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ocPortal vs phpBB vs Drupal vs Wordpress vs BuddyPress vs Everything Else

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Posted
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#80261 (In Topic #16299)
Dee
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Fan in action

I've spent the entire weekend exploring various Free to use software scripts to use to create an online community. I'd previously created a forum in phpBB that attracted over 600+ people to the site and was looking to recreate a similar site from scratch. For me I was looking for software that in terms of look and feel could compete with phpBB. SMF was about the only thing that came close but after just 2 days of being online I was getting hit with automated bots registering on my SMF site and posting SPAM. Even after introducing addons modules for SPAM protection I was still getting hit.

Tried some Drupal varient that was supposed to have everything I needed built in but that fell over after about 2 hours of testing. BuddyPress forums just didn't have the look and feel I wanted. Joomla I've used in the past and hated.

ocPortal I found as an option on my hosting company's cPanel. I think I tried it out several days ago and gave up on it because it seemed too complicated to use. But for some reason ended up going back to it yesterday to give it a 2nd chance.

One of the things I did like in ocPortal is the Forums. They have that phpBB look and feel I like, although not quite as pretty, but quite close. For me one of the big tests is to see what a post looks like where someone has quoted another user. The way phpBB does it just looks nice to my eyes.

But also after having managed a phpBB forum with over 600+ people I knew SPAM protection in all it's forms was high on my list.

I'm guessing because ocPortal is much less used and less well known then phpBB there is less likely to be hacker dedicating their time to hacking ocPortal websites? So that for me is an attraction.

Also one thing I see built into ocPortal Forums that I really like is the possibilty for members to earn points and work their way up to earning enough points that give them access to extra forums.

On my old site there was lots of people joining to promote their company rather then posting to share their knowledge - with ocPortal's points system I can envisage setting things up so if users want to promote their company they can go to a special section of the forums but they only gain access when they've collected enough points.

The points system on ocPortal looks like it could save me a lot of time in the future moderating people and keeping them in line.

I'll be upfront though - ocPortal is way harder to learn to use then Wordpress or phpBB but then it does offer out of the box way more features.
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Posted
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#80262
Dee
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What I like and don't like about ocPortal

Below is a list of random thoughts that have popped into my head after 2 days of using ocPortal - I think they might be useful observations fr the developers who have spent years working on this project to see it through a fresh pair of eyes.

What I like most is the possibilities of ocPortal. The points system has the abiltity to save any website owner hundreds of lost hours  in managaing a busy forum.

What I don't like the the default user group names - they make little sense and seem to have been taken out of a computer game. Right now I'm renaming my groups into Bronze Member, Silver Member, Gold Member.

And I think my example above highlights one thing I really don't find user friendly about ocPortal is "What comes Next"

There are so many options in ocPortal and when I'm on any particular screen I have no sense of what will come next until I press the button.

if I say to people Bronze, Silver and ?? Most people can guess the missing word is Gold.

Most of what I do in ocPortal so far has required me to have 2 different web browsers running and do admin stuff in one and refresh the other to see the outcome to a regular user.

The admin side of things seems so disjointed from the regular user front end experience. At this point I'm not even really sure how to add a page of information to the site I'm working on. In Wordpress that would be so easy.

I find a lot of the wording used on the buttons isn't what I would use. For example whilst typing this out there is no "POST" button or "SUBMIT" the button says "Quick Reply" - that to me suggest that there should be a submenu of choices if I press that Button.

For me Newsletters are a big deal. Many times people will come to your website and they don't want to post, don't want to create a username but if in those few seconds they're looking at your website can be enticed to leave their email address then that's very valuable. ocPortal seems to have that built in which is great. Although I'm struggling to find the Newsletter option I found 2 days ago.

Ideally though I'd like some kind of throttling on the sending out of Newsletters. Many hosting companies have per hour limits on sending out of emails, so I'd either like a way to limit the newsletters so if you had say 600 to send out the system could throttle those to however many per hour you wanted sent.


For me Themes is also a big deal. Wordpress had so many Themes and so many of them free, designed by the community - that is was so easy to create a unique looking and engaging website. Sadly the number of themes for ocPortal is way down on that,although the colour changer is nice.

I think if ocPortal has a downfall it could be from information overload, as an Admin there are so many options it's like being put on the deck of the 747 and being told to fly, as opposed to being put at the controls of a cessna. For users as well I think there could be information overload.

Right now for the site I'm looking to create Strong Forums is the key thing and ocPortal seems to have features built in that phpBB doesn't. Newsletters also is important. ocPortal also seems to make much better use of email. So many times I see people create a post and never follow it up because they don't get an email to let them know a reply to their post has been made. ocPortal seems very strong on the automatic email functions.

Anyway all I can say is that ocPortal seems to have a fantastic set of features built in from the very start. Probably every major feature that I want.

