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[Invisionize.eu] From the Other Side - Day Two: Making it mine!

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Today marks the second day of working with IPB, from the eyes of a sworn vB user for almost 7 years. If you haven't read the first entry, now's the time to do so.

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Please note that these entries ARE timeshifted, so when I say 'today' (as in Saturday), I mean this was done yesterday (as in 'Friday'). It'd be NICE for me to be able to tell the future and tell how easy that this stuff is going to be (or how hard), but it can't be done (yet).

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Having just converted my test forums from SMF (they weren't really ready for a vB license, no real traffic there), today, I had a lot of work ahead of me, so I got down into it and did it. Here's the list of work that had to be done, what got done, and what is going to be a very, very long process.

Project #1: Reorganization (ie: where the hell are my prefixes)

Call me a junkie, but I miss my prefixes from vB. They just make life SO much easier. For example: this forum used to just be Howtos and tutorials, with the appropriate prefix required (smf/blog/phpbb2/phpbb3). Now, in order to keep things nice, neat and organized (did I mention I have a neat fetish when it comes to my forums), I have to create sub-forums for all of them. That's ok, it was a bit of work, but it was done easily enough.

I still can't get over how dumbed down the permissions system is in IPB, compared to vBulletin's system. I mean wow . That's not a bad thing, either, everything is RIGHT where it's supposed to be, and I can basically set permissions for all usergroups in just a few simple clicks. WTG, IPB, you got that one right!!!

Project #2: Theme differences

Ok, I admit it, I hate default themes. That's not just IPB, that's vBulletin, that's SMF, that's phpBB, that's MyBB, anything. One of the first things I do is look for a more 'appropriate' theme for my site.

After looking through a couple, for the moment, I'm staying with where I'm at, but let me tell you why I almost gave up just during this process, and moved everything back to SMF: ease of use !!

I shouldn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to change a 'default theme'. When I go and click on 'Look and Feel', the first thing I expect to find (or close to it) is a very clear setting for 'default theme'. It's only what one would expect? Right? Well, that gets us into a whole new problem, which I might get into later on in the blog (not today, mind you). With IPB, there is an enormous curve for learning. Usually, when you click on an image, it does not pull up a dropdown. Sure, it's (kind of) web 2.0, but it's just not standard.

Anyways, back on track.. I went through a few themes, and, as you can see if you look @ the forum, it's still the default theme. I'm not going to pay for a theme just yet (it is on a IPB hosted server, and on a shared community, as well as being the support forum FOR a free community). Understandably, IPB 3.0.x just came out, so I'll wait and see what's made more available there.

One thing I will say is good about IPB's theme and template system, as compared to vB? Including templates is a breeze. Seriously, kids, it's a one line thing, and adding and categorizing new templates is even easier.

An example of what I'm talking about here:

Within 30 minutes, I had an entire template group setup for ads (header/footer/signatures), and most of that was playing with yahoo trying to get the settings just right (which they still don't appear to be).

With vBulletin, It's just not POSSIBLE to add 'custom groups' within the admin control panel. On one site I run, I have probably 100+ 'custom' templates (lyrics, tabs, about band members, discography, etc), and getting THOSE dealt with is a freakish nightmare.

All I can say is that with template inclusion and group editing, score one for IPB. It's a shame that it took me so long to figure out how to change the default template!

Again, I ramble on (I tend to do that), back on track, Tom.....

Project #3: the mods

One very disappointing thing about IPB is the majority of 'paid' mods. I'm not going to spend $20 on an 'advertisement' mod when my forum won't recoup that inside of a month, why should I? What if it doesn't work? Of course, authors should be paid, but that's where providing support and installation comes in!!! One for vBulletin, right there. With 1000s of free mods on .org, and support provided (for most), it really can't be beat.

Thankfully, with IPB, not a lot of apps are needed, as the thing pretty much runs itself. I put in some of the usual, and left it at that.

Shoutbox -- check

Statistics -- check

Ban filters -- check

Project Tracker -- check, and thank you IPB for making it free! Talk about a HUGE plus there!!

SEO -- still looking for proper seo, because a .html extension should at minimum be applied to all webpages, so, no dice there.

Project #4: Continue with cleanup

If you read the previous entry, you'll see that the import/conversion process didn't go as cleanly as I would have hoped. Cleaning up 200+ posts is a nightmare, but thankfully mine are the only ones that need to be edited much, as I appear to be the only one caring about formatting.

Anyways, it's off to bed. More this weekend? Maybe, though I try like mad to keep weekends free for 'fun' stuff. We'll see.

Please do feek free to comment if you have any tips and tricks for an IPB n00b!

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