I've been getting a lot of questions about the reasons I moved the site from a Wordpress/PHPBB combination to Drupal and changed the theme. Hopefully this will clear things up.

Advantages

1. Drupal allows us to integrate all the different sections of the site together giving us the advantage of a single sign on for the whole site. Before we had a different accounts for the blogs and the forum which could easily be confusing for people expecting to be able to use their account site wide. This can be extended soon with the Drupal integration of Open ID and when we come to upgrade to Drupal 6 in the coming months this will be even easier.

2. Templating and management - This is more an advantage for me but does help consistency throughout the site. Before I would have to write a number of different templates for Wordpress and PHPBB, as a result each would look slightly different and behave slightly differently. PHPBB was especially hard to template and the code on my part always ended up messy with various hacks. With Drupal we have one template and all sidebar widgets can be put in blocks meaning that once the basic template is made everything can be added into blocks within Drupal (rather than editing template files).

From a management point of view the advantages are that everything is centrally managed. I can monitor all content, comments, spam, security problems, 404 issues etc from one area. Before I used to have different logins for the different parts of the site and it was hard to see if people were getting errors.

So far in the last couple of days our 404 (page not found) page has been one of the most popular, with the new site I can see why people are getting to this page and setup redirects to fix problems and customise the 404 page to be more useful.

[adsense:468x60:1:2]

3. Spam has been an issue on the Forum for a long time and last year caused us to stop allowing new members. The Blog used a service called Akismet to remove spam very sucessfully however this was not available for PHPBB. Fortunately it is available for Drupal so that the whole site can hopefully become spam free.

4. PHPBB development is slow which in some ways is good as it means less upgrades for me. On the other hand it means it misses out on new features. In the past five years technologies such as RSS feeds have come along and left PHPBB in the dark. PHPBB 3 fixes a lot of these issues but after we trialed it there were missing features we were already use to (such as quick posting). The decision boiled down to upgrading to PHPBB3 or migrating to Drupal we opted for the latter.

5. Wordpress development is also slow but the software is feature rich. For anyone with a single blog I would highly recommend Wordpress as the best blogging platform in the world. Unfortunately for our multi blog layout and forum it was a necessary sacrafice.

6. Drupal's development goes at a quicker pace but because it has more general uses than Wordpress or PHPBB it needs to be. By moving to Drupal it opens up a lot of options for the future such as the integration of E-Commerce (for Switchweb), galleries, Wikis and many other modules that can expand on the current site and content.

7. By merging all the content in one place its a lot easier to categorise and produce custom views on data. For instance I can easily create pages with the most popular posts (such as the widget on the right) or most commented posts. This would be very difficult before.

8. The front page can reflect everything that is happening on the site from blog posts, to articles, to extra posts, to the forum and as such content will flow much quicker and easier through the site.

Disadvantages

1. People inheritantly do not like change, especially the sort of change we have experienced over the past week on ImAFish (new design and functionality). Fortunately 75% of our visitors are new so wouldn't notice the difference between old and new. Reoccuring visitors will notice a difference and will likely experience some usability problems (particulary on the forum) until they get use to the new system. I saw the same problem when we moved to ImAFish X however over time people will get used to it and hopefully find the new system easier to use.

2. Parts of the functionality are still being finished off and I will admit its going to take a couple of weeks to get everything perfect however I feel it will be worth the hassle and time.

Many of the things I've described here may be available elsewhere or within Wordpress/PHPBB however Drupal makes it easier, quicker and more efficient.

If you're reading this then the all new ImAFish 10.2 Seabass is working! After weeks of work the new version of ImAFish is ready to go. You will notice a new theme that is completely different to what we previously had. We wanted to simplify the whole design, making the pages load quicker and the text easier to read.

Why ImAFish 10.2 Seabass?

