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IP.Board 3.1.0 Dev Update: Skin Upgrader

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One of the neat new features of IP.Board 3.0 was its integrated application/hook installer and upgrader. Using this took a lot of the headache out of updating modifications when the author produced a new version as you would have either needed to use a custom installer script or install a component dedicated to modification installations. This has helped out with the installations of modifications, but skins still install in essentially the same way, and there is nothing built in to the product to let you upgrade skins.

Currently, when a new third party skin gets updated by its author, it can involve a lot of work for board owners who use that skin to upgrade the copy of it on their site. The old procedure was to import the new version of the skin, move everyone who was using the old version onto the new version, and delete the old version. If you had customized anything to do with that skin template prior to initially installing it, you'd have to keep track of what changes you had made so that you could apply them to the new version of the skin. It should go without saying, this procedure was clunky at best.

Recently I stumbled across a post where this frustration was mentioned. This got me thinking about the issue. Surely there must be a way to upgrade a skin just like hooks and applications can be upgraded, right?

Right now I'm developing some additional functionality in the Skin Import/Export feature in IP.Board 3.1 to take care of this. Essentially how it will work is this: when you import a skin set, the skin info is checked to see if a 'skin set key' has been set. If it has, it checks if this key matches the key of a skin you already have installed. If it does match, and you check a box indicating you want to try and upgrade, it will attempt to upgrade your existing skin. Any replacements/CSS/templates that this new skin XML has will be checked against the existing items from the old version of the skin to see if changes are needed.

Thus far, I have it coded to show you the check box to indicate whether or not an upgrade will be attempted:


I also have a lot of the back end work done where it will see if it needs to upgrade an existing item instead of just inserting a new version of the item. There's a lot of checking involved to be sure I'm not duplicating elements, so this will require a lot of testing. I've got a few bugs to work though on this, but it should be in place pretty soon.

I think that this will be a feature that will be appreciated by a lot of folks. I welcome any feedback you may have. :)

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