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IPS 4.2 backwards compatibility


steadyoptions
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I believe that first priority of any new software release should be backwards compatibility. Before introducing new features and improvements to existing features, you need to make sure that what worked in previous releases will continue working in a new release. This is the most basic principle of any software development.

Unfortunately this is not what is happening with IPS. We have a custom theme, and after upgrade to 4.2, a lot of stuff does not work anymore, and some of the things look really ugly. For example, the reputation buttons are gone, and some of the blocks do not display.

The worst thing is that IPS would not take responsibility and offer a reasonable solution. They send me to 3rd party developers, which means I need to spend money again. This happens with every major release. 

Very frustrating.

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12 minutes ago, steadyoptions said:

The worst thing is that IPS would not take responsibility and offer a reasonable solution.

Why would they? You specifically said you choose to add a CUSTOM theme. That’s the point where you break away from the IPS support anyway. Not just regarding upgrades, but regarding anything that happens with this custom code. 

 

12 minutes ago, steadyoptions said:

Before introducing new features and improvements to existing features, you need to make sure that what worked in previous releases will continue working in a new release. 

Which is actually the case for the “features”. Nothing was dropped as far as I know. You are talking about themes. 

The 4.2 stock theme added structural improvements, which I appreciate. There was no way to both make these improvements and keep it backwards-compatible. I am glad IPS choose to make the improvements. I don’t want my sites to be held back just because some people don’t want to pay for the maintenance of their customizations. 
By the way: there is an upgrade guide for themes. Should take less than an hour to go through it, which is in my mind acceptable for a major release. 

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Yes, I choose to add a CUSTOM theme. Do you know any respectful website that uses default theme? Custom theme is based on the default theme, and default theme should not break things while adding new features. I was in software development for 20 years, and if I would break backwards compatibility each time I added new features, I would be fired very quickly. 

Yes, I saw the upgrade guide. It is helpful for someone who is familiar with the code, but for me, I still need to hire someone to do it.

And yes, I believe they should take responsibility. 

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48 minutes ago, steadyoptions said:

Do you know any respectful website that uses default theme?

As far as I can see, most IPS clients either buy a stock third-party theme (which usually gets updated by the theme developer) or they just change the theme settings (e.g. colors). Personally, I try to put as much changes as I can in the custom.css, so my changes are independent from the stock theme. The more theme files you (let someone) change, the more work will you have with upgrades. There is just no way around that. 

Quote

I was in software development for 20 years, and if I would break backwards compatibility each time I added new features, I would be fired very quickly. 

You still deliberately mix core features and third-party styling. They are separate things and your sentence only makes sense for core features. With 20 years experience in the field, you should not expect that the software maker would support and somehow magically update additional or changed code, which the software maker doesn’t even know. 

Edited by opentype
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41 minutes ago, steadyoptions said:

Yes, I choose to add a CUSTOM theme. Do you know any respectful website that uses default theme? Custom theme is based on the default theme, and default theme should not break things while adding new features. I was in software development for 20 years, and if I would break backwards compatibility each time I added new features, I would be fired very quickly. 

Yes, I saw the upgrade guide. It is helpful for someone who is familiar with the code, but for me, I still need to hire someone to do it.

And yes, I believe they should take responsibility. 

Web-based applications just don't work that way (in general). The technology behind them changes so rapidly, that providing backwards compatibility causes software bloat and needless complexity, both of which you should realize from your years of experience results in a poorer overall product and more difficult for both users and support staff to use and maintain.

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13 minutes ago, Joy Rex said:

Web-based applications just don't work that way (in general). The technology behind them changes so rapidly, that providing backwards compatibility causes software bloat and needless complexity, both of which you should realize from your years of experience results in a poorer overall product and more difficult for both users and support staff to use and maintain.

Well, in this case, IPS should offer fixing those issues caused by broken backwards compatibility. As some mentioned, with the upgrade guide, it should not be more than couple of hours of work.

