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Preserving Legacy Descriptions in Future IP Versions


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I suspect this issue is like "life insurance" - it doesn't affect many people, but when it does, it REALLY affects them.

Since IP switched to the "tags" system, the "description" fields (what I called the "subtitles" of threads) are no longer officially supported.

To anyone who never used the second lines to title posts with, this is a non-issue; to anyone like me, who spent 6+ years tediously working to ensure the descriptions fields contained meaningful content, it's a home-run issue. The biggest of the big. Catastrophic. Non-negotiable. Big enough where I considered shutting down my board altogether and/or paying a programmer untold thousands of dollars to switch me away from the Invision platform.

However, as I found out last December, Jason H had put in a patch as a compromise. He describes it here:

Essentially, no NEW description fields will be supported or allowed, but the old ones are not only preserved, but also displayed for all posts not containing tags. (In essence, every single "old" post would continue to display the description fields. When I edited the title in any way, the onus was on me to incorporate the old descriptions into the new format (either in the main title, or as tags). This not only turned out to be a viable workaround; it turned out to be an improvement.

Until two days ago, when I upgraded again. And the same thing happened all over again.

The descriptions disappeared again, and I spent a couple of hours piecing together the panic-ridden correspondence from the previous upgrade. This new upgrade supports things even less - Invision user support wrote me and said they wouldn't even support Jason's patch.

My response: "I don't care if you support it as long as you can help me make it work." :)

Well, a kindly programmer helped me find the area of code that needed modification, and I re-inserted the patch, and it works again. Everything is fine now, BUT, what if, in the future, even this won't work? Then I lose my legacy descriptions forever, and things are back to the same catastrophic state.

I'd like to propose to Invision that these four lines of code - this one tiny little IF-THEN-ELSE statement - be part and parcel of any new upgrade they perform. It would take such a small amount of effort to ensure this gets in there, but it would guarantee no loss of data. Loss of existing data is the ultimate sin when it comes to upgrading a system. It's one thing if the data cannot be viewed, or if new data cannot be added, but wiping out years of work, even for one customer, is a terrible idea. Especially when it takes so little not to.

(Yes, the descriptions fields take up storage space, I suppose, but they can't take up much more than a few kilobytes even for the largest of systems.)

So, what does everyone think? Am I one hand clapping in a dark room?

Don Rockwell

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