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.

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 1.2.4 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 1.2.3 now available

Hey everybody! We’re happy to announce that Luna 1.2 “Cornflower Blue” Update 3 is now available – or in short version 1.2.3 – and ready to be used. Todays update contains a series of quality improvements for the code. Additionally, we’ve fixed some issues surrounding the SQLite 3 driver, we updated made a couple of small changes to the interface of the groups page and we extended the reach of our “comment count” update from Luna 1.1.1 to also include scenarios where you’re pruning a forum.

Luna 1.2.1 now available

Today, we’re happy to announce the Luna 1.2 Cornflower Blue Update, or version 1.2.1 of Luna. This update contains a couple of quality improvements over the previous version of Luna. Make sure to update. We don’t have much to say about it…

Luna 1.2 “Cornflower Blue” now available

It’s been 4 months since we brough you the Bittersweet Shimmer update, and now, it’s time for C to be filled in by Cornflower Blue that bumps the Luna version to 1.2. Let’s see what’s new.

  • Mark threads as solved. If an user gave the answer to a thread, the thread’s owner can now mark that thread as solved. The comment will be highlighted green and a green check will appear in the forum view.
  • Forum improvements. You can now freely choose any color for each forum now and are no longer restircted by the preset color choises. Additionally, you can now add icons to forums.
  • Extended syntax highlight support has been added for C, C#, C++, Java, Markdown, Pascal, Python and SQL additional to the already supported languages.
  • Fifteen and Sunrise have been updated to version 1.2 themselves and come with a lot of improvements and optimizations for you to enjoy. This includes improved interfaces for mobile devices, but also a more consistent design.
  • Notifications can now be cleaned up from the Backstage based on their age.
  • We’ve updated our terminology to be more consistent. “Sticky topics” are now called “Pinned threads” everywhere and posts are now renamed comments.
  • Labels are now icons, so we dropped the long texts in front of thread entries in forum view. Talking about labels, stay tuned for Denim – the 1.3 update – because it’s gonna contain a couple of additional features on this front.
  • Tables are now more easy to use (like Inbox and the User search results in Backstage) with “Select all”-options and the possibility to click anywhere within a row to select that row.
  • We made lots of improvements for browsers with no Javascript.
  • The email validation has been improved.
  • Avatar formats have been changed by default to be larger in both size and weight.
  • Input types are now set in the HTML, the result is that onsreen keyboards will be optimized for the input that can be given, like only numbers. Also, your browser will now warn you if you’ve entered a value that can’t be in that input box.
  • Luna 1.2 contains a couple of SEO enhancements to get you higher in search results.
  • Components have been updated to more recent versions. Bootstrap has been bumped from 3.3.4 to 3.3.5 and Font Awesome has been updated from 4.3 to 4.4. Additional for developers: the Bootstrap Glyphicons are no longer available by default.
  • And of course bug fixes.

Before you update, make sure to make a back-up of your files and database. We’ve tested the upgrade paths for Luna 1.2, however, as there are so many configurations out there, thing can always go wrong with a critical process as upgrading. You can find the downloads on the usual locations.

And for those upgrading from the Luna 1.2 RC, unlike what we said we hoped to release yesterday, this isn’t a bit-by-bit copy. It in fact comes with a fair share of enhancements compared to the RC (and obviously every version prior).

  • Improved First Run for very small screens
  • Improved ban search results overview
  • Date selection when banning an user
  • Improved directory protection
  • Fixes a bug in the database layer (PostgreSQL)
  • Fixes a bug in the translations
  • Small visual fixes in the Backstage

Support for Luna 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2: what’s changing
This is our third big update for Luna and that means that some versions will need to take a step aside. In Luna 1.2’s case, we will no longer provide updates for Luna 1.0, so the Luna 1.0.10 update is the final update. So make sure you’ve updated to at least Luna 1.1. We released Luna 1.1.4 earlier this month and we’ll release Luna 1.1.5 later too with some bugfixes that are part of the Luna 1.2.0 release.

