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miniBB version 2.4 "Bimbo": major SEO-arrangements and keywords-rich URLs

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#1 | Posted: 18 Aug 2009 08:14 | Edited by: Paul 
More than half-year passed since the last version of miniBB, but it only means the work on the new release never stopped. Now miniBB is re-born to support all SEO fans and make your forums even more search-engine friendly. Dedicated to the King of Afghan Music, Ahmad Zahir, and named by one of our favourite tracks "El Bimbo", which was actually just a French arrangement of his legendary tune "Tanha Shudham Tanha", here we have just another "arrangement" of miniBB following worldwide SEO-tactics. It took great time to think out our new functions for building effective URLs, and now the board will no more need "SEO-hacks" or core modifications to achieve such effect. It goes even more, because these functions may be separately modified to achieve your own URLs looking completely different from the others by their syntax, as it is provided by example in our new free Keyword-rich URLs add-on. It's only your choice how you understand SEO, and how do you want such URLs to look. MiniBB keeps to stand special in this matter.

As by default, the new functions regulate how URLs will appear in older, numeric-only mode (and how it is described in miniBB Manual). For minimalist fans, our recommendation is still to keep URLs containing numbers-only (i.e. topic/forum IDs and page numbers). This is specially useful for international non-English forums, where topic titles consist of non-latin alphabet characters. At least, they are short, constant and mini by the nature. Examples of such URLs are still provided on our forums, as "Short links" which are useful for copying on other websites as they do not take too much space. Despite of it, now it is possible to turn on a more advanced SEO-module, which may appear different for each individual case, and which will transform topic and forum URLs accordingly to the forum and topic titles on the fly. You may install one of our free modules, or order a special one exactly for your website. Keyword-rich URLs may have a different format, encoding and may look not like in your neighbour - everything is only up to your imagination. All miniBB add-ons are featured to support such URLs as well.

The aforementioned doesn't mean miniBB does not work without mod_rewrite anymore. As earlier, this version may be left to work (by default) even on non-Apache servers, with the standard PHP GET requests, as it is always shown on our full demo minibbtest website.

The second big change is swap of pagination - if earlier the first page of a topic or forum in miniBB started from "0", now it starts from the more logical "1". It's possible to keep the older compatibility (read below), so your older *indexed* URLs do not change. Still, in the new version, in navigation URLs, the first page's number will be ignored.

The third change applied to usernames in threads. Now you will go to user's Profile clicking on the Username. If you would like to quote a username (in bold between [ b ] [ /b ] tags) like it happened earlier, just click on "Quote" link without selecting the text.

Except the aforementioned features, the new version contains some non-critical bug fixes, other SEO-improvements and little changes in functionality.

There is no database upgrade.

Despite there are no critical security issues, upgrade is highly recommended for everybody. If you move to the new core functions now, you will definitely have less pain in the future. URLs and pagination mechanisms are very important in terms of indexing your board by a search crawler.

Follow upgrade instructions from our "Updates History" package, or just download and install the fresh version, which is available in Downloads now. We have tested it on few different servers within couple of months, and we hope it will satisfy even more forum revolutionaries around. As always, we appreciate any of your comments, suggestions, and bug reports.

The following add-ons (and * their files) were upgraded and now are compatible ONLY with miniBB 2.4 or above, because they are forced to use the new URL-building and pagination functions:

1st page news

* addon_1stpagenews2.php

RSS

* rss2.php

Members List

* addon_members2.php

Merging Topics

* addon_mergetopics.php

Moving Replies

* addon_movepost2.php

Profiles Checker

* addon_pfchecker.php

Direct Email

* addon_directemail.php

Forums Checker

* addon_checker.php

File Bank

* addon_storage.php

Files and Images Attachments

* addon_fileupload.php
* addon_fileupload_topic_thumbnails.code.txt

Private Messages

* templates/addon_pmail_msgs.html - {$mbpn} added
* templates/addon_pmail_viewmsg.html - $pLink1, $pLink2 added
* addon_pmail.php - pagination schema improvement

Polls

* addon_polls.php

Premoderation

* addon_premod_msgs.php
* addon_premod_setup.php

Check User's IPs By ID

* addon_ipid.php

Keep your forums clean and effective. Stay tuned! :)

Author kuopassa
Registered
#2 | Posted: 18 Aug 2009 21:09 
Bimbo sounds splendid! There is one thing that is worrying me about this update, and that is:

Are old URL addresses forwarded to new URL's if I update from previous version? I have few forums which are using only numerical addresses, so is there a solution (like some kind of .htaccess magic) to redirect them to new addresses?

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#3 | Posted: 19 Aug 2009 03:51 
Of course there is a solution, and of course with the new version you can keep your older URLs intact.

