First I would like to answer some of the issues bolverk brought up with the process of how these decisions are made. We use this process of RFCs because phpBB development is driven by the ideas and wishes of a few, those who actually do the work. It's a project run by a comparably small group of people in their free time and they work on the issues that feel most important to them. RFCs allow other people to suggest ideas to those who might end up implementing them and they allow others to bring up problems or thoughts the originator of the RFC might have overlooked. RFCs are not meant to be used to collect data on the opinions of all phpBB users.
Statistical data can be helpful, but often it leaves questions unanswered. For example even if we knew exactly how many prosilver and subsilver users there were, we still would not know why those people use prosilver or subsilver. We would know just as much about whether a prosilver based subsilver style would satisfy most subsilver2 users, as we know now. We should think about what the consequences of our decisions are for all those people who do not participate in this process but in the end decisions here are made based on subjective reasoning and the interests of whoever is here to raise their opinion. This process is flawed but we will have to live with that.
Decisions can always be changed or rethought, I regret that Josh made such a bold statement about this decision being unchangeable, which it is not.
Now, some facts relevant to the decision:
In favour of removing subsilver2:
- nn- reported subsilver is definitely supported by 48% and likely by another 2%, so half of all MODS currently posted. (as of March 19th, 2010)
- nn- also states: Among modifications targeting 3.0., subsilver support is around 61%.
- Some modifications add support for subsilver after their initial release (per changelogs), presumably due to demand.
- bolverk states, that the top downloaded styles are based on subsilver2
- bolverk states more than 50% of the styles in the database are based on subsilver2
- bolverk states, SS based custom third party style downloads outnumber PS based custom third party style downloads on .com by ~100,000
- bolverk states, on phpBB third party resource site phpbb3stylesdotnet, of the top ten most downloaded styles nine are SS-based styles. They are #1-#8 & #10.
In favour of keeping subsilver2:
- cherokee red
- Dog Cow
- Unknown Bliss
- Christian 2.0
- Reasons given (some are very subjective)
- Saves (unquantifiable) work for developers
- Saves work for MOD authors, who want to make their MOD available to a majority of phpBB users, if all or most styles are based on a common template
- There is a style looking like subsilver2 based on prosilver, one like it could be shipped with Ascraeus as subsilver3
- A third party could maintain subsilver2 for Ascraeus, for those already using subsilver2 with Olympus
- New styles get based on legacy subsilver2 which was never meant to be the official phpBB3 style, but was only shipped with phpBB because it was already there
- CSS based design is more flexible and should be the case for all styles shipped with phpBB
- Prosilver takes some getting used to, that's a big reason why people pick subsilver, if it didn't come by default, they would soon realise that prosilver is superior
- Reasons given (some are very subjective)
- subsilver2 has many users, they would have problems updating
- many styles use subsilver2 as a basis
- If a third party provided subsilver2, no official support would be guaranteed
- There are performance problems with prosilver, that need to be fixed, if subsilver2 is not available as an alternative anymore
Reasons that have been mentioned in favour of both sides, and seem to be a question of subjective experience or taste:
- Some people dislike how prosilver looks, some dislike how subsilver2 looks
- Some people think prosilver is easier and cleaner to work with (especially for MOD authors) and others think subsilver2 is much easier to modify
In this summary I have ignored one small part of the discussion in this topic. It was suggested that MODs are irrelevant to this decision. But MODs are a big part of how phpBB works. A huge amount of people modify their boards according to their needs. We need to take this fact into account for every decision we make. If we deliver a style with phpBB we need to think about the experience users of that style will have with MODs. The key here is, we need to think about it, so we can still decide that the secondary style does not require the same amount of attention or somesuch. Anyway we cannot ignore the fact that MODs are of importance to everyone using phpBB.
Now from this I'll draw the conclusion that the decision in general is supported by a sufficient amount of people involved in phpBB development but that we have to come up with a sensible plan for how users of subsilver2 or subsilver2 based styles can update to 3.1. Meaning we should try and focus everything on prosilver in the future, but find acceptable way to continue to run your board with subsilver2 or a style based on it if you have already been using it with 3.0.
So I can imagine two solutions: We can either continue to maintain subsilver2 in the regular source tree but only provide it in the styles database like a third party style. Or we can maintain subsilver2 separately and rely on the help of others. Either we should ensure that subsilver2 support is not redirected to some third party, but that it is treated like the default style support wise. In that regard I would like to remind everyone that we do not give any guarantees for the product itself or support anyway. We should just make sure users relying on subsilver2 do not run into any big trouble just for doing so.