OSQA Fantasy Island Beta 3: 1.0 Just Around the Corner

Fantasy Island Beta 3 is here!  This beta release includes a significant number of improvements since February’s Beta 2.

Please note that you will need to run sudo python manage.py migrate forum after updating to Beta 3. Failure to do this will result in errors.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Improved General Admin Functions
  • We added a new widget that allows the community administrator to test email functionality.
  • User tips on the Ask a Question page can now be edited by administrators.
  • The Node model summary length is now configurable through administration.
Simplified Community Management Features
  • Support has been increased for Akismet and ReCaptcha..
  • Users only gain reputation points after validating their email addresses.  Administrators can configure the number of points they receive.
  • OpenID authentication has been improved.
Improved Error Logging
  • Error messages generated by failed emails are stored in the log file.
  • Better tags view: a 404 error exception is raised if there are no questions for a given tag.
Bug Fixes
  • OSQA-757: user links on the Revision page are pointing to the correct place.
  • OSQA-550: administrators are warned if the community SMTP settings aren’t configured.
  • OSQA-757: a Unicode related issue in the _unicode_ method of the Node model has been eliminated.- OSQA-562: messed-up markdown language no longer rearranges the simple comment text.
  • OSQA-558, OSQA-557: improvements have been made to the SXImporter tool.  Answers and pages imported with the SXImporter tool can now be edited.
  • OSQA-559: when converting an answer to a question, the question title is set to the active revision object.
Looking Ahead

We’re hoping that this will be the last beta before the final release candidate.  In response to user feedback, the final release candidate will sport further bug fixes. Several new improvements will be added for translations.  One thing is certain: the final release of OSQA 1.0 is just around the corner.

Download

You can download the Beta 3 release here.

A full list of the new features and improvements is available on our Wiki.

2 Comments

Fantasy Island Beta 2 Released!

We’ve just released Fantasy Island Beta 2 out into the wild. For full details, read the release announcement here.

1 Comment

First Official OSQA Release!

Fantasy Island – 0.9.0 Beta 1 Announcement

The Fantasy Island (0.9.0) beta 1 release is here! This is the first official packaging of code that has been running sites for months–powering active communities like LockerGnomeAsk SQL Server Central, and the Spanish travel site Trabber.

The release contains a number of improvements:

Better ReCaptcha Support
  • For users with low reputation, posting new content will require them to clear a ReCaptcha hurdle before the content is accepted. The amount of reputation needed in order to avoid ReCaptcha is configurable, and can be set by an administrator in the Minimum Reputation Config panel of the Administration interface.
  • With the Akismet module enabled, content that looks like spam will now trigger a ReCaptcha prompt (regardless of user reputation). The user will have to successfully pass the ReCaptcha test before the content can be posted.
Support for Subdirectory Installations
  • Fixes to the way OSQA deals with some variables means that it can now better handle running as a subdirectory.
    • The application can now be configured with the APP_URL variable located in the site’s settings_local.py.
    • FORUM_SCRIPT_ALIAS is now deprecated and should not be used. Instead, convert to using APP_URL. To preserve existing installations, it will be supported for the time being.
Bug Fixes

A collection of bug fixes, both major and minor:

  • OSQA-533 and OSQA-526 – Tag counts are now tallied correctly when new content is added.
  • OSQA-429 – Forgotten password recovery no longer requires you to enter the forgotten password.
  • OSQA-539 – Better Unicode support when using the diff_date() function.
  • Various grammatical and stylistic updates to the messages.
  • OSQA-384 – Correct licensing graphic is now displayed.
  • Email validations emails/links can now be requested multiple times. Previously, a user could only generate an email validation link once.
  • The sign-in page now correctly remembers the page you’re signing in to view. In previous builds, failing the correct credentials meant the sign-in page would get confused and forward the user back to the sign-in page once that user was authenticated.

Release Structure

This release also marks a departure from the previous method of releasing and distributing OSQA. With this release and going forward, we’ll be providing a downloadable release archive (initially in gzip’d tar format) instead of directing users to checkout from the SVN tree.

The change also means that the /trunk in SVN will be considered the bleeding edge, potentially-unstable copy of OSQA. If you’re looking to check into the latest in OSQA development, pull the latest from /trunk. If you’d like to run a stable server, we strongly recommend using the latest release.

Moving Forward

There’s lot of activity on OSQA now, and we’re busy updating the roadmap. The details haven’t been finalized yet, but look for the following features to come soon:

  • Easier installation through better release packaging.
  • Simplified notification settings that help foster and support the involvement of the site’s community.
  • New “test email configuration” functionality that will allow site administrators to verify whether they have their email settings correctly configured. To go along with this, better email transmission debug statements will be provided.