Great job by the developers. All I can suggest is trying to get the graphic designers of the world out there interested in ocPortal and getting them to add to the User Interface and Themes.
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Posted
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#80263
Dee
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Fan in action

Couples more observations

usernames seem to be case sensitive.
I personally think this is a huge potential problem. someone signing up with the username "Adrian" the first type is very likely to type in "adrian" the next time they log in and be locked out of the system. In fact they are told by the system the user doesn't even exist.

Nowhere on the system are they told usernames are case sensitive. Personally I think cases for usernames should be fixed so it doesn't matter of you type in "Adrian", "adrian" or even "aDrian"

Also yesterday I selected the option for

Short URLs - Use mod_rewrite (only available to Apache server users, or IIS users with IIRF installed and configured) to make URLs cleaner and more search-engine friendly.

Turns out my hosting company uses LiteSpeed and my entire website stopped working. after an hour of trying to fix it I gave up and erased the website and stared from scratch. It should be a lot harder to kill your website with the click of a single button.
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Posted
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#80267
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Thank you so much for your feedback. We really appreciate the detail that you've gone into.


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Posted
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#80275
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Community saint

I think that your comparison vis-a-vis difficulty is a bit unfair - you are comparing a full-blown portal against forum or blogging software.

But ocPortal can stand some improvement here. For instance, some of the complexity is the result of certain add-ons being enabled in a default installation. The same is true about data (your usergroup example). The installer could have options to not install demo data and other threads have talked about a stripped-down install option.

I am not sure why your usernames are case-sensitive. I just rechecked mine and they are not case-sensitive on my installation.

I am also hosted on a Litespeed server and have had no issues with the short URLs so this is not likely just an ocPortal problem.

It seems to me that ocPortal already supports "dribbling" newsletters although I could not find the option in v7.1.5. Perhaps that was an improvement in the not-so-far-off v8 which exposes a number of feature options in the interface.

It may be that ocPortal is not the best option for your particular needs but it might also be the case that ocPortal will allow you to expand your site in ways you had not previously considered.

Ley us know if you have other issues or questions and I am sure someone will try to help you sort them out.

Bob
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Posted
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#80283
Dee
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Fan in action

Hi Bob,

I'm simply passing on the user experience of what it's like to use ocPortal for a newbie.

I'm giving back to the community powerful information, because  at some stage everyone is a newbie and if they're not able to get over the learning curve with ocPortal they'll simply give up and pick something else to use.

I plan to stick with ocPortal for this project. I've actually researched about 40 different Content Management Systems this week and out of those ocPortal was the one I picked. That should say a lot. I picked it over Wordpress, Drupal and a stack of well known systems. that should speak volumes. The forums on ocPortal are way more powerful then phpBB's standard offering.

I can see an awful lot of careful thought has gone into this project. I just have to get myself over the learning curve.

Luckily the standard cPanel install included some test data, I think without that I'd have given up by now. Instead I'm going to the test data and naming things to suit my needs.

What I'm actually doing is picking the things I like from one CMS and suggesting how they could be used in ocPortal to make it even more user friendly.

For instance I think most people these days have a screen that is widescreen format and yet most websites we design are not that wide to fit in with the growing market for Tablets and mobile phones, so having a menu on the left edge like in Wordpress or the new Ubuntu makes a lot of sense and is a good use of space.

The Wizards in ocPortal are great they go a long way to helping out a newbie.

I doubled checked and my login usernames are case sensitive in opera browser

I'll post some example below of things I think might be useful
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Posted
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#80284
Dee
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Fan in action

I just love the menu system in Wordpress, with it I never feel lost, and it just makes such good use of my widescreen monitor. When you hover over a button you get a preview of what options come next.

ocPortal in some ways is hard to use because of the lack of "What Come Next" ..

Most people in the English speaking world read like a book, They start in the top left hand corner and read left to right. Wordpress Menu mimicks this natural way of reading really well.

As new plugins are added to bring in new features then new menu's appear, you only see as much information as is needed to get the job done, this really helps cut down on the information overload.


Last edit: by Dee
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Posted
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#80289
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Community saint

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad you took the time to post. And the developer is aware that the interface can be improved (0000320: Review user interfaces - ocPortal feature tracker).

However, we frequently get people who compare ocPortal to Product A, B or C and say it is too complicated. The developer has also addressed this: What ocPortal is not - ocPortal. For instance, it's kind of silly to say that you are happy that the installation included demo data but then criticize the demo data - it's demo data and nothing more. I personally would like a way to quickly wipe the demo data or, better yet, not install it. If you have multiple ocPortal websites, you will not likely need the demo data in your subsequent installation.

Finally, I just wanted to let you know that I did not experience either of two of the issues you mentioned. I'm not certain why you have the issue with case-sensitivity but I don't. It could well be a setting somewhere and I will see if I can find it.

