Developing Luna #10 – The Road to Preview 4 and 5

Yesterday, we’ve closed off the Preview 3-stage of the Luna development, now, we’re working  on the first Preview 4-release, for which we’ve planned 3 updates. And than comes Preview 5, perhaps better known as Luna 1.0 Beta 1 (Luna v0.5). Why are we talking about Preview 4 and 5 this time around and not just 4? Let me explain:

First off, with Preview 3 Update 2, we kick off our weekly updates. This means that next Saturday, you guys will be able to enjoy Preview 4 already, we’ll release a new build of Luna every Saturday until we get to the final release. With this, we like to indicate that the now +8 months of Luna development are coming to a close. We’re left with 10 more previews (Preview 4, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9), through we might add a couple of additional previews. Either way, Luna 1.0 is now set for a 9 May 2015 release. Get hyped!

Final features
Preview 4 and its 3 updates will be all about finishing off the features we’ve included in the previous previews. Some other small additions might make it into the software, but don’t put your hopes on it. At this point, we start stabelizing our code, getting everything ready for translation, adding Random 5, and more. It’s not for now, but when we hit Preview 9, you’ll see us remove a couple of developer codes (like the “Core” message in the Backstage and all information in About about Preview-updates).

Further, we’ll be working on improving Sunrise and Sunset, extending the Notifications (the actions you have to do that will trigger notifications) and so on. Something else that is now on our main radar is the documentation, and while Preview 3 Update 2 already comes with a first draft of the documentation, it’s far from finished, and thus, more is coming. Finally, you’ll see us fix a faire amount of bugs.

When Preview 4.3 (“Preview 4 Update 3”) is released, we’re going in to our final week of feature development. After that, we’re on a feature freeze that will bring you guys Preview 5, perhaps better known as Luna 1.0 Beta 1 or Luna 0.5 (but we’ll officially continue to name them “Preview”, both betas and release candidates). Preview 5, 6 and 7 will all focus on finishing the new features, but they will mainly fix bugs. Preview 8 will be our first release candidate and with some good luck, Preview 9 will be our last. Followed by Luna 1.0 some time after (we’ve currently planned a week between Preview 9 and Luna 1.0, but we do not expect it to take that long).

End of the line, or road, pick what you prefer
And with that, the end of the road is in sight. I can see it, it’s still a distance, but it’s there. And we’re closing in. Finally. And what’s at the end of this road? Well, a brand new one. Bittersweet Shimmer Avenue, yeah, let’s call it that. If that doesn’t ring a bell, I’m referring to Luna 1.1. Guys, we’re coming close to the end, it was an amazing ride, and I hope you all are ready for the next one, because Bittersweet Shimmer isn’t the only road over there. Not even close.

Luna 1.0 Preview 3 Update 2 now available

It has been a couple of days again, and here we are, ready to release our next version of Luna. Luna 1.0 Preview 3 Update 2, or Luna Preview 3.2 for short. Or even shorter: Luna 0.3.3827. Today’s update brings once again some small improvements. And a new website.

Inbox improvements
Once again, we’ve improved Inbox further, this is probably it’s final major update for Luna 1.0. New in this version is that you can now alter the design of Inbox within your themes. Further, we made some small improvements to the system itself, too.

Check for updates
Starting with this version, the Update check feature is back for work and will warn you of new stable releases as soon as we hit Luna 1.0. For now, it will warn you when a new preview version is released.

Notification prune
You can also prune notifications with this update. You can choose to remove all seen, all unseen or all notifications at once. This is a very basic and rather drastic feature, but we have no plans to extend its capabilities for Luna 1.0. Stay tuned for Luna 1.1 for that.

Moderation tools
We’ve also finished off the move of the moderation tools from the Mainstage to the Backstage. They now have an improved design and some new capabilities that where missing in the previous preview.

