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forum skinning shit

Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:27 PM by Manco
Updated 01-23-2013 at 09:11 AM by Manco
hey i made a blog


So Iíve been rolling this around in my head for a while, and the more I think about it the more I think we should get some new forum skins made.

Now obviously that hasnít worked out well in the past, but I think the main thing wrong with every previous attempt was: it was always one person saying ďI will make this thing!Ē and then running out of steam after their second run through Photoshop.

I think making a new forum skin should be more than just saving a local copy of Industrial and hacking new PNGs and colors in.

What Iím proposing is to make a forum skin by starting fresh from the ground up, something thatís easier to manage and understand.

I think the best way to do this is to start by building a kind of ďtemplateĒ skin using HTML and CSS. We build something thatís a blank slate with a smart layout thatís easy to modify, and then we use that to build out new skins.

I canít claim to know the ins and outs of vBulletin, but I do know from looking through their documentation that the whole thing is based around HTML and CSS. There are tons of ways to build great frameworks using pure HTML and CSS Ė take Foundation for example.

Best of all, by starting afresh and using simple HTML and CSS, we can make improvements Ė like building a skin that loads quickly and is mobile friendly.


So what I want to know is who would be interested? I know thereís a couple folks whoíve tried making skins in the past and given up, and Iím willing to bet we have a few folks around who know how to build websites. I think the key to actually getting a forum skin finished is by making it a group effort, and by having a definite start point that everyone can build up from.

Thoughts?

e: Iíve put together a rough collection of reading material, tutorials, guides and tools for anyone interested in helping out: http://owf.radicoolthings.com/resources
Total Comments 41

Comments

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Varrok's Avatar
Don't worry, Manco! I wll make this thing! Just you wait
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:31 PM by Varrok Varrok is offline

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Sekto Springs's Avatar
I'd be willing to whip something up. I should probably finish the banner for The Oddworld Library first...
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:44 PM by Sekto Springs Sekto Springs is offline

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Mr. Bungle's Avatar
Just get STM to do it oh wait
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:45 PM by Mr. Bungle Mr. Bungle is offline

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Varrok's Avatar
Ok I give up
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:49 PM by Varrok Varrok is offline

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STM's Avatar
I would be able to help with conceptualising and stuff if you need it, I'm good at designing layouts. However, as Mr Bungle kindly pointed out, I never got my skin finished when I tried. That's because I'm not proficient enough in computing to know what to do when it comes to actually building anything...
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:49 PM by STM STM is offline

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Carnix's Avatar
A problem with the "group effort" solution that I have previously observed is that if one member of the group runs out of steam or what not and leaves or stops developing, the whole project falls. This can be from as much as that one member's job being rather important to as little as that one member leaving bumming the rest out.

Sure, you no longer rely on one developer staying driven throughout the project, but now you need to keep an entire team driven!


Scepticism aside, I do think this is worth a try. I myself have experience with HTML, CSS and Photoshop but am very, VERY prone to running out of steam.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:50 PM by Carnix Carnix is offline

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Sekto Springs's Avatar
Just so you know, I'm offering my services for graphic design only. I don't know diddlyspit about HTML. I know how to slice and vectorize, but the rest is up to someone else.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 01:55 PM by Sekto Springs Sekto Springs is offline

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Manco's Avatar
Well I think that group work would tend to have a better success rate on a project like this, because if a one-man band runs out of steam then thereís no one else to keep going. What you say may be true, but thereís still more chance of success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sekto Springs
I'd be willing to whip something up. I should probably finish the banner for The Oddworld Library first...
I bet itís just a Bill Murray photoshop

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrabtrapman
I would be able to help with conceptualising and stuff if you need it, I'm good at designing layouts. However, as Mr Bungle kindly pointed out, I never got my skin finished when I tried. That's because I'm not proficient enough in computing to know what to do when it comes to actually building anything...
Two things to say to this:
  1. My hopes with sticking with simple HTML and CSS would be that people with less technical proficiency could still get involved in some respect. Once you know the basics of CSS layouts itís not hard to knock out some solid grids and have someone with more tech know-how do the bug hunting.
  2. There are two trends in web design at the moment (which Iíd hope to apply to a new skin: responsive/fluid design, and mobile-first design. If this gets off the ground I hope to get a simple summary of these written up, but for now I recommend you check out this Smashing Magazine article: http://coding.smashingmagazine.com/2...ve-web-design/
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:02 PM by Manco Manco is offline

Old
Manco's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sekto Springs
Just so you know, I'm offering my services for graphic design only. I don't know diddlyspit about HTML. I know how to slice and vectorize, but the rest is up to someone else.
No worries, Iím sure weíll be needing image editing just as much as markup.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:04 PM by Manco Manco is offline

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Manco's Avatar
What would also be helpful would be someone with access to stuff like browser usage stats for the forums. I want a ballpark estimate of what kind of HTML/CSS shenanigans we can use without breaking things.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:09 PM by Manco Manco is offline

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STM's Avatar
Oh, well I know a wee bit of HTML but I don't know how to apply it. I'm willing to learn though because it's a helpful skill to have. =)
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:14 PM by STM STM is offline

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Phylum's Avatar
I know nothing about HTML, CSS or graphical design, but if you need someone to check over things or test things I'll probably be able to devote some time to it.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:23 PM by Phylum Phylum is offline

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Manco's Avatar
Browser testing and even just regular interface testing will likely come in at some point. Lots of people with lots of different browser setups will be needed.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:31 PM by Manco Manco is offline

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MeechMunchie's Avatar
I can do stuff. Not too much stuff, mind. I've got too much other stuff.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 02:58 PM by MeechMunchie MeechMunchie is offline

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Phylum's Avatar
Well I use a 64-bit variant of Firefox, so I'll probably be perfect for that.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 03:19 PM by Phylum Phylum is offline

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DarkHoodness's Avatar
I'm a Chrome user with a widescreen and Win 7 64 bit, if you'd like me to test any forum skins further down the line, throw me a PM.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 06:17 PM by DarkHoodness DarkHoodness is offline

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RoryF's Avatar
I know a fair bit of HTML and CSS so I could help out if you wanted.
Posted 01-21-2013 at 10:04 PM by RoryF RoryF is offline

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Manco's Avatar
More coders = more good


Okay, so currently the following are interested in helping (provisionally):

me (duh) - HTML and CSS, design
STM - design, layout, willing to learn some coding
Carnix - HTML and CSS
Sekto - graphic design
Phylum - testing
DH - testing
OddMan - HTML and CSS

This is a pretty rad list with some good variety of skills!

