2015: A year in review and a year in preview

So… I wrote this post at the end of 2016, but forgot to post it. So here we go…


2015 was a big year for us. We release Luna 1.0, a major update to our software. And we also released the final ModernBB release. Let’s take a look at what we did this year:

We released 19 development versions (alphas), 13 pre-release versions (betas and RCs), 4 final versions (Aero, Bittersweet Shimmer, Cornflower Blue and Denim) and 19 updates (x.x.1-releases). In total, we released 55 versions of Luna. We also had 2 ModernBB-releases (version 3.7 and 4.0). This brings us on a total of 57 releases in 1 year. That’s up 17 from last year’s 40 releases and quiet a bit up from 2013’s 23 releases.

I’m also very happy with our download count. Compared to last year, we had a 60% year over year growth for the counted downloads. The bad news is, in the period of June to early November, we – sadly – didn’t count all downloads, so this could have been more.

But what will 2016 bring? Well…

First of all, I hope we’ll be releasing less updates. Sure, updates are fine, but some of the past year’s updates shouldn’t have happened. I hope that Luna 2.0 will bring along a more stable platform then 1.0.0, 1.1.0 and 1.2.0 have been so far (Luna 1.3.0 is doing just fine, though). I’ve also noticed that well, I should be a little bit more critical about contributions made by the community. Don’t get me wrong: I love that people help out with Luna and that’s more then welcome. But some commits shouldn’t have happened either and I’m not to happy about some of the directions Luna has been going into the past year (and Luna 2 will revert these directions).

What I do hope is that 2016 will bring Luna 2.0. This won’t be for the coming months, I can tell that already. The first preview might, though. Luna 2.0 is probably going to be the final major update. Future updates will probably be more focused like the x.1-updates. Don’t worry, we’ll eventually get to Luna 3.0, but I’m hoping to adapt a more rolling-release-ish scheme for updates after the Luna 2.0-update is done. More on that later. I hope we’ll have a great 2016. I’m actually certain of it.


So now that I failed to put this one up on January 1st, 2016, I actually can reflect on what I said back than already. Where we’ve released 57 builds in 2015 in total, this year, we’ve only released 3 versions so far (1.3.1, 1.4-alpha.1 and 1.4-alpha.2). So to that matter, we’re on the right track. I hope 1.4 to be a very stable update from the get-go, despite it having some changes that are potentially dangerous.

Round-up #18 – Backstage 6: managing categories and forums

When building forum software, one of the most important pages in an admin panel – or Backstage in our case – is the page that actually contains the settings to manage the forums and categories you make available to your users. Today’s Backstage doesn’t do a really good job at that, so with the next major revamp coming up as part of Luna 2.0, I would like to take a look with you guys to how the new management page will work.

luna13

Above, you see a screenshot of how the state is today. The above screenshot comes from our official board. And while it is in theory fine to work with, there are in fact more than just one usability issue.

First off: you can’t edit categories and forums at once. If you would change the position of your forums and the position and name of your categories and hit either “Save” in “Edit forums” or “Edit categories”, only the changes in the panel you would click “Save” on would be saved. And that’s bad.

Secondly, and this is more important to touch-enabled devices, the “Edit” and “Remove” buttons are next to each other, without any space in between. While hitting the “Remove” button will trigger a confirmation, this is once again bad design.

Then there is the inconsistency of what you can edit in the overview: why can you only change the position of the forums within their own categories, yet you can change the name and position of categories? Why can’t you change the name of a forum too? Why can’t you change even more than that?

Another issue we’ve heard complains about is that child forums aren’t indicated at all. In fact, in Luna 1.3 it is possible to assign a parent to a forum and put that same child into another category and this overview would actually display it as such. Finally, the current design isn’t responsive either, which brings problems on small screens.

And all of that is actually kinda bad news. So we set out to do better with Luna 2.0 and the result was us redesigning the whole thing. The result is this:

luna20

And above you can see the result (as it stands now). First things first, these category titels “General” and “Browsers” are editable. They are text fields designed to not look like text fields. Below these category titles, you see an actual text field with numbers in. These are the position fields. As you can see, individual forums have them too. These fields will be present in the first couple of Previews of Luna 2.0 but we hope to kick them out of the software before the final release gets out, replacing it with a drag and drop system.

