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My Experience with PHPizabi...

Discussion in 'Content Management' started by will2power, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. #1
    Let me start by saying that I ran a Phpizabi site for two years. In my opinion, it has the best out of the box look and feel of all the social networking scripts I've used. For what I was doing, it did the job well and I was able to do some modifications with it, without a lot of difficulty.

    I am not a programmer. I know about PHP, but I don't write scripts for it.

    I do know this. PHPizabi is a resource hog. Despite its appearance, as you gather users, its going to slow down.

    For those of you who may be considering it, then if your ambitions are small, and you intend to have a small community--be my guest. I don't think you'll be hurt in any way trying to use it.

    However, if you are going to have more than just a few users this is what you are in for.

    There are two factions of PHPizabi

    .NET and .COM, or rather http://www.phpizabi.net and http://www.phpizabi.com

    It was started by these two guys who had a falling out, and are now battling for Izabi in court, as I understand.

    The .NET Community is run by the programmer who did all the work. The thing of it is, he had a falling out with the owner of the .COM site and removed his access to the site and all. The guy who owns the .COM Site, is not really a programmer, just the guy with the idea.

    They've had their falling out over a year ago. Since that time, they managed to come out with the Alicia version of PHPizabi, which to be fair --is still technically a beta. Version .848 C1 is the current version if memory serves.

    When the Alicia version went live. everyone jumped on the bandwagon, including myself. While it is visually appealing, right off there were stumbling blocks. Profile questionnaires were stored in a serialized array within a table in MySQL, so there was no way to actually edit the responses without unserializing the information. This means you can go into Phpmyadmin, look at the questionnaire in the database, and have absolutely no idea what it says, or what their answers were. A few months after, someone came out with a .dat file editor, which allowed you to go back and revisit the questionnaires, but you still can't read the responses in the database.

    To give you an idea, the previous version of Izabi stored information in a relational database in 46 tables. The Alicia Version stores its information in about 8 tables. What does this mean? It means that the webserver was doing the job of serializing and unserializing the information on each page click. Think of a Modem (Modulation/Demodulation). The trouble is, the more users you have, the slower it will get, because the server is spending all its time serializing and unserializing information THEN Presenting it to the user.
    SEMrush
    All this resulted in the following letter from my hosting provider:

    You'd think from that message, that my site would be running with quite a few users...

    I have 123 registered accounts.

    Most I've had online at one time has be 4.

    I am running my site on a VPS hosting service. It's not the best package, but I figured it would be more than enough for the number of users I have. Boy was I wrong on that one!

    The .NET site, has a help/knowledgebase--but I have used it in the past, and never gotten any responses. I couldn't even find the tickets I posted after I posted them, it was very convoluted. They don't have a forum there so the .NET side really wasn't a help for me.

    In my frustration, I went to the .COM Site. Now they do have a forum. I've been an insider there for some time. I've posted a lot of suggestions and tried my best to be of help to the other users there. In point of fact, I was directly responsible for providing the ideas to the creation of several modules for Izabi. There was another poster there who closed down his Izabi site, I assume for similar reasons from what I read. I posted my problem, to which the .COM reply was "You need to upgrade your server". I found the answer wholly unacceptable, because by their math, if I had to upgrade from VPS to semi-dedicated for 123 users, by the time I hit 1000 users I would need a whole farm of servers to keep everything going.

    I pointed out the problems inherent in the beta serialized array dilemna. My suggestion being the arrays needed to be replaced with proper tables or the script was never going to be able to support more than a few hundred users before crashing servers. To which I was told that I was ignorant for making such a suggestion.

    Basically, PHPizabi has turned a relational database, back into a flat file database. And it seems that both the .COM and .NET side of the house have their heads in the sand about there being a problem with that.

    I didn't even bother to mention that I'm a Database Administrator by trade(Though to be fair, I only administer one production Database in MySQL. The other four are in MS SQL Server environments.) Databases with several hundred thousand records in it, covering Police and Fire Records management systems for a small locality.) Last year, our Database logged over 65,000 Calls for service, each needing to store information in multiple tables across Police, Fire and Rescue Services.

    I am by no means the be all end all of database management, but I know enough to see that if you're having problems with 123 users, you're going to have nothing but problems for as long as you're on it. But I kind of drew the line at being called ignorant for not agreeing with someone on their staff. So I spent this last weekend converting my users over to another Social Networking script. Two hours of database work and my user accounts, passwords and emails were converted. Converting the pictures took several hours, but that was it.

