Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

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jwxie
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:38 am

Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by jwxie »

I have been a phpBB3 users since 2005. I have learned a great deal about computer science and open source projects ever since. I am a freshman in college, majoring in Computer Engineering and I have just finished my first semester.

I am telling you this is because I want to bring a discussion about software engineering. Please correct any wrong terms or conceptions, I am also here to learn.

First of all, I think we have to first realize that this world is changing consistently, and millions of engineers are produced every year world-wide. Software engineering is now shifting from plain software concentration to a collaboration with hardware knowledge. The best example is cloud OS, like Google Chrome OS. Cloud OS has been up for many years, just by doing a simple search on Google one will learn. One reason we haven't implement this technology quite yet is because our technology standard today does not meet the requirement. Verizon (an Internet service provider in U.S) has only began installing Fios (fiber-optic) Internet services a few years back. Hong Kong has already launched this service a few years ago. Most American Internet users are still using either cable service or DSL. That's being said, this technology does not really work in cloud computing. Japanese invented 3G in 2001, however, they do not quite know to sell to countries like U.S. which delay its implementation.

If anyone has ever use Google Wave, he / she must has notice the slowness and lag while launching and using the service. It is because of the bandwidth, both client and server side. I say this because I want you to remember that software engineering is not just about software. Today we have this new understanding of computer science and technology that in order to launch a product that can gain popularity, one must fully understand both software and hardware aspect. There are many innovations, yet very few can get the public interest. They are good for the future, as innovations are often use as model for future development.

This is what phpBB4 should be. phpBB4 is an innovation and we need to make sure we consider both hardware and software aspect.

First of all, IMO phpBB is a concrete product. phpBB3 is a great software and I recognize this from both developer and user side. But we are focusing on individualism. Each phpBB installation runs as a single platform, a single service. We have millions of BBS and websites as single platform. This is the richness of Internet, with countless amount of information. However, I see a trend that our world is shifting another information age, that users are once again, more interconnected. I see a trend that in the future users are more happy with "multiple-solution" service, a giant collaboration of network. Unless you are very skillful and have dedicated efforts into your development, running a forum is a difficult thing.

I have been a co-admin to a popular Chinese forum for many years. I have seen our forum and many other popular forums running with high peak and falling apart because users come for resources. We are famous for some particular resources there. Yet, most members are like "flash mob", who only appear for resources and leave after getting them. Forum, or BBS is now already an obsolete. This year my computer science professor uses Google Group to post homework and exam assignment, as well as classroom collaborations. I find this G.G amazing and easy to use. Two years ago as a captain for my robotics team, I tried to build our website using phpBB and Drupal, but I have gotten negative feedback from my team that they did not like a complex system.

People love social network site because it is a multiple-function solution service. You get to get in touch with everyone in your social circle on one platform. Facebook portal allows you to see everyone's recent activities and status. You get to upload videos and photos, create groups and become fans of particular character or business. You get entertainments from playing those famous Facebook games, like Farmvile. One reason Facebook becomes the dominance social networking site today is its Facebook Platform. Developers can create any application they want using Facebook API and millions of register user can add this application to their profile.

This is what Internet is about. You can do almost anything you want on it, for example, retrieve information instantly. We need to remember that the reason these services are growing is because people have the access to them.

phpBB is a concrete - by structure and by its principles. BBS and discussion board are obsolete by its ordinary structure. Unless you have money and time to really put into a forum, most users find difficulties to find active members. People are moving from individual site to more complex sources.

Concrete-sim make every phpBB an individual database with poor access to the richness of Internet. I do not know how many times I would love to have Open ID build into phpBB as default login rather than an option (which you have to do it yourself).

I find Google Wave an amazing example of software-ism. I have not yet check out their APIs but I believe in the future (definitely not now due to its early release and still on-going development), we will see a real WEB 2.0. I hate to say that we are in WEB 2.0 because services are still scatter all over the Internet. However, we are moving into WEB 2.0. I define WEB 2.0 as the idea of Internet, or globally interconnected network uses a complex and multiple-function service on top of the Internet.

Google Wave, as their developers claim, is build on top of E-mail. They treat everything as a thread, an object that can be retrieve at any instant and everywhere. Their abundant the ordinary views about E-mail and make it into a conversation, or a thread. They build everything like the old BBS, in a tree-response style. You can play game, instantly exchanging information at any time and anywhere which will be done on just one platform.

I suggest we move from concrete frame to an API-frame. We should embed phpBB into service like Google Wave. Users can still manage their phpBB installation individually, but we are using service like Google Wave as our main source. We are an API of Google Wave and we are build around this platform instead. This is a software-sim.

The image of my argument is very blurry and unclear because it is a hard concept and I also have hard time to explain it to myself. But I do see the trend that we are moving into more software-ism.
bobtheman
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Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by bobtheman »

i couldn't agree more... i actually stopped posting on the phpbb.com forums a while back, so i made a new account for this occasion only. IMO the phpbb community has been plagued by; traditionalism, protectionism, and a conservative development viewpoint .... because of this the development of phpbb has been hindered and has made it practically impossible to remain competitive against other Forum software that do acknowledge their community. The community needs to have a strong voice in the development, this has been hindered in the past and is having dramatic effects.

Fixing this is easy in theory, and may be easy to implement... but it will take time to recover.

