Luna 2.0.9 and 2.1 Preview 2

Also… documentation announcement

I know that it hasn’t even been a week, but we’re happy to say that the next update to Luna, version 2.0.9, is now available to download! And to make sure that people the 2.1 Preview are not missing out on all the fixes and enhancements we’re releasing 2.1 Preview 2 as well with the same fixes as 2.0.9 and a number of other improvements.

Luna 2.0.9

Luna 2.0.9 is just a minor update with a bunch of bugfixes and other minor improvements. Here’s what to look out for:

  • More improvements for PHP 7.2 support
  • A number of fixes for localization
  • Site descriptions can now be 300 characters (up from 255)
  • Improved error for invalid search queries
  • Fixes the in 2.0.8 introduced bug where a space was missing between a name and “wrote” in a quoted comment
  • Updates references to GetLuna.org to match our updated website (see below)
  • Updates the “Check for updates” feature
  • A set of bug fixes

Since Luna 2.0.8 we use the by Git (and GitHub) generated zip-files as downloads from our website. However, we didn’t think this one through since Git also includes a number of irrelevant files (like .gitignore) that should not be part of production versions. Today’s update rectifies that and Git will now leave such files out of the download.

Another GitHub-related change is the inclusion of a number of files in our repository for issue templates, pull request templates, etc. But also the GPL v2 license. Except of the license, non of these files actually make a difference to the package you download, but it does make reporting issues and requesting features easier on GitHub.

For more details I would like to refer to the release notes.

Luna 2.1 Preview 2

Luna 2.1 Preview 2 contains the same set of fixes and improvements as Luna 2.0.9, but of course it also bring a number of other features and enhancements to the table. The most notable changes since Preview 1 are:

  • Forum icons can now be set to be either Solid, Regular or Brand icons from Font Awesome Free, if you enabled Font Awesome Pro, you can also choose the Light icons
  • Improved night mode with better contrast and a darker design for the mainstage
  • Fifteen and Sunrise have been rewritten in SCSS and the CSS file included in the download is now compressed resulting in smaller stylesheets and thus faster loading times, this also makes these themes easier to maintain
  • Fifteen has an updated sidebar design in threads to take less vertical space on small devices
  • Spoilers now use the Bootstrap collapse plugin instead of a custom implementation
  • General enhancements to the Backstage design update, including the start of using bolder fonts
  • Fixes an issue in Preview 1 where the Backstage accent color selector in profile was broken
  • Fixes a number of icons that didn’t exist in Font Awesome 5
  • Branding update, because Luna’s logo got a little bit bolder
  • MySQL 5.5 is now the minimum required version if you are using a MySQL database
  • We updated the Backstage logo to use our new, bolder typeface
  • Like with Luna 2.0.9, irrelevant files are now excluded from the generated download, for Luna 2.1 this includes the LESS and SCSS files used to generate the CSS for the Backstage and Mainstage

For Luna 2.1 Preview 2 I would also like to redirect you to the release notes for more information. We still have some more things to come for Luna 2.1. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • User avatar as profile menu icon (instead of the generic user-icon)
  • Font Awesome Pro system icon set selection
  • Converting the Backstage stylesheets from LESS to SCSS
  • Typography
  • Backstage night mode improvements
  • A big update to our documentation (see below)

As always it is recommended to update, but make a backup!

Website and documentation updates

Now, there is one more thing I’d like to talk about. And that is the documentation. Our documentation has always lagged behind, in true FluxBB-fashion. However, I’m making moves now to change that. And step one was dropping the whole HTML-mess that was the documentation and rewrite it in Markdown. “Rewrite” as in “I changed all html-tags to Markdown”, not “The whole thing has new content”. The documentation is available on GitHub for everyone to collaborate on!