    I liked the script long enough to stay with it as long as I did. However, they have not come out with an upgrade to the beta in almost a year. And it was over a year from the time they had their last version .415 R3. I take that as a sure bet that they aren't really going to be the ones to stay with.
     
    will2power, Aug 28, 2007 IP
    amiecn likes this.
    SEMrush
  2. mgrohan

    mgrohan Active Member

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    #2
    Thanks great informative post. Could you let us know the alternative you chose as i too was considering using izabi. Seems every social network script has so many complaints and problems. Guess this is the downside of using a ready-built script..
     
    mgrohan, Aug 29, 2007 IP
  3. will2power

    will2power Guest

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    #3
    I have been toying with the Dolphin 6 Platform. They've made a lot of improvements over the months--and it suits the needs of my small community nicely. There are difficulties there, too. And I have not been with them nearly long enough to give as in depth a critque. I will say this for the Boonex team. They definitely seem interested in what the users have to say about improving their products. There's a live site they have http://www.boonex.us --this is a live community of people using the platform. Many of the features you have to purchase to use in PHPizabi as modules, are included in their platform for free.

    It is open sourced. I have read a lot of complaints in other forums that the people behind it were crooks, but I have not personally had any experience that would make me echo their sentiment. For a free script, it really does have an impressive array of features. There are issues--Dolphin 5.6 is the current stable platform, and version 6, which I am using is just entering final release before Moving to be the official Dolphin 6 Stable version. My suggestion to you would be to visit them and look around and see what they have available.

    I have not seen many other social networking scripts come close to the wide array of features available in Dolphin 6. What interested me most about it, is that it comes with a fully featured Instant Messenger/Chat. Not HTML Refresh, or IRC. Most of it is based in PHP/Flash. They have a version of their desktop IM which allows for Video and Audio, but I don't really have too much of an interest in that.

    I try not to sound like I'm bashing any particular platform. It may seem so--but these are just my opinions. I encourage you to look for yourself.

    You might try AroundMe which can be found at http://www.banraiser.org. People say you can used Drupal for social networking, but I really wasn't fond of the interface though it seemed like a solid platform.

    Basically, any one you go with is going to have its problems. You just have to determine for yourself what you are and aren't willing to deal with.
     
    will2power, Aug 30, 2007 IP
  4. amiecn

    amiecn Well-Known Member

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    #4
    thank you very much for your report on phpizabi.

    i looked into barnrasier/aroundme but it looks like it has quit a bit of work to be done...I couldnt get into the community due to issues with entering my openid and found myself searching endlessly for info that wasnt there.

    any other suggestions?
     
    amiecn, Sep 12, 2007 IP
  5. Pixelrage

    Pixelrage Peon

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    #5
    that sounds like a nightmare. It's a shame when these little companies have internal problems and everyone suffers. Kind of reminds me of mambo/joomla. The worst part about that is how the software can't handle a registration up to a certain number. I think that's almost everyone's fear with any CMS, especially open source.
     
    Pixelrage, Sep 12, 2007 IP
  6. kingc

    kingc Member

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    #6
    This looks like a pretty recent discussion so, I hope we can blossom this into a bigger, better production.

    let me make my introduction SHORT and simple; I'm a web designer, recently hired by clients to build them a Social Networking Site. After trying OsDate (which seemed too rigid, too difficult to Change it's look and feel to My Style, not Their style...) and having issues with Installing Dolphin (apparently the way the script is written it conflicts with Godaddy's Hosting servers - whom my clients are using for now...) - so I backed my way into phpIzabi.

    I'm using their Alicia platform... which so far has been Extremely easy to edit and change and so on. So with this in mind I'm now looking to take this platform and build Upon it - adding a CCBill Payment module that will allow members access to certain sections of the site, while restricting them from other areas.

    I'd also like to add the flashChat from tufat.com into this platform, since the izabi chat leaves much to be desired; For $5 this flashChat script is pretty awesome; So I would like to intergrate it INTO izabi and also wanted to see about making it's IM feature work throughout the network - allowing members who are logged in, to IM other members who are logged in, 'as if' they were all already in the chat room.

    So after I contacted 'testuser' - for some freelance work, while waiting for him to respond, I decided to do some more searching and came across this discussion...

    Sucks what I've read so far... a real let down - kinda; Remaining hopeful here's what I decided to do.

    I decided to Join this discussion in hopes that we all can benefit in some way shape or form. So, Hopefully we can get some good feedback going...

    #1. The Slow Down Issue ...

    If this is being caused by the way the script stores Information - Can't we change how it stores information?? Can't we just log into the phpMyAdmin and change what values need to be changed so that the DB won't have to work so hard to pull information out, when Lots of people are logged in??

    Really that's what I was most disappointed about - my clients have plans to grow this into a Big Site... so Slow downs from 60-100 members is not great news at all...

    #2 Freelancers ...