Anyway, to the forum settings, as you can see, the forums are now listed as colored bars (these colors are the colors you assign to them) and we’ve included their icons in the names if set. The edit button now appears in the bar too. If you want to edit just basic settings, you can click on the titles of the boards and their card will open, showing you settings for the name, position, icon and color. You’ll also see an option to remove a board and one that shows the forum is enabled. That later one is a new settings that allows you to temporary hide forums without the need of changing all permissions. You will be able to change it in Preview 1, but it won’t do anything just yet (because we’ll wait with that until the Mainstage gets its revamp).

As you can see, the “Bootstrap” and “Font Awesome” forums aren’t aligned to the left as all the others. This is because they are children of “Announcements”. There is now a visual hint! Additionally, even if you would put these forums before “Announcements” or in another category, they will still appear under “Announcements”.

And finally, you can now save both category and forum settings at once. It sounds like a small changes, but it is big and a serious leap ahead in managing your board. It’s all these enhancements that make Luna 2.0 already a better place to be. Menu management has actually a similar interface (only there aren’t categories and sub forums, of course).

We’re really looking forward to ship the first version of Luna 2.0 somewhere later this winter. We don’t have an ETA at this point, but the progress is promising and it would be awesome if we could get out our first preview somewhere in February. Stay tuned for more details and more looks into the next version of Luna!

Once upon a time, there was a Backstage

With Luna 2.0 Preview 1 coming along nicely, I found it kinda fitting to go over the history of the Backstage. We’ve done this before, prior to the launch of ModernBB 3.3, but this time around, there is so much more to say about the Backstage. So let’s take a look at how we got from Dashboard 1.6 in ModernBB 1.6 to Backstage 6.0 “Astrid” in Luna 2.0.

Dashboard 1.6/1.7

adminpanel1.6

Framework: None / Icon set: None / Awesomeness: 11%

As ModernBB 1.x was more of a maintenance release to continue where FluxBB failed, the Dashboard that could be found in these early ModernBB versions wasn’t anything different from FluxBB. What you see above is an interface that isn’t responsive and not optimized for management at all. It’s actually quiet boring. Moving on…

Dashboard 2.0

dashboard2.0

Framework: Bootstrap 2.3.2 / Icon set: None / Awesomeness: 24%

Similar to Luna 2.0, the first beta of ModernBB 2.0 focused on revamping the Dashboard – and only the Dashboard. This is where the basic structure that is still in use today, is introduced. Not only that, but for the first time in ModernBB’s history (which includes PunBB’s and FluxBB’s) a framework is introduced. In this case, it was Bootstrap 2.3.2. It’s the first time it appears, and also the last. But I’m gonna be honest with myself, the UI was a mess. Let me illustrate:

dashboard2.0bis

That’s the Settings-page. The very same page we’re now getting very positive feedback on. Let me be clear: this version… not that positive. And I can only say that I agree. Somehow, I found it a good look back in the day, now I don’t.

Backstage 2.1

dashboard2.0bis2

Framework: Bootstrap 2.3.2 / Icon set: None / Awesomeness: 27%

In beta 2 of ModernBB 2.0, not that much changed about the design, however, a notable change in functionality was that the index now included features instead of just a list of things you could do. And another obvious change was the introduction of the word “Backstage”.

Backstage 3.0

backstage3.0

Framework: Bootstrap 3.0.0 / Icon set: None / Awesomeness: 43%

Then ModernBB 2.0 beta 3 happened. Not only did this release revamp the front-end completely – something that’s totally besides the point for this blog post – but it also revamped the Backstage. Big time. We kicked Bootstrap 2 out, and included Bootstrap 3 instead. Thank god, you might say, because for the first time, the Backstage was finally taking shape.

Beyond a visual refresh – as you can see below – not that much changed to the Backstage in ModernBB 2.0’s releases after beta 3. It didn’t change a thing in ModernBB 2.1 either. The only notable difference was that Bootstrap got updated to version 3.0.2, and even that isn’t that notable at all.

backstage3.0bis

Backstage 3.1

backstage3.1

Framework: Bootstrap 3.0.3 / Icon set: None / Awesomeness: 51%

Little note: so far, non of the versions of Backstage where actually responsive. Backstage 3.1 did bring a responsive design. A poor implementation, but one nonetheless. This puts ModernBB in history as one of the first forum software to have a fully responsive design, thanks to Bootstrap. Version 3.1 also introduced the now much used panel-button (as can be seen in the “New reports” panel). For some reason, we also made the design wider. I don’t know why, but we did.

