Why was the design of the website changed?

I am wondering why this website was changed from its former simple and easy-to-use format (which it has used quite successfully for two decades from what I understand) to its new java-heavy one. This seems to have been a trend for a lot of websites over the past decade for some reason, and it has made them all the worse, AFAIC; i.e. user non-friendly. But the heavy and complex new java design of this site is even worse than the changes I have seen at other sites over the years because this one doesn’t even allow page-saving for offline reading, as I sometimes do when I come across valuable and interesting information anywhere online (and it’s a shame because straightdope has always been a valuable resource for this reason). Also, depending on what machine/browser you are using or how fast your connection is, certain features are almost impossible to use, or at the very least a nightmare. And, unlike Reddit and Gmail, you don’t even have the option of choosing a “go back to old format” button.

I’m curious as to what the reason was for the decision to make the change. Everything seemed pretty fine the last time I came across the site during its old design about a year ago. My suspicion would be that it was done primarily to cater specifically to i-phones and their software, and that the old format did not quite do that satisfactorily. Am I correct?

The site was persistently crashing with the old software, so something needed to be done. Here is the thread with the original announcement and explanation from TubaDiva (RIP😟).

Thanks for the link Maserschmidt.

The old site was like a beloved familiar pet who was declining and would soon need to be escorted to the Rainbow Bridge. :cry: Our heroine TubaDiva put up with much grousing and complaining from us Dopers as she dragged us to stable, functional high ground in her own last days. Now that the new site had been up and running, I like it a lot. It has some great features.

During the final days of the old site, the timeouts were constant and maddening. There was weeping, hair tearing, teeth gnashing, and crying aloud while throwing things. As an example, the Election Day follow thread was one of the fastest-moving threads I’ve ever seen on this board. If we had had to go through Election Day on the old site in its broken-down state with constant timeouts-- the mind boggles at the prospect. :scream:

Yes, the timeouts, the double-posts, the crashes; the old system was not long for this world and was seriously aggravating posters.

I’m a techno-peasant and don’t know anything about whether something is java-heavy, so can’t comment on that.

I just know that the performance on this site is far better than on the old site for the last nine months we were on it.

You’re right, ThelmaLou - there’s no way the election day thread would have been possible on the old site.

I’m curious how you got vBulletin to save a page for offline reading. The only way I could figure to do that was to copy the page to another document. Copying the link would require an internet connection. If you were doing that, you could copy posts the same way here.

Not sure what features you mean, but I’m going to guess that you’re talking about scrolling since I saw so many complaints about that in the beginning. If so, using the Discourse scroll bar works great. Using a browser’s scroll bar, not so much.

If it’s something else, there might be a fix in the Site Feedback forum.

For the record, the new site is JavaScript-heavy, not Java-heavy. Similar names but completely different technologies. Very few websites use Java these days.

Further, the was not a change in the “design” of the website, which usually refers to the skin, not the function.

This was a compete replacement of the entire guts: hardware, server software, website software, database, you name it. With an import of the old data to the completely new facility. Only the top-level URL remains same.

I realize it feels new and strange to our OP who just arrived. But for most of the rest of us who’ve been here ~5 months and have picked up on how to operate this thing, there is NOTHING that was better about vBulletin.

FYI, between ATMB and the new forum (properly “category” under Discourse) Site Feedback there are lots of “How do I do ???” threads that contain a wealth of teaching how to do the things you used to do. Most everything is better once you find the thing to click.

I’d also point out before going that way that how the site looks and operates changes massively depending on whether you’re on a PC/Mac, a tablet, or a phone. And which theme you’re using. So when asking a question or trying to use advice you read, consider that variable.

This especially! Different themes aren’t just different colors, etc.; there are different functions available. I tried several different ones until I settled.

I only access the board on my PC laptop and my kindle, and it looks exactly the same on both of those. I don’t use my phone because teeny-weeny screen, don’tcha know.

My favourite “feature” was when you hit the show unread thread button and it glitched, displayed the wait 120 seconds message, and then showed an empty unread message page. I don’t miss vBulletin one bit.

