Broken links, broken website

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compguygene
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Broken links, broken website

Post by compguygene » Wed May 16, 2018 5:53 pm

Several years ago there was a lot of discussion about making a new main website. Let's list the problems of the current site.
Most of the links are broken links.
Half of the news on the site are April Fools jokes. The newest news item is 2 years old, so it looks like nothing is happening.
I know that you guys love the efficiency of a basic HTML site. But that has left the problem of only Tank (I think) being able to update it. Not to mention a look that looks very out of date for a gaming site. Wordpress has been talked about before and for many good reasons.
There is no team to keep the site updated.
If a potential new player comes to the site, I would imagine they get frustrated with the dead links and look and feel of the site. Personally, I would assume there is no active development.
I would also bet that we may be missing out on potential developers for those reasons and the lack of activity. We can address the lack of activity as players. But the site update require some real action on the part of the devs and to appoint a team that can push changes to the site via something like WordPress, which would not be published without a manual review.
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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by INW » Wed May 16, 2018 8:35 pm

I agree, it could use some updating, if anything simple tutorials for how to play/interact with the game. I know there is a ton of information on the wiki, but for most users it is difficult to find simple information quickly.

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by delinquent » Fri May 18, 2018 1:34 am

From the perspective of someone who has to maintain the work of others as part of their business, please don't use Wordpress as a solution. There's far too many poorly built bits and pieces, themes break constantly with WP updates, the code maintenance side of things is a shitshow, and there's a whole host of other issues that make Wordpress a bad idea for a multi-contributor project.

However, it's not difficult to build a simple form that allows contributors to login and submit new articles for approval and/or moderation. In fact, I think I've heard of a number of frameworks in various languages being built for just such a purpose.

I have another idea: Since I've been around ArmagetronAd for some time, I'm willing to host some backend support for a .NET site with a proper database. This would allow for things like post tracking, full form support, backups of all the code so far, and even a master server host if necessary. It's quite possible that I could also add SSL to the site (maybe the forum included, although we'll have to see about that).

It wouldn't happen straight away, I need to complete a move out of the US first and move some projects around, maybe add another rack to our collection, so a timeline of around six months max would be feasible.

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Lucifer » Fri May 18, 2018 3:35 am

delinquent wrote:From the perspective of someone who has to maintain the work of others as part of their business, please don't use Wordpress as a solution. There's far too many poorly built bits and pieces, themes break constantly with WP updates, the code maintenance side of things is a shitshow, and there's a whole host of other issues that make Wordpress a bad idea for a multi-contributor project.
I would oppose Wordpress. I really don't like that gigantic turd.
I have another idea: Since I've been around ArmagetronAd for some time, I'm willing to host some backend support for a .NET site with a proper database. This would allow for things like post tracking, full form support, backups of all the code so far, and even a master server host if necessary. It's quite possible that I could also add SSL to the site (maybe the forum included, although we'll have to see about that).
Your answer to a Wordpress suggestion is .NET? You know this isn't a Microsoft shop, right?

The best idea possible right now is for us to gain access to the website so that we're no longer relying on Tank Program to update it. Nothing else matters until that happens. And I really don't like the current CMS software available. It's all too heavy and is missing <whatever feature someone here wants>.

What needs to happen is for someone (probably me) to go through the available packages and do a bit of work. Now, I'd be happy with a basic MediaWiki site, but nobody's going to maintain the news feed. :) But I won't be happy with having an argument over what's the best this or that when we still don't even have access to what's there. It's entirely possible that what's there is actually awesome, and it's possible it's not.