1. Promote and acknowledge feature requests. Have polls for newly discussed features and make sound dev/bus decisions on how to implement them.
2. Accept change. We should be one step ahead of change to stay ahead of the competition and prove to the open source community that we are a better alternative hands down that other closed, proprietary alternatives.

.... im not going to go to much into depth because i think your reply touched on alot of good points but... i look forward to shouting my voice in the development, hopefully speedy, of phpbb4.
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EXreaction
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Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by EXreaction »

Who is going to pay for the system it all runs on? Surely you don't think the phpBB Group has multi-million dollar backers and funds to pay for servers to host everything for everyone.

bobtheman, have you been paying attention to phpBB development in the last few months? A lot of stuff has been changing, just look at this forum you posted in. 3.x will get some of these changes as well, as has been said in the development changes announcement.
jwxie
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:38 am

Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by jwxie »

I am not treating phpBB as a commercial product. IMO, phpBB3 has a lot to offer but the future (if you are talking about 2014), I do not see any valid reason to continue a fixed concrete structure. My suggestion is that we build it around another application. This way, we have three main advantages:

1. Able to use existing resources
2. Make phpBB more "simple"
3. Offer new perspective about posting and building a community

I am not saying that we should make phpBB another bbPress or Facebook. But consider every release we are still debating what features to implement. If we work with a larger application, for example, like Google Wave, we surely can minimize phpBB into just an extension to G.W application.

Is it cheap to run application like G.W? Surely not ATM, but that's like getting an IIS server 10-15 years ago.

You see, let's talk more about the current phpBB.

I think we should make OpenID a default for phpBB. Look at wordpress product, all I need is one e-mail address and will enable me to post on any wordpress using the same profile. I go to Stackflow and I can use OpenID for fun. People are willing to minimize the efforts and the time to build a website. This is what API is for. Surely we need to know how to write PHP, and MySQL.

By building phpBB around a large application like G.W, one can easily customize existing API and resources based on G.W and whatever G.W. offers. The only problem is the performance,which users suffer a lot, in the case of Facebook.

You can now just focus on what and why we use forum. Incorporate the idea of conversation rather than traditional threading. Make forum into a channel rather than single page. Now you can also have games - or just anything by using the existing API connected to G.W.

My reason is that the world is heading toward minimalism,building on top of another way, or based on some existing resources. At the same time, one must figure out where to distinguish phpBB from other forum software.
bobtheman
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Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by bobtheman »

EXreaction wrote:Who is going to pay for the system it all runs on? Surely you don't think the phpBB Group has multi-million dollar backers and funds to pay for servers to host everything for everyone.
good point, I would like to see a blog post about the business side of phpbb. How capital is allocated, volume of income vs outcome, etc etc And maybe some brainstorming for new income ideas to help fund future development. Though i am a firm believer that a open source project backed with the power of the community can develop and flourish on its own. Any comments/ideas from the dev management members would be interesting. Has there ever been any discussion about a fund drive, im sure many admins would be willing to contribute back... if not in code or time than in money.


As other threads have stated, the goal of phpbb is not to copy facebook or any other social networking sites. But phpbb should be implementing some of the same community building functionalitys that the community is obviously asking for.
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EXreaction
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Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by EXreaction »

There are certainly some projects I'd like to see hosted by phpBB or by a few who branch off (something like stopforumspam.com for domains posted in messages).

I don't see the chance that we ever build something the scale of a social networking site for forums. Forums are just a part of social networking sites, many forum owners add extra things to their forums to have full blown social networking sites. It may not be easy or nice to do in 3.x as it is now, but with 4.x it should be extremely simple to integrate other systems. Most board owners (other than those free hosted ones that never go anywhere) want to manage and have full control over their board if it gets to be of any size. If we do things to manage or host forums from a centralized locations board owners can not have full control.

Again, with 4.x it'll be extremely easy to build and integrate other things around phpBB. Hopefully we can change that with 3.x yet with an integration framework; it's a project I've been wanting to get into myself, but currently I am busy building another major project and I won't be able to do it myself until at least 2Q of next year.
jwxie
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:38 am

Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by jwxie »

Hi Exreaction,

Thanks for the reply.

Hmmm, I am not asking for a centralize board, but rather more "integration" at some major levels, and use pre-existing resources to enrich phpBB functionality. I don't know if I am making my points clear (certainly it is hard to explain to myself, too).

The reason I think phpBB is concrete because we are fixed with what forum can do and cannot do. If we move out of what forum is, and treat it as a new innovation, starting from scratch, as if phpBB and forum never exist, then what is forum?

Should we consider OPENID with one single account (of course owner can also enable registration and independent membership)?
What about the threading? The way we post? The way we treat how information is display and exchange?

I think many users are still very unclear what are the goals of phpBB4 when we have already seen forums dropping.

I personally oppose to turn phpBB into a social networking sites like Facebook. However, forum is a community.
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EXreaction
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Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by EXreaction »

I don't think forum usage is dropping, they are just not used for general chatting as much as they used to be. Integration with openID will probably come standard with 4.x if not in one of the 3.x lines. phpBB4 should be more modularised, expandable, and integrate-able, making it easier to do whatever you want with it.
LiquidSpark
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Re: Merge from Concrete-ism to software-ism

Post by LiquidSpark »

"Modular expansion" is analogous to "software-ism", where programmers can write modules for the base software, like Flash authors making games for Facebook.
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