Download

You can pull down the Beta-1 release archive here: http://www.osqa.net/releases/fantasy-island-0.9.0-beta-1.tar.gz

2 Comments

OSQA Project Update: 2010/05/02

We’ve been busy gutting the core of OSQA for several weeks, but I believe the results will prove that it was worth it.

We’ve made some really big changes in how the community information is represented by the database back-end, and we think we have completely removed all the direct SQL calls which were sprinkled throughout the original CNProg codebase we started with. Removing the direct SQL was especially important because it may allow us to make progress towards another major goal we hope to reach (but I won’t announce anything until it works!)

Anyway, we plan to work on lots of smaller (hopefully easier to address) issues after we roll out the overhauled code this coming week. We’ve asked people to share their pet peeves about OSQA, and knowing the “features” that irritate our users most should help us identify some high priority targets to focus on. If you want to, share your pet peeve on meta.osqa.net.

2 Comments

Don’t Panic! StackExchange is NOT the goal

It has been a busy week since Joel Spolksy and Jeff Atwood announced their StackExchange 2.0 plan and created fear and uncertainty among supporters of their original plan. In a sympathetic reaction, we decided to offer “refuge” to those who were rightly concerned their sites might soon shut down or that they would have to give ownership of their sites to Joel and Jeff. Most of them probably felt blindsided, and we were, too.

We happened to be in the middle of a major reorganization of the core database structure in OSQA, structure the project had inherited from the original CNProg. We knew there would be problems in the new code, but we have come a long way with a “deploy early, deploy often” strategy and a commitment to finding and fixing bugs quickly. We expected to just push the new code live and deal with issues as they came up.

Suddenly the spotlight was on OSQA as if we were in a race to win over disaffected StackExchange users. People began wanting feature comparisons and reviews and opinions that are, frankly, premature and of questionable value. I want to set the record straight: we have no intention of taking potshots at other projects, and we feel the entire online dialogue about StackExchange 2.0 and the alternatives is overheated. To quote Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!”

OSQA is on-track to become a killer solution. Although the original CNProg may have started out as an effort to clone StackOverflow, I can assure you that we have no such limits to our ambition. We’re here to create the most useful, versatile, reliable, adaptable Q&A community engine on the planet. We are still accelerating, and we certainly don’t intend to stop when we achieve feature parity with whatever Joel and Jeff have cooked up. The world of possibilities is so much more interesting than StackExchange, and anyone can see where we’re headed just by looking at our Jira issue tracker.

OSQA will be unique and excellent, and OSQA users will not be disappointed. That’s a promise you can count on.

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Database update unifies questions, answers and comments

Today we deployed a major revision of OSQA which unifies the way questions, answers and comments are represented in the back-end database. Previously these entities were stored in separate, but similar, database tables. Now they are all stored together in a single table with a common structure.

With the new, unified version we can search more quickly and reliably, and we can manage revisions more consistently. It also makes new features possible like “promote an answer into a question” since sometimes people have been known to answer questions with questions! Another useful case will probably “convert an answer into a comment” for posts that really don’t qualify as answers, per se.

Anyone upgrading an existing OSQA site will need to perform some data migration steps. We have included migration scrips for South which will should make this relatively simple, but PLEASE backup your database before starting!

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Browsers used by visitors to osqa.net

Reviewing our Google Analytics data for osqa.net today, we noticed an interesting fact about the browsers our visitors are using. Only 5% are using IE, not even twice the number using Opera, and only one sixth the number using Chrome. It’s not because everyone’s using Mac and Linux, either – 64% are on Windows.

Firefox: 52.57% Windows: 63.95%
Chrome: 30.31% Macintosh: 23.03%
Safari: 7.60% Linux: 12.13%
Internet Explorer: 5.03%
Opera: 2.98%
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StackExchange import: a big milestone for OSQA!

Thanks to the hard work of Evgeny and Hernani, we have just completed the first successful import and migration of a StackExchange site into OSQA. About an hour ago we successfully imported a StackExchange data dump and brought HomeschoolHelpDesk.com online with OSQA.

The import appears to have preserved users, badges, question, answers, votes and even revisions! Clicking around it feels like the whole site is there, and it feels crisp and fast. HomeschoolHelpDesk.com is a small site compared to some of the really active StackExchange sites, so we still have some distance to go before we can say this feature is rock solid.

It sure is nice to have the first one completed successfully, however. I am reminded that the Wright brothers first flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. They must have enjoyed that one, too!

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Homeschool Help Desk

HomeschoolHelpDesk.com is a support community for homeschoolers and those considering homeschooling. We’d love for you to get involved, and we’d be grateful if you would pass an invitation along to others.

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Mendix Forum

Mendix Forum is the place where modelers and developers meet to discuss, ask and answer Mendix-related questions and topics. Check out the FAQ to see how it works.

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