1
LionHeart
SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/15 1:58

  • LionHeart

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 70

  • Since: 2005/5/14


Hi!

I'm new to XOOPs, evaluating it really, to see if it will suit my needs and tastes. So far I really like what I see, but there is one major question I have remaining;

Is there somewhere a bridge module so that one can seamlessly integrate XOOPs with SMF (Simple Machines Forum)?

I did a search on the forum to look for the answer, and while there's a few mentions for this, there's no actual word of one being made.

Please do not take this is a dis on NewBB or any other forum package, it's a matter of preference.

If there is not such a bridge, how much would it cost to commission it to be made?

Yes, I've asked about SMF and XOOPs on the SMF forum already, without success. They did say, however, that if the CMS developers are interested, they are glad to offer information and assistance.

-Lion

2
pod
Re: SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/15 11:43

  • pod

  • Quite a regular

  • Posts: 301

  • Since: 2003/4/19


I agree it is needed... look very forward to seeing SMF integrated with XOOPS.

3
Kainaij
Re: SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/15 15:18

  • Kainaij

  • Quite a regular

  • Posts: 256

  • Since: 2004/10/5


I believe my opinion on this is already known. I love SMF as well. I would be willing to donate money to the development of a bridge. I already have a couple sites using smf solely and its users absolutely love the forum. Out of the box it is an absolute joy.

It is here where I can see casual enthusiasts choosing Mambo over XOOPS simply because Mambo already has this. This is not a poke at Xoops, but more of a smack on the back of the head. I say this out of love for my XOOPS community.

4
Mithrandir
Re: SMF bridge

There is nothing wrong with wanting what others have - like a SMF forum port - however, it is not as simple to implement as it is to suggest it.

I just downloaded SMF, installed it and looked at the code and frankly I don't see what the "fuzz" is about. It has some things such as Karma that would be nice (the one in NewBB/CBB is as far as I know not more than a working experiment, intended to be improved on) but what is it that makes it such a big requirement that NewBB/CBB apparently can't measure up to it? (this is not a rhetorical questions - I'd really like to know what it is that makes forum software great)

From a developer point of view, integration has these obstacles:

- Users must be changed to use XOOPS user
- Database queries should use XOOPS database class
- Closed site should be removed to use XOOPS
- Themes, templates etc. are (naturally - otherwise it wouldn't work) to be changed to use the XOOPS system
- SMF has a vastly different permissions system - or at least it seems so

If you notice it, these elements are actually some of the most extensive areas (user management, permissions, displaying output) of any system - which is why ports are so difficult to do and so large projects to undertake.

5
LionHeart
Re: SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/15 18:29

  • LionHeart

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 70

  • Since: 2005/5/14


Hi Mithrandir,

Quote:

Mithrandir wrote:
There is nothing wrong with wanting what others have - like a SMF forum port - however, it is not as simple to implement as it is to suggest it.


I am not a programmer, but I do understand your point. I did not post blindly either, I researched the issue of a bridge between SMF and.. well, anything, quite thoroughly, first. I saw that interest in this has been on-going for the past couple of years, but the only CMS that's actually successfully done it is the MAMBO group. The matter is, frankly, very puzzling to me, because obviously the interest is there, outside of the developer communities. The response by the SMF people is even more puzzling to me because I would think they would have more interest being compatible with at least one significant CMS/Portal standard. The typical attitude seems to be "We are the best, let everyone else come to our door if they wish to connect". When everyone takes that approach, no one goes to anyone else at all, and there is no interoperability.

Quote:

I just downloaded SMF, installed it and looked at the code and frankly I don't see what the "fuzz" is about. It has some things such as Karma that would be nice (the one in NewBB/CBB is as far as I know not more than a working experiment, intended to be improved on) but what is it that makes it such a big requirement that NewBB/CBB apparently can't measure up to it? (this is not a rhetorical questions - I'd really like to know what it is that makes forum software great)


As I say, I am not a programmer, I have not looked at the code of any forum package, and could not tell the quality of one set of code from the quality of the other. Feature lists are nice, but after a certain minimum level, the rest is just 'nice-to-have' rather than truly important to the functioning and usability of the package. If features were the issue, then most of the packages would be on a par.

What it comes down to, for me, is the look and feel of the forum, and how that translates into actual usability.

It's like the difference between a Mercedes and a BMW. Both are great cars, but you have some people who love each one for their own reasons. To me, forums like NewBB have a 'look and feel' that's more user-friendly to techies, it makes better sense to their eye, and the functions seem approximately the same. On the other hand, forums like SMF have a 'look and feel' that seems more user-friendly to non-techies, to the people who have no clue what FTP means and they don't want to know.

I don't know if I'm explaining that well, or even if others see it the way I do. As I said, it's a preference issue, but it's an important preference. I'm switching from my current CMS/Portal package (which shall remain nameless) and looking for something better. I really like what I see in XOOPs so far, and for the communities I'm supporting, SMF makes sense, so it's the solution I would like to implement.