I think itís safe to say thereís some interest here. So with that in mind Iím going to start putting together a solid plan to get this show on the road.

To start, I think it would be wise to gather together some resources to demonstrate the thinking behind the project Ė explanations, demos and discussions on responsive design, HTML and CSS tutorials, recommendations for code editors, etc.

I take it a thread would best for everyone to keep track of things, right? Certainly not a blog, but Iím open to any ideas people may have for better places to talk about this project.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 09:38 AM by Manco Manco is offline

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STM's Avatar
I think a thread would be good but I'm all up for giving some folks my Skype if needs be to chat off the forum.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 09:54 AM by STM STM is offline

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Manco's Avatar
If people are willing and interested then a Skype group chat would be ideal for keeping in touch.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 10:55 AM by Manco Manco is offline

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RoryF's Avatar
A general idea for the theme would be good, a theme based on Soulstorm Brew or something.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 11:08 AM by RoryF RoryF is offline

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DarkHoodness's Avatar
I'd like to see a theme based on graphics from the original Abe's Oddysee, perhaps the Rupture Farms levels, but after taking a look I get the feeling it'll be hard to create something like that which will actually work well as a forum skin. If I find some templates and learn a bit of CSS, I may be tempted to have a play around to see what I come up with.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 11:12 AM by DarkHoodness DarkHoodness is offline
Updated 01-22-2013 at 11:43 AM by DarkHoodness

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Sekto Springs's Avatar
As fun as making skins is, it seems like the kind of thing we don't really need. Unless they were replacing the old skins, that is. It's not as if this forum is hurting for customization. The only thing we're missing is a good Stranger's Wrath theme...

... and a Bill Murray theme.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 11:38 AM by Sekto Springs Sekto Springs is offline

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DarkHoodness's Avatar
Yeah the current skins are fine, but they're also really old, and it'll be fun for people to create something new together if it can be pulled off.

Oh yeah, people ought to remember that OWF uses an old version of vBulletin, version 3.6. Any skins or templates used have to be compatible with it. In the rare event that OWF gets updated one day, can skins be adapted to newer vBulletin versions?
Posted 01-22-2013 at 11:47 AM by DarkHoodness DarkHoodness is offline

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Manco's Avatar
With regards to themes: slow down! I think the first goal should be to make a solid boilerplate theme that doesnít rely on any particular theme - think Bootstrap. Once you get that underlying structure, then itís a snap to customize it to suit specific color schemes/images/etc.

Compatibility should hopefully not even be an issue. From what I can glean from the vBulletin docs, the actual forum content is pulled from PHP variables, which you pretty much drop into your HTML doc after building it.

As far as Iím aware vBulletin skins keep content entirely separate from style and structure. That means we can focus on building the structure without worrying about compatibility.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 11:55 AM by Manco Manco is offline

Old
Sekto Springs's Avatar
Quote:
With regards to themes: slow down! I think the first goal should be to make a solid boilerplate theme that doesnít rely on any particular theme - think Bootstrap. Once you get that underlying structure, then itís a snap to customize it to suit specific color schemes/images/etc.
So you're gunning for a full format change here?
Posted 01-22-2013 at 01:15 PM by Sekto Springs Sekto Springs is offline

Old
Manco's Avatar
Basically. A clean, easy-to-customize boilerplate skin gets built, then from that you have the base of a full theme. Whether or not people try and update the existing skins with the new boilerplate is a decision to make later down the road.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 01:22 PM by Manco Manco is offline

Old
STM's Avatar
I think that's a great idea. A simple skin would be very well received especially when some of the links and search functions are borked. By the way, if you want my Skype, Manco, PM me as and when the need arises. =)
Posted 01-22-2013 at 01:27 PM by STM STM is offline

Old
Sekto Springs's Avatar
I'm waiting for one of the admins to actually comment on this. Maybe you should make a thread in the Suggestions/Help forum.
Posted 01-22-2013 at 01:27 PM by Sekto Springs Sekto Springs is offline

Old
Nate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkHoodness
Oh yeah, people ought to remember that OWF uses an old version of vBulletin, version 3.6. Any skins or templates used have to be compatible with it. In the rare event that OWF gets updated one day, can skins be adapted to newer vBulletin versions?
To the best of my knowledge (which in this instance isn't very detailed), skins are fully compatible within a major version number. So if Peter ever gets around to updating to 3.8, we'll be fine. Well, as fine as we have been, given that he still hasn't fully fixed Industrial theme since the upgrade from v2 to v3.

Peter is never planning to upgrade to vBulletin 4 or higher, for various reasons that I won't go in to because I don't want to embarrass him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sekto Springs
I'm waiting for one of the admins to actually comment on this. Maybe you should make a thread in the Suggestions/Help forum.
Why would we object? If the others are anything like me, their mindset will be one of 'Wait and see'. Or, alternatively, 'I'll believe it when I see it'.
Posted 01-23-2013 at 01:31 AM by Nate Nate is offline

 

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