Developing Luna #9 – The Road to Preview 3

A couple of days ago, we’ve released our second Preview: Preview 2 (dat naming!). And we couldn’t be more happy with it. However, in the meantime, we’ve worked on the next version of Luna, version 0.3. Better known as Luna 1.0 Preview 3. It has to go a long way before it’s finished, but we’re getting there. And this is how and what.

The final “real” preview
Preview 3 is going to be our final preview. However, there will be Preview 4 releases too, but these versions will be to Beta 1 (version 0.5) what Preview 0 was to Preview 1, and DEVED and NEWED to Preview 2. Anyway, Preview 3 is going to introduce some new features on its own. At the end of Preview 4, we’ll be at the “feature freeze” stage. While that’s also a long road, this means that Preview 3 will also finish of a lot of features. However, we’ve decided to cancel one feature that we planned for Luna 1.0.

Plugins
The promised plugin system won’t make it into Luna 1.0. For now, it’s on the road for an unknown future update. Why? Well, we’ve said before that we wanted Preview 2 to be as stable as possible to have a good base to build a plugin system upon. However, we realized that we’re not going to get to that point until Luna 1.0 would be released. So we’ve decided to drop this feature for version 1.0. It will be coming in a future update, no worries. Just not 1.0.

Themes
Meanwhile, the Theme system is getting along very nicely. We’ve build in a new feature that allows themes to have a parent theme. When that’s the case, themes can load files from other themes that they are missing. We’re using this system to provide you with Sunset. Sunset is a theme that is based on Sunrise, but unlike Sunrise, it has a more classic approach to boards. This isn’t our promised Random style (which will get introduced in Preview 4). Anyway, we’re still hard at work on the theme engine. And we’re planning to finish most of our work with it.

Notifications
Preview 2 added a notification system to Luna. The only notification the system could give was a “Succesful upgrade” notification. Preview 3 will finally add more notifications to the system to function and be actually useful. We’re also planning to add some more options to the notification system in the Backstage.

Inbox
We’ll be revamping Inbox in the 3rd Preview. We’ll be removing the Sending lists and Contacts option. Inbox will be merged with the profile, too. Inbox will continue to have it’s own usermenu item in the navbar, through.

Management options
Preview 3 will add new management options, like soft delete. With soft delete, posts can be deleted from the user’s view, but continue to exist for admins and moderators. Further more, we’ll add a Global Moderator option, so you can set a user to moderate the whole forum at once. The later one might not hit the Preview 3 milestone, but it will hit at Preview 4! Further, we’re planning to improve the Report system with new options to manage posts.

Mobile support and visual enhancements
Preview 3 will improve Sunrise for mobile devices. For people that have been testing Preview 2, they know that Sunrise isn’t that mobile friendly. We’ve already made some huge improvements on that in the current build 3705 (up from 3660 for Preview 2). Further, Luna will use icons from Font Awesome more often, with more consistency. Not only the mobile design will be improved, of course, but also the desktop design. Also counts for Backstage.

Bugfixes and other improvements
Preview 3 will also fix more bugs and improve the security of the software. That’s logical, of course, but it’s a major thing either way. We want Luna to get as stable as possible. Beta 1, 2 and 3 will focus on bugfixes only! Preview 3 will do his job here too. Other improvements we’re planning are @-mentions, a warning to remove your install.php file, updated Bootstrap, jQuery and Font Awesome components, and more.

Luna 1.0 Preview 2 now available

Over 2 months of development have past since our previous preview, Preview 1, over 6 months have past since the start of the development of Luna. We think it’s time for the next, the second, chapter of our story. After DEVED and NEWED, I’m happy to announce the availability of Luna 1.0 Preview 2. Our second official release of Luna. And since Preview 1, a lot has changed!

Sunrise revamped
The first change that you’ll notice is that we redesigned Sunrise. It’s design now contains more of its selected accent color. With the new design, comes a new heading, which now exists out of 2 bars, and a new footer, which now shows the statistics everywhere. The new design also changed the look of our index, forum view, topic view and profile. The new design also makes use of a new feature in Luna: displaying a “Back to top” link in the footer, and copyright notices. You can now search from the navigation bar too. Sunrise 0.2 surely looks much better then Sunrise 0.1.

