The Great Forum Migration Project

by Jeanne Boyarsky

As you know, we've recently migrated JavaRanch from a variant of Universal Bulletin Board (Perl) to JForum (Java.) Naturally, I wanted to write an article talking about how we managed it.

Who are we

JavaRanch is a website run by volunteers throughout the world. A number of us worked on the forum migration project, including developers in Japan, India, Switzerland, Germany, England, and in the states of New York, Maryland, Texas, Colorado and California in the USA, Many other people made suggestions and tested.

How do we communicate

Mainly through the "Moderators Only" forum. In addition to plotting world domination, we've been quite busy in there talking about the new forum software. In fact, the Moderators Only forum has been on the new software since the end of November; we've been busy making sure the new software is ready for use. We also communicated some through e-mail for more targetted discussions amongst the core developers on the project. I find that being in different time zones is helpful. A surprising number of things get solved "while one is asleep."

Well that's all and well, but what happens when we need to communicate synchronously? For the two data migration/deployment weekends, we used an instant message session. This allowed the three people involved to do things simultaneously and manage dependencies.

Technologies in JForum

Tools we used

Our long road to release

Development process

The process evolved over time. Some roles:

Legacy data

A side effect of working with volunteers is that the most interesting works gets done faster, either right after it is thought of or right before it is needed. Whereas the less interesting work -like migrating users and threads- dragged on for months. Granted, this was hard and a lot of work. There were more pauses in it than some other work though.


We did it! We did it! We did it! I'm proud and excited that a project of this size succeeded with only volunteers on it.