I used to save the old pages all the time – c/p into Microsoft Word, or Notepad. The new site is great overall, now that I’m used to it, but the worst thing is the infinitely scrolling non-pages.

There is one thing: the option to use pagination instead of infinite scrolling. I fucking hate infinite scrolling. It’s less horrible here than on other sites like shopping for stuff (let’s peruse three loaded pages’ worth of stuff, find one thing of interest and click on it, go back and have to start back at the top all over again! Yeah, I can open the item in a new tab, but it’s annoying to have to do those extra steps when I’m on my phone), but I still would much rather have the choice, man.

There are some vBulletin sites that combine infinite scrolling with pagination.
You can scroll seamlessly from page to page but there’s still separate pages you can jump to if you want.
Example on BikeForums

I hated it at first. Now I love it. For one thing, not having to navigate to the next page is an improvement when reading on my kindle. Also, under the old system, I always had to check to make sure I hadn’t skipped a page.

I just found out that you can easily save a whole topic offline. Great discovery! :grinning:

Press Ctrl-P to save all the posts (or a range of posts) in a topic to a PDF file.

It has a preview and various settings. Takes only a few seconds and couldn’t be easier!

Thanks for that!

I do not believe that is true. Or at least it is not true on Chrome on Win10.

Under that OS/browser the print function will save only the posts that have been loaded to the browser. Which is typically a screen-full or so above and 2 or 3 screenfuls below wherever you’re sitting in the thread.

So this thread which has 17 posts counting mine will appear in its entirety in a print-to-PDF.

But a longer thread will not. Here’s a link to post #25 of a 50-ish post thread to play with:

I believe you’ll find that you can move around in the thread and wherever you settle you’ll get about 1 printed page above the “cursor” and about 7 below for a total of 8 or 9. No matter how long the thread is.

Again at least that’s so for Win10+Chrome. I suspect that’s true for other systems but have not checked.

Now this is interesting.

I went to the thread you linked. When I printed with the default values, I only got 8 of the 20 pages, and no post numbers.

But… when I selected a customised page range and entered 1-20, then I got a PDF of the full thread, all 56 posts, and with post numbers.

Also, sometimes the print pop-up seems to be in a separate small browser window, and sometimes in a large window within the page. It’s not clear when it does what.

Setting the page number worked for me; downloaded all of this thread, at least.

Using Chrome on a Chromebook. Set it for “Customised” on the page field. Tried “1-20” and got an “exceed page range of 7” error message, so I re-set to “1-7” and it downloaded the whole page as a pdf.

Haven’t tried it on a mega-thread, like the “Election Day [Week] [Month] [Year] [Eon]” thread.

@GreenWyvern:Aha! We make a heck of a team.

Again as to Chrome on Win10 only …

Ctrl-P is both a Discourse command and is the default keystroke for the browser’s print dialog. Which response you summon changes how it works.

Clicking the “Print …” choice in the browser’s menu always brings up the built-in dialog which is a pop-over, not a separate window. In that print dialog you get only the loaded part of the thread regardless of what you do with the page range.

Keystroking Ctrl-P sometimes brings up the above dialog. Which behaves as just described.

Instead, sometimes keystroking Ctrl-P brings up an almost-identical dialog in a separate window. That one is Discourse aware. Actually what that is is a special pageview Discourse renders that contains the entire thread. And as soon as it finishes loading, Discourse triggers the standard popover print dialog in that separate window that hides all the content under it. With a bit of trickery you can close that print dialog without closing the underlying window and be left looking at the unadorned, full-content scroll-less simplified page. It’s the standard url with “/print” tacked on the back.

If you do enough testing, you’ll also provoke an error message that looks like this:

{“errors”:[“You’ve performed this action too many times, please try again later.”]}

Displaying raw JSON is always a good look.

I suspect that throttle & message is to prevent bots from scraping the site in an easy to plagiarize form.

I wanted to pull up a very long thread like


and see how that rendered and printed (and how fast!), but I ran into the throttling message and it hasn’t timed out yet.


Now for the hard part:
Figuring out how to reliably cause Ctrl-P to provoke the Discourse special print page, not the browser dialog on the standard Discourse page.