New installer
We also revamped the code behind our installer, it’s not the new installer we showed you guys earlier in this blog, but it’s a big change either way. You won’t notice anything of the new installer, except improved performances. If you do notice a difference anywhere else, it’s a bug. Which you better report to us. For the installer we showed earlier, you’ll have to check back with us when we kick off development of Luna 1.1.

Profile settings
We’ve decided to come back on our plans for Me. Instead, we made some major revamping work to the Profile system. The result is one single settings page, divided in categories, where you can change all your settings, and save them all at once. The new Settings page replaces Personality, Settings and Administration. You’ll also find that there are new colors that you can choose as your accent color.

Menu
The menu has been revised too. We now show your Inbox items on the main navbar instead of the User Menu. There is also a brand new button that indicates if you have new notifications or not. Further, we’ve added your Settings to the User menu too. You can now see your name appear next to your avatar. We also made some major changes to the responsive version of the menu.

Notifications
Preview 2 introduces notifications. This system – that is still a work in progress, expect more changes to come in Preview 3, Preview 4 and Beta 1 – notifies you about new events on the board. The first ever notification you’ll probably see is the “Succesfully upgraded” notification. Notifications has been added to your profile. More management options for notifications will come in later versions too. Further, we’ve splitted the notification system from the profile system.

Theme engine
The Theme engine got once again improved. We splitted even more logic from the markup, we hope to finished this thing by the time we can release beta 1 (version 0.5). For theme developers: there is still a lot of change coming, it might not be worth it to developer themes for this version already. Stay tuned for beta 1!

Emojis
We’ve removed all emoticons from Luna. What? Yes, you read that correct! However, emojis are here to replace them! The cool thing about emojis is that they aren’t images. They are build-in to your operating system (and thus, why would we make a weaker quality build-in thing into Luna?) and they are capable of being displayed on high-DPI screens. They also fit the design of your OS better. Luna supports emojis from Windows, Windows Phone, OS X, iOS and Android. You can, due to this, also change the size of the emojis to whatever you want. We took the chance to change the way they are displayed in Help too, takes much less space now…

Editor
The editor has been improved with some fixes to its design. But perhaps the most important change it got is the – for now unfinished – ability to add emojis from within the interface. This makes it a lot easier for the people that aren’t familiar with the BBCode that generates some of the more complex emojis.

Backstage
Another series of changes in the Backstage. First off, the “Welcome to Luna Preview” panel has been removed from the Backstage index. We did, however, add a new panel: First Run. This will show up after installing Luna and helps you to kick off your board. Further, people that like to manage their board on their Phone will find themselves in an improved Backstage, as the updated design takes less space in the heading, reducing the amount of scrolling. This update also improves the design for touch screens (with big screens, like tablets too). Further, you’ll find a new “About” page, which is a copy of our Release Notes and tells you about everything that has changed since ModernBB 3.6. We’ve also added support for new colors for your forums. And perhaps the most important change of all: Luna now supports subforums. You’ll find a lot more changes to the Backstage, as a lot of options have been added.

Code revisions and performance
Finaly, Luna contains a lot revised code. The installer is one of them. We revamped the code at major points to improve readability of it and the performance it gives. Further, the images used in the Preview 2 package have been compresed to give better performance. Further, we made some improvements to our coding conventions too, but the work on that isn’t even close to finished.

Bugfixes
And finaly, of course, there are the usual bugfixes. Compare to Preview 1, this Preview 2 release is a much more stable version. 33 bugs have been fixed since Preview 1.

And now ahead: Preview 3 (and beyond)
Anyway, just like with Preview 1’s release, the development of Preview 3 (version 0.3) has already kicked off. This upcoming update will, once again, contain some new features and options. We hope to get a plugin system up and running in this update. More about our Roadmap in our previous blog post! We might also release a minor update to Preview 2 in the future, mainly to fix bugs. We’ll blog about that update too (if it gets released)!

And before you ask “can we use Preview 2 to develop our plugins, translations and themes?”. I’m going to answer that question here already: no. Well, you can start developing it, but I would strongly recommend you to wait until Beta 1. The point where the amount of changes start to go down. In fact, translations won’t be possible until that point, as a lot of strings won’t be translateable during the Preview-stage. Anyway, go ahead and test Preview 2. Be save and do it away from a productive environment, or go in adventure mode and do it anyway. We, the Luna Group, are already using this on our official board! If you want to test out Preview 2, that’s the place to go!