    Seems to me like instead of fighting - the CODE guy needs to get his shit together and figure out a way to fix this software - with the Open source GPL Community backing him; I mean, he's the brains of the operation here - not the Idea guy. The Idea Guy made a poor business decision; If you ask me the CODE guy needs to get jump started back into the fray - making his code available to the public so that people can make the types of modifications to the script that will create the Best Open Source Social Networking platform on the net....

    They're almost there - Now just does not seem like the right time to give up; or to allow the disagreements and the natural obstacles that come on any journey to Slow down the ultimate goal...

    Is anyone around here able to build a CCbill modification for this platform? If so, can we make that available, and keep it Open Source so that others can take advantage of it in the near future? ...

    more issues to arise later, but let's start tackling these Two.

    Awaiting feedback...
     
    kingc, Sep 18, 2007 IP
  7. olti

    olti Well-Known Member

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    #7
    WTF, that's why I'm having problems with my server! Since a few days I have a site based on Izabi engine and with only 60 members the server (with 2 gigs of ram) is going down.
    Right now I'm going to suspend the site with Izabi script.
     
    olti, Sep 27, 2007 IP
  8. vanarie

    vanarie Peon

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    #8
    I'm glad I found this thread. I've been searching myself for a good, stable, cheap social networking platform.

    In regards to the server load issues with PHPizabi, I did a quick check and here is the reason:

    PHPizabi 0.848b C1 [ALICIA]: index.php

    function pk($data) {
    return urlencode(serialize($data));
    }

    function unpk($data) {
    return unserialize(urldecode($data));
    }

    If you do a search for pk() function calls, almost every db write is done this way - 51 files in total! There are specific reasons to serialize data, especially if you want to store a discreet array, but doing it system wide is really bad and would indeed bring the server to it's knees quickly.

    2 reasons I can think of why this would be done: 1) maybe it's a stop gap until the database mapping can be done properly (would have to ask the author about this). Or 2) the author has decided to sabotage the entire project. Given the falling out of the 2 original developers, #2 might be the case - who knows!

    Anyway, as a result, I'm canning this platform until this is fixed. What a shame - it looked so good! :confused:

    So, on to the platforms I'm looking at now:

    PHPMySpace Gold Edition 8.0
    http://www.popscript.com/scripts/php-scripts/social-networking/php-myspace-gold-edition-8-10/prod_614.html
    If you google "Powered by phpMySpace Gold", the sites returned are very cookie-cutter and mostly stale/boring. I wonder what the actual user base it? But the upside is that there is a good selection of plugins and they are free.

    webNetwork
    http://www.webscribble.com/products/webnetwork/index.shtml
    After demoing the admin backend, I don't like this one either. It's lacking a lot of controls that I'm looking for.

    Dolphin Smart Community Builder
    http://www.boonex.com/products/dolphin/
    Doing a quick demo of the admin panel, it looks good. Tons of options and pretty good looking too. Dolphin is a strong candidate for my project and the user base looks pretty good.

    http://www.modmysite.com looks like a good community to find answers since everyone says the Dolphin docs suck.

    Hope that helps! :D
     
    vanarie, Oct 11, 2007 IP
  9. olti

    olti Well-Known Member

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    #9
    Thanx, vanarie.
     
    olti, Oct 13, 2007 IP
  10. Endurer

    Endurer Well-Known Member

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    #10
    I was just about to install izabi on my new website, phew! Thanks for the heads up will2power, I am now looking into Dolphin. Any idea where to get themes for Dolphin?
     
    Endurer, Nov 16, 2007 IP
  11. saleekr

    saleekr Peon

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    #11
    I have an izabi site, running on Alicia with all the hot fixes and i have up to 30 and more users on at the same time with no problem
    What i have found is that most of the users who are having the problem tend to have izabi sites with multiple mods and fancy themes that are not quite configured to work with each other.
    Now i'm not saying that the DB is the best structure but it does not help to keep piling mod after mod without a care as to how these mods interact with each other.
    I just help a guy who was having crash issues with his izabi site and we were able to get his mods configured properly to work with each other and fix this theme.Now instead of crashing with 20 users online, it works smoothly.

    I've seen too many people bash the software without a any look at to what they might have that might be the problem.

    Try getting a coder to help you make all your mods work together.
    I good example was a guy who on his user control panel (desktop as they call it in izabi) he had a random user section, a hot or not section, a random video section, 5 latest blogs and bulletins all with thumbnails of the users, news pulling from a dat file, latest photos section and a random ad image section.
    I mean come on people, just the GET calls alone for this one user is excessive and it's on the page that every user has to log in and must go to. So of course when you have a few users online it will crash.