Additionally, the website got updated to dynamically show the sidebar menu and the page content depending on what page you visit. As a result, the documentation can fully be managed from the GitHub repository’s content. This should make maintaining the documentation a lot easier for 2 reasons: Markdown is much better fit for writing documents than HTML and much less prone to markup errors, and updating the documentation no longer requires directly messing with the sites code.

Everyone is free to help out with the documentation now. If you want, of course. And “helping out” doesn’t mean you have to write it, if you see an error or would like to see some documentation about something in Luna, you can also create a new ticket on GitHub.

Before Luna 2.1 goes out the door, I really want to spend some serious time on the documentation and start maintaining it properly from there on out. This has lacked for years, and it is really time to change that.

And to close it all of: we made a number of improvements to our website’s design, mainly for small screens. We also fixed the broken download buttons for the Luna 1.0 preview releases.

Don’t you forget about us

Luna 2.0.8 and 2.1 Preview 1 are here!

It has been silent around Luna’s development for a long time. A way too long time. I’m sorry that I’ve let this slip as much as I have. However, for those wondering when, if ever, I would return to developing Luna, here is the answer.

Development of Luna restarts today

Yes. Today.

And that starts today with a new website (with working download buttons!) and with the release of Luna 2.0.8 and 2.1 Preview 1. Version 2.0.8 is a maintenance update and mainly focusses on improving support for PHP 7.2 and updating vendor packages. Prism (the syntax highlighter) has been updated to version 14 (up from 11) and Font Awesome has been updated to version 4.7 (up from 4.6.3). It also has a small set of bugfixes.

I was not sure how to proceed beyond 2.0, though. Although the obvious answer would be: “from where you left off”, I’m not sure if that’s the right thing to do. While I had a lot of fun building ModernBB 2.x and 3.x and Luna 1.x and 2.0, I feel like it has diverged from what it should have been and the codebase has suffered from that.

So here is the plan for Fallow:

Most of the changes we’ve made so far to Luna 2.1 have been reversed. Instead, we’re working on an update mostly targetted at getting Luna up-to-date from the past 2 years of lack of development. This means we’re mainly focused on the following:

  • The Backstage will have an updated design for its navigation.
  • Improved navigation for small screens in both the Mainstage and Backstage.
  • Font Awesome Free 5.0, with support to replace it with Font Awesome Pro 5.0 if you have a license.
  • Support to use vendor packages from CDN rather than loading them from the site.
  • General Quality of Code improvements.
  • General bugfixes.

I don’t want Luna 2.1 to be too much of a change, which is why Bootstrap 4 isn’t coming to Luna 2.x. Nontheless, an update is finally coming. I hope to release it somewhere in July. Also, when Luna 2.1 launches, support for Luna 2.0 will stop entirely.

And as mentioned earlier, Luna 2.1 Preview 1 is also available starting today. When you update, look out for the following changes:

  • Reverts all changes made in Luna 2.1 before we restarted development
  • Support for getting Bootstrap and jQuery from a CDN
  • Revamped Backstage design (not finished yet)
  • Font Awesome Free 5.0.13 replaces version 4.7.0, this might break some of your forum icons, so check them (also not finished yet)
  • Support for Font Awesome Pro
  • A lot of coding convention updates
  • Native font stack for both Fifteen, Sunrise and Backstage
  • Improved mobile navigation and tables
  • Removes support for smilies, emojis are now the only option
  • Removes support for switching update rings
  • jQuery 3.3.1 (up from 2.2.4)

For all the other changes that will be coming in later previews and eventually in Luna 2.1, please check out the ship list over at GitHub.

From Luna 2.1 on, I’m planning to do some incremental stuff. Of course we will update Luna with more recent versions off the vendor packages that are included with it as well as updating the CDNs that will get introduced in 2.1, but no big changes will be added to Luna 2 from there on out.