I have a server we can put the main site on, but I'd prefer if we were able to mirror it somehow instead. The redundancy is kind of important.
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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by compguygene » Fri May 18, 2018 7:16 pm

My apologies for suggesting WordPress! I am just used to using it for Internet Marketing purposes. I can certainly see where MediaWiki would make more sense and be easily maintained. I completely agree that arguments of any sort at this point are beyond useless and counter-productive. I really do just hope to see somebody, like you, Lucifer, just take the bull by the horns and do something. Anything that you feel we in the community can do to help, just ask. Of course, most simple projects are just done by one person doing it. Couldn't you mirror the site with DreamHost, which I assume is the host of these forums and the wiki?
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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Lucifer » Fri May 18, 2018 8:07 pm

I'll find out what I can about where the site is and how to get to it. I'm mostly in favor of my own home-grown solution, because I have a pretty good CMS that I built, but it lacks some important features that we need that are nontrivial to write at this time.

I'll have a go at finding something easier to implement. I like Django a lot, but it's a framework. Know any CMS's built with it?
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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by delinquent » Fri May 18, 2018 8:53 pm

Lucifer wrote: Your answer to a Wordpress suggestion is .NET? You know this isn't a Microsoft shop, right?

Heh. I just thought of what I could build with existing licenses. My public-facing webservers for the handful of social enterprises I support all run on .NET infra, thanks to some deals I got from my rep. It's not the only solution out there, just what I could offer for free.

As for redundancy, I can possibly mirror everything depending on how it's built. I have plenty of availability in that regard.

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Lucifer » Fri May 18, 2018 9:12 pm

delinquent wrote:
Lucifer wrote: Your answer to a Wordpress suggestion is .NET? You know this isn't a Microsoft shop, right?

Heh. I just thought of what I could build with existing licenses. My public-facing webservers for the handful of social enterprises I support all run on .NET infra, thanks to some deals I got from my rep. It's not the only solution out there, just what I could offer for free.
Heh, if anything, we're suffering from an abundance of choice. I don't want something big and hairy, but I also don't want to build something that'll get caught up in development hell. That's the main advantage to a blog engine like Wordpress, actually. I wouldn't mind something that could actually integrate the wiki, forums, and main site, but I also like having them all separate from each other.

Basically, the quickest and easiest step up from what we have right now would require some minor modifications to my homegrown CMS and produce basically the same thing. Here's how *that* would work:

The idea behind my CMS is to generate static pages, but use bzr to update the server. So the content is dynamic, but is generated into static pages. Articles are written using wiki markup in text files, so adding new content isn't that hard. As for meta-information, that's discovered at generation time. Things like article writer, tags for the article, title, etc are all read from each individual text file.

The only problem with it is that it's designed to generate a web comic. The blog engine grafted onto it is quite primitive, and it doesn't support separate root-level articles. Also, there's no generation of a news page. So, what needs to happen to it for that to happen is a news engine needs to be grafted in without disturbing the web comic stuff (because I wouldn't want to split it off completely), a news macro created for templates to put news, and a news item database of some sort created (which could just be a series of text files generated as articles). Then the script just goes through the news, blog posts, and web comics (because it'll still power my website) and generates a news page based on dates and times contained in each file.

It wouldn't take much, but it does require having root access to the server, or having a server with root access available that can generate the website when changes are made and then push the website to the hosted environment, if that's where the site is now. I have a VPS that can serve as that role, and if it were necessary, I could use my home server to serve that role as well. Basically, it can be done. Maybe I should put it on my todo list, eh? You know, quit studying stand-up comics and start doing actual work. :) (I'm an expert at procrastinating, I've been procrastinating practicing fortress all day, and I've been awake since 7am)

But if we go that route, most of the advantages are mine and mine alone. :)

So, while I'm trying to find out what our infrastructure actually looks like, let's talk about a related topic: who gets access to update the site? Obviously me, Z-man, and Tank Program. Anybody else? Since the main site doesn't need to store anything confidential, it could be stored somewhere like Launchpad, and people could fork it and send it patches when they want to add something, but that adds a huge technical barrier to such things.
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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Z-Man » Fri May 18, 2018 10:41 pm

Umm, the reason the site hasn't been updated much with news is.... there weren't any on the development front?