The previous version of ImAFish was 10.1 Monkfish, 10 being the tenth version of ImAFish. All of the 10x series of updates to ImAFish are being named after fish. Tech geeks will notice the humourous relation to the Apple operating system, OS X, releases.

Move to Drupal

The site is now entirely using the open source content management system called Drupal. After using Drupal for the past 18 months at work I decided that my flagship website needed to be running it.

All of our data has been migrated from three installations of Wordpress and a PHPBB Forum into a centrally managed Drupal installation. It wasn't easy but thanks to some great Drupal modules, a bit of database hacking and some IRC help everything has come into place.

This is not to say that Wordpress or PHPBB are not great scripts, they just do not integrate well on a site such as ImAFish and now that Drupal has got to the point where it can match functionality it seemed the perfect time to update.

Whats New

The best feature of the new ImAFish is being able to use your ImAFish profile to post anywhere on the site, no longer are the days where your forum account was different to your blog account. In the coming months we hope to integrate with Open ID opening the doorway for thousands of more visitors to post on ImAFish under their Open ID accounts.

The Forum has been signficantly updated with new features and there will be more to come in the next few weeks. Files can now be attached to topics and anonymous users can now post again. The restrictions of creating new accounts have also been lifted.

Great Time to Join

If you don't already have an ImAFish account then there is no better time to sign up and join the community!

Let me know what you think to the new site and if you have spotted any problems!

ImAFish has been increasing its role in the community and has been getting involved with various charities.

March 2010

ImAFish/Switchweb helps support Race for Life with a donation.

February 2008

ImAFish/Switchweb donated two days of web development and hosting to the charity Bindi Just Health.

May 2007

ImAFish helps Lisa raise money for the RSPCA through a skydive.

February 2007

ImAFish helps Serena raise money for Oxfam.

November 2006

ImAFish donates an Apple Power Mac to Marches Energy Agency.

September 2006

ImAFish/Switchweb donates two days of web development consultancy to design and build ReSART a presence on the web.

March 2006

Switchweb donates web hosting to help Tabeisa.

Happy Christmas

By Pete | @kingpetey | 24 Dec 2006

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Its been another great year for myself and ImAFish but I will leave all that talk for the annual review coming up next week.

I'm at home for Christmas this year and have the week off work so am hoping to get some more work done on ImAFish. I'm going to be improving my digital camera skills over the coming months with my new digital SLR camera. Will be making good use of the now unlimited bandwidth for Flickr pro users and sharing as many of my photos as possible!

Hope everyone has a great Christmas and remember web hosting makes a great xmas present!

ImAFish X

By Pete | @kingpetey | 27 Nov 2006

Welcome to ImAFish X - or the 10th version of our popular community. ImAFish has gone through its biggest makeover ever! Planning started in August and a huge amount of work has been put in to get us to this stage.

ImAFish is a mash up of open source systems and scripts as well as a few specifically written modules.

As it is now ImAFish uses the following components:

Forum - Our forum hasn't changed in 4 years now, its still on a modded version of PHPBB 2.

Blog/Articles - Our two main content areas are powered by Wordpress we have been using it over a year now and there is no better blogging platform.

Home/Media - All the other pages of the site are now powered by Drupal. Up to ImAFish 9 the majority of the pages were powered by our own content management system but since Drupal can provide features at a rate that far proceeds our own development speeds it seemed an obvious choice.

Hosting - Our hosts Switchweb have been very accommodating to our growth as usual.
Without the huge contributions people put into these open source scripts ImAFish wouldn't be as popular and successful as it is today.

There may be a few teething problems however these should be fixed over the next couple of weeks. A few areas may still be on ImAFish 9 however they should be migrated soon.

A big thanks to all our supporters over the last 10 versions and 5 years.

