In a nut shell, we did three things.
- We upgraded the forum software to the latest version. This eliminated a few bugs and less prone to hacking and the ever present spammers.
- Whilst we were upgrading, I took the opportunity to move us onto new servers with more speed and space. I also have one hosting package to manage now instead of two.
- I also took the opportunity to rebuild the forum from the ground up. So rather than just lay the new version on top of the old, I started with a fresh install and proceeded from there. This had a number of advantages, the 2 main ones being that we got rid of excessive code that was slowing us down and I managed to sort of the membership (permissions) structure.
- The header was cleaned up and some of the icons on the menu bar at the top were moved to the bottom of the page to declutter.
- The site name was changed from schnauzer-forum.co.uk to The Schnauzer Forum. Looks a lot better on the search engines and is a little more welcoming.
- I made some minor adjustments to the language files and got rid of all the 'view' words on the menu bar for example.
- Some of the forum sections have been renamed to make them more friendly. For example, the 'Discussion Threads' has changed to 'Talking Schnauzers'.
- I've expanded the definitions of each forum to make it clearer what should be posted in there and also make it a little more user friendly. The old version simply said 'Discuss mini's here' and I've changed it to a little bit more about the miniature schnauzer. If you spot any spelling mistakes, please let me know. Some sections had no information.
- The definitions now also appear above the topics posted in each section.
- I've moved some topic sections into their own group. Rainbow bridge, Rehoming Schnauzers and birthdays have moved into the section headed Schnauzer Welfare. I have also added 'Lost and Found' section to give it more prominence. It also seems more appropriate having it's own section than getting lost in the general chit chat section.
- Sub forums are now visible on the front page. So, for example, you can see that there are three sub forums under the Training, Behaviour and Dog Sport section.
- Some of the forums have pink bars at the top now containing some forum rules. Some are there just to clarify what that forum is to be used for and some highlight rules such as discussing breeders.
- I've added a proper site description along with key words. I have also changed the way the information is displayed on the tab in your browser. So you can see the actual topic along with the page you are on, if you hover your mouse over the tab header or the program icon in the task bar. It does a lot for our Google rankings too and our Google listings look a lot friendlier.
I have made some minor changes to coding in some places and you may or may not notice. I've listed them here.
- The way you log in has changed slightly. You can now log in using your registered email address or your user name. Previously you could only use your user name and if you forgot it, you couldn't get in. Now you can log in using either.
- In certain forums you can now assign a topic attribute to your topic. This is useful when you want to highlight a change to your original message subject. For example, if you look through the 'Forum Help and Assistance' section, you will see quite a few topics appended with HOW TO:. These new attributes are currently active in the Lost and Found section, so the original poster can change the topic attribute to FOUND when the dog in question has been traced. Similarly, in the Travelling section, walks can now be marked as COMPLETED and a topic about rehoming can be marked as REHOMED once the dog has it's forever home. I'll add more as the need arises. Thanks to Angie for the idea, as it was her request to mark a Topic as 'Pictures Added' that got me thinking.
- I've added the Photobucket button to all the reply boxes now, so you can even use it in the Quick Reply box at the bottom of each page to insert your picture into your posts.
- I've altered the avatar upload process whereby the dimensions of the photograph no longer matter. If your photo is less than 5MB in size, the forum will accept it and resize it to the required size and place it in the Avatar section for you. Hope this helps, Kate.
- On the user profile next to each post, you can now see when the person last visited the forum. Sometimes a member has not been active for several months or years and you can see that at a glance now.
- Where a popular website is mentioned in a post, such as zooplus who supply chuckling members with pizzles, the word will be replaced with a link to the actual site. It opens in new window, so you can click through to it and go straight to that site, if you want to have a look at something. I'll add more sites as we go along, such as Amazon, a certain bakery, DBARC, etc.
- I've added cookie control to comply with EU legislation.
- The forum is now running on the latest version. We have also upgraded to the latest version of the programming language.
- We are running on a much bigger server with far more memory and storage space.
- All the old code from the MChat app and the classifieds Ads has been removed.
- The latest version of Tapatalk is running. Highly recommend using it if you are browsing on a tablet or smartphone. You can download it for free from the App store and it is available for Android and Apple.
- I have added an Email Digest to the user control panel. This will send you an email on a predetermined schedule informing you of all the latests topics, news and happenings on the site. It also includes any private messages you haven't read yet. I will do a HOW TO: post on this later, but if you want to have a look now, you will find it under your User Control Panel. It's fully configurable, so you can decide what and when you want to receive the emails. You can switch it off too.
That about covers it, I think. The rest of the changes were all administrative and I've probably bored everyone enough. Enjoy the forum and please feel free to comment or let me know if something is not working.