Right, our current setup is this:
The complete main site is in sourceforge's SVN here: https://svn.code.sf.net/p/armagetronad/ ... w/mainsite
The hosting is done by me, it resides on my VPS. It could also reside on the shared webhoster, but updates from SVN are a little more involved there.
The structure of the site is nominally PHP, but really, PHP is mostly just used to include header and footer and such. It's mostly hadwritten HTML.

Our needs there aren't special or super involved. We need
- a mostly unchanging landing page
- a news/blog page
- a downloads page
- a server browser page. That one is the most custom, but it's implemented as an iframe included from somewhere.

Really any stock CMS can do that. I've only worked with two simple ones that don't use a database, but store their data in plain files: SkyBlue and GetSimple. They both would work for the output. I think both only allow one user account for web based editing, though. I'd avoid custom solutions, they will be a barrier to some people and makes it hard to pass on the responsibility later. I'd say: Whoever feels competent should grab this job. Pick a CMS, go light on extensions (they're not just upgrade trouble, but security risks, too), have at it. Lucifer: If you really want, I'm not stopping you.

Don't we have some unified CSS styles for some CMS flying around here?

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by delinquent » Sat May 19, 2018 6:26 pm

My initial thoughts on a CMS design were pretty simple too. A light DB solution would house users and available content references, the former being made up of moderators and users. The latter would simply be an address to wherever the content is hosted, be it in-house, on Sourceforge, even Pastebin. As long as the content was made up in a given format (a simple generator would exist on-site), it could be translated into a displayable web-page.

That approach also solves the problem of access to update the site. Any known user could submit an article or a blog piece, but a key set of moderators (let's say the three of you for a start) would be able to approve them. That would probably significantly increase the level of activity on the site, but the content would still remain appropriate for a public facing representation of ArmagetronAd.

I took a look at GetSimple and, without being too disparaging, it wouldn't be much of an improvement. It seems very over-simplified, and the themeing seems a bit wanting despite being able to delve right into the php (see for yourself: https://s1.demo.opensourcecms.com/s/52). SkyBlue is still in development, so it might not be a great idea to approach that just yet.

If I get any free time in the near future, I'll mock up a very brief experiment myself and see what it looks like.

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by sinewav » Sun May 20, 2018 12:14 am

If you haven't seen it lately, Lightron.org is probably the best supporting site for Armagetron. Maybe Light/Kira could contribute some code? It's got a browser, download page, chat, and it's mobile friendly (excellently so I might add).

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Light » Mon May 21, 2018 12:02 am

sinewav wrote:If you haven't seen it lately, Lightron.org is probably the best supporting site for Armagetron. Maybe Light/Kira could contribute some code? It's got a browser, download page, chat, and it's mobile friendly (excellently so I might add).
<3 ! Super busy this month, but things should be a lot more calm for me in July. If there's anything I can do to help out, I'd be happy to. Also, all of my stuff is containerized, so it would be super easy to get it set up anywhere running a Linux distro with Docker installed.

Also, with the thoughts of content approval. It wouldn't be a difficult thing to create outside of software like Wordpress. Another thought could be to run a crawler against the site and pull it all and make changes as we see fit now on the current site. Of course, we would need to host it on a different domain unless we can get Tank to transfer it to someone, and yeah .. it's pretty outdated looking. I also think that the news shouldn't be the front landing page.

All that said. I also have a server that could likely easily handle the traffic for that site. I have nginx and apache 2 set up with containers ready to go, both set up to run PHP sites, and MariaDB 10.1 containers ready to be spun up. The server backs up all of the containers, along with the volumed directories (all unique files per container) twice a day and stores a week of backups on an external drive. If anything were to happen to either the backup drive or the server's HDD, I can install Docker and get running again on another server or HDD pretty quickly and easily with little to no data loss.
Z-Man wrote:The hosting is done by me, it resides on my VPS. It could also reside on the shared webhoster, but updates from SVN are a little more involved there.
If that means that you're hosting the web files, we would have the ability to begin using a new domain with no real issue. Set up a permanent redirect and we're in business. Probably not the most exciting idea to give up the domain we're all used to, but it is an option with no real downside.