So what about Luna 3? Well… I honestly feel like Luna has drifted to far from its original vision and with Luna 3 I’m planning to restore that. Don’t expect much new in Luna 3, it will mainly be an overhaul of the current features, as well as dropping some of them. So here’s what you should expect from Luna 3:

  • Serious updates to the codebase. Seriously.
  • Bootstrap 4.x as front-end framework, which will include a redesign of Luna to give it a modern look and feel.
  • Notifications, Inbox, and a number of other features will be dropped.
  • A bunch of small features, nothing to fancy.

Luna 3 is supposed to become a big change. But it won’t be a big change from a functionality-perspective. Nontheless, I’m looking forward to starting development of this version. In the past year that I’ve been inactive with developing Luna, I’ve learned a lot, and I honestly hope that Luna will now benefit from all of that.

Hello everyone.

I’M BACK.

Luna 2.0 “Emerald” Now Available

It has been a while since our last stable release (January 1st, version 1.3.1), but today we’re proud to announce the availability of Luna 2.0 “Emerald”. Today’s update is not only a massive feature update, it is also an important patch as it fixes a number of bugs in Luna 1.3. This is basically also a 1.3.2 that we never released.

Hold your horses; Luna 2.0?!
Notable might be that this is Luna 2.0. “Is that huge project of yours already done?” you might ask. The answer to that is: nope, it’s not. The reason this is suddenly Luna 2.0 is because we follow Semantic Versioning and that system doesn’t allow us to use version 1.4 with the changes that are in this update like we planned to do at first.

The project I’ve been working on for a long time now will continue to go on, but it will get released as Luna 3 instead of Luna 2. However, to keep confusion out of the equation, I’ll refer to future updates solely by their name and no longer by their version as that is much less likely to change.

Luna 2.0 is an update that you don’t want to miss. Not only does it come with “some” visual improvements to both Fifteen, Sunrise and the Backstage, but it also comes with its fair share of new features, bug fixes, security improvements, general code improvements and so much more. Certainly worth it.

Fifteen 2.0 and Sunrise 3.0
Last year, with the Denim-update, we included a redesigned Sunrise theme. This time around, we felt it was time to give Fifteen its first substantial update since the Aero-update. Our goal was to make the theme more consistent, better for desktop, but also better for mobile, more accessible, easier on the eyes, simpler and look much more polished. And I think we did a great job.

home

The inspiration for Fifteen 2.0 comes from the Airalin theme I’m currently designing for Luna Glitter. Although this is a prototype of that theme, it looks – if I may say so myself – stunning. Even if you disagree, you must admit that it looks much better than some of the default themes other forum software come with.

sidebar

One of the much requested features we got was to give forums more of a visual identity in the sidebar: show us the color! So we did. The forum’s color is now indicated with a colored stripe on the left hand side.

thread

Another much requested feature was to show some more information about people on the thread view: mainly the comment count and title where missed by many. So both of these are back now too. We also made avatars slightly bigger.

profile

Another major change we made was to the profile. Profile, Inbox, Notifications and Settings got a major redesign to all fit together much better. Especially the Settings-page doesn’t feel disjointed anymore. The profile’s personal details now also have a better look and draw more attention.

At Sunrises side of the fence, major thing have changed. Sunrise is once again no longer a stand-alone theme. Instead, it is a child-theme based on Fifteen like it used to be before the Denim-update. The result is that most of its design is now aligned with that of Fifteen. With the obvious exceptions.

sunrise

As always was the plan with Sunrise, it is forums that have the main spot, not threads. The redesigned index shows you a nice looking overview of all forums, and in the sidebar you can find the most recent activity feed like it used to be since Denim.

Night mode, revamped
We’ve also decided to take a second look at the night mode. Night mode is a system we introduced back in the day with the Bittersweet Shimmer-update and allowed users to automatically (or forced) switch to a dark UI for during the night. We’ve redesigned the Night mode theme for both Fifteen, Sunrise and the Backstage to provide more contrast and a cleaner and more unified look.

nightmode

Make it yours
With Luna 2.0, we wanted to provide a more customizable experience. And that’s exactly what we did, with 5 new features. First off, you can now add your customized CSS to themes that support it (and obviously, Sunrise and Fifteen do support it). This will allow you to make minor changes to your theme without the need to edit the themes directly and thus make upgrading harder, or making a child theme which is quiet complex for just 1 (or more) (minor) change(s).

