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VoyForums v2.7 Upgrade Information & Help Page
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Welcome to the new VoyForums v2.7...

There have been significant changes in the new version of VoyForums including (but not limited to!) changes in looks and the user-management of looks, bandwidth efficiency, system efficiency (speed), and support for contributions and a no-ads option (requested by many users).

This page contains information for your understanding and curiosity, and, later-on, some help because some of the changes may affect your forum, and you may have to make some adjustments to deal with the new version.

This new version has taken a long time to place online--largely because of the new No-ads and Contribution features available. We had to design and implement an entire accounting system, most of which is unseen to you--the end user. We apologize for this long delay, but hope the changes, seen and unseen, were worth it.

Sections in this document:

  1. A bit about some of the more-significant changes
  2. Some reasons for the new changes
  3. Why CSS?
  4. Possible problems you might experience with the new CSS options
  5. How you use the new version with Style-Sheets
  6. Warnings and recommendations

1. A bit about some of the more-significant changes:

VoyForums Exchange areaNew area for exchange between VoyForums staff, admins, and users. Take a look! [VoyForums Exchange]
Volunteers areaVoyForums Exchange -> Volunteers
New emoticonWe added a heart emoticon. :)
Major improvement made to forum displayThis update reduces on the number of files being loaded when a forum index or message is viewed. Reducing on the number of files opened and closed increases system efficiency considerably.
Changes made to message storageChanges have been made in the way messages are stored which should improve on efficiency of forum display and reduce system load, especially during peak hours.
Storage systemsWe have increased VoyForums storage capacity.
Category countsCategories now have counts of the forums within them. After this change was made in our test software, we also put it on www.voy.com.
Forum Indexes and SPEEDWe've made a big change to the way forum indexes are displayed which should increase on speed immensely. There's a new option which "regenerates" the displayed-main index [from your messages] at Admin Menu -> Backups and Repairs -> Refresh Main Index.

If you think your main index does not properly reflect the current messages that should be in your forum, it's possible that the database isn't being updated in some circumnstances--for example, posting a message should update the main index. Please report this to us using our bug form, and tell us what change you made which isn't showing up. Currently the following actions should generate a fresh index: adding/deleting messages, rebuilding/restoring the message database, and archival of messages should all re-generate the message database.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and page-looksVery significant changes were made in this area, especially affecting forums using the Table style(s). See the next section on Reasoning below, and also the help on dealing with this change in the last section of this page.
Efficiency (bandwidth and system)The new CSS features (see above) and other significant changes were made in the handling, generation, and display of pages. See the next section for more reasoning.
More reliable message handlingWe periodically make improvements to the internal handling, storage, and organization of messages in order to improve efficiency, allow new features, and especially to fix bugs.
Enhanced backup & restore areaWe felt the backing up of message databases and forum configurations could be enhanced for ease of use, and for some new admin features. We created a new separate area for management of backups, restores, and repairs
Counters, Hits/posts summaryForums now have Counters to let you know about your forum accesses. Stats show both hits and posts, monthly and an alltime total. These are updated nightly.
The first phase of introducing User-accountsThis is obviously very significant, and is in its baby stages. It allows for users to create accounts with reserved user-names (handles). We have long-wished to implement such accounts for many reasons. In the future it will be used for forum security, to restrict access to a forum, and provide some accountability of posters to forums, help reduce on spam, etc. Additionally, User-accounts were necessary for the user-requested No-ads option (to keep accounting information, among other things) and also for Contributions (for the same reason).

Presently, the User-accounts also can be used to reserve your own unique Voyager/VoyForums user-name (handle), which will be used in the future with VoyForums and other potential services. In this version it also allows the automatic filling-in of your user-name in the forums you visit, and a favorite forums quicklist. In the future we have many other plans to utilize user-accounts.

