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Author Topic: Model Boats Magazine website is changing  (Read 9807 times)

Colin Bishop

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Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« on: October 02, 2023, 01:25:06 pm »

Martin has kindly allowed me space to give a 'heads up' concerning changes to the Model Boats website.

As many of you will be aware, Mortons Publishing bought the Model Boats, Model Flying and Model Engineer/MEW titles from MayTime Media a while back.

The Model Boats and Model Engineer forums were embedded in the MTM software platform and in order to keep them running it has been necessary to replicate the old MTM websites on the Mortons servers. Mortons understandably want the titles brought under its house style and sorfware standards. The websites have therefore been rebuilt in Wordpress and extensions have been used to add the forum functionality.

Because of different database structures, not all the old forum data will be transferred over but all the main essentials are reportedly there. It may take a while to get used tothe new format but there will be a FAQ help facility.

Below is the announcement fron Darren Hendley of Mortons IT department setting out the intended timeline. While the forums are offline I will post any information updates in this thread and endeavour to asnswer any questions.

Colin

***************************************

This week we will be switching the website and forum from its current server and technology to a modern, mobile friendly platform.

The timeline is as follows:

05/10/23 8am BST Current site to go offline and a holding page put up.

10/10/23 9am Moderators given access to new site for checking.

12/10/23 10am New site online All being well this will happen before this date.

We will post updates here:

www.mortonsdigital.co.uk/blog/2023/10/02/model-engineer-model-boats-forum-migration-updates/

Please bookmark that page now before this forum goes offline.

When the new site goes live, you will need to log in with your email address and password. If that doesn't work you can do a password reset.

If you don't have access to the email address on your account here, you should change it before Thursday or you may be locked out.

Thanks for your support and patience.

Darren Hendley

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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2023, 09:43:28 pm »

A lot of activity today with testing but there are delays and the new site is not yet ready to go live (11th October).

I will give a further update in due course.

Colin
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2023, 06:33:00 pm »

Still a lot of technical issues to resolve so today's target date (12 Oct) has been missed. Realistically now looking at next week at the earliest.

Colin
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Capt Podge

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2023, 06:43:33 pm »

Thanks for the update Colin. Better to iron out the issues now rather than have problems once it goes live.  O0


Ray.
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Tug Fanatic

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2023, 08:41:59 pm »

Who has ever heard of an IT project that was delivered ontime and onbudget?
Lets hope that the problems are easily resolved.
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Martin (Admin)

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2023, 10:01:01 pm »

Who has ever heard of an IT project that was delivered ontime and onbudget?
Lets hope that the problems are easily resolved.

Not me! ..... 40+ year in I T   {-)
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2023, 10:10:11 pm »

The project hasn't been well organised and we are now seeing the consequences.

I will provide updates as and when they are available.

Colin
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Geoff

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2023, 10:22:36 am »

We have similar issues at work at the moment - a new mandatory program/platform we have to use but it appears not to be completely compatible. To be fair such changes are extremely complex and have to work with every conceivable configuration of IT architecture across multiple firms.


However it is extremely frustrating and I think I could solve most IT issues in 5 mins - you get the senior IT people in one room and discuss with a baseball bat!!


This stuff should just work which is why collectively we pay a fortune for it but somehow we are getting into the realms of expecting and accepting teething troubles.


Just not good enough - ok rant over, but I still think my idea has merit!  :-)


Cheers


Geoff
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2023, 10:59:32 am »

Could we please keep this on topic and not turn it into a place to exchange computer anecdotes and omments otherwise updates will be lost in the verbiage!

Martin, could you move or delete the superfluous posts  please?

Colin
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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2023, 01:45:19 pm »

Colin

Do we know what the "Unresolved data migration issues being investigated by developer" are?

Mortons have been very good about the reports for the transition but somehow they don't really tell us much except that there are problems. Is it putting pictures into threads by any chance?

"Investigated by the developer" sounds very open ended.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2023, 04:05:16 pm »

It's all a bit complicated to explain in detail and I don't have all the details anyway.

Putting photos into posts appears to work OK and it is also possible to create personal photo galleries but the two are entirely separate so you have to import an image into a post directly you can't do it from a gallery (like the old MTM Albums). It would be nice if you could but not essential, being able to load directly into a post is better than having to create an album first.

