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WWWBoard to vBulletin - the adventure begins!

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  • WWWBoard to vBulletin - the adventure begins!

    Ive always said that the holy grail of converters would be WWWBoard (Matt's Script Archive - to vBulletin. There's still a lot of ancient WWWBoard systems out there, many churning away since the mid-1990s. These may not have been converted to a contemporary message bosrd system for various reasons; the technical skills of the user, the difficulty of conversion, the reluctant of long-time posters to use a linear message board, and/or the fear of losing old messages in the conversion process.

    WWWBoard messages are stored as individual HTML files (1.html, 2.html, 3.html and so on). When a new message is posted, the board's wwwboard_main.html (or whatever you decided to call it) and other HTML files in the thread tree are altered, with links to other messages in the thread are added.

    WWWBoard also has a ton of other quirks typical of mid-1990s-era Web-based forum software, among them no user registration system and no post count tracking.

    While there's no direct conversion script available, it is possible to convert messages from WWWBoard to vBulletin. It's a long, ugly process though; one that's not point-and-click, bt which takes several steps; cleaning messages, tweaking scripts every time you run them, FTP transfers, cleaning directories on your server during every step, and others that would take a long time to describe. After a few conversions, though, it becomes rote.

    The steps:

    1) Cleaning up all tables from WWWBoard messages, as well as MAILTO tags that may frame a poster's name. This requres some knowledge of regular expressions, and the ability to batch process such messages.

    2) Converting the messages from WWWBoard to WebBBS.
    Some messahes not convert over; you have to check the original WWWBoard files very carefully to see what makes those files different than those that did convert over. In one case, it was an html line break tag in a plsce where the conversion script expected to see a paragraph tag.

    3) Convert the messages from WebBBS to phpBB.
    The problem - old WWWBoard messages that quote other posts don't wuite look right, and may need manual editing. Also, HTML is used to form paragraph breaks, instead of plain carriage returns; edit the resulting messages, and you'll see the HTML.

    4) Importing from pbpBB to the current vBulletin site ( using ImpEX. I haven't reached that point yet, since I'm using vBulletin 3.5 b4 and Impex isn't available for it yet.

    I'm still in the process of finding old WWWBoard messages and converting them, both through archives home and through captures. So far, though, here's the results:

    In the conversion process, some threads may be broken up into two or more threads. phpBB can't merge posts or threads, so you have to wait until the vBulletin converstion before you do so. (FWIW, phpBB is very easy to install and use, but it's far more limited in its capabilities than even vBulletin 2.*.) Since editing messages in vB is easier, too it's probably best to wait until the final conversion before you clean up individual posts.

    The hard part is going to be after the vBulletin conversion, when I try to associate eight year old WWWboard posts with posters that have stayed through the various incarnations of the message board, right up into the vBulletin era. It's part research - associating a modern handle with the various handles and proper names they used with posting a message back in the no-registration-required WWWBoard days - and some time working with the raw databases in myPHPadmin, since you can't normally change the author of a post in vBulletin. I may do the database hand-editing while the messages are still in their phpBB form, before the final conversion.

    More than half of the old WWWboard messages on my site are lost forever to the ether of cyberspace, outside the reach of old backups and Still, I found some old WWWBoard messages that dateback to 1996, including the very first messages posted on the board. When they are moved to vBulletin, they might be the oldest messages found on any vBulletin-based message board.
    Last edited by cyburbia; Mon 25 Jul '05, 7:56am.
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