As I said, I run on a Litespeed server too and have no problems with short URLs. Try renaming recommended.htaccess to .htaccess and see if that helps.

I actually concur with you that the Wordpress Admin interface is very nice.

All software has its quirks and ocPortal has more than its fair share, but many of them are the result of the powerful platform that is delivered.

Thanks again for posting and welcome to the community. I think you will find us a friendly group that tries to help others master their ocPortal installation.

Bob
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Posted
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#80290
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Community saint

I just checked the Member and Forum configuration options and could not find anything that is forcing case-sensitivity.

Hopefully, someone more knowledgeable than I will be able to shed some light on this.

Bob
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Posted
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#80291
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Community saint

One other thing you might try if renaming the recommended.htaccess doesn't work is to clear the caches.

Go to DOMAIN/upgrader.php and type in the master password you created at installation, then click the "Clear caches" button.

Bob
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Posted
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#80296
Dee
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Fan in action

I've just discovered "Zones" now I'm starting to actually enjoy the process  :)

Mostly enjoying deleting stuff off the default front page to get an uncluttered look.

Quite impressed with how powerful ocPortal is once you discover what it can do.

BTW What theme does this forum use? looks nice with the curved edges.

I did find editing in Chrome 17 eventually crashed my web browser so in the end switched to FireFox.
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Posted
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#80297
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Community saint

Hi Dee-

Glad to see you are making progress and discovering some of the niceties that ocPortal offers.

I started investigating ocPortal a year ago the end of this month. In that time, I've gone from a sometimes grumpy person because things just didn't seem right to an avid supporter. That does not mean that ocPortal doesn't need work - it does. But the best part of ocPortal is that the developers are willing to listen and consider other viewpoints. That's what I found interesting in the one link I provided for interface review; how many developers do you know who would say that they really need a clean-room design by a pro to determine how to best improve the interface?

I think the forums here are a custom design but I am not sure of that. Robbie or Chris will probably jump in to confirm or correct me.

Bob
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Posted
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#80298
Dee
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Fan in action

another suggestion, this video is useful BUT I can't click anywhere in the video I want until the entire video has been cached

Content Management meets Social Media - ocPortal

if this has been a YouTube video, I'd have simply clicked somewhere in the middle of the video to skip the parts I didn't want to watch. Now I'm just sat here twiddlingmy thumbs waiting for the video to finish caching, some people who are looking at the video to decide if this is the right CMS for them might give up waiting for the video and go elsewhere.
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Posted
Rating:
#80299
Dee
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Fan in action

just tried testing out some themes and it seems importing themes also imports new data in the various zones/blocks, all my nice plain looking screens/blocks/zones now have test data in them that say things like below:

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut sed do eiusmod tempor incid labore et dolore magna aliqua.


Glad I took a backup of the site with cPanel before  messing with importing of Themes and Addons  :)
This is something new to me, so used to trying out many different themes on Wordpress with such ease, never once did I have Wordpress Theme add new data to the screens. This is something I'm not used to and if I didn't think to backup beforehand I think I'd be quite frustrated.
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Posted
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#80300
Dee
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Fan in action

BTW one of my biggest pet hates with themes is when people are amazingly skilled enough to create an entire new theme but don't bother to include a screenshot with their description.

It's funny how they all have a text description when all I really want to see is a quick loading screenshot of what the overall feel of the design is like.

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Posted
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#80301
Dee
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Fan in action

Recovered backup within 20 seconds using installatron .. all is well with the world once again ..  :)

ocPortal and installatron make a great match  :)
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Posted
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#80304
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Thanks Dee, this is much appreciated. I wish all users did what you just did when they installed ocPortal :). One of our big problems is sometimes people are very vague and don't give specifics, but you have.

default user group names

Seems a per-site kind of preference to me. Bronze/Silver/Gold are more kind of professional and commercial, compared to ours which are more kind of gamification (which you note by 'taken out of computer game')
gamification software design - Google Search

We do have rank icons underneath forum posts, so I think that does make the scale a little clearer. I see your point about it not being so obvious upfront. But I also think bronze/silver/gold could be considered boring.

As a generic tool, this kind of thing does come up in ocPortal. It's not as "out of the box" for solving a particular task as specialist tools are.

However I have just added a note to the tracker about possibly adding the bronze/silver/gold rank set as a choice in the Setup Wizard. I agree it is something that many people may want to change, so it makes sense to go there.

button says "Quick Reply"

We inherited the caption from vBulletin and Invision Board which were design inspirations. I see vBulletin still uses that text. We'll change it.

Ideally though I'd like some kind of throttling on the sending out of Newsletters.

It will do this automatically if the scheduler has been set up.