Basically there are two main aspects to all this this, conversion of the old MTM data by 'mapping' it to a bbPress database and then configuring the Wordpress and bbPress tools and routines to recreate an equivalent but not exactly the same functionality on the new site and link it all in to the Mortons Wordpress website system.

Mortons contracted developers to convert the data over and this has proved to be more difficult than expected or the developer isn't up to the job (probably both). they are on their second developer at the moment. Among other things this has meant having to identify the correct image that goes with a post from the MTM album system and connect them together in the new system. The old albums will not be transferred into galleries at this stage and I suspect not at all. The feature articles with their images seem to have proved impossible to transfer over in an intelligible format and may be lost.

The second part of the job has entailed Morton's IT people doing the Wordperss/bbPress configuration and being unfamiliar with the way bbPress works. Building the new forum system and trying to replicate the essential facilities of the old forum is again proving to be very difficult with all sorts of bugs and anomalies being thrown up.

Finally, there is a speed problem in that the test forum has been very slow although Mortons think they may have resolved it to some extent.

It is acknowledged that the whole project has been ill conceived and badly implemented and this has involved Mortons in more time and money than they expected.

The current position as at midday is that Mortons think they have resolved the (unspecified) data migration issues and made good progress with improving response times. They hope to open up the syestem to myself and the Model Engineer moderators on Monday or Tuesday for further testing and we will see where we go from there.

Colin

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2023, 06:18:58 pm »

Colin
Thank you for all of that. It is more complicated than I had imagined. I hope all goes well but I won't be surprised if the schedule slips further.

It is a pity that they couldn't use the expertise & software that made a success of the Model Flying forum conversion.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2023, 06:30:28 pm »

The original MTM forum was embedded in the MTM website patform and written by Mark Hawkins as a bespoke application. It was actually very clever for its time but things move on and it becomes increasingly difficult to migrate to a new IT platform which is where we are at the moment.

In my view bbPress was probably not the way to go, there are other easier options but it still should have the functionality to deliver what we need albeit in a rather labour intensive way. There are some decent free forum software options out there which have easy to use tools and don't need the programming input associated with bbPress.  These could simply have been 'hung off' the main website, no need for direct integration.

It is very frustrating as we are not talking rocket science here.  Mortons made unfortunate choices in their partner developers, we are on the second one now and the people at Mortons driving the project made no attempt to involve the users of the system such as myself and my Model Engineer equivalents who could have made some very useful input into the system specification.

Yes, following the Model Flying site was an option and probably a better one but Mortons have chosen not to go down that path.

Hopefully it will still come good but things could have been a lot easier.

Colin
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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2023, 12:03:34 pm »

Thought 'Mess Deck Chit Chat' was precisely that? Strange how some personal observations take precedence. The fact that allegedly knowledgeable 'Experts' in the field seem to have to constantly meddle and update bodes ill for satellite generators.
   No matter what eventually appears, no doubt it won't be 'One size fits all', comments on the other forums show, Oh, sorry, pages devoted to complaints are no longer available. Muddle Ingineer and Muddle Ingineers Werkshop sites are same server.

   Regards  Ian.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2023, 12:27:58 pm »

Ian,

As per my first post, Martin agreed this thread to keep people informed of progress while the Model Boats website is down. By all means start another thread if you would like to make general comments on either this particular subject or computer disasters generally, we all have experience of a good few of those.

ME and MEW share the same forum. and MB is on the same server with the same software. Some of the probems being experienced ared due to thr ME/MEW forum being much bigger and with a greater level of activity than the MB one and they also require more facilities than MB such as the need to post computer source code in a 'pure' format with no hidden formatting so it can be used directly in programming computerised tools etc. This has all added to the mix.

Colin
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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2023, 07:43:56 pm »

Sorry Colin but common sense (?) dictates before you change the tyres on a car, you have a new set to change to and the ability to do the job? Seems VERY shortsighted to turn off the mains switch and HOPE new wiring works without a backup.


 Regards  Ian
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2023, 08:25:11 pm »

Ian, reverting to the old sites is still an option if this all goes pear shaped. They can be restored. At the moment I and the ME/MEW people are stuck with what the publishers have decided and will try to make it work. We have had no influence on the original decision or the way in which it has been implemented which has been very frustrating.

In the meantime we will just have to see how things play out. This may become more apparent next week.

