Major purpose for the upgrade is to maintain continuity of the forums. Phrased more bluntly, it's to avoid "disaster by obsolescence". (Shock of the day: Google finds no prior use of that phrase!)
I've been working on this upgrade for several weeks now. (No, not full time!) I'm pretty confident it will go smoothly.
The upgrade will preserve all posts, PMs, and URL's, so all existing links will work without change. Usernames and passwords will not change.
For regular users, the major difference is that instead of using the current "Upload picture" button and [img] tags, image uploads to our server will be done as "Attachments", displayed inline for that post by using [attachment] tags.
Inline display of images from other servers, and images that are attachments in other posts, will continue to use [img] tags.
Readers of the forum will notice several improvements:
- Updated appearance, with neutral gray backgrounds and text to avoid conflicts with colors in photos.
- Automatic scaling of oversized images that are hosted on other servers.
- Improved usability on small screen devices like smartphones.
- Improved page formatting, avoiding problems currently caused by long URL's or oversized images.
I have also created a demo/test version of the current forum, which you can access at https://photomacrography.net/demotestforum/ .
The demo/test forum is only a snapshot of the current forum, but it is otherwise completely active. You can login, make new postings, upload images, and so on, but all such material is guaranteed to be deleted soon, possibly without warning. To avoid any confusion about where you're logged in, I've given the demo/test forum a distinctive banner.
Please let me know whatever issues or concerns come up in your tests.
The upgrade to the real working forum is currently scheduled to happen starting at Sun 21 Jun 2020 04:00 UTC. That's 5 am Sunday morning in England, midnight for US East Coast, and Saturday 9 pm for my own US West Coast. You folks on the other side of the world will see it in daylight hours, sorry!
Based on trial runs, I expect the forum will be down for about 3 hours. The entire database ends up getting copied, restructured, and re-indexed.