Backstage 4.0

backstage4.0

Framework: Bootstrap 3.1.1 / Icon set: Glyphicons / Awesomeness: 59%

ModernBB 3.0 introduced a less colorfull design (though it did introduce the idea of accents). It is however notable for – what I believe to be – the first good implementation of Bootstrap in ModernBB. The result was a properly functioning responsive design and a much cleaner interface overall. Through later versions would still improve on that, it was a major improvement. Also, we started using icons in the Backstage in version 4.0 too. ModernBB 3.1 and 3.2 also used Backstage 4.0 with some minor adjustments.

Backstage 4.1

backstage4.1

Framework: Bootstrap 3.1.1 / Icon set: Glyphicons / Awesomeness: 49%

And this is the point where we got into a personality crisis. Backstage was redesigned with a more colorful interface once more. And a bright on. A little to bright (but the worst has yet to come). This version of Backstage did introduce the accent system we use today (that is, setting the accent). ModernBB 3.4.3 would upgrade Bootstrap to version 3.2.0, but did not bring any other visual changes. It was a release I am particulary proud of, the Backstage design? Not so much.

Backstage 4.2

backstage4.2

Framework: Bootstrap 3.2.0 / Icon set: Glyphicons / Awesomeness: 56%

As if Backstage 4.1 wasn’t bright enough, version 4.2 made the navbar white. White! It did make the design look more professional and all, but it certainly was a downgrade for people working often in dark spaces with not enough light.

Backstage 4.3

backstage4.3

Framework: Bootstrap 3.3.1 / Icon set: Glyphicons / Awesomeness: 64%

The good news is that that light design didn’t last that long. ModernBB 3.6 started to introduce design aspects that could be found in the Luna Preview 0 builds from that time. This time, the Backstage did gain a functional update: touch-friendly dropdowns for tablet users. Backstage 4.3 is basically the last iteration of the Backstage 2-based series. ModernBB 3.7 used the exact same code for it’s Backstage and after that, it was Luna all the way. But ModernBB had one last update…

Backstage 4.9

backstage4.9

Framework: Bootstrap 3.3.5 / Icon set: Font Awesome 4.4 / Awesomeness: 83%

ModernBB 4 brought Backstage 4.9 along. This version of the Backstage was a back-port of the Backstage that could be found in Luna 1.1. It brought Font Awesome as the icon set to ModernBB and was the final ModernBB release.

Backstage 5.0

backstage5.0

Framework: TrentUI 1.0 / Icon set: Font Awesome 4.2 / Awesomeness: 71%

So, now we go backwards. Backstage 5.0 is older then version 4.3 and 4.9. This is the first itteration of Backstage since version 4.2. It introduced a brand new design and 2 noticable framework changes: Bootstrap was set aside for TrentUI (a Bootstrap fork) and Font Awesome took over the Glyphicons usage. Perhaps more important: this update changed the menu and required less navigation within the hamburger menu on small screens. Later revisions did put Bootstrap 3.3.0 back in place.

Backstage 5.1

backstage5.1

Framework: Bootstrap 3.3.1 / Icon set: Font Awesome 4.2 / Awesomeness: 82%

Luna 1.0 Preview 1 brough along a familiar design if you’re used to todays versions of Luna. The interface was made darker and flatter.

Backstage 5.2

backstage5.2

Framework: Bootstrap 3.3.1 / Icon set: Font Awesome 4.2 / Awesomeness: 84%

Luna 1.0 Preview 2 made panel headings more distict and stand out and brought minor visual changes. It was basically the last major itteration of the Backstage for the Luna 1.0-branch. 1.0.7 brought the “brand”-update, which included our lighter blue brand color, the one still in use today.

Backstage 5.3

backstage5.3

Framework: Bootstrap 3.3.5 / Icon set: Font Awesome 4.3 / Awesomeness: 87%

Which brings us to todays Backstage. While both Bootstrap and Font Awesome have been updated since the original Backstage 5.3 release (as part of Luna 1.1), the design has remained the same and no big changes where applied. It’s our best Backstage yet that’s publicly available. But we have one version that’s even better: Backstage 6 “Astrid” right now in development.

