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 “Denim” now available

Little less then 2,5 month ago we brought you guys Luna 1.2 “Cornflower Blue”, and today, here we are again. This time, we’ve got the Luna 1.3 “Denim” update ready for you. This is our 4th full release of Luna 1.x, and probably also our final.

So, what’s in it:

  • We reimagined Sunrise completely, its design is now based on Random from the early days.
  • Threads can now be marked as important.
  • You can now, optionally, allow the usage of a center and size tag.
  • You have now access to all globally recognized timezones and no longer as subset selected by Luna.
  • You can no longer enabled Daylight Saving Time, Luna will now take care of this itself.
  • Fifteen has an updated sidebar with categories and quick access links.
  • The behavior of some markup tags has been changed.
  • You can no longer change the size of embedded videos, instead, they are now responsive.
  • CSS files have been rewritten to be easier to read and manage.
  • PHP coding contentions have been updated and this includes major changes to our naming schemes.
  • Improved support for High-DPI screens.
  • Bootstrap and Font Awesome have been updated to version 3.3.6 and 4.5.0 respectively.
  • 23 bug fixes

As said before, this means we’re dropping support for Luna 1.1 (as by our policy of only supporting the current, and current – 1 release). However, we also announced that Luna 1.2 would be left without support, and that’s still the case. Luna 1.3 is now the current and only version we still support.

With Luna 2.0 now being the next version, we expect Luna 1.3 to be the current version for a while. We’re planning to provide bug fixes like we’ve always done, but we might also include minor new features and changes, after all, we can’t stand still to long, and Luna 2.0 won’t be for this winter (or perhaps even spring).

This means that we’re considering Luna 1.3 and LTS release. We’ll provide support for it longer then usual. As how it stands now, not only is Luna 1.3 the final PunBB-based Luna release, but it is also the final release that provides support for PostgreSQL and MySQL. Luna 2 will require MySQLi or SQLite. Additionally, we’re considering dropping PHP 5.3 support too, so for these people, it might also be the end of the line (but maybe not).

Anyway, we’ll have a lot more to tell about Luna 2.0 Emerald in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned about that. And…

…have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Luna 1.3 RC2 now available

Today, we’re happy to release the second – and final – Release Candidate for Luna 1.3 Denim. This update includes 7 bug fixes and one language update. We’re hoping that this is the final pre-release version of Luna 1.3 so we can push the update out on December 25th as a nice little Christmas present. Have fun.

Luna 1.3 RC1 now available

Today, we’re happy to release the first Release Candidate for Luna 1.3 Denim. This update includes only bug fixes. As we didn’t found it to much to release another beta, we decided to go straight to Release Candidates, so here you go, enjoy. We might release a second RC, but we hope that our next release is the final, and that will land on December 25!

Luna 1.3 Beta 1 is now available

Today, I’m happy to announce the availability of the first beta for Luna 1.3 Denim. Denim is our forth Luna release and will be released later this month as final release. It’s not a major update that will bring a lot of new features, but it is a nice one anyway.

This first beta is feature complete which means that we won’t be adding new features beyond this point. It’s now bug fixes all the way. So lets go over some of the changes you can expect:

  • We reimagined Sunrise completely, its design is now based on Random from the early days.
  • Threads can now be marked as important.
  • You can now, optionally, allow the usage of a center and size tag.
  • You have now access to all globally recognized timezones and no longer as subset selected by Luna.
  • You can no longer enabled Daylight Saving Time, Luna will now take care of this itself.
  • Fifteen has an updated sidebar with categories and quick access links.
  • The behavior of some markup tags has been changed.
  • You can no longer change the size of embedded videos, instead, they are now responsive.
  • CSS files have been rewritten to be easier to read and manage.
  • PHP coding contentions have been updated and this includes major changes to our naming schemes.
  • Improved support for High-DPI screens.
  • Bootstrap and Font Awesome have been updated to version 3.3.6 and 4.5.0 respectively.
  • 9 bug fixes

So that wraps it up. Keep in mind that this is a beta and we do not recommend you to use this in a productive environment. The download is available on our home page and the download section.

Additionally, as announced, Luna 1.3’s release will mean the end of life for both Luna 1.1 and Luna 1.2.

Luna 1.2.4 now available

I’m happy to announce the availability of Luna 1.2.4. The fourth maintenance release for Cornflower Blue contains mainly bug fixes. We’ve solved an issue in the email check, fixed markup issues, migration improvements for ModernBB and other minor bugs. One functional change is that new installations and updates to which the settings where not available will now set a random accent color for both the Mainstage as the Backstage.

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.