I think if ocPortal has a downfall it could be from information overload, as an Admin there are so many options it's like being put on the deck of the 747 and being told to fly, as opposed to being put at the controls of a cessna. For users as well I think there could be information overload.

There's not really anything we can do, unless there are additional profiles in the Setup Wizard tuned better for different kinds of sites. But it's unlikely anyone is going to be able to make a business model to invest in that. A big strength of ocPortal comes from being able to make sites that don't fit the mould, but that requires learning it as a toolkit.

Great job by the developers. All I can suggest is trying to get the graphic designers of the world out there interested in ocPortal and getting them to add to the User Interface and Themes.

I agree. We have an issue on the tracker for giving the system a serious redesign:
0000320: Review user interfaces - ocPortal feature tracker
The cost is by far the highest cost for all the desirable future improvements on there. I've estimated that cost a few times, and it works out similarly (i.e. scary). Unfortunately also it is probably a cost that would need to be reinvested every 2 years, to keep up with the continually advancing area of design going on out there. It's not so hard for tools like Wordpress, they have far fewer screens, and they have millions of dollars of investment that they got because they're well positioned to cater to the a big pool of users with only basic needs (we're the direct opposite).

So yes I think the only way is if some graphic designers get involved in the process. I'd definitely encourage it.

usernames seem to be case sensitive.

This is probably due to your database collation. We don't have an involvement - the database defines whether queries are case sensitive or not.

Turns out my hosting company uses LiteSpeed

Usually litespeed supports .htaccess, and we only honour the short URL option if the .htaccess file is in place. So it sounds like your host isn't reading the .htaccess.

I just love the menu system in Wordpress, with it I never feel lost, and it just makes such good use of my widescreen monitor. When you hover over a button you get a preview of what options come next.

That's very interesting, thank you for sharing. One of the architectural improvements we'd like to make is tidying up how the internal menu system within ocPortal works (currently there are about 5 different kinds, we want there to be 1). Potentially this might let us achieve something similar.

BTW What theme does this forum use? looks nice with the curved edges.

It's some custom changes
0000357: OCF style update - ocPortal feature tracker

another suggestion, this video is useful BUT I can't click anywhere in the video I want until the entire video has been cached

We don't have a streaming server which is what you need for that. Potentially we could host in on vimeo, or get our Youtube account to be a 'partner' one so that we can host longer videos on there.

Glad I took a backup of the site with cPanel before  messing with importing of Themes and Addons

Your front-page/panel can be changed by themes, but revisions are stored for your own versions should you want them back. The themes do it as there is a lot of styling in how the blocks get laid out, so that may form part of the theme.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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Posted
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#80305
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BobS said

I think the forums here are a custom design but I am not sure of that. Robbie or Chris will probably jump in to confirm or correct me.
Yes, the theme we use here on ocPortal.com is custom-designed. We wanted something that was unique, and would show our users just how much you can customise ocPortal if you're willing to jump in and get involved.


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Posted
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#80359
Dee
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Fan in action

I've had a few things to do for the last few days so not been able to work on my ocPortal site but think I'll put in some time tonight - very impressed with the above responses BTW .. I'm looking at the default forum and this one, this one is so much easier on the eye - default forum has so many horizontal lines and boxes all over the place I don't even know where to look.

You guys should really consider making this a standard option I think .. (although I'm not a fan of the clouds in the background )

For me the overall look of the forums is so important - That's where you really build a community - I'd say phpBB is still my favorite in overall look, this however is quite close - I'd prefer yellow Smile faces as opposed to blue - I think there's just a bit too much blue with blue emoticons as well.

I just joined this forum and a first I really hate the look of it

Forum | Raspberry Pi

But then I saw it has a cool like anti spam thing to add two numbers together for every post, also has a CROSS or TICK for subscribing to threads which I find really easy to understand.



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Posted
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#80361
Dee
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Fan in action

I think it's a very good idea to have all your Video's on YouTube, even if it's got to be broken down into Part A, Part B, etc - YouTube is a lot more then video's it's part of a major search engine. I choose my dentist in part because of finding them on YouTube, I went to Bars in Spain I first saw on YouTube. YouTube is a great way for people to find out about ocPortal. When I search for many things on Google I often check to see if there is a video as well of what I'm after.

The ONLY reason I ever heard of ocPortal was because it was an option on my cPanel Installatron screen. Without that one link I'd never of heard of this project.

BTW before I do too much work on my website how hard is it going to be to move to a different domain name?

Right now I'm using a free .TK domain name but I want to eventually launch my website on a .COM or .CO.UK type domain.

Is there no way to have the system ignore username cases no matter what? That kind worries me. That people will eventually sign up and not be able to get into the system.

I also can't change hosting companies easily because I paid a fixed one time price for lifetime hosting and most of the time they're pretty reliable.
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