No-ads option for bannerless forumsFor quite some time we have been receiving requests from users who wished to pay to remove the banners from their forum. Because, aside from the new Contributions, ads are the only (and insufficient) revenue to cover our expenses, we are now offering this No-ads option.
Public-display of Hosts/IPsAdmins now have more control over the display of Hosts/IP display of messages. See the Access/Password Security section for the various options.
Internal Programming, Site-Administration, etc.There have been tons of changes which are not visible to anyone except us, including a large quantity of changes, revisions, updates, and additions to our custom software. VoyForums was programmed entirely by us, and we have, in the latest version, also included many new changes which also ease the task of programming, and ease the administration of our sites--which will help prevent us from wasting precious time which could be better spent on faster and more-frequent updates.

Additionally, we have implemented features which will hopefully allow trusted volunteers to assist in some aspects of administration. It can be overwhelming--the task of administration of the many thousands of forums, forum admins, as well as messages from the admins/visitors/users of forums, and messages from the users... Millions of users... Millions and millions of users.

We hope to increase on the ability for users to partake in the administration and growth of VoyForums as time progresses.

2. Some reasons for the new changes:

2An extremely large amount of bandwidth is used by forums because of the large amount of text/data in even a single index, especially for forums using the tables-styles. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) allows for a teeny bit of "code" to be placed at the top of a forum--this code can control the looks of the entire page, including all the tables, without having to repeat code up to hundreds or thousands of times on a page as was the case in the old method. This can massively reduce on the size of forum pages, thus allowing more pages to be loaded at the same time by more users and, also, the smaller size means pages load faster for the end user--even if the pages look the same, the amount of "hidden" data in a page can be quite large.

CSS not only decreases the size of pages, but also, CSS allows much greater control over an incredibly large amount of web-page features now available to admins.

2Forum pages used to be generated on-the-fly for each user. This meant reading through large databases of messages to find and display the proper messages on a page. The new version of VoyForums generates a forum page, updating this pre-generated page as needed, and this page is usually, at most, a few kilobytes (1 kilobyte = 1024 characters) in size to a few hundred kilobytes in size. In comparison, some forum databases of messages has reached up to 20 or 30 megabytes in size (1 megabyte alone is 1,048,576 characters)!

In short, each forum uses much less of the total system resources. This, coupled with the decreased size of pages (see the CSS information above) means a much faster system, much faster page-loading time and, even at hours of peak-traffic (like Monday and Tuesday mornings!), there will hopefully be no slowdown, and VoyForums will hopefully consume less resources locally, and at our ISP, where we were using large amounts of their bandwidth unnecessarily.

2Numerous changes were made in order to help support VoyForums, including contributions and the new No-Ads options (which was requested by users). These were necessary due to the need to cover our expenses, which have not been fully covered for many years--not even through the means of us paying out of our own pockets.

3. Why CSS?

The new methods of forum display... We already said they were much better than the old ways, right? They also offer much more control to admins over forums. Before you customize your forum with CSS, you probably should learn a bit about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets/Style Sheets--they are the same thing). You can type in, style sheet tutorials, into your favorite search engine to find some pages to learn, and read on for a bit of help.

Style Sheets allow a webpage to have a bit of information at the top of the page which controls various aspects of a page's looks. For instance, you can set the page's font size, border width, colors, etc. Also, CSS allows control over the individual properties of certain types of items on a page--for example, if you wanted to you could adjust only the settings for all the bold text on the page, or you could set a background image for all the tables.

Furthermore, CSS allows you to give some names to the settings so they can be individually referred to later on. For instance, if you call one setting a, and make it to be black text on a white background, later, in whatever areas of the page, in the HTML tags itself, you could put class=a and that area would make the text black on white.

The previous paragraph gives an example of the way we used CSS with VoyForums. If we were to set a font/color for the text in the message tables (for table-format forums), that code/html to change the font/color would have to be repeated in every table, and actually in every cell of every table. Using CSS, we can place the settings one time, in the style-sheet included at the top of the page, and this can provide global settings for the rest of the page.

While VoyForums has used CSS in a way that the TABLES must "refer back" to the CSS entries, by name, there is nothing to prevent you from making your own global changes to your page. For example, you could make all links of a different font size, if you so wished, by placing A { font-size: 10pt } in your CSS settings.