Emojis and Emoticons
Starting with Luna Preview 0, we replaced the emoticons with emojis. This font-driven replacement for smilies had some issues through: not all platforms supported it correctly, especially Windows Vista-based computers (and Windows XP too, for the matter, but we simply don’t care for it as we do not support it anymore), through Windows 7 had some issues with them too. We didn’t remove emojis, instead, we’re providing a choice to use either emoticons or emojis, emoticons being the default. This build includes the old ModernBB emoticonset, through expect them to change design in a Preview 4 build.

Backstage interface
We’ve also made some improvements to the Backstage interface, once again. First off all, and most noticeable: we’re now indicating all options with icons, no more inconsistency with icon usage: everything uses and icon. We’ve also fixed some inconsistency in button naming (for example, some buttons where named “Delete” and others “Remove”). Secondly, we’ve changed some pages to have a more similar design to other pages (the Group page is a good example of that).

Other improvements
Finally, we made some code optimalizations, improvements on our coding conventions and of course the usual bugfixes.

And a new website
With today’s update, we’re also introducing a new website. For starters: we’ve added a first draft for the documentation. The documentation is mainly based upon the old ModernBB documentation with new additions, expect us to improve that during the coming weeks. Further, you’ll find yourself on a brand new index, we made changes to our About page, added a features-list, updated our roadmap (more on that in another blog post) and made minor style changes.

Luna 1.0 Preview 3 Update 1 now available

It’s that time again, a new release of Luna is available. We call it Luna 1.0 Preview 3 Update 1, for short Luna Preview 3.1. Or even shorter: Luna 0.3.3802. It’s what you prefer, we take all 3 of them. Either way, todays update is a small one, through it brings some nice things to the table.

Inbox improvements
We’re currently working hard on making the Inbox interface better, todays update contains a couple of these changes already, but more are to come. Either way, you’ll find yourself in a much improved interface, and a major fix to an interface that was still based on old markup.

Further, we’ve improved our conversation management in Inbox, you’ll find yourself with new tools and other improvements, like an improved interface (it was a mess in earlier Previews).

Notification Center improvements
Another interface we improved in todays update is the Notification Center. The buttons have been given a new place, an icon and a color for accessibility. Also, we fixed these buttons, as they where broken in Preview 3.

Language improvements
While language isn’t our focus until we get to Preview 4, we’ve already started with some cleaning. Todays build comes with less strings (the unused strings are removed, partially) and language fixes. More on this in the future.

Soft delete
As promised, Update 1 comes with improvements to Soft delete. You can now undo a soft deleted post, so that it will appear again for all users. We’ve also added new permissions for soft deleted posts, they don’t have any effect yet, but that’s for later.

The Backstage has been improved in the Settings-area. Maintenance is no longer part of that category. It now has its own category in the main menu. The old “Maintenance” page also has been split up into Maintenance and Prune. You can also find our Database Management under this new category.

Theme Engine
Once again, we’ve added more freedom to our Theme Engine 6. This time around, you’ll be able to change more in Inbox and help. Also related to themes: Sunrise and Sunset have got a couple of updates too.

Finally, we’ve made some improvements to Search, too. The result page now has a look that closer resembles the general forum lists when your results are displayed as topics.

And the usual bugfixes…

Either way, expect us to release Luna 1.0 Preview 3 Update 2, or Luna Preview 3.2 for short, later this month or early next month. Update 2 will be the final Preview 3-release, before moving to Preview 4, which will be our final alpha release (through it will get some updates, too).

What’s in a codename?

So today, I discovered that there is a Wikipedia article about ModernBB (which also covers Luna). Awesome! Thumbs up for the guy that’s keeping the information on it up-to-date. Anyway, I decided to read through the whole lemma, and then, I came across this:

Similar to other software, like WordPress, main releases are named with code names. However, the logic used for ModernBB’s code names is unknown. Some releases share the same code name.

It sure knew to steal my attention. Why? Because it’s right. There is no logic in the ModernBB codenames. Will there be any kind of logic in Luna codenames? Probably, but remember, they are what the name says: codenames. Nothing more, nothing less.