Lessons learned

After a little less then 3 year of iteration changes and 2 major revamps (Backstage 2 and 5), you might think that we’ve learned our lessons on how to make a great administration interface. And yes, we did. And all of that is going to come together in the 6th version of the Backstage, and the third major revamp (though, since it is a rebuild from scratch, you might say it’s the first major revamp). It’s going to be gorgeous. We’ll have a blog post up about Luna 2.0 Preview 1 early next year, so stay tuned!

Luna 1.3 nearing beta

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on both Luna 1.3 and 2.0. While more attention has gone to the 2.0 update, there is also work being done for the 1.3 update. So now that this update is nearing the beta stage, I think it’s a nice idea to talk a little bit about what’s in it. So, first the stuff that is already in:

Themes and Backstage design
Luna 1.3 will be a rather minor update on the surface. The obvious things first: we will bring along a major revamp for the Sunrise 2.0 theme, making it look more like the classic Random themes from ModernBB. Another major – also theme related change – is the Fifteen 1.3 update. The theme will now show categories and filter options in the sidebar on the index. Further, we made serious improvements to the mobile interface of the theme. Idem dito for the Backstage.

Features
We’re introducing the “important” label. It’s a lot like the “pinned”-label, but it simply doesn’t stay put on the top of the forum list. Talking about labels, we’ve also changed the “new”-label to match all the others.

System changes
We’ve done some major work on timezones. First of all, we’ve included a serious amount of new timezones that where missing prior to the 1.3-update. Secondly, we’re now also taking care of Daylight Saving Time ourselves, instead of the user needing to change it manually in the profile and admins in the Backstage. Further, this update includes a couple of minor developer changes.

Preparing for Luna 2.0
However, the biggest change in the codebase is probably the major renaming work that has been done to the database. We changed a couple of things to match our terminology – much – better and that includes the database update. This is done to make sure that we can keep Luna 2.0 as clean as possible. We’ve also included some brand new coding conventions for our CSS files.

However, the changes won’t stay limited to just those. Here are the features we’ve yet to include but are planned to land in the coming days:

BBCode enhancements
Luna 1.3 will include 2 new tags for BBCode: center and size. However, because we’re well aware that if you give users freedom, they will abuse it, the size-tag will be disabled by default. Additionally, we’re also planning to update the video-tag to use Bootstraps responsive video embed class instead of our own fixed widths. These 2 options will disappear from settings in that update.

High-DPI support
Luna is a rather High-DPI-compatible platform as we don’t use much that isn’t scalable. However, the things that can’t scale, are horrible. The default avatar, test image and emoticon set will receive an upgrade to work better with High-DPI screens. Additionally, I would like to recommend you to use emoji’s instead of emoticons. As of Luna 2.0, emoji’s will be enabled by default once more (after we decided to disable it by default during Luna 1.0s test phase due to complains about Chrome not using emoji’s, but honestly, I don’t care much anymore and I’m getting sick about Chromes weird behavior; so that’s that)…

So these are 2 of the major additional changes that are coming. We’re planning some other minor changes beyond these. In case you didn’t notice, Luna 1.3 is more of a minor refresh that focusses more on details than that it is a major update 1.1 and 1.2. Most of my focus for major features has now shifted to 2.0; and I think that – if you guys see the result of that – you’ll be very happy that I did.

Round-up #17 – Fallow: Third time’s a charm

TL;DR: Luna 2.0 Fallow is in development. Ain’t that awesome?
For no “blast from the past”, skip first 6 paragraphs.

ModernBB 2 was an awesome release, the whole (or something around 95%) of the old FluxBB interface was rewritten in Bootstrap 3, making ModernBB one of the first forum engines to have a full responsive design without any compromises (that is, you won’t lose functionality just because you’re using a smaller screen). In future updates, we continued to refine that design and we nailed it with ModernBB 2.2 if I say so myself.

ModernBB 3 was mainly a rewrite on the back-end, but also contained a lot of improvements to our responsive design. It added quiet a lot of functionality and was refined in 8 subsequent updates (3.1 – 3.7 and 4.0). All bringing along new features that would eventually make up a part of the Luna feature set.

