Saltation vs. progressive evolution

A very hot question in evolutionary biology is wether there was saltation or progressive evolution. For us, this doesnt matter, but would like to make it a matter to think about in this forum dedicated to the 'paths our community may take'...

We, including me, have always talked about switching/converting to a new Forum software and what software to use as well as the possibility of data loss due to a softwareial evolution or not.. all in all i would love to talk about one small step ahead of the way. It is undisputable that we NEED a new software - too many flaws have already sunken into this one so, as i already said, our discussions already went the right way, yet imho not far enough.. See - our Playground is seperated from the Forum, Forum and Playground are Seperated from the main page, the mainpage then is only 'authored' by a chosen few, the forum is not moderated at all and the Playground is simply outdated in major parts of the page. So, what would i have in mind? A progressing evolution means that small, rather tiny parts of an organism change from time to time, leaving almost no or only a maginal effect on the species as a whole. Now compare this to our situation - we have the page i described above and in this board we got this new subforum. The step is small, yet it IS a step - and more are to come as now the admins seem to have opened their minds for the idea of a change. But will this progression work? Imagine we had a new board we would finally have some decent center for the community - but playground and page would still be outdated/unchangable, the evolution stalling as a new board will be the only change i think will come in the coming year.. Saltation on the other hand, the 'jumping' from one evolutionary step (e.g. from 'reptilian' to avian) is a 2nd evolutionary theory that is as good or bad as the progressive one. In our case this would give us the choice to make a big step forward. We could change all three parts of the page in one BIG step in order to have everything at the same 'level' of progress. Imagine the possibilities if those three 'entities' are combined and user 'controlled' (of course only to some certan extend). A combination from wiki/playground and forum would be excellent, as a discussion could be connected directly to a playground page, which then could always be up-to-date as long as it is discussed or people need it that way. The front page could finally give users all the needed information, especially technical information that are now missing there (there is still a picture of a Serial Arduino online there..). Also the front page could be linked to the forum and give a list of the most recent/most discussed/most important threads. A FaQ maintained by users might also be a good thing to have. Moderation of those important pages would be important, but i think our community is good enough to chose the right people for the job.

Finally a combined forum/wiki/webpage would finally be a booster for our community. if this is all kept up-to-date further 'features' would be possible which are spread now throughout the internet like Userblogs, a 3rd party download center for IDE modifications or even 3rd party software, playground->PDF extensions and much more i cant think of now. So, in our case a Saltation would be far better than some small progress as good as it is. So maybe the search for the best 'platform' would not be simply to search a useful forum software but maybe to find a suitable software combination or rather 'portal software' for our needs...

I dont see the "need" for new software, just because you switch packages does not solve the server issues or the general lack of maintenance here

It will be the exact same forum, with a different footer

If you want site integration, shotgunning a bunch of software together wont serve well and its alot of work (been there)

Nachtwind: thanks for this long post, I see a lot of different proposals in it. I am creating a list of feature requests as well as a list of bugs. I will separate your comments into items and will bring them up to the discussion

Osgeld: I am not really sure if you are giving us -the maintainers- a kick in the butt, if so, we are working with this, and have been working with it for quite some time. As you know, server work is not always arising on the UI. Anyway, your critique reflects the opinion of many and we keep on working to improve things

To both: we are actually considering a single-password fits all solution, but keeping separated systems. You are going to see a lot more things like that Twitter patch we just installed, bringing the forum up-front, etc. We have decided to write our own modules to keep the wiki going. The reason is that it makes it so much easier to add documentation to the IDE by having a collaborative wiki ...

... also we plan to offer the whole wiki material as a download. We are writing the patch that will make nightly compilations of the website. Just for those of you that need the web locally for courses, own development, etc. In the end, it is a lot of files that are easy to put together in a single ZIP file.

Thanks for the comments,


Osgeld: I am not really sure if you are giving us -the maintainers- a kick in the butt, if so, we are working with this, and have been working with it for quite some time. As you know, server work is not always arising on the UI. Anyway, your critique reflects the opinion of many and we keep on working to improve things

No kick in the butt here, But theres been a lot of talk about new forum software latley, and its not the solution, yabb seems to be holding up quite well under the load this community presents it.

Installing phpbb or smf is not a magic bullet, and it will include a TON more stuff to fix.

If your seriously considering a fully integrated site, your time would be better spent using a packaged cms system (like joomla) and converting the data to that system, vs trying to tie together independent software packages.

aha, I see your point there.

I think that at this point we are not really looking forward to a "one size fits all" solution, since the current distributed system is much easier to reboot in case it is needed. E.g. if the forum was attacked, we could just switch it off and still have the website for everybody to use.

Our concern is though giving people one single password to the whole thing, no matter which forum platform we take.


not to be a salesman, but the joomla systems i have made in the past allow both, if the forums go belly up the other modules will still run and everyone has a login

course with joomla you kinda have to use joomla modules which presents a headache in itself, IE on the last system I had the "pleasure" of converting fireboard did some wonky things to old post, not major things just annoyances (which didnt hear the end of for quite a while) like the little page button didnt work on multipage threads, but as soon as the old gets shoved to the back it was fine...

I also see the benefit in a 'one fits all' - but my opinion, out of experience, is that this wont really do it. From bad times i remember people occasionally hacking my old phpbb2 board ages ago - this happened 5 times, 4 of which all passwords were leaked, so the one fits all wouldnt give any benefit in case of a hack (imho). People who broke one security would break everything - so there is no real security bonus from having systems patched to work together.

About the SMF discussion - i think that many of our current problems do stem from the board software. it IS flat filed, hence it takes a hell lot of hardware resources, much more than (any) database driven solution. And if taken, for example, a SMF you could easily have a Forum and, for example, a bridged Mambo (or whatever) CMS to use. This takes like 5 minutes to install, another 2 or 3 hours of converting from YABB and less than a day for the community to populate ;0) Same goes for PHPBB, WBB as well - so there is no real difference in that.

As for the proposals.. i may have one last. It seems finally as if you admins were ready to give evolution a chance. I would propose you could take a few users here, those who are willing to help and try to go in the same direction (that will be hard enough, give two users a rope, be sure they will run into two different directions..). If you could manage to do that you would save yourself a hell lot of work and may have users to do the dirty work as well ;0)