Converting from CommunityServer to vBulletin

I’ve been using CommunityServer to power the forums at CSFBL for a few years now, with mixed results. The version I am running (2.1) is a bit buggy and a poor performer in some respects, but it is serviceable. Still, with hundreds of thousands of posts, I really need something more reliable.

The obvious choice was to upgrade to CommunityServer 2008, but problems with the upgrade script and stickershock at the new price tag pretty much put this right out of contention. I went out and bought a license for vBulletin — one of the most widely-used bulletin board products available — for $160, about 1/50th the price I’d pay to upgrade CommunityServer.

vBulletin offers some support for converting from CommuntyServer via their Impex utility. Unfortunately, the current implementation they had was quirky and unreliable… but vBulletin gives you the source code (everything, including the import/export scripts for dozens of other forums), so I began to tinker.

Looking at how the import/export worked, I was able to fix and patch to the point where it was working. There was quite a bit of trial and error (I’m no PHP expert) but in general the code was easy to follow and easy to modify.

I recently posted on the vBulletin forums and offered up some of my insight, and the guys at vBulletin seem to have identified the sales potential for having a solid CommunityServer to vBulletin converter. Hopefully, I’ll hear from Jerry soon and will be able to help get this conversion process working perfectly.

Until then, I’ve so far been able to import users, forums, and threads without issue. There’s some lingering issues related to importing posts (dates are getting lost in the import, and the overall process seems to die after a while, which could be a PHP memory issue), and I have to further tweak my private message import scripts. Hopefully with the help of the vBulletin team we can offer a viable solution to spending thousands of dollars to upgrade to the latest version of CommunityServer — not just to me, but to others, too.

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