Integrate website/New website

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Integrate website/New website

Post by person1 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:02 am

I'm curious if there are any plans to upgrade/integrate the web resources available. I read the summer of code project that plans to abstract the logic from the forum system, but not much about redoing the web stuff.

I'm offering to re-vamp it/merge into into a more consistent theme. I'm an advanced PHP programmer and work in the Linux/Apache environment.

Let me know where is the right place to ask this.
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Post by Abominable » Fri Sep 05, 2008 11:48 am

I actually like the way it is now. I think the forum set up/theme is great for what it is used for. The only thing that I think should be "upgraded" would be the homepage. Everything else, to me, seems to be fine.
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Post by lol_u died » Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:04 pm

Abominable wrote:I actually like the way it is now. I think the forum set up/theme is great for what it is used for. The only thing that I think should be "upgraded" would be the homepage. Everything else, to me, seems to be fine.
I am actually currently working on a design for bzflag.org. When I'm done i'll send the design to JeffM and he can do whatever he wants with it.

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Post by blast » Fri Sep 05, 2008 2:45 pm

Abominable wrote:I actually like the way it is now. I think the forum set up/theme is great for what it is used for. The only thing that I think should be "upgraded" would be the homepage. Everything else, to me, seems to be fine.
It might seem great from your point of view, but it's confusing the new users. "How do I register for the game?" "On the forum" "Eh..okay"

It is also hard to maintain from a backend point of view. Currently, we can't really split the forum and list server onto different servers, as they are heavily tied together.

person1, if you are interested in helping with the web stuff, feel free to stop by the #bzflag IRC channel on freenode. You can get a idea of what our goal is in that regard.
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Post by person1 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:59 pm

Yea, splitting it up, making it work more efficiently/properly is what I'm offering to do. It also should be easier for new people, I ran into the same issues described, back in the day. The front page could be snazzed up to draw people in better. A few nice game shots, stuff like that. I'll try and drop by soon.
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Post by Winny » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:14 pm

I made a Drupal template for the new website when/if it goes live, you can see here: http://busyflag.org

I believe there were plans to eventually use something like it for the main page eventually, although plans may have changed.

Plans were to use LDAP for authentication, and load up a Drupal module for registration. The forums would be integrated into the same theme as the main page. No idea about the Wiki.
Last edited by Winny on Sun Sep 07, 2008 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by person1 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:38 pm

That is exactly what I was thinking about doing. I am very familiar with Drupal and I actually develop Drupal core and I am very involved in the Drupal community. My user page if anyone is interested http://drupal.org/user/214218.

So I would be happy to use Drupal to integrate stuff.

Template looks nice. :)
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Post by JeffM » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:56 pm

the main website and our fourms are not the current priority. Getting a stable backend system that can do authentication for the game and the fourms, and other services is.

As blast has mentioned, come onto the IRC channel and we can discuss what our plans are.
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New system

Post by person1 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:01 pm

Context:

After talking with JeffM in IRC, downloading the code, and further discussion I have come up with the following proposal. I realize the proposal calls for drastic changes, I'm new to the bzflag development community, and there is that lack of trust/karma, but I am willing to spearhead/do everything that is necessary.

Problems:
  • Login and group management is using phpBB.
  • Fragmented code base. Each webservice uses separate database code, different template systems, different function files which creates duplicate hard to maintain code.
  • No easy way to create a standard login implementation among all webservices.
  • Can't take advantage of already built and maintained content management/content creation libraries.
Solution:

Re-write existing web services in a standard system, my preference being Drupal. This will still allow the separate sub-domains to have different databases or w/e is felt necessary. Pages called by BZFlag "in-game" can have stand-alone pages that only load neccessary files (ie. database layer) and make neccessary queries, keeping the load on the server minimal while providing a powerful development platform for interfaces.