However, I would like to note something for the next update – 1.3 Denim – because we won’t only drop support for Luna 1.1 with that release. Because 1.3 will be a major codebase change, we will also end support for Luna 1.2 when we release Denim. This is a one-time thing and we will support 1.3 when we release 1.4 and for any version forward. However, in case major (security) issues are found in 1.2 (like the 1.0.10, 1.1.4 and 1.2-alpha.2 updates) after the 1.3 release, we’ll still fix them, just no minor bug fixes.

“Why?” you ask? Well, in Luna 1.1, the translation system was revamped completely, resulting in a lot of head scratches for us to solve issues that turned out to be just incompatible code between 1.0 and 1.1. In the end, most of these issues where of no damage to boards if something went wrong, however…

Luna 1.3 will contain quiet a lot of changes under the hood because we’re planning to push our naming conventions across the whole core. This includes renaming tables, fields and keys in the database and renaming an awful lot of variables and constants in Luna. And making mistakes in that is a high risk, and thus, we will not support Luna 1.2 after the Luna 1.3 release. Luna 1.3 will be supported after the Luna 1.4 release and so on until further notice.

Luna 1.1.5
We’ve also released Luna 1.1.5. If you’re still using Luna 1.1.3, this is defenetly an upgrade worth to take as 1.1.4 fixed an important secuirty issue. Either way, 1.1.5 is a minor release that mainly backports some fixes included in Luna 1.2.0.

Luna 1.2 Release Candidate now available

Today, we’re releasing the final pre-release version of our Cornflower Blue update: the Release Candidate. Compared to our Beta 2 release from 2 days ago, this update includes more additional fixes that also will be part of the Luna 1.1.5 release later this month. Further, this release includes a final set of small enhancements to the design of Fifteen and Sunrise. Enjoy! Luna 1.2 RC is with some luck the very same version of Luna that we’ll push out tomorrow as the final release, just with updated version numbers.

Luna 1.2 Beta 2 now available

Today, we’re releasing the second and final beta of Luna 1.2, our Cornflower Blue update. Todays update comes with bug fixes that are also part of the 1.1.5 release (that will be made available later) and other bug fixes from the 1.1.4 release that didn’t make it into Beta 1. We’ve also fixed a couple of minor visual issues in Fifteen (and thus Sunrise) and made some minor visual enhancements. Beyond that, this is a small update, so enjoy these bug fixes and now we can move on to the Release Candidate. Of which we expect only one release.

Additional to that, we’ve updated our documentation partialy, more changes will come with the 1.2 RC and 1.2.0 release.

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.

Luna 1.2 Beta 1 now available

It has been a couple of days now since we released Luna 1.2 Preview 3, so here we are with the first beta: Beta 1. This build marks our feature freeze for the Cornflower Blue update, but that doesn’t mean that this one doesn’t add some nice changes to Luna.

On a side note, this is kinda a milestone for us. Luna 1.2 Beta 1 is the 100st release we’ve ever made!

Forum icons
This update allows you to set one of the many Font Awesome 4.4 icons as a forum icon on a per-forum base. The icon is used on the index and forum view for each forum.

Fifteen and Sunrise
First of all, Fifteen and Sunrise have been updated on multiple points. Mostly you’ll get a more consistent design. We’ve heard the complains – though we agreed only with a few – but we hope that these updates will give Fifteen and Sunrise a more polished feel. And a more colorful one (see forum view).

Backstage
Not only Fifteen and Sunrise got some small design updates, so did the Backstage. We improved the interface on a couple of minor points to give it a more consistent look and feel.

Language
We’ve updated our language files and they should be ready now for translation of Luna 1.2.

Documentation
To close off, we’ve also been working on the documentation. These updates are not live yet, but we will publish them for the Luna 1.2 release later this month as we continue to improve them before then.