Secondly, because we’re well aware that branding is probably important to you, you can now choose to replace the default placeholder avatar with your own. Third, both Fifteen and Sunrise (as well as the Backstage) support a new feature we call “Header image”, you can now upload an image that is to be used as the background for the header. The result is some beautiful design. Fourth, Luna now comes with a default favicon that you can also replace right from the Backstage. And finally, we’ve added 3 new accent colors for you to choose from: Dark Red, Pink and Beige.

Notification improvements
Further, we’re dropping the capability of marking notifications as read or removing them straight from the fly-out. Instead, when you click on a notification, you’re now not just directed to the notification’s link, but the notification is automatically marked as read. In the notification page on your profile, you can now also mark individual notifications as read or remove the individually. You’ll notice that when you’ve got unread notifications, the notification center icon will fade in and out to draw your attention.

Further, we’ve added a couple of events for when Luna will give you a new notification. First of all, when a new report is filed by an user, every moderator and administrator will now get notified of this through the Notification Center, regardless of the chosen report method. Secondly, you’ll also receive a notification when there is a new thread in a forum you’re subscribed to.

Password security
Ever since ModernBB 1.6, we’ve been using SHA-1 encryption – without salt – to store passwords in the database. Not anymore. We’ve decided to kick out this weak encryption in favor of its much stronger brother SHA-512. Not only that, but we now also use salt. Accounts need to be migrated to this; this happens when the user logs in for the first time after the Emerald-update has been applied. Note that you’re users won’t be able to change their password until they start a new session since the upgrade.

Inbox replies
Another much requested feature was the capability to respond to Inbox messages just like you can respond to threads: right from the message view. And this is now possible as you’ll see that a new Editor field has been added to the bottom of the threads. Talking about the Editor…

Editor improvements
We’ve also taken a look at our editor. The editor has come a long way and the Emerald update is mainly a matter of how we handle its interface on mobile devices. Instead of just dropping buttons, we now hide buttons under a new ellipses menu, making the editor in general more user friendly. You’ll also see the editor pop up in Inbox threads, as we now support quick comments in there too!

editor

Going multilingual: Dutch and more translation improvements
The Emerald-update is the first Luna release that comes with 2 languages. In addition to English, we now officially support Dutch too and thus a Dutch language package is included in the core. Note that this doesn’t mean that we will be providing support in Dutch on our official forums, that is still English-only.

Besides that, we’ve also taken a look at the number of strings that need to be translated and kicked some that where not useful out. Strings that where to similar have also been merged. The final result is much less work for translators to translate Luna! And finally, it is now possible to translate the “About” page.

Right to Left
We’ve talked about it in the past, but this time around it is finally here. Luna now support Right to Left languages like Persian fully (that doesn’t mean we’ve got Persian included in the core).

rtl

Revamped Backstage
We’ve decided to port the new structure for the Backstage from Fallow to Emerald. The result is a more logically structured Backstage. One of the many improvements can be summed up in a simple example: all BBCode settings are now located under “BBCode”. It’s the first time since ModernBB 2 that we’ve reworked the structure of the Backstage as much as we did, and I’m going to be honest: it was long overdue, so here you go.

Additionally, we’ve cleaned up the Backstage interface a lot too. First of all we dropped the title of every page to make more space for the actual settings. Second, the interface now has a more refreshing UI. Third, the night mode got completely revamped to be more accessible. Fourth, the Backstage now has a footer. Fifth, the Index has been revamped to be more useful. Sixth (we keep going!), the user search and ban search forms are now fully responsive and finally we cleaned up much of the Backstage logic.