Regarding redirection from the old (numeric) URLs to the keywords-rich: you just need to keep your older .htaccess rules at the top of the new ones. The new version will automatically redirect if the URL typed doesn't correspond to the "valid" URL for this page. As for example, on our board pay attention to the "Short link for this topic" tag at the top right corner of the thread. We have kept older URLs to make them redirected to the new, because on forums there is a lot of such internal URLs left, and there is no big work required to update them all. Additionally, the script will redirect to the proper URL if let's say the topic's title has been changed, so the URL has to be changed too. More additionally, it's useful for "quick" URLs to copy/paste in another sources, search engines etc. I guess it will satisfy everybody.

Regarding keeping your older URLs - my personal recommendation would be exactly like that. Keep your old URLs, since they may be already indexed in a search engine, and as far as I know, search engines do not really pay attention to this SEO "fake". On our board we have installed them with the promotional purpose; however if I'd have a choice to keep older URLs or update them, I would choose first.

But this is just IMO, 'cause miniBB could suit now every taste ;-) Enjoy.

Author tom322
Registered
#4 | Posted: 21 Aug 2009 12:12 
I like Bimbo/s a lot :)

Author marsbar
Associated Member
#5 | Posted: 24 Aug 2009 05:33 
Hi Paul/Team,

Congratulations on the latest release of miniBB "Bimbo"!

Paul:
The aforementioned doesn't mean miniBB does not work without mod_rewrite anymore. As earlier, this version may be left to work (by default) even on non-Apache servers, with the standard PHP GET requests, as it is always shown on our full demo minibbtest website.

Ah, that is perfect: I hope this will be the case always! (To minimize potential performance hit, I have not adopted mod_rewrite for URLs.)

Paul:
The following add-ons (and * their files) were upgraded and now are compatible ONLY with miniBB 2.4 or above, because they are forced to use the new URL-building and pagination functions:

I just need one thing clarified: I am keen to upgrade my miniBB to version 2.4, but I do not intend to use mod_rewrite. Will the upgraded/v.2.4-compatible add-ons work with my non-mod_rewrite set up?

Cheers and best wishes -
mb

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#6 | Posted: 24 Aug 2009 07:19 
marsbar:
Will the upgraded/v.2.4-compatible add-ons work with my non-mod_rewrite set up?

Of course they will, and our recommendation is to upgrade them now to avoid big work in the future.

The reason for it is that even old-type URLs (both "short"-numeric-mod_rewrite or just PHP-plain-variables) now use the common pagination and URL-building functions, which were not present in the earlier version, but which will be used for all add-ons, both present and upcoming.

Author marsbar
Associated Member
#7 | Posted: 24 Aug 2009 08:23 
Many thanks, Paul, for your prompt and helpful reply!
Cheers -
mb (now running "Bimbo")

Author Moony
Registered
#8 | Posted: 2 Sep 2009 09:48 
Paul:
The second big change is swap of pagination - if earlier the first page of a topic or forum in miniBB started from "0", now it starts from the more logical "1". It's possible to keep the older compatibility (read below), so your older *indexed* URLs do not change. Still, in the new version, in navigation URLs, the first page's number will be ignored.

From this passage it is not clear whether it is possible to keep the older compatibility OR still the first number will be ignored.

For example, I want to keep complete compatibility. So that url like this "41_9710_0.html" points to page number 1 and url "41_9710_1.html" points to page number 2. Will it be possible?

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#9 | Posted: 2 Sep 2009 10:47 
It's all possible.

You need to keep the old mod_rewrite rules and put this string under setup_options.php:

define('PAGE1_OFFSET', -1);

(it will reset the "first" page number to 0).

Default schema for including page number is defined in the current bb_functions.php, so other actions are not needed (you don't need to install extra modules for that).

Author Moony
Registered
#10 | Posted: 3 Sep 2009 02:54 
Paul
I love you!

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#11 | Posted: 24 Sep 2009 10:38 
miniBB Full Demo site has been finally upgraded today to have the latest release presented with all the latest add-ons. Enjoy your testing and report bugs if they'll come...

Author Guest
#12 | Posted: 16 Jan 2010 08:56 
I could not get the keyword url working. Does anyone offer an install service for this seo package ?

Author Paul
Lead Developer
#13 | Posted: 18 Jan 2010 02:26 | Edited by: Paul 
We're providing any kind of service regarding miniBB ourselves. Check our rates.

Keywords-rich URLs add-on very depends on the server system you have. Apache, mod_rewrite engine are mandatory to have on server. It will not work with the other servers or without mod_rewrite available. Further to that, your hosting must support all .htaccess directives.

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