Forum Spam

By Pete | @kingpetey | 26 Nov 2006

Spam has got out of control on the forum so I have closed registration. Over the past two months there have been a steady number of bots signing up to the forum and posting spam. At first these posts were quick to delete and not too frequent however recently the number of these posts per day has increased to a level where there is a constant flow of spam to delete. The number of new registrants we have is relatively low and this is the only option to completely stop spam. It does mean that if anyone legitimate wants to join the forum they need to have their account activated by an administrator. To have your forum account enabled please contact me through ImAFish stating your username. There is no need to state a reason as if you have managed to sign up and contact me its not very likely you will be a bot.

"Source Radio has been the starting point for many rising stars but one show has stood out this year for its creative content and unique features. The Monday Night Show with Pete White, Ben Powell and Chris White has been on air since October every Monday night between 6pm and 8pm. The almost famous tag line “Power Pumping Passion” is one the defining points of the show."

We started the show simply out of curiosity for Source Radio and it was an instant hit because of the humour and entertainment we brought to the station. From early on we made an effort to discuss student issues on air where appropriate. In November we debuted our version of on air dating, people would send in profiles and we would read them out on air making the occasional joke. It worked really well and people found it really entertaining and we even matched some people up!

By December we had edited out our best bits and put them on the Internet for others to listen. The feedback we had was great, allowing people who hadn’t been able to listen to the show experience it as well giving our regulars some of the funniest moments again. The editing wasn’t easy and took hours to shift through our previous shows but it was well worth it just for the exposure it gave us.

January came and we wanted to promote the show even more as well as cover more student issues. This is when I came up with the idea to invite the Vice Chancellor Madeline Atkins on the show for an interview. She accepted our invitation and we started to plan questions and features. When we told the rest of the stations members about the VC interview we had planned there was almost a sense of shock but they realised a great opportunity for the station. This VC interview was not the only planned content for the show we also had an exciting new game show. Being a student station we thought we could push the boundaries slightly more than other stations, which is why we thought of “Feed Chris”, each week we would ask Chris three questions and a bonus question, for each question he got right he got a meal on Tuesday. If he got none of the questions right he didn’t get to eat! While of course he never went through with it and the questions were rigged against him it provided a lot of spontaneous entertainment.

Our first Interview that we mocked up was with Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer from 24), being heavy 24 fans and the new series about to start we made a very funny interview with some sound clips from 24, the interview is still available online. We were also fortunate with the help of Bill Bennett to get an interview with Tim Westwood for the show when he was DJing in the SU. Bill got Westwood to “pimp” a toy car as well as asking him about Coventry and the Students, the Westwood interview is also available online. In February our Vice Chancellor interview came round, we spoke for about an hour covering a range of topics including the new student centre, crime on campus and the future of the University. We had some great feedback about the interview from students and staff as well as over 600 downloads for listen again of the show. The show still continues on a Monday Night and has recently played sets from this year’s Trance Energy Festival in Holland. You can listen in between 6-8 on www.sourceradio.co.uk, if you want to listen again to any of the interviews or best bit segments visit www.imafish.co.uk.

 

*This article was featured in Coventry University's Source Newspaper in the March Issue.

Updated ImAFish History

By Pete | @kingpetey | 01 Sep 2005

Heres a brief history of ImAFish mixed with loads of development images and screenshots.

ImAFish 1

ImAFish.com is the brainchild of Pete White (pwhite) and Ben Powell (Benjie) in April 2001 when they were working on their GCSE exams. Along with James Vardill (Yammez) they created the site ImAFish.com.

Here you can see the overall layout for the original ImAFish.

ImAFish 2

The site was an instant success with its wide range of topics covered including gaming, downloads and a forum, though the site had a hard time staying online because of different hosting problems on Geocities Then in September 2001 Version 2 was launched on their new hosting on f2s.com with the new help from Ben Shenton and Matthew Shannon.

ImAFish 3

In November 2001 version 3 was launched, it had two major revisions through its short stay. Yammez sadly decided to move on from the site because of lack of time commitments.

Below is the second revision of ImAFish 3.

Here is an advert we designed for the stie at the time.