Luna was, just like ModernBB 3, a major jump in both the codebase and design. With Luna, we tried to reimagen forum software design from the ground up. We made – what we believe to be – the best management interface out there with Backstage 5 (sure the UX wasn’t on par with things like position numbers, it still isn’t). And we did away with the idea of individual forums and categories you needed to go look into to know what threads where updated thanks to the reworked index (as long as you had Fifteen as your theme).

These where the released versions of ModernBB/Luna and while we’re proud on these, we’ve had some projects in the past – 2 to be exact – that went beyond that. These 2 projects where named “Vanellope” and “Luna” respectively. Vanellope was a version we started developing during the beta stage of ModernBB 3 and was ment to be a full rewrite of ModernBB. It eventually got canceled but many ideas of it got inserted into ModernBB 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3.

The “Luna Project” was originally planned to be a major refactoring of our source code too. Rebuilding it from scratch. In stead, the project got cancelled once again and many of the ideas from this new project ended up in Luna 1.0 and following versions, the software you’re using today.

Twice we tried to rewrite our code, to break from the past and start anew with modern code. Twice we failed. Third time’s a charm, right? I hope so. In the past days and weeks, I’ve been asking for feedback on quiet a lot of things about Luna on our board. I’ve been showing of some design ideas and mock-ups of what could be “the future of Luna”.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that I am in fact working on a brand new piece of software that eventually will take the place of the then current version of Luna (which should be Luna 1.4 by then). This project is being written under the name “Fallow”, following on Aero, Bitterweet Shimmer, Cornflower Blue, Denim and Emerald, the codenames for the first 5 Luna releases. The version will – obviously – be “2.0”.

Fallow has been in development for a couple of weeks now and I think I’ve been making some nice progres. The codebase is being rebuild from scratch, we’ve got a shiny new core named Jewel, a framework developed by Studio 384 that contains some handy features, and a brand new database layer that has support for MySQL and anything based on that (MySQLi, MariaDB, etc.). SQLite support is coming soon!

Fallow is not only going to be a rewrite just for the sake of it. No, we want to build Luna from the ground up for a reason, or actually, a couple of reasons:

  1. Goodbye GPL. Our license has been holding us back, it has been holding the community back and I don’t like that. GPL is, despite being made by the Free Software Foundation, one of the most restricted open source Licenses out there. We’re currently looking into a new license and MIT or BSD(-like) are licenses we consider promising. Our we might ending up our very own license.
  2. Rewriting Luna means that we can start over again and use modern technologies at the core of Luna. Right now, it’s a hard task to mess with the true core of the project because it requires changes throughout the whole code and more often than not, that triggers unwanted side effects. A clean core is an important change, not only for that, but also because it is more future proof. Think extensions and so on. The PHP requirements won’t probably go up from PHP 5.3 (at this point).
  3. Rewritten markup, rewritten CSS. This might sound like something trivial and something we could easily do in other releases, but rewriting the whole interface is also a big plus for this. Our main focus for this point is to give Luna an overal more unified look. We got a lot of comments on the way Fifteen looked like in Luna 1.0 and 1.1 and fixed a lot of these issues in 1.2 and the upcoming 1.3, but we don’t feel like we’re done just yet. And Fallow is going to bring a much improved design, for both the Mainstage as Backstage. Oh, and we use Less now.
  4. Improved security. We’re taking the chance with Fallow to give our security a serious upgrade, make some serious improvements to encryption, limit the amount of login attempts that can be made within a certain period of time and more and ask new users a question to verify that they are in fact users and not bots.
  5. Very, very small. Luna has grown in size over the releases, now clocking in at over 1 MB when compressed. I’m quiet glad to tell you guys that at this point, the current core clocks in at just 70 kB. On a side note, by for not all features have been included yet, including the whole Backstage, but I have fait. Our goal is to keep Luna very small.

I’ll be talking a lot about the Fallow update for Luna in the near future, so keep an eye on our blog. Sneak peaks will be shown on our board most of the time, unless I’m going to do a serious blog post about that too. I hope you’re all up for some fun. It’s gonna be great!

