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Possible change of download/revision hosting

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Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby Heff » 23 Jul 2015, 15:37

So, as some might have noticed the SourceForge website where we host ME3Explorer has been having a bit of a downtime this past week. Over the past few years the site has seen an increase in ads, and more recently even ads tailored to trick users into downloading modified versions of the software that is hosted, which will then install things like adware.

With the recent downtime, Giftfish brought up a point about looking into alternative hosting, and I have also been thinking along those lines. It seems to be more and more relevant to at least look at alternatives, if not replacements. So with that said, I figure we ought to at least think a bit about it, even if SF manage to fix their problems.

Now, the project is rather firmly anchored in the SF hosting, from things like project links on other sites to the auto update that is currently present in the tool. This makes a full move both a very big task, and one that would be disruptive to many users, especially with the auto-update. Long-term a full move might be needed, but for now I would argue that a compromise is the better solution.

From my point of view, some kind of mirrored hosting to begin with would be the optimal, and then a gradual shift could happen to the new platform. With such a large codebase and userbase, I think that the main repository / release system should be as close to the current solution as possible, so that probably means staying with SVN as revision control. This does however limit hosting options by quite a bit, and I can't say that I know of too many free SVN hosts that are reliable.
(Though I've heard that Assembla is not too bad)

On the other hand, moving to say git, and hosting everything on Github or maybe Visual Studio Online, is not a bad solution. Not going to argue over which revision control system is the best, but git is definitely becoming the most popular.

Once a move is made, we could then make one final update to the SourceForge SVN that prompts the user to switch to the new hosting, and all further auto-updates can be provided there.


Please share your ideas/thoughts/preferences!
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby giftfish » 23 Jul 2015, 16:25

Thanks for tossing this up, Heff. I'm not a coder, so I'm not going to provide input beyond suggesting that sites with a clean interface and an obvious "download" button is good for users (and therefore modders and devs). And it's nice to not be slammed with obnoxious ads, lol.

I did locate a wiki article pretty quick that summarizes some of the differences in features (it's a wiki, so as always, take it with a grain of salt):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compariso ... facilities

There are significant differences across platforms, so it's critical to know what features are important to have. Of course it must also be free.

Seems like the best options are:

1. GitHub is the obvious choice.
2. CodePlex seems like it could be a good idea since it's run by MS.
3. Assembla is a tiered service, which can be bad for longevity. When services exist in tiered form (think Wikispaces), they often like to unexpectedly change features. The free version has significant restrictions.
4. LaunchPad is a definite option. This site design is dated, though, which may impact useability. It's popular, but I'd be a little concerned about longevity of the site. It reminds me of WikiSpaces, which I'm convinced will go the way of the dodo soon, lol.

Once a decision is made, I'll of course take care of updating all the links on the wiki :)
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby FemShep » 23 Jul 2015, 17:53

GitHub. Obvious choice because of pull requests. We'd need to design a landing page for it though as finding download links (and users seeing code files) typically makes users not download stuff as I have found in my github releases.

As for auto updating I have a hosted server you can use if you want to use that. I don't think it'd be feasible to host every SVN version, only milestones. I do it with Mod Manager and I'm actually looking into a way to update existing installs of ME3Explorer that I bundle with Mod Manager.

Idk what you mean by auto update (never seen it in my old versions). Mine (MM) downloads a 7z file and then exits, runs an auto generated update script and then restarts itself and checks if the update was applied. I think yours does an SVN pull or something.

I dont know if github can convert SVN commits to git commits. I think keeping the history would be important. On SourceForge you can mark a project as moved and put a link. What you could do is put a final version on SourceForge that links the Updater to the new platform/Updater so it keeps updating.
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby Heff » 23 Jul 2015, 18:12

FemShep wrote:GitHub. Obvious choice because of pull requests. We'd need to design a landing page for it though as finding download links (and users seeing code files) typically makes users not download stuff as I have found in my github releases.

As for auto updating I have a hosted server you can use if you want to use that. I don't think it'd be feasible to host every SVN version, only milestones. I do it with Mod Manager and I'm actually looking into a way to update existing installs of ME3Explorer that I bundle with Mod Manager.

