The title is a bit misleading because the forum has actually been live for a couple weeks, but I’m finally getting around to writing about it. This was phase two of our overhaul of galleryserverpro.com.
Phase 1 was going from a hand-built ASP.NET site to one based on WordPress. I was hesitant to get out of my comfort zone since WordPress is written in PHP, about which I knew little or nothing. But it would have been a massive effort to hand build a new site while trying to get all the bits and pieces right, like SEO, responsive design, accessibility, etc. Turns out it was a good move, as WordPress – and especially its vast ecosystem of plugins – gave me just about everything I wanted and then some. I bought a professional-looking theme and was able to put together a modern, responsive site that is already showing vast improvements in SEO. For example, searching Google for “photo server” regularly lists Gallery Server in the top 10. Nice!
There were still some .NET things I wanted to keep, like the email generator that runs when you request a product key or buy a license. I bundled those functions into a Web.API project and invoke them through HTTP requests. Works like a charm.
Phase 2 was getting all the forum content from the .NET-based YetAnotherForum.NET into one that integrates with WordPress. I chose Simple:Press for its breadth of features, active community, and support options. A company named gConverters handled the data migration for me. There were a few bumps in that process – initially they imported every user and post, even the ones that were marked as deleted. It took a few back and forth communications and a few days longer than I hoped, but in the end the users and posts were migrated.
Due to the differences in how encrypted passwords are stored, the migration forced a reset on every user’s password. A few weeks ago I sent an email to everyone with instructions how to retrieve your password. Basically, you just click the lost password link and enter your username or email address. If for some reason you don’t know it, you can always create a new account. Or – my new favorite way to log in – use one of the social login providers to log in using your Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Twitter account. Now you don’t have to manage a separate account for Gallery Server.
The forum offers a lot of new features. It has a responsive design so it looks great on smart phones and tablets. You can mark an answer as useful. Write your posts with a WYSIWYG editor. View all your uploaded files. Plus old favorites like email subscriptions and RSS links are still there.
We still have a few things we want to do to the site. Add an easy way to subscribe to our monthly tips and tricks newsletter. Integrate the purchase experience directly into the site. Add a few more sliders here and there.
But mostly we’re focused on adding exciting new features to Gallery Server. I can’t announce anything yet and we are still a ways off from the release, but rest assured we are busy little monkeys hard at work making Gallery Server the best Digital Asset Management and Web Gallery software out there.
Thanks for all your support over the years. You are a great bunch of folks and it is my honor to provide you software to make your life easier.