking at it, but it's hardly a bonfire of enthusiasm. There's real work involved, and the incentive of creating "something open source" I think will die quickly when it's realized that all we would ultimately do is maybe create greater market share for the developers of Jive.
Writing a custom service would be more work, but it would also be intellectually honest. But even then, it's not what we do here. We're not a development group; we're an information group. Big big difference.
If JR wants to change into a hotbed for Java development, then it will. In the meantime, we're a meeting place, and while the place we meet doesn't suit the sense of style some would like to have, it's reasonable quarters.
Even Marx paid rent, know what I'm saying?


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Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
For some Java advocates, using a Perl program to drive JavaRanch is almost a sin because it "tarnishes" the Java image (like the anti-Unix web site using a Unix server ...). Some ranchers volunteered to write a new Java based forum software for JavaRanch. Some pointed out an existing project called Jive Forums.

So what? This is a purely religious issue, and like most religious issues, it's biased and baseless. I may manufacture hammers, but I'm not foolish enough to try to use one to put in a screw.
--Mark
[ June 03, 2002: Message edited by: Mark Herschberg ]
Michael Yuan
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:


I don't think that JavaRanch is an anti-Perl (or anti-anything-that-is-not-java) site; if I would, I wouldn't be here.


No, it is not about anti-Perl (I use Perl all the time). It is about promote Java. It is not a technology issues (UBB does the job). It is politics and more importantly -- MARKETING.
Isn't it true that all of us will win if JavaRanch can encourage more companies to use the Java technology?
I understand it would be unfair to ask volunteer bartenders to do this alone. That is why I suggested an Open Source development model.
Michael Yuan
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

An open-source project aimed at migrating data from one proprietary product to another?
... ...
There's real work involved, and the incentive of creating "something open source" I think will die quickly when it's realized that all we would ultimately do is maybe create greater market share for the developers of Jive.

OK, I understand this would not be politically correct for OpenSource/Free software advocates. But I suggested the OpenSource model purely for the practical benefits. It is the only way to get users involved. After all, this is a Java community not an OpenSource one.
And I think the users do have motivations to get involved even if it mainly benefits the Jive developers. The users are invloved because they want to see a Java based forum on JavaRanch. It is like most of us do not have motivation to make Bill Gates rich but we still buy Windows for convienence (I do not, but my wife does

I'm missing your outline of the technical benefits altogether, Michael. What is JavaRanch's stake in promoting to the user community at large a means to move from UBB to Jive?

There is no "technical" benefit here. But the marketing value is surely great. Also, I do not consider it as a "religious" issue. I consider it as a marketing and public relation issue.
I remember a couple of weeks ago, a rancher asked whether he can have a list of sucessful, high traffic web sites powered by Java. He wanted to show his boss and justify his choice of the Java technology. Don't you think it'd be great if Java Ranch can be on the list?
I admit there is not much benefit to the established Java user community. But it surely helps to convert more people and more business to the Java camp. In the war between Java and .NET, it all comes down to who can attract the most resources. Microsoft have $40B in hand but we might win the hearts of the people by leading them with a good example.
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
No, it is not about anti-Perl (I use Perl all the time). It is about promote Java. It is not a technology issues (UBB does the job). It is politics and more importantly -- MARKETING.
Isn't it true that all of us will win if JavaRanch can encourage more companies to use the Java technology?

I don't think that any company currently not joining the java bandwagon will be convinced by an "you can do everything in java and you should" attitude. In fact it was excatly this "perl rulez" mindset that drove me away from the perl community. I think we do a better job convincing by critical professionalism than by blindfolded bigotry...
Additionally, though I really do like Java which is my current main programming language, I don't feel heavily bound to it. In fact, a Ruby project would be an appreciated job variation...
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Michael Yuan:
I remember a couple of weeks ago, a rancher asked whether he can have a list of sucessful, high traffic web sites powered by Java. He wanted to show his boss and justify his choice of the Java technology. Don't you think it'd be great if Java Ranch can be on the list?

Sorry, but JavaRanch *is not* a high traffic web site. And as his boss probably defines succesfull as "making lots of money", well... :roll:
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Ilja - Just what DO you think it takes to be called a "high traffic" web-site?
JavaRanch averages well over a quarter of a million unique sessions a month. We get over 10 MILLION page hits (not including page graphics) monthly.
So how many hits do YOU think that it takes to be high traffic??
Michael Yuan
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Originally posted by Cindy Glass:

JavaRanch averages well over a quarter of a million unique sessions a month. We
get over 10 MILLION page hits (not including page graphics) monthly.

It actually amazed me that UBB can handle this much traffic. It must run top of
mod_perl or something.
But one thing UBB does lack is efficient search (Ok, it can search, but very very slow). If there is a SQL database backend, search would a lot easier. And users will be less likely to ask simple, annoying questions (such as "why do we use
a Perl program?")
So, it is not like UBB is perfect and "get the job done". Java based solution *can* bring technical benefits to the community ...
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Michael Yuan:

But one thing UBB does lack is efficient search (Ok, it can search, but very very slow). If there is a SQL database backend, search would a lot easier. And users will be less likely to ask simple, annoying questions (such as "why do we use
a Perl program?")
So, it is not like UBB is perfect and "get the job done". Java based solution *can* bring technical benefits to the community ...