Idk what you mean by auto update (never seen it in my old versions). Mine (MM) downloads a 7z file and then exits, runs an auto generated update script and then restarts itself and checks if the update was applied. I think yours does an SVN pull or something.

I dont know if github can convert SVN commits to git commits. I think keeping the history would be important. On SourceForge you can mark a project as moved and put a link. What you could do is put a final version on SourceForge that links the Updater to the new platform/Updater so it keeps updating.


A landing page is fairly straightforward with GitHub pages, and the release system should allow us to have stable releases just fine, with a big download-button and no ads around.

I haven't actually looked at how the auto-update runs, but I imagine it does some svn update and then builds the files with the visual studio runtime, so replicating that in git should not be too bad in any case, and would not need any extra hosting.

I'm unsure of how exactly the github "import" feature works, but if it turns out that it doesn't keep history then it's fairly easy to do with git. Grepping all authors to a folder and mapping them to git, then running git svn clone, and some cleanup of branches, should be all that's needed.
And yeah, updating a final SF that prompts the user to switch is probably the best solution to ensure widespread adoption.
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby FemShep » 23 Jul 2015, 19:19

To do a git download you'd need to include git with ME3Explorer.

For the final SF version essentially post the first github version. That way it will update to that one if on older version then start updating to newer version.

Anything that makes the product easier to use means you'll keep more developers interested for longer.

Is this Updater manual or automatic or both? Are there going to be different milestone branches?
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby Heff » 23 Jul 2015, 19:34

FemShep wrote:To do a git download you'd need to include git with ME3Explorer.

For the final SF version essentially post the first github version. That way it will update to that one if on older version then start updating to newer version.

Anything that makes the product easier to use means you'll keep more developers interested for longer.

Is this Updater manual or automatic or both? Are there going to be different milestone branches?


Github always provides a .zip download of the latest commit for each branch, so making the tool download that and then possibly running some script to update source files followed by a compilation could work, I'll have to look into the details.

And yeah, attracting more interest from developers and modders is really something we should work for, without interest the scene dies.

At the moment the updater is manual, using the "SVN Updater" menu item if I'm not wrong. I haven't ever used it myself but it seems to work well for most users.

As for the specific structure of the project, I'm only a sole developer and the newest around, so I'll await input from the others. I imagine that a classic git flow model would work wonders, or something like that tailored to our project. Using GitHub's issue tracker would also be a lovely thing to avoid the huge threads we have currently.


EDIT:
Something like https://github.com/libgit2/libgit2sharp should be fairly easy to bundle as well.
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby KFreon » 23 Jul 2015, 20:26

I'm all for git as well, and I do like FemShep's suggestion of having SVN host major versions.
Easier interim coding keeping the user friendly idea of revisions/versions.

The updater will have to be updated if we go ahead with this, and I see everyone's already on that.

Github = good, popular, fairly easy to use.
Visual Studio Online = Probably unsuitable as it requires each user to be authorized even for reading.

That's all I've used actually...I do like these ideas, although I haven't had any of these issues with SF recently.
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby FemShep » 23 Jul 2015, 21:14

I'd just dump SourceForge all together. They're really going downhill, especially with the wrapping other peoples projects with adware they did to GIMP and stuff.

I don't know if you're allowed to let non-devs use github as a hosting service using the update URL. If you have clients build it I guess it's not really hosting it though.

Does anyone have the latest SVN? I need to add a new command line arguments to DLCEditor2.

On a related note I went into the admin panel and updated a few things:
Board Name = ME3Explorer Forums (much more google friendly than me3explorer.freeforums.com!)
I also changed the download area and textures descriptions to better reflect what's in them.
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby giftfish » 24 Jul 2015, 19:39

@WV -- What are your thoughts on relocating/adding to where the toolset is hosted?
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Re: Possible change of download/revision hosting

Postby FemShep » 24 Jul 2015, 19:57

I feel like pull requests would help immensely with merging changes. Everyone could fork the repo, and then commit their changes upstream for review. That way we'd have a master repo and everyone can fork and have pull requests.
My 2cents
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