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Lucifer » Mon May 21, 2018 3:35 am

I'm still thinking about what needs to be done, to be honest. :) Other than "fix broken links", I mean.

The only advantages any CMS gives us is the ability to have multiple authors and the template systems that every one of them has. I don't know of any CMS that fixes link rot.

What we "need" right now, I think, is really to figure out what needs to be on the main site. The way I figure it, the primary purpose of the main website is as a marketing tool and a collection of links to resources that support the game. It should also have the primary documentation for the game, with the wiki being treated as secondary/supplemental (even if it's much more thorough). In old-school game terms, the main site should have the user manual. :)

Now, before yesterday, I didn't know I had access to the site through SVN. So, as far as that goes, as soon as I've finished the password recovery process on sourceforge, I can start looking at doing at least a facelift of what's there. In a redesign of the site, I'd put together a landing page (odd that we're using that term here) that describes the game and features screenshots and move News to its own page. Basically a bit of restructuring, but mostly keeping what's there. I'd also make the font a bit bigger. I realize my eyesight is getting worse, but man, does the font have to be that small?

After we settle that (assuming I don't just jump in and redesign the thing, it's not like we've ever had a bureaucracy for working on that site), then the next question is "Who needs to be able to edit the website?". That question seems to be a bit more important now that we've settled that Tank isn't the only one with access to it. Z-man's given me access to his VPS (or rather, restored it after I lost my ssh keys), so that's at least two people that can get to it.

Back to CMS options, y'all probably don't remember, but within my first year of being here, I got hired by an open source CRM company to make plugins for MamboCMS (this was right before the fork), and I was running my own site with Drupal. My experience with those particular CMS apps plus my later experience with Django put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, which is what prompted me to write what is essentially a template system for my web comic. To address link rot in a system like that, I'd just write up a little redirect script that uses a text file to store links and their associated URLs, and when we find a dead link and don't have time/need to fix the pages where the link appears, we could at least update it's location to either where the new location should be, or to a page explaining that the link is dead and maybe log the request.

Oh, also, reading back through the thread, I should point out that there's a tend in open source sites right now (mostly games, but I've seen it in a few libraries) where the main site links to wiki pages for a lot of content that belongs on the site, but allows for the community to edit the pages with new information as needed. I will definitely want to do that for as much of the site as possible, and I honestly don't care if there's a unified look (but I'd still prefer something that reflects what the game itself actually looks like).
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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Z-Man » Tue May 22, 2018 10:22 pm

delinquent wrote:I took a look at GetSimple and, without being too disparaging, it wouldn't be much of an improvement. It seems very over-simplified, and the themeing seems a bit wanting despite being able to delve right into the php (see for yourself: https://s1.demo.opensourcecms.com/s/52). SkyBlue is still in development, so it might not be a great idea to approach that just yet.
Oh, yeahyeah. I just mentioned them because I'm familiar with them. They are already pretty much disqualified for their single user nature, we'd have to cook up our own way of allowing multiple users to update the sites. That means either something messy or bzr/git/svn, taking care not to put the config file with the admin password into there.

Light: The armagetronad.org DNS is under my control, no worries there. (www.)armagetronad.net just redirects to that.

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Re: Broken links, broken website

Post by Lucifer » Tue May 22, 2018 11:33 pm

Z-Man wrote:[
Light: The armagetronad.org DNS is under my control, no worries there. (www.)armagetronad.net just redirects to that.
So, basically, this is a bull I can just grab by the horns? :)

Since the official sources are on launchpad, how generous can we be handing out access to sourceforge svn repos? That would get us multi-user access pretty easily.
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