No! I’m not talking about military bases or U.S. conspiracy theories, but rather phpBB’s very own Area51 – http://area51.phpbb.com
Area51 is phpBB’s official testing ground, and as stated on the site it is the home of “bleeding edge developmental code”. The site was established in 2001 – the brainchild of psoTFX, the former leader of the development team, in order to have a local installation of phpBB that they could test in a real life situation. With the main phpBB.com forum obviously out of the question, Area51.phpbb.com can be used so that the developers can see how the latest code is holding up with many concurrent users online, without fear of users becoming annoyed if certain features aren’t working (which I will touch on in a minute).
Area51 boasts the unique feat of hardly changing at all and always changing at the same time.
On the one hand, its purpose has remained constant for the last decade. The Area51 homepage, like in 2001, is based on phpBB development and links to pages such as the coding guidelines, features and various documentation.
On the other hand, Area51 is forever being updated in terms of using the latest developmental version of the phpBB software. In the lead up to the release of Olympus especially, the site was constantly changing. Area51 isn’t updated so often now, probably only every few weeks on average (less than phpBB.com!) but the number of updates fluctuate, and will increase as a new version approaches and more code needs testing. The developers now like to use Area51 as an “initial testing ground”, a place to test and tweak code before it is committed to SVN. Area51 is the ideal place to do this, because if a feature is broken or error messages appear, it doesn’t affect too many people, unlike the phpBB.com forum which is used for support, discussion, customisation downloads, etc. So if you go to Area51 at some point and find things aren’t working, don’t panic! The feature may still be a work in progress.
Once the code has been tested and is stable it is committed to SVN, where it is then used live on the main phpBB.com forum.
Area51 is still running on the phpBB 3.0.x SVN, and it is likely to stay that way for at least the next 6 months or so until it is updated to use the 3.1.x SVN, which is currently too unstable to use.
Why should I register on Area51?
Area51 is the backup board for phpBB.com. If you had been to phpBB.com over the past week or so (at the time of writing) you will have noticed a message redirecting you to the Area51 board. A temporary support board for phpBB 3.0.x and MODs/Styles was set up at Area51, and this will happen if there are ever any extended periods of downtime for the main forums. For this reason alone it is not a bad idea to have an account at Area51 – as it is on a separate server to phpBB.com, it is unlikely that the two sites would experience downtime simultaneously.
In the lead-up to the release of phpBB v3.2 “Ascraeus”, Area51 will act as a place where you can test out the new version – just as people did in the lead-up to phpBB v2.2, later v3.0 “Olympus”.
What are the important links for Area51?
Area51 used to be a place where you could download CVS snapshots of the latest developmental release. phpBB has recently switched to SVN, and the SVN repository can be found at code.phpbb.com.
Thanks to Acyd Burn, Development Team Leader, for providing information about the history of Area51.