Poll

Your Thoughts On Gravitar

I disagree with us losing old avatars; I care a lot about them.
1 (14.3%)
I disagree with using Gravitar.
1 (14.3%)
I don't care. Make it work, and move on. I'd rather have new features sooner.
5 (71.4%)
I don't mind losing avatars as long as we can keep the ones we have currently.
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Avatars

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John Davis

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Avatars
« on: March 23, 2019, 03:09:52 PM »
The Problem
The architectures and deployment mechanisms we are moving to don't jive well with locally stored data such as avatars. The goal is to be able to hit a button and spin up as many full working ready to go FES forum servers as possible. This will also help us to scale almost instantly if need be and recover from most hacks and issues we have with the push of a single button.

If we have to manage thousands of avatars in something like source control, this would be a non-starter. There are also security and speed concerns for saving them alongside the application code or on the same server versus other options.


The Solutions

S3 with Microserver to handle avatars: We use s3 to store our avatars and completely circumvent how smf does it by implementing the change in the themes we want it for.

S3: I can store the avatars on s3. The way we handle avatars will have to be rewritten in every place avatars are used in SMF. The drawback here is the amount of work. I'd likely leverage flysystem if we go this way, and go through and edit any piece of code that deals with avatars on the filesystem itself. The way the smf developers write their code makes this spread out entire many files and functions, and not always easy to find.

For those that have seen the staging forum for the new platform (which is aside of this work) it used this method. However, its not a lift and shift sorta operation and integrating it into SMF may be ugly. Upon looking into it further, its a ton of work.

Gravitar: Allows for folks to set up avatars that persist across sites. Third party service. Mods already exist for smf to use this.

EFS: We store them on a separate file server that we mount on our server. This has many of the problems with not doing anything, but its technically an option.

Current Plan
We will likely be moving to Gravatar for avatar usage in the future of our forums. I will be making the decision today or tomorrow so it ceases to block my work in getting us up to speed and able to deliver you guys with the new features you've been asking for for years. Let me know if this really rubs you wrong.


Risks
Loss of existing avatars (I can maybe mitigate this like I did with the staging instance for our new platform)
You'll have to use gravatar if you want an avatar, or if you change your current avatar.
The 600 attachments we have from the past 15+ years will likely be sunset. This amounts to ~3 a month, leading me to believe that this feature really isn't used that much anyways.


Voice Your Concerns or Ideas
I'm open to hear concerns, complaints, praise, or other ideas to solve this problem. I will take your feedback, but in the end it will be my decision.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 03:16:10 PM by John Davis »
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boydster

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2019, 03:25:05 PM »
I'm game for just making the change and, if necessary, we can redo our avatars. I'm not that familiar with AWS and S3. Are we not able to symlink to the avatar directory? (I'm assuming you thought of that already)
Let me explain this in a way you can understand. What you just wrote sounds exactly like something that a gay rights Portuguese Samurai would write.

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John Davis

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2019, 03:32:26 PM »
The closest equivalent solution to using a symlink would be mounting the efs. My goal is to be able to start up a brand new server on the fly without worrying about the local files. As such, having a symlink to the files locally doesn't really solve the problem. I can store them on the efs and just detach it from the webserver and reattach it to the new one. This isn't my favorite solution because we still end up having to store the images, there's additional cost, and its slightly more complex than just having a plug and play solution like gravitar.

S3 would be a storage system completely outside the server all together. Amazon handles all the work except for us uploading it and linking to it. S3 is also fast and allows us to schedule away images that aren't accessed and so on.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 03:42:20 PM by John Davis »
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boydster

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2019, 03:41:21 PM »
Attachments should 100% be sunsetted. They don't serve any purpose I can think of that isn't addressed via other more secure and less resource intensive means.

I just checked out Gravatar. Seems like it should work just fine to me.
Let me explain this in a way you can understand. What you just wrote sounds exactly like something that a gay rights Portuguese Samurai would write.

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John Davis

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2019, 04:53:29 PM »
VIA PM:
Quote
For the avatar hosting the difficulty would be the work it would take migrating the images from this site to an s3 instance? 
Migrating the images is no work at all. I've done it already for that staging instance of the new platform stuff. The issue is either developing our own form to  (edit: validate / sanitize them and then ) upload them to s3 that integrates with smf, or editing smf to do it using something like flysystem. This looks to be a fair amount of work to me.

Its possible the have the fallback be from the s3 backup and use gravitar for anything new going forward and this is likely what I would end up doing.
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Space Cowgirl

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2019, 04:54:30 PM »
Give everyone ample warning so they can save their avatars.
I'm sorry. Am I to understand that when you have a boner you like to imagine punching the shit out of Tom Bishop? That's disgusting.

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John Davis

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2019, 05:47:43 PM »
That I definitely will do. I'll likely give it two-three weeks to accommodate those that log in just now and then.
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John Davis

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Re: Avatars
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 10:07:47 AM »
Okay doing it. Thanks everyone for your feedback! I'll preserve the old avatars for the interim and announce the change before its made here. In the long run I'll likely preserve them too.
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