ModernBB Codenames
While ModernBB 1.6 is called Blythe, it didn’t had a codename until ModernBB 2.0 was named Zoe. Both codenames came from the same source: Hasbro (that big entertainment company, you know, like Monopoly and stuff). 1.7 just took the 1.6 codename due to it not being such a big release. However, releases being small isn’t the only reason we stick to a codename. 2.1 and 2.2 where both named Zoe, too. There is no reason for that naming convention.

ModernBB 3.0 was named Odd. Because it was version 3, and uneven number, which is also called “odd”. Also, “Odd” is a name in some countries. ModernBB 3.1 and 3.2 where both named Mellow. These 2 releases sharing a name, did have a reason. Both releases putted the focus on revamping the front-end design. Its codename wasn’t ment to be the word “mellow”, through. It actualy comes from “marshmallow”. But we thought that was to long and shortened it to “Mallow” and then we switched the a for an e. I didn’t even realize at the moment it was an actual word.

ModernBB 3.3 was named Vanellope, after the Vanellope project I did in the months prior to it, of which it also got a lot of code. Anyway, that project’s name on its own was from Wreck-it Ralph, a Disney movie. One of the characters was named “Vanellope von Sweetz” (or something). ModernBB 3.4 was named Neon, and at that point, we did plan to introduce a logic in naming our releases: after the elements. Didn’t happen, through. The next version, ModernBB 3.5, was named Kate. ModernBB 3.6 and 3.7 are both named Blue. We just took names, there really is no reason behind these names. 3.6 and 3.7 share the same name because we don’t think it’s worth it to give it new names.

Luna Codenames
Luna continues to use codenames. Aero is an example, the codename for Luna 1.0. “Luna” as a name itself was a codename until it became our final name. We currently call our 1.1 milestone Luna 1.1 Bittersweet Shimmer. Another update, that currently doesn’t have a version number is Luna Denim. There is an updated planned in between Bittersweet Shimmer and Denim, so that’s going to be something with a C. Anyway, for the people that didn’t notice it: Aero, Bittersweet Shimmer and Denim are all colors. In alphabetic order. So there you have our logic. Finally.

Luna 1.0 Preview 3 now available

It is that time again. Yesterday, we signed off our third preview: Preview 3. This update contains a couple of nice new features. It’s also the first preview following our new update scheme. Either way, it isn’t as big as an update as Preview 1 and 2. More changes come to Preview 3 in future updates.

Update scheme
First off – and this is not a feature – you’ll see us release updates on a more regular base. We’ve planned 2 more updates for Preview 3 this month alone. Perhaps a third one will come in early March. After that, we hope to have reached a point where we can say: yes, this can be Preview 4. And ya’ll know what comes after Preview 4, right? Beta 1.

Theme Engine 6 Preview 3
We made major improvements to our Theme Engine 6 once again. We now support parent themes. This means that one theme can inherit everything from another team unless it overwrites this within itself. We’ve included a very nice example in Preview 3. Further, we now also support more customization, especially Inbox has been improved. Again: more changes to the engine are coming, don’t start developing your themes yet. Another change this update brings is that users can no longer select a style for their own.

Sunset and Sunrise
Sunset is a new theme in Preview 3. It uses Sunrise as its parent. Sunset is a more classic way of doing things, with forums and categories only on the index. Subforum support is included, through. On its turn, Sunrise got some changes to support child themes. We’ve made some major improvements to the responsive design of Sunrise, too. Keep in mind that both Sunset and Sunrise are still a work in progress.

Login for Backstage and update
We’ve added a login interface for the Backstage. In case your theme might break the Mainstage login form, you can always fall back on this Backstage replacement for it. We’ve also used the same design for our new update dialogue.

Security improvements
Further, the Backstage will now ask you to remove install.php for security reasons. We’ve also fixed another security bug.

