What is vBulletin 3.5 and 3.8?

vBulletin is the software that powers the forum. vBulletin 3.5 (vB3.5) was the version of vBulletin that powered the site since it was first created. Since this time, other versions of the software have been developed and released. vBulletin 3.8 (vB3.8) is a more recent and up to date version of site software that The Student Room will update to shortly.

Why does this need to take happen? what was wrong with vB3.5

As with most technology, upgrades bring more options and opportunity. The key reasons for the upgrade are as follows:

  • Make use of default developments - With the upgrade in software, vBulletin themselves have developed default features for the software which we are selectively making use of for the TSR community. We are of course always looking to develop our own functionality, but many key areas of functionality are developed as default.
  • Harness the vBulletin community - As with open source softwares, a development community emerges and developers will create and share their own plugins. This is great, to keep up to date with the latest developments being made across the web.
  • Give us a cleaner platform moving forward - with vB3.5 having been used for so long and with having so much custom development, much done to the site was through "hacks", meaning the feature may work, but isn't so easily passed over in software upgrades. We now have minimal hacks to the base code and a cleaner platform for any future site upgrades.
  • Fix lingering bugs - We also have the opportunity to fix lingering bugs. We also hope that any bugs found in the future will be corrected quicker and easier.

Site speed implications One important issue for TSR is that of speed, so how will the upgrade affect speed?

Prior to launch, both the current site and new site were put under stress and load testing, to determine differences in speed and stress capabilities. Below is a table of our findings, matching up the average page size for 3.5 and 3.8:

Page vBulletin 3.5 (KB) vBulletin 3.8 (KB)
Home page 620 448
Forum page 384 322
Thread page 426 358
Wiki page 482 398
Advanced reply 528 503

As well as this, it was found on average that:

  • The Home Page is roughly 2.5 times faster to load in 3.8
  • A Forum Page is roughly 1.5 times faster to load in 3.8
  • A Thread Page is roughly 2 times faster to load in 3.8
  • A Wiki Page is roughly 1.5 times faster to load in 3.8
  • The Advanced Reply Page is roughly 3 times faster to load in 3.8

Stress testing also found the new site to be far more robust that vB3.5. During high levels of usage, the new site is significantly stonger with less risk of crashing.

What are the plans for the future regarding forum software? Will there be another big upgrade?

There will always be ongoing development on The Student Room, whether this is fixing bugs found by users or functionality to make the site better. In the long run, we are aiming our sites on vBulletin 4.0. When we make the transision is not yet known - what is known is that the process, when we come to it, will be much quicker and easier to migrate.

For updated TSR FAQ's, see here: COMING SOON

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