Quote:

From a developer point of view, integration has these obstacles:

- Users must be changed to use XOOPS user
- Database queries should use XOOPS database class
- Closed site should be removed to use XOOPS
- Themes, templates etc. are (naturally - otherwise it wouldn't work) to be changed to use the XOOPS system
- SMF has a vastly different permissions system - or at least it seems so

If you notice it, these elements are actually some of the most extensive areas (user management, permissions, displaying output) of any system - which is why ports are so difficult to do and so large projects to undertake.


I apologize, I was not very clear about my request. I was asking about having XOOPs and SMF talk together, enough so that a user can login to XOOPs and be logged into SMF at the same time.

Ideally, also, the permissions should be translated between the two, also, so that 1 set of permissions can be set at the XOOPs group level and that be translated over to the SMF group as well.

But that's all. Nothing more. Just a bridge between the two packages, not the incorporation of SMF into XOOPs. I mean, that would be a fine thing, I'm sure, but it would take months if not years to complete. I simply hope for interoperability between XOOPs and SMF, so that I can use the SMF forum as part of a XOOPs portal.

Hopefully,
-Lion

6
Mithrandir
Re: SMF bridge

Quote:
I am not a programmer

That is often the case - it looks simple to a non-programmer, but is somewhat more complicated.

Quote:
What it comes down to, for me, is the look and feel of the forum, and how that translates into actual usability.

And this is what puzzles me. XOOPS has so many possibilities for changing the appearance of things that it is "just" a matter of making the user interface that people want - if they don't like the current one in NewBB/CBB (no, I don't expect non-programmers to dive into this one, but if there was so much interest, surely someone would)

Quote:
I apologize, I was not very clear about my request. I was asking about having XOOPs and SMF talk together, enough so that a user can login to XOOPs and be logged into SMF at the same time.

Again miscommunications between programmer and non-programmer. I was too thorough in my initial comments, but wanted to outline that user management is very central - and so is how the output is generated and shown on screen.

Quote:
The response by the SMF people is even more puzzling to me because I would think they would have more interest being compatible with at least one significant CMS/Portal standard. The typical attitude seems to be "We are the best, let everyone else come to our door if they wish to connect". When everyone takes that approach, no one goes to anyone else at all, and there is no interoperability.

If the SMF developers have the attitude that "We are the best, let everyone else come to our door if they wish to connect" - and I do mean IF. I never intendedly badmouth people based on heresay, so the following comments are purely based on the assumption that they do have that attitude:

SMF is poorly coded when it comes to integration possibilities. There is no API (ways to plug into the code - like an engine's valves where pipes can be connected) there is no database abstraction layer (where I could redirect database queries to the XOOPS database connection) all output is generated from scratch (meaning that one cannot just put the SMF output between a XOOPS header and footer) and it uses a lot of eval() calls (making the webserver parse a text string as code - very resource-intensive function).

I did try, though, and this is the result:
Resized Image
but I can't really go much further from there. I have no idea why it won't parse the {$boardurl} etc.

I can "hijack" the user session and apply the XOOPS user session instead of the SMF one, but only if the user exists in SMF already. As I said, the API is non-existing, so creating a user in SMF from another script is a rather manual task just like it will take some work to allow the SMF registration to also create a XOOPS user.

I have looked at the Mambo bridge, but didn't find it to be all that useful, as it was not just to copy the approach to XOOPS.

That's 2 hours of my life, I won't get back

7
phppp
Re: SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/15 21:48

  • phppp

  • XOOPS Contributor

  • Posts: 2857

  • Since: 2004/1/25


I never used SMF before but I had/have been asked to make such bridge scripts.
No matter how powerful or how beautiful a standalone system is, as a developer, I would rather to develop a new system using XOOPS framework.

My suggestions to end uers:
1 if you love SMF, just add some available addons to it, no need to use XOOPS (XOOPS is really not necessary if you only need some forum function)
2 if you prefer a CMS but not a developer, no matter X or M, choose modules with well integration with the CMS. I am a Canon fans and I always choose Canon bodies and lenses, it does not mean Leica lens is not qualified : ) Several days ago, I happened to talk with nobunobu about Wordpress, my first choice for blog scripts.
3 if you are a developer, make such bridges and people will benefit from you.
4 if you are not a developer but have found some developer will ensure you sustainable technical support, go on with it.

8
Mithrandir
Re: SMF bridge

Just took another hour and gave the Mambo-bridge approach a shot - but it's just too darn cumbersome working with two systems, both trying to manage user sessions etc.

Too much of a hazzle for my time.

9
Kainaij
Re: SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/16 0:47

  • Kainaij

  • Quite a regular

  • Posts: 256

  • Since: 2004/10/5


Mith:

Thank you sincerely for taking this seriously. I have been harping for at least a look see into this possibility. Your time is appreciated by me.

