For a long time, AUGI has desired to upgrade the software that we use for the AUGI Forums. With more than one million posts and almost 50,000 active forum users, the daunting task was a challenge. The Forums are the life blood of our website and contain an overwhelming amount of technical support conversations on all Autodesk software, from AutoCAD 14 to the current rollout of 2013 products. The entire world comes to AUGI to get the direct answers to specific questions. These questions come from frustrated members and those that are planning and embracing new tools. The answers are provided by other members who have overcome the challenges and chopped through the jungle of information as they chart new paths in design.
Moving to the latest release required planning and coordination. Richard Binning, AUGI’s webmaster, provided this forward thinking oversight with the help of Forum Manager, Ed Jobe and Forum Admin, Richard Lawrence. Two web development providers also helped with planning and performance issues. This virtual team, which is scattered all over the map, discussed the process and pitfalls that might come. There were concerns and issues that caused delay and greater thought, but the end result was a plan that included taking the Forums offline for one weekend.
Preparations were made and a test bed was set up for testing. Binning lead the team through the process and performed hands-on workflow as others helped. The development site was set up to duplicate the live site so that testing was enabled. Testing took place for the weeks preceding the Forum swap. When the testing was done, the swap date was defined. With the swap date in the works, the members were informed. Most issues were worked out prior to the shutdown for the swap but some outstanding issues would have to wait until the live site came online and we tested under the traffic load.
The Forum site was taken offline on Friday, March 30 with the intent to return online by Sunday evening. The desire was to reduce the maintenance and upgrade window to the close of business on the west coast of the US and return online by midday Monday in Australia and Japan and early morning in Europe. The main site with all of the publications, wish list, and more remained open during the maintenance period. Everything other than the forums was open for access.
All things worked as planned and the Forums returned online only one hour after the target time. The last hour was included to allow the Forum Administrators and Moderators one final pass on the live site before opening it up to all members. Once the site was back online, the world rushed in. Within minutes, there were new interactions with the first new version post being in Coffee without CAD and the first technical post being in the Revit Forums. The search engine spiders returned within just a few minutes of us going live.
Some of the things you may have noticed as we returned live was that the page headers did not fully function and that some may have hadlogin sync issues. These are things that we were unable to fully work out until we went live. You will notice subtle interface changes, but most of the functionality and flow remain the same. As this article was written, there were more than 600 people online viewing the Forums.
As we move forward and get all the basics fully functioning, we expect to enable new features. Stay tuned to see where we are taking the forums.