Luna Roadmap update

With the holidays after us (and more holidays in front of us throughout the year), we’ve decided to update our roadmap plans for Luna 1.0. I would like to tell you guys what has changed. Visit our roadmap for a table overview.

Today, we pushed some changes to our Luna 1.0 roadmap. The most important change might be that our target date for Luna 1.0 Stable has been changed. For the better. Where it was June 2015, we changed it to May 2015. However, let us talk about how that change happened.

First things first: the upcoming preview: Preview 2 (version 0.2). You can expect Preview 2 later this month, nothing has changed on that. Preview 2 will still focus on making the experience more stable so we have a good base for Preview 3. Preview 3 (version 0.3) is planned for late February or early March. It could be one of our major releases, as the plugin system is supposed to make an appearance in that release, together with SQLite 3 support.

Preview 4 is now a release that will be done for certain. We didn’t know if we would use the version 0.4-series or if we would skip to version 0.5 (which is Beta 1). Now we are certain: Preview 4 will be a real thing. However, it will be like Preview 0 was to Preview 1 and DEVED and NEWED to Preview 2: the Preview 4 serie is going to be beta builds, running up to Beta 1 (version 0.5). Preview 4 is planned to be released throughout March, multiple updates are planned before we hit beta.

Beta 1 is planned for March, too. Or early April. It depends on Preview 3. Beta 1 will include the final feature set, after that release, we won’t add any other features. Except perhaps some minor things. Anyway, when Beta 1 is a thing, Beta 2 will follow 1 week after that (version 0.6). Beta 3 (version 0.7) wasn’t a certain build either, but now, just like Preview 4, it is. There will be a Beta 3. It will be released 1 week after Beta 2. Version 0.8 was first planned to be a 4th Beta, however, we’ve decided to make version 0.8 our first Release Candidate: RC1, which will be released, again, 1 week after Beta 3. RC2, again, will be released 1 week after RC1 and cary version 0.9. Beta 2, Beta 3, RC1 and RC2 are all planned for an April 2015 release. And then, one week after RC2, with some luck, Luna 1.0 will be a thing. That should be early May. If we need another RC, RC3 that is, we will continue with Luna 0.10 first. The final RC should be the exact same version as the Luna 1.0 release, just with another version number. So basicaly, we expect RC2 to be the correct version. 1 fix after RC2 means that we will have an RC3. We’re not taking any risk with Luna 1.0. It has to be right from the start!

Anyway, the next months are going to be very exciting, I hope you all are looking forward to it. I know I am! See you with Preview 2!

Luna 1.0 Preview 2 NEWED now available!

Happy New Year! I’m very happy to announce that today, we are releasing Luna 1.0 Preview 2 NEWED (which we named version 0.2-dev.2015). Just like DEVED, this isn’t Preview 2, it’s just a developer release. This time, NEWED stands for NEW Year Edition. This is to show some of the work that has been done since Preview 1. Just like with DEVED, we have a main focus point for you guys!

If you’re familiar with Preview 2 DEVED, then you’ve already seen a lot of the new changes that have been made in these early Preview 2 builds. NEWED add a couple of additional goodness. But first of, if you’re testing this build, please focus on the Profile Settings. We revamped them completely, tested them out, but we can never be certain that we didn’t miss a spot, so that is our request for this build. It’s important to know if everything goes according to plan there. Even better would be if you guys would install NEWED from scratch, a fresh installation, so you also try the new installer from DEVED.

Except for the Profile Settings, more has changed since DEVED. First off, we decided to cancel our plans with Me, and thus, the Activity page is gone in this build. The profile system itself also got a major overhaul. Both the Profile and Settings should have improved performance. You can now access your Settings through your User Menu. The Settings page, a merge of Personality, Settings and Administration, can now be saved all at once. Inbox has been removed from the User menu, instead, it now has it’s own icon in the main navigation bar, next to the notification center. Finaly, the Profile, Notifications and Settings have received a new interface.