We’ve also made some major work on Inbox. We’ve decided to take a distance from Contacts and Lists and only provide the PM feature. However, not just thing that got removed: we’ve merged the Inbox page with the profile. In the next preview, you’ll find even more improvements to the interface of Inbox.

Soft delete
Preview 3 comes with support for soft delete. With this feature, you can remove posts from sight without removing them from the board. The current implementation only changes the post’s design to a yellow variation on reported posts. Preview 3 Update 1 will improve the implementation and actually hide the post from members. A new permission will be added to groups, and moderators will be able to soft delete posts by default. It will also be possible to re-enable these posts.

Further, we’ve updated Bootstrap from version 3.3.1 to 3.3.2. Font Awesome also got updated from version 4.2.0 to 4.3.0. However, we do not include all Font Awesome styles anymore. We’ve removed a couple of font formats to reduce the size of the Font Awesome package. Bootstrap got trimmed too. We’ve removed support for Glyphicons as we didn’t include them anyway. No worries, the final release of Luna 1.0 Aero will load Bootstrap, jQuery and Font Awesome from a CDN and include all support you might need.

More changes
Futher, we no longer show the Moved-entries from topics on the index. The editor got some minor interface improvements. The user list got a facelift and the Theme settings page has been improved. Emojis now have a default size of 16px instead of 14px and we made major improvements to the database. We’ve also added the first notifications for users (if you’re subscribed on a thread and someone comments on it, you’ll get a notification), decreased the size of our package and made improvements to the performance of Luna. Further, you can expect the usual bug fixes.

You can find the Preview at the usual location: on our websites download page. Continue to note that this is still a Preview release and bugs are to be expected. We’ll continue to make improvements and add new features to Luna in the coming months until we hit beta 1. After that, the fun can really begin. Expect Preview 3 Update 1 later this month and Preview 3 Update 2 around the end of this month or early March. Enjoy!

A new Preview release policy

We’ve decided to change our policy for when it comes to new Preview releases of Luna. In the past, you’ve seen us release a Preview 0, 1 and 2. Preview 0 got 4 updates, Preview 2 got 2 pre-previews. We’ll release previews on a more regular basis in the future, starting with the first Preview 3 release.

Honestly, I consider the policy for releasing preview builds for the past (especially DEVED and NEWED) a mistake. That’s why I consider DEVED now as Preview 2 (you shouldn’t, just intern stuff), and the current Preview “Preview 2 Update 2”. And that should make our upcoming policy change clear.

Preview 3 won’t be the full blown Preview we first wanted it to be. Instead, Preview 3 will be a smaller update to Preview 2 (Update 2), and from that point on, build up to what Preview 3 was. So the next build should be something like “Preview 3 Update 1”, and so on. It will get clear as soon as we get there, no worries. We’ll continue with the Preview 3 Update X-series until we think we’re at a point that we can call it Preview 4 (and then again with the Update X).

Further, you don’t need to expect any difference. Beta 1 will still be version 0.5. Either way, look forward to the first Preview 3 build coming in the next week.

ModernBB 3.7 now available

I’m happy to announce the availability of ModernBB 3.7! Todays release if made out of some minor improvements, but they are worth updating for. It comes with an improved editor, “Back to top”, improved style code bases, bugfixes, updated components, a new security feature and security fixes!

First off, we’ve ported a part of the new Luna editor to ModernBB. When you include a list, you used to get a list-tag and it’s closing companion. Now, ModernBB will include a *-tag by default too and use multiple lines. Code-tags also have some improved behavior. We’ve also added a “Back to top” link to the footer, handy for mobile devices.

Further, the Luna style has received a couple of bugfixes for itself, you’ll also see a slightly different color scheme. All styles also have received some love: we’ve changed some lines so the only difference between them is their color, this should make fixing bugs easier in the future. The files in the Core-folder also got some love with improved spacing.