    Look at your personal site and see what you have that is causing the load.
     
    saleekr, Dec 4, 2007 IP
  12. crunkedout1

    crunkedout1 Peon

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    #12
    DAMMIT! will2! I wish I would have come across here sooner... I've already downloaded and I'm now running the script and guess what? after about 20 or so people online it crashes the database... I'm sort of stuck! I don't want another script and have my ppl rejoin (they probaly won't) is there anything that can fix this? Hire a coder? is there an easy fix? anything at all?
     
    crunkedout1, Dec 28, 2007 IP
  13. olti

    olti Well-Known Member

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    #13
    To a coder you have to pay a lot of money. I think it's better to buy another script that is more secure and don't crashes the DB. Look at phpfox!
     
    olti, Dec 29, 2007 IP
  14. crunkedout1

    crunkedout1 Peon

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    #14
    what about getting rid of the ORDER BY RAND() on the footer and in the desktop along with getting rid of some features? I heard order by rand really cause MySQL to slow down and crash... Izabi has two instances of ORDER BY RAND() which I've now deleted...

    I'll hire a coder if it helps... like Will2 saids... it's a good (looking) script but that database problem and support issue problem is unacceptable...
     
    crunkedout1, Dec 29, 2007 IP
  15. Scotian

    Scotian Peon

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    #15
    Arghhh....

    I just dropped using Dolphin for izabi. I had so many issues with Dolphin, especially the forum.

    I am not a programmer and have no clue of coding, but I do know enough to look for what I need and hack it into the code. (Dangerous i know)

    I just spent a week almost getting izabi as I like it and now I find out that if i advertise it and get users, it will most likely crash. This is sad. Though i worked on Dolphin for 3 weeks and got nowhere.

    I am running my izabi from my home system using Ubuntu, Lamp and dnsexit for my dynamic IP. on a 800mhz system with only 500mb memory. ( scotian.org )

    But i am finding it hard to incorporate some modules to it. Especially getting it to mail out using smtp. I even paid for a smtp relay that doesn't work with izabi.

    Though I am having no problems with my big 3 users and 1 Demo account, i am worried about increasing my user base now. :p

    Thanks Will2 as I didn't now about the issues with izabi.

    Maybe I should start working on Dolphin on my Windows system while this one is up.

    It is frustrating to find a free script out there for non coders.

    Also, is transferring users from izabi to Dolphin difficult?
     
    Scotian, Apr 29, 2008 IP
  16. mg1313

    mg1313 Peon

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    #16
    Would you be willing to share your experience to visitors here on this blog: www.mytestbox.com ?
    Write a detailed review abut some social network software you are using/used?

    If yes please let me know...thanks.
     
    mg1313, Apr 29, 2008 IP
  17. jipeto

    jipeto Well-Known Member

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    #17
    I had a site runing phpizabi until last week the site was hacked and the hacker email me this:


    7-W-K HAx3D y0u!
    -B2- of 7-W-K h4ck3d you!
    7-W-K will not retreat nor be beaten.
    WebWars begin.

    7WK taught never to give in, nor to give up, but to 'pwn','own' and 'hax' every person who creates
    a website with insufficient security, and leaving holes in there website therefore letting
    hackers gain access to there website.

    Be thankful your site isn't worth billions of dollars, be thankful you are still alive.
    Take no actions after recieving this hack, apart from securing your website, learn more about web security,
    and become less of an idiot.

    This consequence becometh of your own stupidity.

    7-W-K Fucked you up.
    Over && Out.




    -B2-
    -A
    -D
    -S
    -E
    -E
    -D4RKFYR3



    DH
    DMZ
    7-W-K


    </body
     
    jipeto, May 1, 2008 IP
  18. djacobs

    djacobs Well-Known Member

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    #18
    If you're serious about starting a social network, than you will hire a programmer and not use one of those "cookie-cutter" social network applications. It may have an increase startup cost, but as you can see from this thread, and other people's experiences, it's worth it in the long run.

    FYI, I've yet to find one social network script I like. They all either have bad coding practices, or lack features.
     
    djacobs, May 1, 2008 IP
  19. Pixelrage

    Pixelrage Peon

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    #19
    very true. I wish the Wordpress team would start expanding into social networking and CMS's.
     
    Pixelrage, May 1, 2008 IP
  20. djacobs

    djacobs Well-Known Member

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    #20
    I have high expectaton for software applications. There are only a few group of people I would want to create a social network. Wordpress is nice, but I haven't much experience with it.

    One, would be the guys at Drupal. The other would be a project many probably haven't heard of, which is LIMB. These guys know how to make use of PHP5.

    My personal preference is RubyonRails, and a group group of people would be the guys at [URL="http://www.37signals.com/]37Signals.[/URL]
     
    djacobs, May 1, 2008 IP