I don’t have an ETA on when Fallow will land, or when even the first Preview will land, or when it will land on GitHub to begin with. The only target dates I can give right now are those of Luna 1.3 Denim and Luna 1.4 Emerald. And why do these releases matter? Well, Luna 1.4 is currently planned to be the final Luna 1.x release and thus it might be around for a long time. And both 1.3 and 1.4 will contain changes that prepare Luna for the Fallow update. Anyway, the release dates for both version are known for quiet some time now. Luna 1.3 is planned for a December 25, 2015 release, and Luna 1.4 will follow on April 13, 2016.

As mentioned above, SQLite support isn’t planned for the premiere release. And that might botter a lot of people out there. However, we’re planning to include it someday. 🙂 But this might not be something that will happen in Luna 2.0. That’s why Luna 1.4 will be a Long Term Support release, that’s the first time we do that since ModernBB 1.6. We’ll support Luna 1.4 for the then forseable future, until you guys can also migrate to version two point oh.

Luna 1.3 Preview 1 now out for Nightly users

Today, we’re pushing out a major update to our nightly branch. As said in a previous post, we will no longer blog about alpha versions – the Preview X’s – on here unless they bring important changes. And our very first preview since that announcements is one of these exceptions.

Luna 1.3 is targeted to be released at the end of the year and this first previews is a step towards that. Preview 1 of the Denim update doesn’t contain many major changes for end users, but it does do some serious code refactoring under the hood. Luna 1.3 contains rewritten CSS for Fifteen, Sunrise and the Backstage and all 24 accents. It also contains a much more uniform naming convention throughout the whole software, including the database – which will get a major update when this is applied.

Beyond that, this update contains an update to Fifteen with some much requested features, which includes categories in the sidebar. We’ve also added the search feeds (New, Active, Unanswered). Another new “feature” is the addition of what is currently known as Sixteen. However, there is a major visual glitch in the heading that makes it kinda unusable – but that will be fixed in the future.

Starting with this preview, we hope to push out many more previews for Luna 1.3. And don’t worry, new features will start making it into the software as of Preview 3 (or so). You have to keep in mind that Luna 1.3 was never meant to be a major feature upgrade.

Why no release?
Unlike previous Previews, we will not put this preview on our main website. You’ll have to fetch it yourself from GitHub. During the early phases of Luna 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2, we’ve noticed that many users complained about Luna being very unstable, and many of these users where of had been running a preview version (previews are alpha builds, not even beta!). To discourage users from using these early previews in productive environments, we will no longer post them on our site. Betas and Release Candidates will continue to be listed!

Luna 1.3 focus points

The Denim update for Luna has been planned to focus on improving the core of Luna quiet a bit. This mainly includes revamping our CSS-files to apply with the new coding conventions and updating our whole codebase to new naming conventions, including the database. So let me set out the main focus points for the Denim update as a whole.

Core 1.3
As mentioned before, the Luna Core is our main focus for this release and it’s all about conventions, both naming and coding. With this update, we want to make the Luna Core easier to understand and read and make it easier to develop for Luna by unifying the way things are named. A lot of work has already been done on this front.

Improved mobile interface: Fifteen 1.3
Further, we’ve received some feedback on Fifteen and we’re going to apply most of that into the next update. This mainly includes improvements for the mobile side of things (for smartphones, not for tablets as they use an interface similar to desktops instead). However, we’re also going to improve the desktop/tablet interface with some enhancements and additions.

Sunrise Revamped: Sunrise 2.0
We’ve been working for quiet some time now on a new theme named “Sixteen” for Luna. This theme is planned to be part of the final release of Luna before the end of 2015, and as it turns out, that is the Denim update. However, while the idea of Sixteen lives on, the theme itself got scrapped. Yep, we’re dropping that project. Instead, we’re updating Sunrise (and it will contain a lot of the Sixteen ellements) into a full standalone theme (Sunrise 1.2 is a small child theme based on Fifteen).

You can also take it as “Sixteen is being renamed to Sunrise”. The design language will be more in line with that of Fifteen, but the structure of the theme will remain like it is now.

Minor featurea additions
But don’t fear! It’s not all about coding conventions and theme updates. No! We’re also adding in some minor new features for you guys to enjoy. We don’t have a list of this yet, but you can expect the new “Important” label for threads as one of these small changes.

