Computing stuff tied to the physical world


In News on Sep 28, 2012 at 00:01

There are a couple of disruptions imminent regarding the JeeLabs web sites:

  • First one is a VAT increase in the Netherlands, starting October 1st. This will affect the shop.

  • Second one is the switch from Redmine 1 to Redmine 2, this will affect the café (docs and wiki).

  • Third one is a transition / migration from Drupal to Redmine – this will affect the forum.

Let me assure you that I hate each of the above changes at least as much as you do. Probably more.

But there’s no way around it. The VAT increase from 19% to 21% is a legal requirement, of course, so it’s both necessary and needs to happen on a specific date. A few days from now, that is. More news on that coming.

The switch from Redmine 1 to Redmine 2 was also inevitable, in the long run. I’m quite happy with Redmine as a system, but the current 1.0.1 setup has been out for two years, and I haven’t ever been able to easily update it. Yuck, yuck, yuck. In the end, the only way out was to wait for a solid 2.x release series, which also happens to come with a far better upgrade mechanism.

But instead of doing some sort of 1.x -> 2.x conversion for a range of projects in Redmine 1 (some public, but also several private ones), I’ve decided to just start over. With the help of a couple of people (thank you Steve, thank you Myra), just about all the main content of the café has now been transferred (converted, in fact).

Except the API documentation – this hasn’t been migrated, because I’ve decided been convinced that maintaining API documentation in Doxygen is a far better long-term solution (thanks Jasper). So instead of setting up wiki pages for that, all the JeeLabs libraries can now be extended with comments for Doxygen to generate nice docs from – which I intend to publish as part of the new “” site (for now, you can generate the JeeLib docs yourself, again thanks to Jasper’s check-ins).

The new Redmine website has been around for some time now (at, but largely unexposed.

On October 1st, I’m going to take the plunge, and replace the current site with the new one. This will probably break most URLs out there.

(Did I mention how much I hate these changes?)

Note: to avoid losing essential info, the current site will be moved to “”, for reference. So if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can prefix the url with “oldred.” and try again.

The fact is, that I’ve not made enough progress in the current situation for some time now, and the only way to get there is to break everything first, and then quickly try to repair the most harmful damage. Evolution just doesn’t cut it for me in a case like this, apparently.

Apart from the URL breakage, there are some additional horrid consequences:

  • To participate (submitting bugs, editing wiki pages, etc), you will need to register as new user again. To make matters even worse, I’m not enabling auto-registration to keep spammers at bay. So new registrations will not be instant.

    (Did I mention that I hate spammers even more than these disruptive changes?)

    Please use the same user name for registration as on the forum (I’ll explain why in a moment).

  • I’m dropping Markdown as wiki formatting language, and switching to Textile. This format comes from the Ruby world and is considerably better supported by Redmine (which is implemented using Ruby On Rails). The good news is that Textile formatting is very similar to Markdown for simple things, and much better at supporting more complex features (such as tables, colours, and even CSS styles).

The third disruption is probably going to cause the most frowning and cursing, but it too is becoming inevitable. Some time later this year, the forum will be migrated to Redmine as well. One reason is practical, in that Drupal admin is too much of a burden (for the three of us sharing the burden: thank you Martyn, thank you Steve again). And since I’m not going to start using it for more tasks here anyway, it really bothers me to have to keep a VM running with 1 GB RAM allocated to it.

This is the reason why registration on the new Redmine site should be done with your existing forum name, where possible: it’ll become a forum as well, once that third big switch is flipped.

But there are also advantages to this forum migration. A major one of them is the nice integration we gain by having forums, issues, source code browsing, and wiki pages all in the same system. Something I’ve always been looking for, and frankly Redmine 2 has been moving in the right direction for some time now.

And lastly, note that “” will keep a copy of all the forum discussions, so those URLs will in fact not break – that forum will merely become read-only (preferably using a static copy, if I can figure out how).

Anyway. Major disruptions. I hope you’ll bear with me as this takes place, and that you’re willing to help out and pinpoint any problematic and painful spots this leads to. First there is trouble, then we can fix it. There’s no way back – so let’s at least try and make the way forward as effective as possible.

Once the big trouble spots have been identified and resolved, I can move forward on the documentation side of things again (hardware as well as software). That too has been long overdue. Jeelabs deserves better. Open source deserves better. And you deserve better from me. A lot better.

Now the good news: the new Redmine setup (currently at has recently been given a major makeover (thank you David), bringing it close in style to the daily weblog. Same logo, same fonts, same looks.

The best news though, I’m sure you’ll agree, is that the daily weblog isn’t going to change!

  1. A little critical note here, no pun intended :-) Most changes are totally understandable. But man, another forum transition? Last migration I kinda left the forum because it became totally unreadable in my opinion, so the change is a good thing I guess.. Why not use a standard forum like phpbb? With which 95% of the internet population is familiar with..

    • I know… you can call me crazy, but I keep running as far away from phpBB as I can, every time I run into it. As a visitor/user, I mean. Sure, it works … that many people can’t all be wrong. But not for me.

      Drupal’s “Advanced” Forum module isn’t so great after all, to put it mildly. And Redmine’s forum may not be stellar either. But at least it’ll integrate fully with wiki links, issue references, and source code. I want to reduce the amount of software running on various VM’s here (600..900 MB RAM for a little forum is beyond ridiculous). Easiest way is to bring everything together in Redmine.

      It might be (yet another) mistake. It may even cause more people to curse and leave, because it’s not the standard phpBB they are used to. But I do have to manage it (with the help of a few others), and if this kills all my time (or fun), then it won’t be sustainable. Experimentation comes first at JeeLabs, weblog second, and then somewhere further down the line comes website maintenance.

      Having said that, I do really hope we can make it all work again, once the forum also gets thrown around.

  2. Good luck!

  3. Perhaps I will be able to post without being moderated. Perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed!

  4. I /hate/ forums! Much prefer an NNTP newsgroup or a Yahoo group.

    • One thing the new Redmine 2 forums will give us, is the ability to send in replies by email as well, i.e. to use it completely as if it were an email-based mailing list. Another feature I quite like, is that it has RSS feeds at many different levels.

      But it’s not Usenet, sorry.

  5. Evolution is not only made of peaceful smooth changes. It’s sometimes made of disruptions ! Remember the old good days 65 millions years ago ? ;-)

    Merging the forum into redmine was the right thing to do. Integration with wiki/bugtracking/source browsing has no price whereas maintaining different systems with different user databases has a cost! I know it as I’ve been working with trac for years now.

    One day, you’ll probably might want to merge the blog and the redmine user registration systems… ;-)

    So, even if I do not like redmine, especially because I don’t know a single people who can write ruby while I know dozens of people able to write python, starting by me, I wish you good luck and assure you that you made the right choice.

  6. Go with it I say. I really dislike the phpBB forums that I have had to use ;-)

    As you can see everyone has an opinion, ultimately you have chosen to run it on your own kit and look after it. A single flexible platform seems like a really good idea to me.

    Good luck and I look forward to more of your great articles.

  7. You might want to consider google groups as forum alternative:

  8. They say you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs, but I hope we’re going to end up with a souffle :-)

    Great work by David BTW, I just had to have a look didn’t I :-D

    If you need any help with data crunching you know my number.

    Good luck, and ONWARDS!

  9. I looked at the redtry page!

    Is it possible to give it he exact same header as the weblog? I like the taller logo and the COMPUTING stuff…

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