Comicgenesis updates and stuff...

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Comicgenesis updates and stuff...

Postby Kisai on Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:47 am

So, it's probably time to update the general forum with what problems cropped up lately:
a) The OS that comicgenesis.com runs on was EOL'd, so this means I had to update it before it became too old and required something much more troublesome to solve.
b) So I rebooted the server, it's been up and stable for at 746 days, goodbye uptime counter D:
c) over the course of ... since May 30th pretty much, I've been playing whack-a-mole with a certain aspect of open source operating systems which I call dependancy hell, and on windows would be called "dll hell", either way, the maintainers of the OS have changed things more severely since the last time the OS received an update, so I'm not yet willing to just outright break the machine with a major OS upgrade, so it's been moved to FreeBSD 8.4 from 8.3

Oh and the OpenSSL heartbleed bug did not affect us, but it resulted in kernel updates for all the servers, so they were going to get a reboot regardless if they really needed it or not as it's part of the operating system.

Noow... the problem, or hundreds of problems, depending how you want to make it sound, is that open source is a good thing as long as there are developers maintaining the software. However over time, software like MediaWiki, phpBB3, and the underlying php and apache httpd beneath them start to suffer from ... oh I don't know, code-rot. You can see this more evidently in phpBB as every time I patched the thing to solve SPAM problems, it would inevitably break two things. So the status on phpBB3 is "I'm not doing anything to it until phpBB3.1" see https://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtop ... &t=2245166 , as they are completely revamping how one does modifications to it, hence anything I do now will just be lost anyway. More to the point, they are changing the templating system as well. As you know this has dramatic repercussions for the comicgenesis siteadmin and wiki as they both tie into the phpBB3 user database, and the previous phpBB2 templating engine.

Many users who have left CG, have moved to software like Wordpress, which has it's own set of dependency hell and code-rot. However unlike phpBB3, the plugins to it are easily removed without severely damaging it. We are not moving to Wordpress, and I'd probably recommend nobody touch it unless they enjoy playing the OS whack-a-mole themselves and are paying for a VPS explicitly for it (shared hosting environments deliberately cripple wordpress to up-sell you on a VPS.) There are better and worse CMS's out there that work specifically for image galleries or comics, that are a lot lighter weight, and less complicated to maintain.

Autokeen (and the version used on Comicgenesis, which doesn't resemble Keenspot's except in template syntax) is a static template engine. It's major benefit is that:
- It's basically malware proof, as no php support is in it by design
- It creates fast pages by not having to first render through a dynamic template.
BUT BUT BUTTTTT...
- It takes forever to queue an update. Most of the time this isn't an issue except if you update in the 3 hour time frame that covers midnight EST to PST

So there are a few options on the table for making a site better without becoming unmaintainable, and I'm sure they've been mentioned in passing before, but several new HTML5 technologies and usage have come into existence since then:
a) Disqus / Intensedebade / Facebook social comments (used by some Keenspot and Hiveworks hosted sites)
b) Wymeditor /tinyMCE / CKEditor for WYSIWYG editing of pages
c) Touch screen support for web browsers, thank the iPhone for that.
d) New HTML5 technology HTML import: http://www.w3.org/TR/2013/WD-html-imports-20130514/

That last point is particularly interesting, as it would eliminate quite a bit of the processing done by autokeen in the past should it become a standard in web browsers. Just it's not available yet.

The next topic is about mobile devices:
Short and to the point... If the website doesn't work on the desktop browser, it is probably not going to work on the mobile browser. There is a feature you can use in Chrome (hit developer tools (F12) and look at the bottom drawer for "Emulation" , this will let you emulate the screen size and touch system of a mobile device. 100% of mobile devices use a variation of Webkit, so if it doesn't look right in Chrome's emulation, you can be sure it doesn't look right on an actual device.

You do NOT need an app for your site (and you probably do not want one.) Comicgenesis historically has blocked third-party-linking because malicious users would try to use it as a dumpsite. So building an app that pulls CG's images would not work anyway. However it has been a serious problem in the online comic community where "good intentioned" developers create comic scraping apps (almost always on Android) and a dozen or so high profile comic sites have told them to take it down. Online comics have RSS feeds so you can follow the site, and that is the preferred mechanism for keeping track of sites on mobile.

Finally, back to the whack-a-mole problem, since the OS has changed how third party software is installed, it has unfortunately caused some things to stop working intermittently, so if you see something not working, please report it to the help forum and not try to private message me.
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Kisai
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