Preparing for Emerald
Most of all, the Denim update is a preparation for all the work that will be done for Emerald – or rather, is currenlty being done – which you might also know as Luna 1.4. We’re currently planning a massive update for the anniversary release (it will be released on our 3rd anniversary and one year after Luna 1.0). But more details on that later.

Revisiting our release cadence

As some of you might know, we’ve been releasing “Preview” releases of our software for quiet some time. The first of these was the ModernBB 3.0 Preview 1 release back in 2013. Ever since, ModernBB 3.0, 3.2, 3.3 and every version of Luna has seen these releases appear on our website as official pre-release versions. And you might see it coming, but that’s about to change.

As of the Denim update, we will no longer publish Preview (or rather, alpha) versions to our website. Instead, these versions will be rolled out trough the nightly channel. We’ve done this for Preview 4 and Preview 5 of Cornflower Blue already. There are a couple of advantages to this:

  • The website gets less crowded
  • The website will continue to show maintenance versions for prior versions longer on the home page
  • It takes much less time
  • We can release new Preview more often

This also means that we will no longer blog about these versions – unless something significant is going on. With this, we hope to bring a more stable platform to all of you and to discourage users to use these versions in productive environments when they are not supposed to (as I’m seeing this way to much and am getting quiet sick of having to support these releases).

Further, a couple of days ago, we published a post “The Road to Luna 1.2” with a couple of dates for beta, RC and final releases for Luna 1.2. That’s not going to happen anymore – I mean the date announcements. I’ve proven to myself far to often already that I’m horrible at following these dates (the good news is, we’re often earlier ready than expected) and thus that’s not going to happen anymore.

This new cadence will kick in with the Denim update now in development. Don’t expect much from that update, by the way. It’s mostly focused on improving the general platform, not the features that work on top of it.

The road to Luna 1.2

As we’ve released Luna 1.2 Preview 1 and Preview 2 (and Preview 2 Update), the release of Luna 1.2 “Cornflower Blue” is coming closer. In fact, our current target date is 4 November, so that’s just another month. So what’s the plan for the future of this release?

I’m gonna be honest here: Luna 1.2 should have been released a little over a month ago, however, due to personal issues, these dates have slipped away. But I’m not planning to let the people that use Luna down. We have a tight schedule, and still some stuff to work out.

First off, Luna 1.2 Preview 3 will be the final preview-release and will be released next week alongside maintenance updates for older versions. This will be the feature-freeze release. We’re hoping to release 2 betas (the 14th and 18th of October) and 1 Release Candidate (the 21th October ). Followed by the final release another 2 days later.

Soon after the release of Luna 1.2, we’re also hoping to release Luna 1.3 “Denim” Preview 1. This update will mainly focus on code improvements and it will bring along the new default theme Sixteen for that year. And yes, we’re not going to include Sixteen in Luna 1.2, I’m sorry, the reason is the 1.3-release: it is still planned for 2015 and thus, there is no reason to already include the Sixteen theme in 1.2.

Either way, Luna 1.2 Preview 3 will finish of most features we’ve still in development. This includes the solved-system, SEO improvements, some minor reworks, build-in favicon support, and more little things that most of you guys will enjoy. Preview 3 will also include Sixteen (we’ll remove it for Beta 1) and we hope to bring Night-mode along the ride.

Luna 1.3: Fancy new coding conventions

A couple of weeks ago, we published our fancy new coding conventions for CSS files within Luna. These new conventions for all our style sheets are all about making Luna’s CSS more readable. And for Luna 1.3 – the Denim update – that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’ll be improving the CSS conventions as we go.

For the matter of fact, Luna 1.3 is mostly about back-end – and thus invisible – changes and improvements and not so much about features like Bittersweet Shimmer and Cornflower Blue where. We do intent to release Sixteen as the new default theme with this update and other small new features, but don’t expect anything beyond that. The first big update will come in the form of Luna 1.4 at our 3 year anniversary.

Additional to the CSS rewrite, we’ve also – finally – update the PHP coding conventions for Luna 1.x (the Luna 2.0 coding conventions will be different for PHP, similar to WordPress’s).

We’ve already started developing Denim. Why? Because we can. In fact, we hope to publish Luna 1.3 Preview 1 the same day as the Luna 1.2 final. Both don’t have a date yet, by the way.