Now, it was not only our job to figure out how to implement this new method, but also to somehow convert the old forum settings to the new. This was no easy feat! However, we managed to do a relatively good job--the complication comes in in two cases:

4. Possible problems you might experience with the new CSS options:

Forums with exceptional customized settings may not convert perfectly.
In this case, you should re-customize your forum, possibly using our new CSS features.

Some issues might not have been accounted for:
This is most likely because we had very little support from beta-testers. However, we would like to give credit to those who have offered their time, hands, thoughts, and feedback in testing this new software. Their testing has revealed many bugs which may have slipped through our own testing.

To assist admins after the conversion, we kept the old values of the display of forums so that admins can refer back to them if needed for reference purposes. These options are available in a single textbox down at the bottom of the CSS, Tables, & Borders configuration area.

5. How you use the new version with Style-Sheets:

Examples: How to handle some design tasks with the new version:
(You should read the Warnings and Recommendations section (below) as well.

  1. First, try the themes: This is one of the easiest ways to set a look and see how we handled it. You may not feel our examples are perfectly suited for your forum, so feel free to customize it. If you think you've made an improvement to our method, send us a note to let us know.
  2. Font and background colors of the Table-formats:

    Prior to this version, VoyForums had to output a lot of extra code in a webpage in some cases. This was especially true for forums using the Table Format. The new version provides a solution to this problem by allowing the use of CSS. With CSS, you place your settings in one area, or choose a theme to do it for you, and it handles settings globally. Even if there are numerous CSS entries, the new method means they do not need to be repeated for every message in a page, but placed one time using the proper method into the CSS option--consequently, the CSS settings are displayed at the top of the HTML output for a forum and should be invisible to any viewer unless they look at the HTML itself..

    Here is an example. Maybe we want the "Subject, Author, etc." of each message (in a forum set to the table-format) to be a different color from the messages themselves. What VoyForums does is it gives each of these locations a name, then provides the settings for that name via the CSS entry.

    This is how it's done. Because the subject, author, etc. will each use the same settings in this example, we can give them one name. Let's call them "msghead". We place this name (without quotes) into the options in the Admin Menu -> CSS, tables, borders -> Location-specific settings section in the proper locations for the Subject, Author, ... Make sure to put the word msghead into each location you want to control.

    Once that is done, when VoyForums displays your forum's page, it includes this name in the HTML for each location in which you placed "msghead". But we're not done yet. Now we must handle the actual settings for the color, etc.

    To handle this, we must make our own CSS entry for the "msghead" areas. To do this, we simply put a period "." before the name, and put the CSS settings after it, enclosed in curly-braces "{}". For white on black text, our entry might look something like this:

    .msghead { background-color:#000000; color:#ffffff }
    The ; (semi-colon) is used to separate the individual settings, and the #xxxxxx's are the "Hexadecimal" values for the Red, Green, and Blue of the color--the first 2 digits are Red, the next Green, the next Blue, and are sometimes shown as RRGGBB. If you don't know what hexadecimal is, you might want to go to your favorite search engine and type in something like: web color codes hexadecimal.

    For each unique name you use in the Admin Menu -> CSS, tables, borders -> Location-specific settings, you should create a CSS entry in the format of ".name { settings }".

    CSS can be kind of complicated for several reasons. For one, the settings are not standard among all web-browsers. This means you might use something which works with one browser, but not another.

6. Warnings and recommendations:

1. Style-sheets (also known as "Cascading Style Sheets") can be a bit confusing. For one, the format of the names and settings must be followed properly, including using the braces and other punctuation properly. This is why we recommend to read one of the many CSS tutorials online, such as the one at HTML Goodies.

2. Second, the settings in CSS are not standard. Each browser might handle a setting differently, and some settings are usable with some browsers, but not in others. We recommend to stick with the simple common settings. For advanced users, we recommend using the common settings, and taking consideration with the non-standard settings in order to implement them in such a manner that the page will still be readable by users of all browsers.

3. Use short names in your "CSS -> Location-specific settings". Each of these names must be repeated over and over in your forum's output HTML. We have a limit of 3 characters for these names, and you can try a Theme to see what we did. This means our above example which says "msghead" is not valid for actual use, but was for the simplicity of the lesson. Try something like "mhd" instead.

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