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2 hours ago, steadyoptions said:

Well, in this case, IPS should offer fixing those issues caused by broken backwards compatibility. As some mentioned, with the upgrade guide, it should not be more than couple of hours of work.

You are still spinning this to an extent where it just becomes flat out wrong. An upgrade from stock 4.1 to stock 4.2 has no theme backwards compatibility issues. You just reset the theme files to 4.2 (or create a new theme) and everything will work. Nothing will be knowingly broken—UNLESS you modify the templates yourself, in which case you are responsible for the changes you introduced. You can’t seriously ask IPS to maintain your custom code for you. That isn’t justified in any way. 

Edited by opentype
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7 minutes ago, opentype said:

You are still spinning this to an extend where it just becomes flat out wrong. An upgrade from stock 4.1 to stock 4.2 has no theme backwards compatibility issues. You just reset the theme files to 4.2 (or create a new theme) and everything will work. Nothing will be knowingly broken—UNLESS you modify the templates yourself, in which case you are responsible for the changes you introduced. You can’t seriously ask IPS to maintain your custom code for. That isn’t justified in any way. 

Well, take a look at my forum - https://steadyoptions.com/forums/ and tell me how is it possible that all headers are suddenly no color matched, reputation buttons are gone etc.

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1 hour ago, opentype said:

You are still spinning this to an extend where it just becomes flat out wrong. An upgrade from stock 4.1 to stock 4.2 has no theme backwards compatibility issues. You just reset the theme files to 4.2 (or create a new theme) and everything will work. Nothing will be knowingly broken—UNLESS you modify the templates yourself, in which case you are responsible for the changes you introduced. You can’t seriously ask IPS to maintain your custom code for. That isn’t justified in any way. 

Exactly - it would be like customizing your car's engine with non-standard parts, and then expecting the dealership to service your car.

1 hour ago, steadyoptions said:

Well, take a look at my forum - https://steadyoptions.com/forums/ and tell me how is it possible that all headers are suddenly no color matched, reputation buttons are gone etc.

I think the reputation buttons don't show for guests on your forum, so we'd have to be logged in to see those, wouldn't we? Also, are the headers you are referring to the ones with yellow backgrounds? They don't look out of order to me.

Have you ensured that you're not caching the older style sheets? Try clearing your browser's cache for that site or try it from another device (ideally one you haven't visited the forum on yet) and see if the styling is still broken.

Here's what I see in Chrome on Windows 10:

image.thumb.png.fd66ea07efce01cfa71d6281e68a433c.png

Edited by Joy Rex
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3 hours ago, steadyoptions said:

Well, in this case, IPS should offer fixing those issues caused by broken backwards compatibility. As some mentioned, with the upgrade guide, it should not be more than couple of hours of work.

I like your hopeful innocence.  It brightens my day.  

On a serious note, you can clearly see the rest of the community now takes it for a fact that IPS introduced breaking changes in 4.2 in both theme and mods. We would have warned you to disable ALL third party customization including themes, templates, and any and all third party apps, mods, and plugins.  Revert back to vanilla and then upgrade.  You will then need to test each and every customization in 4.2.   

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3 hours ago, opentype said:

You are still spinning this to an extent where it just becomes flat out wrong. An upgrade from stock 4.1 to stock 4.2 has no theme backwards compatibility issues. You just reset the theme files to 4.2 (or create a new theme) and everything will work. Nothing will be knowingly broken—UNLESS you modify the templates yourself, in which case you are responsible for the changes you introduced. You can’t seriously ask IPS to maintain your custom code for you. That isn’t justified in any way. 

I'm not asking them to maintain the code. I'm asking them to make sure that the code is not broken when a new release is introduced. And if it is, help me to fix it - because it's their screw up.

To me, it is similar to Microsoft releasing a new version of Windows and when application developer notice that his application is not working anymore - they would say "tough luck, just rewrite it based on new Windows version"..

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4 hours ago, opentype said:

An upgrade from stock 4.1 to stock 4.2 has no theme backwards compatibility issues.

Of course there are issues - otherwise why they would need an upgrade guide?

