The OpenOffice.org Community Forums have been successfully migrated to operation under the Apache OpenOffice.org podling. Forum operation, location, and resources are intact. For users and the community that has grown the Forums into a valuable resource, it seems nothing changed. It wasn’t so simple. Here’s what it took and what was gained.
Community Forums on the move
Cut-over of the Community Forums completed on Friday morning, October 28. There were few disruptions during Internet propagation of the new hosting-site location. The migrated site is now accessed by the original web addresses. A staging server holding the necessary software was tested using backups of the data from the Oracle-hosted Forum services. Staging preparations started in July. It was the first-ever introduction of a Forum system at Apache. The last backup of the “live Forums” happened on October 27. The Forums backup was restored to the Apache staging system. The new “live Forums” stepped in, just like the old Forums. The transplant succeeded.
Adjustments will continue. There will be alignment with remaining migrations of OpenOffice.org web properties. There will be further integration into the Apache OpenOffice.org podling operation. Throughout remodeling, the Forums will be alive and well.
Community Forums legacy
The OpenOffice.org Community Forums originally went live on November 28, 2007. By September 20, 2011, the English-language Forums have accumulated 200,000 posts, contributed by 45,000 Forum registrants, on 40,000 topics (threads). At any point in time there appear to be 10-20 times as many unregistered users browsing the Forum as registered users. The thrust is having a setting where users with questions find users with answers. Experienced users also provide guidance to where the questions are already asked and either answered or under discussion. The Forums are a customization of the phpBB software that is a prevalent implementation of Internet forums.
The Spanish and French forums are next in size and activity, with most other forums of intermediate size. The entire Forum base is preserved on-line. Forum content is indexed by the major web search services.
Always open, browsing welcome
Visiting any of the Forum entry pages and exploring any topic of interest reveals characteristic Forum features:
It is easy to see what the variety of topics and degree of activity has been in each subject area.
Threads are organized and presented with recent, active topics located quickly; other viewing options, including of one's own posts, are selected with a single click.
There is integrated search for any topic and content.
Images and code samples can be included in posts and all can be quoted, cross-referenced, and reached via web locations.
The Forums provide links to extended topics on the Community Wiki, another migrated service.
There are tutorials on all components of the OpenOffice.org suite.
Special topics include the programmability features of OpenOffice.org, including writing macros and using/creating extensions.
The Forums embrace all of the descendants of the original StarOffice/OpenOffice.org that have become siblings in the OpenOffice.org galaxy. Tips and solutions in the use of one release are often useful to users of a peer product having the same feature.
Supporting global community
The forums were originated by a group of independent volunteers. The entire content of the Forums is created and curated by individual users and volunteers. With migration, the volunteer structure is supplemented by arrangements for oversight as required by policies concerning properties in ASF custodianship. Day-to-day operations and volunteer activities are unchanged..
User peer-support grows by inviting frequent contributors to serve as volunteers. Volunteers review Forum activity, point out where moderation is required, and participate in privacy-sensitive discussions about Forum operation. More-experienced volunteer Moderators intervene where appropriate to provide special assistance or curate threads and subscriptions.
The OpenOffice.org Community Forums are one way that the Web connects users of OpenOffice.org-related products. There are additional communities across the Internet with similar concerns as well as different specialties. These can employ mailing lists, Internet news groups, and other web-based forums. The Web and search engines bring the different resources of these communities into the reach of each other and users everywhere. The OpenOffice.org Community Forums are now continuing as a substantial resource of that extended community.
Moving complex web properties
The OpenOffice.org web site is a complex structure of services, web pages, and downloadable content. The openoffice.org Internet domain lease is moving as part of the grant from Oracle Corporation to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). Migrating the various properties that constitute the web site is complicated. Considerable effort is required to have migration appear effortless and smooth.
Some services housed under the OpenOffice.org web locations are rather independent. Apparent integration as an OpenOffice.org web location is accomplished by splicing the service into an openoffice.org sub-domain. That is the case with http://user.services.openoffice.org/ and its ten native-language Community Forums. The English-language Forum location, http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/, illustrates the pattern for individual languages. There is also consistent appearance and other features that blend the forums into the overall OpenOffice.org site. Maintaining this structure is important so that users can find materials where they recall them, including in bookmarks and links from other materials (including other forum posts). Search services that have already indexed the forum pages will continue to refer seekers to those same still-correct locations.
developed in Forum Discussion collaboration among acknack, FJCC, floris v, Hagar Delest, kingfisher, mriisv, MrProgrammer, orcmid, RGB, RoryOF, and vasa1 on behalf of the Community Forum Volunteers, additional ooo-dev suggestions by Donald Whytock and Dave Fisher.