The editor has been improved, we’ve fixed a visual glitch in its design. Further more, we’ve added an Emoji button for you guys to add the less-known Emojis more easly. We also changed some of the Mainstage’s First Run actions. Further, the responsive design of the footer has been improved. The “Back to top” link now can be disabled, too.

For the Backstage, “User search” has been split into “User search” and “Tools” to keep only search options on the search page. If you make your window small enough, you’ll also see that the navbar in the Backstage has a new, less space taking design, by showing the page title and icon as the brand. The First Run in the Backstage now can be disabled. You’ll also see that some settings have been disabled. They are kind of a teaser for what’s to come. Features you haven’t seen before are probably new and will be enabled in later updates. Feature that you’ve already seen that are now disabled are likely to be removed, through it might also mean that we want to “force” you to try it another way. In that later option, the feature will be available again a later update.

Behind the scenes, we made multiple bugfixes. A lot of code has been improved for better performance, and so on. And we made some huge changes to our code to match our new coding conventions. We also updated jQuery from version 2.1.1 to 2.1.3 (we didn’t skip a version, jQuery 2.1.2 doesn’t exist). URLs that used to send you to ModernBB.be now send you to GetLuna.org. And finaly, NEWED will put less weight on your storage space, with a size that is 11% smaller then DEVED.

So, if you’re on Preview 0, you should defenetly upgrade to Preview 1 for a stable environment, and NEWED for a lot of fun. If you’re running Preview 1 and you want a stable environment (for as far as an alpha’s stability goes), stay where you are. If you’re on DEVED, we suggest you upgrade to the new version. If you’re on Preview 1 (or earlier) and you wan’t to know more about the new features, we suggest you read our article on DEVED, which also discribes the new features from that build.

The “stable” release or Luna 1.0 Preview 2 (perhaps also known as Luna 0.2) should follow later this month with even more goodness and a semi-functional notification system (and a lot more)! The Preview 2 article will do a round-up of everything that’s new since Preview 1, not Preview 2 NEWED. And then, we move on to Preview 3. 2015 sure is going to be a great year, and we couldn’t do it without you! Enjoy 2015! Happy New Year!

2014 was awesome!

2014 has come to an end. And to be fair: for ModernBB, it was a rather awesome year. Let’s take a quick look at a year of work!

Last year, we ended with the development of ModernBB 3 beeing at full swing. We released 40 new version of ModernBB and Luna in the past year, the first one beeing the ModernBB 3 Alpha 1 (core 0.0.30.1534). During 2014, 5 development releases of ModernBB, 6 pre-releases of ModernBB, 22 stable ModernBB releases and 7 development releases of Luna followed. The most recent one beeing Luna 1.0 Preview 2 DEVED (core 0.2.3478), earlier this month. And later today, you’ll be able to enjoy Luna 1.0 Preview 2 NEWED (core 0.2.3573)!

40 new versions is a lot. During 2013, we only released 23 versions of ModernBB. Note that ModernBB came to existence in April 2013 through, and that the real development actualy kicked of in late June 2013. So, on avarage per active month, we have released a lot more releases last year.

But releases aren’t what matter. Neither are downloads, through we’ve seen some realy nice numbers the past year! We closed of 2013 with 2045 downloads in total, making an avarage of 227 download each month since April. 2014, however, closed of with 11.780 downloads in total, making an avarage of 811 download each month. December 2014 was our best month up until now, with 1309 downloads. This means that, if we do not shrink in downloads, the amount of avarage downloads can be doubled during 2015 (let’s hope even better!). 2013 to 2014 was over 3 (almost 4) times more download per month!

But like I said, numbers doesn’t matter. Well, there is one number that does: the number of happy people. And we hope that we did make some people happy with all the work that is beeing done to ModernBB 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7 and Luna 0.0, 0.1 and 0.2 during the past year. A lot of features have joined the fun since last years final 2.2 release. And in fact, a lot of features are joining right now since the 3.x branch in Luna. Next year arround this time, I hope to be looking back at a beautiful Luna 1.0 and Luna 1.1 release (yeah, only 2 major releases planned for next year, 3 if you count ModernBB 3.7 (but that’s planned to be not such a major release) 4 if we might get to Luna 1.2, it feels weird!).

Well, I wish you a Merry Chrismas (a little bit late, but I already did this on Twitter too) and a Happy New Year! Enjoy the fun! I’m out for this year!