Quote

As far as possible, we have tried to ensure compatibility between themes for Invision Community 4.1 and 4.2. However, given the refreshed default theme and many new features, there are places where you may have to manually update your theme to be compatible.

When you refer to templates, theme files etc. it means nothing to me as an end user of the software. I still need to hire someone to fix it. And this is just not right.

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5 hours ago, opentype said:

You can’t seriously ask IPS to maintain your custom code for you. That isn’t justified in any way. 

One thing I CAN seriously ask IPS to do is develop a working template merge/history system that would alleviate many of these issues.  ;)

That makes it SO much nicer when you have modified the default templates for any reason.  Seems to have worked out really well on the XF script for many of the simple template modifications that are frequently done.  But there STILL are some requirements when using a custom style to await the author of that style to update it (although if you are proficient with the templating you can resolve most issues yourself).

1 hour ago, steadyoptions said:

hey would say "tough luck, just rewrite it based on new Windows version"..

And I've seen that happen before with some custom eCRM software I've been responsible for.

 

There is a basic level of knowledge that is required when administering a forum script.  At some point backwards compatibility becomes a hindrance to the progression of a software/script.  IPS is a little behind the curve on many aspects of their templating system, but it's not really anything that can't be resolved with time (and frequently money).

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1 hour ago, steadyoptions said:

To me, it is similar to Microsoft releasing a new version of Windows and when application developer notice that his application is not working anymore - they would say "tough luck, just rewrite it based on new Windows version"..

I am usually on the site of criticising IPS for a lack of backwards compatibility, but even I have to side with them here. Unless they are digging deeper than they should into the core code, Applications haven't been broken by the upgrade to 4.2 (aside from maybe a few minor cosmetic issues). Themes have been broken, but in your Windows analogue that matches up - you can't transfer a theme between windows XP, vista, 7, 8 or 10 afaik. The amount that themes will have broken depends on how heavily customised they were, but even the more heavily customised sites (of which mine is one) didn't require an outrageous amount of work to resolve issues.

In Windows, there is a defined API, and if you go outside that and start relying on things other than the public API, it will break without warning. With IPS, there is a defined API, the easy mode theme editor, which should work with minimal changes between versions, but if you want to edit the HTML and CSS, you will need to pay attention to the change notes a bit more.

It looks like IPS has listened to our feedback about backwards compatibility being important, because everything since 4.2 released has been bug fixes rather than a mixture of bug fixes and other more in depth changes, so I must say, thank you @Lindy and all the devs. However, they have to make breaking changes at some point, and in a significant release like 4.2 makes sense.

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33 minutes ago, Tracy Perry said:

One thing I CAN seriously ask IPS to do is develop a working template merge/history system that would alleviate many of these issues.  ;)

That makes it SO much nicer when you have modified the default templates for any reason.  Seems to have worked out really well on the XF script for many of the simple template modifications that are frequently done.  But there STILL are some requirements when using a custom style to await the author of that style to update it (although if you are proficient with the templating you can resolve most issues yourself).

And I've seen that happen before with some custom eCRM software I've been responsible for.

 

There is a basic level of knowledge that is required when administering a forum script.  At some point backwards compatibility becomes a hindrance to the progression of a software/script.  IPS is a little behind the curve on many aspects of their templating system, but it's not really anything that can't be resolved with time (and frequently money).

I do have a basic level of knowledge that is required from admins. But we are not talking about administration - we are talking about actual development/coding. This is not something that is usually required from forum admins. I hired a team to develop a website based on ISP framework. They created custom ccs based on default templates. I have no idea what went wrong. I assume they used tools provided by ISP, but I have no details. To me, website should continue to work. When I see whole blocks dissapear, reputation buttons gone, colors mismatch to a level that headers are almost impossible to read - this is embarrassing. I have 3,500+ members, they don't care why and how it happened. The final result is bad, and ISP lack of help is equally bad. Everything else is just excuses.

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I honestly don't believe that you can advance software over the years and have everything look and function "the same as it was" based on an outdated frame. 