Further, we’ve updated Bootstrap to version 3.3.2, jQuery to version 2.1.3 and Font Awesome to version 4.3.0. You can now use the improvements within these packages. Especially Safari should benefit from the updated jQuery component, and as usual, Font Awesome comes with nice new icons. We fixed a couple of bugs too. One of these bugs is a low-risk security issue. So updating is recommended. You can find the new package on the download page, as per usual.

Browsers: which browsers will be supported by Luna?

It’s always hard to decide which browsers should be supported and which not. Luna is supposed to be a modern application, working with modern frameworks, for modern platforms. And hit that goal pretty well. However, define “modern”.

Currently, we provide support for Internet Explorer 9 and above, Firefox 29 and above, Chromium 35 and above, Windows Phone 8.0 Update 3 and above, iOS 7 and above and Android 4.3 and above. That’s it for ModernBB 3.6, and not that different from ModernBB 2. Much different from ModernBB 1. However, on a side note, we do unofficially support Internet Explorer 8, too. But it goes with flaws.

Anyway, with Luna, these things are about to change. A couple of browsers will lose support. Beginning with Internet Explorer: we will no longer “unofficially” support Internet Explorer 8. Support for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Phone will also be dropped (thus, Windows Phone 8.1 is required). For Firefox, Firefox 29, 30, 31, 32 and (for now) 33 will lose support. Firefox 3.4 might join the fun. This is for all platforms. For Chromium, only Chromium 40 and up will be supported, and thus, Chromium 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 will lose support. For Android, we will require at least Android 4.4 – unlike the current Android 4.3, as its WebView is much more secure and better in general. iOS devices will be required to be on at least iOS 7.1, through the requirement might be bumped to iOS 8.0.

Finally, there are 2 browsers that are joining the fun when it comes to browser support. Starting with Luna, we’ll officially support Safari. The minimum requirement will be Safari 7. The other browser that joins in is Microsofts “Project Spartan”. Will it hasn’t been released yet, we do plan to support it as soon as the first preview version is available for all Windows 10 users out there (as it will be my very own default browser too). With Safari and Spartan, we’ll start supporting all browsers that are based on modern versions of Webkit and Edge, next to the current Trident, Gecko and Blink.

Will you notice any difference on most platforms? No. While we didn’t support Safari officially, it probably went flawless either way. Will Luna break when you use it on Spartan? No. At least, it shouldn’t. Most of these changes will go unnoticed, and that’s pretty much the point.

ModernBB 3: What will come next

Last year, we released the 6th big update to ModernBB 3, with Luna in development however, what will be next for ModernBB? Will there be a ModernBB 3.7?

Well, to kick off. We plan to put the final release of ModernBB into a LTS release, similar to ModernBB 1.6, which got 6 updates (1.6.1, 1.6.2, 1.6.3, 1.6.4, 1.6.5 and 1.7.0), it will be supported for over a year. Especialy for security fixes, we will continue to support ModernBB into the future. However, only the last one, the big question is: which ModernBB release will be the last one?

I didn’t plan a ModernBB 3.6 release at first, but due to 3.5.3 becoming to big, I decided to do it anyway. With this new scheme, I do hope that ModernBB 3.6 won’t be the last major update to ModernBB. A ModernBB 3.7 is already in the planning. I’ve decided to not continue the idea I had with ModernBB 3.4 and 3.5 to release new features in the smaller patches, instead, these will be part of ModernBB 3.7 instead.

ModernBB 3.7 won’t be a big update. In fact, it might be just bug fixes, I’ll try to get some small features in there. I hope you guys understand that ModernBB isn’t my focus point anymore, Luna is. Anyway, ModernBB 3.7 will come, and unless we release it before Luna, it will be our final minor version jump. Otherwise, ModernBB 3.8 will be released. Why do we need a minor version bump after Luna? Because that would be our LTS release. So, if ModernBB 3.7 will be released after Luna 1.0, it will be ModernBB 3.7 LTS. If before, it will be ModernBB 3.7, and we’ll release a ModernBB 3.8 LTS after Luna (or perhaps the same day). In such a case, 3.8 will be bug fixes only.