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Now that we have successfully migrated the wiki to the new server, it's time to finish the job and get a forum running on the new server.
For the benefit of newcomers, here is the background story. Until this time, Andrew Stacey has been maintaining the forums and the wikis for the Azimuth Project, and the nLab. For Azimuth, we are now in the process of transitioning those responsibilities to me. For the wikis, he had a VPS which supported both the nLab and Azimuth, but that VPS is now being run by someone else for the nLab, and we now have our own wiki server on a hosted account. The Forum is currently running on a server at the university he is at, but he has relocated, and we no longer have a guarantee of ongoing support on this server. For today, we're okay, but we need to keep moving, in order to make sure that we stand on our own feet, using servers that are under our control.
Also, Andrew has limited availability for working on this stuff now. Fortunately the forum is running on its own really well now. But that does mean that it is running on autopilot, and I am not in a position to administer it since it's not running on our server.
Brace yourself, folks, but it looks we're going to let go of this forum software, which has served us quite well, and move to a new package, which also looks promising and which offers us the prospect of ongoing support from the developers. We'll have to be prepared for some change, but I believe it will provide us with substantially similar functionality.
The current Wiki starts with Vanilla 1.1.10 (a open-source php forum package), and contains further customizations that Andrew wrote. Now the current version of Vanilla is 2.1.1, and, to get current, we would have to work to port his changes -- and there may be compatibility issues between his changes and the new code. The alternative, of staying frozen at 1.1.10 does not feel right to me, because software does tend to get rusty as the things around it change. Moreover, I don't know anything about Vanilla, or the customizations, and don't want to take on the job of maintaining them.
Fortunately, Andrew has found us a great new prospect, called the "Heterotic Beast," or HB for short. This is a Ruby-on-Rails package, developed and actively maintained by Jacques Distler, who also is the primary developer for our wiki software Instiki. He is a physicist working in string theory, who John and Andrew have a long relationship with. So we have an ear with him, in case any issues come up, or even feature requests to submit. It's a living project, and that counts for a lot.