Coming from the auto side, there's no way that we would want to design every element from a previous vehicle's architecture (be it software, platform, etc.) into a new generation.  Approaches change, user feasibility changes, design changes, consumer expectation changes and the list goes on. . . .

The goal is to make each product generation better than the previous.

With that being said, I use the stock theme whenever I can, however, this has become more tedious with 4.2 than it should be.  Simply changing the background to solid black hides all kind of links that you must find help in custom css coding.  Fortunately for me, users on this forum like @jcdesign, @steve00 and @Tom S. have greatly helped me out!

I think if that if you used a modded theme, IPS doesn't have an incentive to wreck it for you with their changes - this just happens in the course of design. I am delighted when I see someone mod the gods out of their Shelby Mustang, however, we can't guarantee or warrant the outcome for them. . .

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1 hour ago, steadyoptions said:

But we are not talking about administration - we are talking about actual development/coding.

Sorry to disagree... but modifying templates is nowhere NEAR coding.... and usually that's what ends up having to be done.

As for "continuing to work"... THAT is why you need to be sure to back up your DB AND your file structure prior to ANY upgrade.  Basic Admin 101 rule.  That way if there is an issue, restoration is merely restoring the original files. You need to realize that usually each upgrade DOES break something in custom styles - it's the nature of the IPS beast and one of the things I'm least happy about - but I realize that sometimes it due to improvements that needed to be made.

As I said, for style related functions (which typically deal with templating) a merge system would do wonders. What I DO have issues with is some of the lack of clarity in the CSS designators and the lack of use of them in some important areas - which have recently come to light and are due to not thinking ahead to custom stylers needs by the developers.

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@steadyoptions I get your frustration but expecting IPS to account for 3rd party/custom modifications is absurd.

But more importantly, wether you are right or wrong, things are not going to change. Best thing to do is accept it. Once you've done that, head on over to Theme Assistance and you will get plenty of help there to sort out your issues. :thumbsup:

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  • Management

@steadyoptions I do understand the frustration and have been on the other side of this equation as well using different software. Your expectations, unfortunately, are simply not reasonable. Your custom code caused the issue to your site; that is not a "fault" of the software. We introduced a new feature and because you've modified content templates, the upgrade was unable to determine what exactly you've done to your templates and thus, the code for reactions was likely not introduced to your community. Demanding your customizations be made compatible with future releases is akin to telling Ford that you've put your own custom spoiler on your vehicle and the next generation of that model better have the same size rear decklid so the spoiler will transfer and fit - or they have to make you a new spoiler. It just doesn't work that way. They don't build vehicles around your spoiler and while we make every effort to retain backwards compatibility when feasible, we can not develop software around your customizations. 

We deeply encourage you to make as many changes as possible within the custom.css framework, which is retained on upgrade and we try very hard to avoid tampering with. When you start editing core templates - I'm sorry to say, it's up to you to maintain the changes you've made. We do try to provide a resource to make you aware of changes you will need to make: https://invisioncommunity.com/index.php?app=core&module=system&controller=plugins&do=diff Beyond that, it may be a good idea to use one of our many talented third party theme designers who are generally quite good about keeping their themes up to date. 

I'm sorry for your frustration and hope you're able to restore the missing functionality to your community. Thank you for your feedback.

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@LindyThank you for your response.

 

It is my understanding that all changes have been done within custom.css, exactly as recommended. I might be wrong - this is why I asked your support to try and help to resolve an issues I was facing. I was willing to pay for that - obviously didn't expect your developers to work for free. However, I was told that such service is not available.

Again, I'm not an expert in css or templates, and have no way to know if the customization has been done in a proper way. But it is my understanding that all changes have been done in one custom file and not in core templates.

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  • Management

No problem! These things are tricky as our support team are not developers and our developer resources are scarce in terms of client-driven assistance. I appreciate that you're willing to pay for a service - I would be happy to recommend a third party to assist. As a courtesy, however, I will take a quick look at your ticket and see if there were in fact custom template changes and advise on what you can do. 

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