Yeah, the search leaves something to be desired. But just because people might be inclined to point the finger at Perl doesn't mean Perl is, again, anything more than a political hot potato. Or does anyone seriously want to suggest Perl is the bane of searching?
Ok, Michael, so we're agreed the issue is non-technical. Good. It's about marketing and it's about promotion. And to me, that means it's about dollars. If JR can get generate real revenue by "eating its own cooking," I'm all for it.
My earlier point is, I don't think the bartenders and sheriffs can or want to put in that kind of time for free, and I'm saying the people out there who might help would probably run out of gas well before completion. Why? There's no idealism to this concept, nothing for JavaRanch, its volunteer workers, and its subscribers to win except more customers for Jive.
If there's a Jive vs. UBB fight, fine, let it happen. And let the consumer celebrate -- that's who wins such fights. Marketing value would be a great thing, but again, we're not marketeers. We just like talking and sharing the Java word. Maybe JavaLobby wants in on a duelling technologies thing.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Ok, I have spent hours trying to get Jive installed just for test purposes to no avail. And when I finally do get it installed it will be many more hours to customize the Jive skins to do the things we want. The Jive folks tell us, "that is easy", "a couple of minutes work", but they haven't volunteered to do it themselves. I still am not convinced that Jive will be able to reproduce the moderator/admin type functions we need without extensive and difficult modifications.


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Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Cindy Glass:
Ilja - Just what DO you think it takes to be called a "high traffic" web-site?
JavaRanch averages well over a quarter of a million unique sessions a month. We get over 10 MILLION page hits (not including page graphics) monthly.

That equates to roughly 250 hits/minute. That's rather medium, isn't it?
But I am curious: Are they all dynamic pages?

So how many hits do YOU think that it takes to be high traffic??

I am not that sure - perhaps some thousands a minute? What traffic do sites like Yahoo or Amazon have?
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20586
    ∞

JavaRanch is nothing compared to yahoo, but I would guess that JavaRanch is in the top 1% for size. I think it easily falls into "large site".
The UBB folks tell us that we may be the largest UBB site.
Our host tells us "We're givin' her all she's got! She canna take much more captain!"
I find UBB to be lacking many features I am finding in other forums. These features seem to be supported by jive.
As Thomas said, the jive people say "that's a really simple change" and yet Thomas, a competent engineer, cannot even get the basic stuff installed.
Does anybody want to volunteer to help Thomas?


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Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Paul Wheaton:
JavaRanch is nothing compared to yahoo, but I would guess that JavaRanch is in the top 1% for size. I think it easily falls into "large site".

Well, that is not exactly the same as "high traffic", is it?
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20586
    ∞

I think that JavaRanch clearly deals with "high traffic". One apache server cannot handle the traffic we get. JavaRanch is currently a distributed system and even still we now need to find new ways to shift the server load.
I think that if every minute saw only an average load, we would be fine. It is the usage spikes that are an issue.
If you think that anything less than yahoo can be handled without a distributed system, I'm pretty sure I cannot rely on your advice for system management.
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Paul Wheaton:
I think that if every minute saw only an average load, we would be fine. It is the usage spikes that are an issue.

Oh, I see...
Now I wonder: Is there any agreed upon guideline on what constitutes a "high traffic" website?
If you think that anything less than yahoo can be handled without a distributed system, I'm pretty sure I cannot rely on your advice for system management.

Well, besides the fact that I wasn't talking about distributed systems at all (though you could make the point that there is some correlation to "high traffic"), you are right in not relying on my advice for system management. In fact, I wouldn't feel competent to give any advice in this regard...
[ June 05, 2002: Message edited by: Ilja Preuss ]
Michael Yuan
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 07, 2002
Posts: 1427
Originally posted by Paul Wheaton:

Our host tells us "We're givin' her all she's got! She canna take much more captain!"
I find UBB to be lacking many features I am finding in other forums. These features seem to be supported by jive.

Then, migrating to Jive DOES have a technical benefit (not only marketing values). Actually, using a Java based solution could significantly reduce the resource usage and make distributed solutions a lot easier.
There might be a good reason why other large sites do not use UBB ...

As Thomas said, the jive people say "that's a really simple change" and yet Thomas, a competent engineer, cannot even get the basic stuff installed.
Does anybody want to volunteer to help Thomas?

I could help. I have set up an earlier version of Jive and customized it to support several sites I ran. Granted, it is only header/footer graphics customization. But I do not think it should be too hard to make Jive work for JavaRanch. A much larger issue is how do we migrate the UBB database to Jive. We need someone who know UBB file formats to work on it. Anyone?
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20586
    ∞

Thomas is running point. Contact him at tom@javaranch.com
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Migrating JavaRanch to a Java based forum