I don't have an overall picture for ImAFish 3 though here is a picture of some of the navigation.

Christmas came and so did news that f2s was closing its free hosting section so the move was made to purchase some professional hosting.

ImAFish 4

ImAFish 4 was the sites biggest success so far attracting many new visitors and starting to build up an active forum and IRC community. The site celebrated its 1 year birthday in April 2002 with a number of activities on the forum such as the awards and Big Brother. The following months brought further success to the site with the Articles and Columns sections and throughout June and July the sites traffic significantly increased.

One of the most popular areas found was to be the IRC bot called Xbot many of these hits were coming from sites such as Google. Xbot was an IRC bot for trivia games and channel management, unfortunatly the author lost interest however xbot is still available somewhere on ImAFish.

Below is the ImAFish 4 logo.

Here we have a special birthday logo.

Below is the entrance pic used for ImAFish 4.

Here is an overall layout shot of ImAFish 4. This site took us through our first birthday in April.

ImAFish 5

In August 2002 it was decided to start work on designing ImAFish 5 with the aim of delivering dynamic content to the users fast and effectively in a way that is simple and easy to understand. The site also wanted to attract more writers and to keep the current visitors coming back to the site to read the articles and take part in other activities.

By early September 2002 ImAFish 5 was online and looking good. Articles continued to be added as often as possible and the columns section was creating a large number of opinions about everyday life. The success of the site slowly increased throughout the autumn and into the winter.

Here are some of the different logo designs for ImAFish 5.

This was the final logo decided on for the ImAFish 5.

Here is an overall shot of ImAFish 5.

In this time ImAFish sold its first batch of merchandise including T-Shirts, Polo Shirts and Mousemats.

ImAFish 6

By christmas we had ImAFish 6 thanks to a lot of work from Simon Robinson.

Here are some designs.

Here is an overall picture of ImAFish 6.

ImAFish 7

ImAFish 7 went through loads of different designs before finally settled on one in August 2003.

Here are some little pictures made for ImAFish 7, they never got used.

There was even an ImAFish a family made but never used.

Christmas came early to everyone on ImAFish 7 with this pretty logo.

An overall of ImAFish 7.

ImAFish 8

ImAFish 8 replaced ImAFish 7 after almost 2 years in April 2005. We finally got a logo I was happy with - a tweaked version from ImAFish 7.

Below is the updated forum logo.

ImAFish 8 merged the different areas of the site together more such as the forum, new gallery and Pete's mini site.

Blogs!

By Pete | @kingpetey | 02 Aug 2005

Some great new blogs coming up on ImAFish now, if you want your own blog then let me (Pete) know and I will create you one!

Check out some of these other blogs that have been posted on, you can even comment to current posts and start discussions.

Jonnie
http://www.imafish.co.uk/blog/jonnie.php/?id=51

Munger
http://www.imafish.co.uk/blog/munger.php/?id=53

Matthwe
http://www.imafish.co.uk/blog/matthwe.php/?id=50

Rexy
http://www.imafish.co.uk/blog/rexy.php/?id=49

Hopefully the trackbacks will be working on these blogs - so that you know I have referenced your blog, useful if you want to write a blog commenting on other peoples blogs.

A quick tutorial into how trackbacks work and where to use them is here:
http://www.cruftbox.com/cruft/docs/trackback.html

New Blogs!

By Pete | @kingpetey | 26 Jul 2005

Just when we thought ImAFish couldn't get any better we get a new blogging system!

WOW... I hear everyone say and where can I get mine - or why would I want one?

Well take a look http://www.imafish.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1402 as a good explanation about the new blogs and what they mean for you. Some of the new features included in the blogs are being able to comment to posts, so if you have something to add to my post or don't quite agree to something you can post below.

Posting is even easier than the forum as you don't need an account infact you should see a comments link just below this post. Blogs are free and all you have to do is contact me, either on the forum or on messenger. :icon_razz:

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