Advantages
  • This will provide a consistent set of base code (ie. database layer, template system).
  • Easy to use consistent theme and/or slight tweak for each service.
  • Consistent administration interface.
  • Access to lots of open source code to extend the functionality of site.
  • Already documented and maintained system that will help eliminate security risks in system and make it easier for new developers to get started with.
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Post by JeffM » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:22 am

we have chosen to use PHPBB3 for the fourms. I would not try to shove them into drupal. PHPBB3 has many features we can use.

the list server is going to be built onto it's own system as it will probably be an app, not a web page.

The group management system could be done in drupal, I just don't see any reason to do it, since it will have to interface with the authentication system that will not use a database (LDAP)

we don't do much with the main page, and probably never will other then news and some feed readers.

we also count the wiki as a service, and that is going to keep using media wiki.

A constant theme isn't that important to us. In fact I kinda like that each service has a slightly different look, that way you know where you are. We are not google, we are a little video game. A more modular system allows us to swap different parts out as needs change.

We ran into a huge wall by tying everything to phpbb2, and are still paying for that mistake. I would be very loathe to simply turn all that over to yet another single system.

I'd like to know what "different function files" you feel would be duplicated?

The list server will never need to use the same functions as the fourms, etc..

I agree that we could use a login/auth web component that is reused by all the services to handle single logins, but that's all I can see that needs to share code.
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Post by allejo » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:04 am

the list server is going to be built onto it's own system as it will probably be an app, not a web page
wait how is the server list going to be an app not a webpage? does that mean instead of coming online to see who is playing you can download the program and see it from there or what?

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Post by JeffM » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:26 am

No
you are confusing the list server with the stats site.

the list server is what tells your client what games are available.
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Post by allejo » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:50 pm

oh ok im sry. :D no i understand

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Post by JeffM » Sat Sep 06, 2008 7:25 pm

that's not to say we don't want to update the stats system as well, but that has more to do with how the data gets from game servers to the stats page.
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Post by person1 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:36 am

I was never talking about switching everything to Drupal, simply using it as a wrapper and using its database layer and other files as common building blocks. Still leaving wiki and forum alone (to phpBB3 and MediaWiki).

The other services: main site, server list, stats site, and group management stuff could use a bit of common functionality. What better way to do that then to choose some basically library to run them all off of.

I understand you not wanting to "tie everything down" to another system and I'm not suggesting doing that. Simply use a common database layer, template system...something. Its a good idea to be modular as is the entire idea of web systems today, but not fragmented.

The current state of the services is that they all are complete separate code bases without any easy way to integrate them. That will work fine (as it is now), but doesn't allow you to easily update them all with say...a new login system. If they all had a standard db layer...and files to plug-in to then you could write one login "module" and use it on all of them.

Having a content management system (content framework) as a wrapper for the services, not taking over, think of it more like a portal that allows for easier flow through the site. The same primary menus that were on the wiki are on the main page and the forum. That gives people an easy way to get from place to place.

So I would keep the server list simple, like you have said, just use a common database layer. Rather than write yet another one use one that exists. So for the server list just include the Drupal database layer for example. It won't load the entire system or what-not just some common files that can be shared. The services can still have separate databases and everything else.

If anything then you can build the interfaces in Drupal to allow users to view stats, see the server list etc without having the services "tied down" to Drupal. Creating secure interfaces is a major undertaking. So having a library to back you up is very useful. You can still keep separate themes or w/e else you want as even Drupal is setup to keep the services separate.

I'm not using Drupal as a catch all, simply that I know it can do the task and has a thriving community keeping it going. The individual services will still need to be written, but can just use some of the Drupal code base to get them going and standardized.

Once everything is updated then you can take advantage of the open source code to extend the user interfaces and anything else you desire. It basically opens up a lot of possibilities.

I'm not trying to force this on anyone just making a suggestion having designed web sites and researched the science behind them.