Yes, it could have been done differently (and better) and I and the others have made this very plain to Mortons but they are the ones in the driving seat and have spent a lot of money! You can guess the rest.

Colin

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2023, 08:44:19 am »

Whoever has been managing the spending of "a lot of money" is most unlikely to scrap it & go back to where they were. I don't know much about forum software but wasn't a test / pilot small scale offline changeover possible to make sure that they knew what they were doing?

I don't want to bash Mortons but ""p1ss up" and "brewery" come to mind.
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ChrisF

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2023, 10:47:08 am »

Colin - it's a shame to hear that the move isn't going as hoped.

As regards the feature articles could these not be "snipped" and saved as PDFs etc. and then the combined pictures and text embedded as one in the new site? How many are we talking about? If the pictures are available surely it wouldn't be too difficult to reproduce the text again as another option.

Is DMs electrical article likely to survive?

Chris
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2023, 11:22:42 am »

Chris, the problem is that the way feature articles are held in the old system is quite idiosyncratic and very difficult to relate to conventional data structures. It is very clever but images are pulled in from different sources within the system and these can be mixed and matched in individual articles. Trying to disentangle the links and interpreting bespoke software that was written in the early 2000s is a nightmare! The MTM system was not written with moving data to another system in mind and evolved as bits were added onto the the core website software often using routines that were originally written for another purpose. The MTM forums were essentially code which reached into the main sofrware platform and were entirely dependent on it.

The old forums can be restored but they bring the entire MTM website platform with them which is obviously something that Mortons are not happy with.

From what I have seen, the attempts to bring the feature articles over have been very hit and miss depending on how the articles themselves have been compiled and where the images are stored.

However, virtually all the feature artices on the old MB forum (including Dave's) were originally published in the magazine after 2008 and are available from just a few keypresses to digital subscribers in the Digital Archives so the material is not lost. I also have the raw material supplied by Paul Freshney for many of the articles but it would be a very time consuming job to reconstruct them for the Mortons system and they would only duplicate what is in the archives.

Colin
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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2023, 11:44:09 am »

Colin

Assuming the articles included on the old web site do not make the transfer I hear what you are saying re them being out of old magazines but many newbies (& oldies) are not digital subscribers to get access to them.

I could easily see an argument to rethink the list and post some articles that would have beginner interest as a hook. If it included the smaller models that had centre page plans then they could be included. 



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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2023, 12:12:56 pm »

Ian,

Yes, the articles were simply there as examples to encourage visitors to the sites to buy the magazine and take out subscriptions. Likelwise the forums were only introduced to support the magazines. The MB forum was under threat from MTM for several years as the Managing Director was unconvinced that it was worth the cost of maintaining it. We managed to persuade him that closing it would not go down well in the model boating community. During Covid he was in favour of closing down the magazine and its budget was slashed and remains that way under Mortons.

You may recall Military Modelling magazine. It was closed down as the centre of activity had shifted from the magazine which had to be paid for, to the forum which was free and eating up server storage space. MTM were basically just running a free specialist hobby forum whose members didn't feel any incentive to buy the magazine.

Publishers are not charities and have to weigh up the pros and cons. It is a very finely balanced argument. Thera are other hooks that could be employed such as boosting the decription of the contents of upcoming issues on their websites.

The Digital Archives are a hugely valuable resource. You have access to and can search on every article publshed since 2007. No, the print only subscribers can't see thm but you are still assuming that they can use the internet to read the sample articles so it is their choice.

Colin
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ChrisF

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2023, 12:22:42 pm »

Thanks Colin.

Good to hear that the articles are still available.

I suppose this is an opportunity for the magazine and forum to be more complimentary to each other and be part of a whole rather than the rather fragmented entities that they were?

Chris
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2023, 12:30:49 pm »

TBH Chris, I'm not sure about that. There will be a 'Forums' button on the website which will take you into into the Forums whih are intended to be similar to any other forum but will have different controls and features such as adding images directly into posts (assuming that it all eventually works!).

From Mortons viewpoint the forums simply remain as a 'hook' to encourage people to buy the manazine and an opportunity for expanding advertising coverage which they can charge for.

Colin
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Re: Model Boats Magazine website is changing
« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2023, 12:51:37 pm »

New date on  muddle ingineerin site - 18th ???????


  Perhaps they should put the old BBC rider on, 'Normal Service Will Be Resumed - As Soon As Possible'


   Regards  Ian.
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