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OpenACS Home : Forums : OpenACS Q&A : OpenACS 3.x or 4.x by year end?

Forum OpenACS Q&A: OpenACS 3.x or 4.x by year end?

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Posted by David Burch on
I need to create a production website by year end and I would like
your opinions on whether I should use OpenACS 3.x or 4.x and why. You
have my thanks in advance and I'll try to give back through testing
documentation or new module porting/creation.

The website will be a New Mexico state travel website that is a
revamp of an existing site that currently receives 50,000 hits per
month. It is a state of neglect so I hope to double that.

I will be using PostgreSql on a co-hosted Linux box because I like
Open Source and I am poor.  I will be the only developer resource
(also because I am cash poor).

I have experience compiling AOLServer and creating C modules for it
but I have no experience with ACS or OpenACS. The core of the system
will be magazine type articles with photographs and I will need a way
to rotate the articles from the top page to a section home page to an
archive.  The pages will be static but I will be creating a database
to hold the content (if 4.x I would like to build upon CR).

Sites like I envision this one: gorp.com and away.com (but only state-
wide coverage), photo.net's travel section, bird.net.

If I use 3.x I will be using: adserver, banner ideas, calendar,
classifieds, clickthrough, bboard, contest, FAQ, Neighbor-to-
Neighbor, Survey, Ticket (feedback feature only), general comments
and general links. I will probably cook up a site-wide search using
PLS. Not all the functionality needs to be done by year end, but I
must make the 3.x vs. 4.x choice and have the article system and
adserver production ready.

4.x features I would like to add are site-wide search, photo album
and postcard.  I am having a hard time matching up 3.x functionality
such as adserver with 4.x.

I am presently partial to 3.x because it appears to have 80% of what
I need, is time tested, has better documentation (at present), and
has more ArsDigita problem sets and "The Book" to guide me.

Any advice would be most appreciated.

David Burch

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Posted by Jerry Asher on
There are many issues.

How much do you value the ability to *easily* add new modules to the site that have been created by third parties?  Do you have lots of content that needs the new version 4 permissions?  Do you need the new version 4 templates?  How accepting of risk are you?  Very?  Moderate?  If yes to many of these questions, your way is clear my son.

If no, then you may be happy with Version 3 which as you say, has been tested by time....

By the way, I haven't tried it, but I believe Don says that OACS 4 should support at some point ACS 4 modules.  If so, then there is an adserver for 4.  I have a version of it for ACS 4.0.1 that folks tell me broke for some reason in 4.2.  I dunno.  Furfly probably has a fresher version.

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Posted by Don Baccus on
Is that adserver available at the aDserver?  (couldn't resist this bad pun!)  If so I must've missed it when I slurped packages down for OpenACS.  Jerry - if you have a minute would you e-mail it to me?  It may die but it's probably fixable.

BTW - my comment about ACS 4 compatibility only applies to the *Oracle* version of OpenACS4.  This guy's using Postgres so there's no avoiding the porting issue.

OK - back on topic.  The strongest argument in favor of OpenACS 4 vs. 3 would be the Content Management tools.  For your use, Musea's "Edit-this-page" may well suffice.  It's relatively easy to build instances that look a lot like the traditional FAQ and News packages as well as more vanilla article scheduling/processing stuff.

The strongest argument against is that not all packages available in the ACS 3 world are available in the [Open]ACS 4 world.  aD never completed porting stuff over.  We'll be seeing packages with similar functionality appearing over the next few months but will it be in time to help you?

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Posted by Jun Yamog on
<p>Hi David,
<p>
In my opinion use 3.x if:
<ul>
<li>Site has many users and requires good performance.  Since 4.x permissions may not yet scale well.
<li>You need a module has is not yet present in 4.x and is very hard to port or no 4.x modules may substitute for it.
<li>You are sure that the site will not use 4.x features now and the future.
<li>There is little chance of upgrading to 4.x
</ul>

Use 4.x if:
<ul>
<li>site needs or greatly benefits from the new features of 4.x like complex permissions, CMS/CR, templating, etc.
<li>site may need or outgrow what 3.x offers.
</ul>

<p>
You may also want to talk to your client regarding this.  Well you have to put into lay man terms the problems and scenarios.  For me I picked 4.x on site since it was relatively light load and deadlines can be moved.  I picked 3.x on another site since I need to make it in 1 week and did not require any 4.x specific features.  Look at the short term plus and minus if its going to be a short term project otherwise look at the long term plus and minus.  OpenACS 4.x is not in a bad shape, infact its in a good shape considering its on alpha release.  Also bear in mind that OpenACS 4.x was based on ACS 4.2.  Good luck in your work.