Why do I love SMF. I guess it goes back to an old board that I had called YaBB. YaBB was a board that, although it had security issues, was just a dream in its end user experience. Its beauty was in its powerful simplicity, both for the admin and end user. Also it seemed that the minutest of detail was never overlooked. As YaBB development discontinued SMF was born from its ashes. I will try to be as technical as possible in defining what it is about this board software that is so attractive:

(in no order of importance)

1) News fader
2) User profile features
3) AOL, ICQ, MSN, YIM online/ofline status indication
4) Subforum displays as single simple link, thus not taking up space.
5) Integrated calendar with predefined holiday/special days.
6) Birthday notification for users who input birth date.
7) Almost perfect WYSISWYG editor. Doesn’t try to do too much.
8) Buddy list (I believe this is a mod)
9) Very attractive/succinct member list.
10) Forum stats
11) Category/Board/Child Board layout is very flexible and attractive.
12) Package manager
13) Extensive admin features
14) Somehow the colors seem more vivid. Somehow.
15) Flexible star icon display for user ranks.
16) Warning Mod
17) User login is seamless from each visit to the next.
18) I love how the forum thread display seems so tight. It packs so much info into each post (and they don’t even have to use DHTML to achieve this).
19) (I am missing much but this is a good start)

I will briefly attempt to explain each. The news fader is handy because it is so simple to adjust its output. The user profile is a very big part of SMF’s allure to me. The current status online/offline indicator is nice. The entire layout of the profile is very easy on the eyes. It almost seems that its profile display doesn’t “waste” as much space as XOOPS profile, the same can be said for the forum display. The sub forum or child boards are displayed in a very nice “understated” manner in the main forum display. You know they’re there, but you don’t have to waste so much of the main forum display on them. A nice touch is the IM online/offline indication in the member list, user profile, and even individual posts. The calendar integration is sweet, and as a bonus they’ve even put in North American holidays for you. The birthday notification really adds to a sense of community. As I said before, the WYSIWYG editor is superb. The only addition I’d ask for is instant text effect viewing rather than bb code tag insertion (which are inserted correctly in their proper places). This is splitting hairs by me though. I don’t need FCK, SPAW, Tiny, Koivi or whatever. If XOOPS could pull off a default WYSIWYG editor such as this one then everyone would be happy, guaranteed. The buddy list mod is very nice. Click “add to buddy list” next to a person you like and you will always know when they are online. The stats that they have available are not too verbose, yet are always interesting to view. The mod “package manager” installer I think is revolutionary. It is a feature that SMF has that allows you to add any mod at the click of a button. No need for FTP at all. This feature to me isn’t crucial, but I find pretty cool. The admin features are very detailed and allow for great flexibility. The SMF boards are more attractive. I think the dhtml in each post were ill advised. It’s nice to glance at a post and to a trained eye extract as much info as possible from it. The dhtml menus hide much of this. This is what makes for a lot of the forums unattractiveness. The flexible star icon display for user ranks is perfect. How they do it is that all you have to have is a pic fro one star, and depending on how advanced a poster is to a board depends on how many stars are displayed. No need for a separate pic for each rank, just one star. And as for administrators you just need to color the star differently. The warning mod they have is excellent, it allows for many levels of end user warnings before being banned.

Phppp:

If I can make a couple suggestions to you. Develop CBB as if it were a stand alone project. I’m not saying to do all the front end installation stuff but in your mind develop it as if it were stand alone. Secondly, I might even suggest following Brash’s lead on his AMS mod development. I would not mind at all paying for a module. Especially one as important as CBB will be to the future of Xoops. Let me say it here since nobody else has; NewBB is dead, CBB is the new forum software for Xoops. I feel that if you are going to be doing this module, getting paid for its development is crucial to a fully realized product that will benefit all of the XOOPS community.

Heed my feature list up top.

I would love to help you in any way I can develop this module (I’d offer my help for free of course).

I am going to stop my ramble there, I’m sorry if it seems fragmented but I had so many ideas flowing I wanted to get them out before I forgot them.

P.S.
Oh and lastly I would like to extend an offer to both mith and phppp an admin account to a production site board I put up recently to see all the SMF features I talk about. Just try not to mess up the place too much.

10
LionHeart
Re: SMF bridge
  • 2005/5/16 3:25

  • LionHeart

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 70

  • Since: 2005/5/14


Hi Mithrandir,

Quote:

That's 2 hours of my life, I won't get back


I'm sorry for leading you to waste your time, but I do appreciate that you took a look at the issue at all. That's the most I've seen done anywhere, in any thread on the issue, over the past 2 years.

Quote:

And this is what puzzles me. XOOPS has so many possibilities for changing the appearance of things that it is "just" a matter of making the user interface that people want - if they don't like the current one in NewBB/CBB


I don't think it's possible. If it were, as you say, someone would have done this easier thing long ago.

Thanks anyway, Mithrandir.

I wish you well.

Always,
-Lion

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