If you decide to not use Drupal for anything that's fine, but at least get a common database layer, template system, etc. My reasoning for Drupal is its rapid acceptance, strong community, and that it would give you a layer on top of your services to expand while still allowing the base of your services to remain free, except for the common files they use. By no means will all portions of the site and services be ported to Drupal.
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Post by Abominable » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:41 am

It might seem great from your point of view, but it's confusing the new users. "How do I register for the game?" "On the forum" "Eh..okay"
That's why I said maybe only the homepage.[/quote]
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Post by person1 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:47 am

I think one thing that should definitely be snazed up is the home page. It could use some attractive images and such to get people interested in the game. It is somewhat hard to tell what the site is even about currently.

Look at any commercial game site and the front page is usually very flashy (images and such). Changing the page would probably be beneficial.
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Post by Abominable » Sun Sep 07, 2008 3:42 pm

person1 wrote:I think one thing that should definitely be snazed up is the home page. It could use some attractive images and such to get people interested in the game. It is somewhat hard to tell what the site is even about currently.

Look at any commercial game site and the front page is usually very flashy (images and such). Changing the page would probably be beneficial.
I agree with you. First impression/presentation means a lot. Some people might come to the site and think, "is this really a game". Others might not have a problem with it. I don't think it needs to be flashy, for say, but maybe more "attractive" for gamers.
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Post by lol_u died » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:01 pm

Like I said, I'm making a new version of bzflag.org website. I made a temporary presentation domain.

http://www.bzflag.homestead.com

Let me know what you think of the design. AGAIN it's not done. JUST STARTED.

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Post by Winny » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:06 pm

Please explain how that design has anything to do with BZFlag, or any game, at all.
There are no images that even suggest what BZFlag is, or does. It looks more like something a Greek restaurant would use.
(Oh hey, according to the text on the page it is a restaurant theme.)

It looks like a website someone built with some "click n' build" web designing product. This simply will not do for a popular and somewhat polished online game, or any business in general. People will not take it seriously.

If you want to create a serious design, you need to find out what needs to go onto the webpage. You can't design a webpage, then add the content. It just doesn't work.
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Post by blast » Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:54 pm

lol_u died wrote:Like I said, I'm making a new version of bzflag.org website. I made a temporary presentation domain.

http://www.bzflag.homestead.com

Let me know what you think of the design. AGAIN it's not done. JUST STARTED.
If that's your idea of what BZFlag.org should look like, don't expect us to ever use your design. If you are serious about making a design, then you need to come onto #bzflag on Freenode and discuss your abilities. I highly doubt you are even licensed to use those images on a host other than Homestead.com, as this part of their TOS seems to imply:
17. Copyright and Trademark Notices
All materials of the Service and the Software (as well as the organization and layout of the Service are owned and copyrighted or licensed by Homestead, its affiliates or its suppliers. All rights reserved. No reproduction, distribution, or transmission of the copyrighted materials of the Service, which includes the Homestead (and any successor Web sites or additional Web sites or any co-branded Web sites), and/or the Software, is permitted without the written permission of Homestead. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved.
So basically, you're wasting your time making it from a Homestead template.
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Post by JeffM » Sun Sep 07, 2008 5:04 pm

that looks like the website for a 1950's movie theater.
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Post by Abominable » Sun Sep 07, 2008 5:12 pm

lol_u died wrote:Like I said, I'm making a new version of bzflag.org website. I made a temporary presentation domain.

http://www.bzflag.homestead.com

Let me know what you think of the design. AGAIN it's not done. JUST STARTED.
Bzflag may be a game, but the site and the people in it are professional for the most part. If this was the presentation of bzflag, then bzflag would be laughed at. Kudos for your attempts to help "better" bzflag, but I agree with blast. You should come to #bzflag and talk with the people there. You might get further that way.
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Post by person1 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:06 pm

Any response to my clarification of my proposal?
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Post by JeffM » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:20 pm

person1
you are more then welcome to do whatever you wish. as we stated on IRC, the main page is not our primary concern at this time. The majority of players do not find us via the webpage.

It's your time, work on what you wish ;)
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