Board management
The “Board”-page has received a major revamp of itself. We’ve merged the forum and category positioning settings so that you can now update the whole structure of your board all at once. Not only that, but we’ve also added name, icon and color settings to this interface for you to edit all at once as well. We’ve also addressed the issues with sub forums. In the management interface, sub forums can no longer appear in another category as their parent and sub forums will always be shown below their parent. Further more, to make sub forums more obvious, they now have a small margin on the right.

board

Reports and comments
Another page that got a massive update is the Reports-page. This is mainly a visual overhaul, although it comes with its own fair share of improvements. First of all, when a comment is reported, it’s content is now also shown in the report. Second, we provide direct links to delete and edit a comment right from the report UI.

Another new management feature we’ve added is “Admin note” for comments, this allows you to add a note that is visible to anyone reading the comment to, for example, warn for a certain praktisch in that comment. For example, if someone shares a link to illegal or shocking content you can edit the comment to remove it and put in a warning that you don’t accept the content from the comment as a reminder to everyone.

Other changes

  • Revamped search results to give you more info and context about the result.
  • Advanced search has a cleaner UI in Fifteen.
  • Emoji’s are now enabled by default.
  • The emoji set has been updated.
  • SQLite 3 support has been improved and we’ve taken away the “Experimental” label from the adapter.
  • Support for PHP 5.2 and lower has been gone for long, but now we’ve also dropped the code that made it possible in the first place.
  • You can no longer manage your database from Luna’s Backstage.
  • You can no longer add new users through the Backstage.
  • Notifications can now take more than 1 line in the fly-out.
  • We’ve done some cleanups in the database.
  • Themes can no longer include their own options (because the lack of use of it) and no longer need to include a logo and screenshot.
  • Also, themes now have a new folder structure.
  • Enabling debug mode now also whos the query table in the Backstage.
  • Fixed a couple of bugs.
  • And a whole lot of other things!

How to upgrade
As usually, we strongly recommend you to create a back-up of your board’s database and files. We test Lune extensively but some issues that could do harm to your database can always go unnoticed.

As an additional note, due to the nature of Luna 2.0 (with many files being move around) we strongly recommend you to remove all folders and files that are part of the Luna core except for the avatar directory and its contents and your config.php file (and your database-file if you are using SQLite). Obviously, you do this AFTER you have backed-up and before you upgrade your board. After the files are removed, you just put the Luna 2.0 files in your root and visit your board to trigger the upgrade.

What follows
Now that Emerald has become the Luna 2.0 update, the question might rise: “Is there going to be a Luna 2.1?”. The answer is yes. I don’t want to waste a major version number to just one feature release. Luna 2.1 is now the Fallow-update. We’ll also start development of what we’re currently calling the Glitter-update, which will be a major revision of the forum software.

Luna 2.0 beta 1 now available

After kicking off a series of 7 alpha releases, we’re now ready to show you guys the first beta of Luna 2.0. Despite not being the big update we announced originally as Luna 2.0 (which is now moved to what will probably become Luna 3.0), this update comes with a ton of new features and enhancements.

However, unlike previous releases, I’m not going to list every single update since Preview 7 or Luna 1.3 for that matter. Instead, I would like to direct you guys to the Luna Preview page and scroll down to get an overview of what’s new in this upgrade for Luna.

As always, be aware that you’re dealing with pre-release software. Despite this being a beta, it can still contain critical bugs. We would like for you guys to test out this new release, for translators, now would probably be the time you start preparing for Luna 2.0. As we’re now in beta stage, we’ll only fix bugs and improve accessibility so usually, no updated language strings will get included. Or at least not more than a few.

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 2.0: Project Astrid

We’ve turned our attention to Luna 2.0 a while ago and now, we’re working hard on building this very new version of Luna. Our focus is now on Project Astrid, which is the codename for the new Backstage. However, let us talk about this a bit, and why you shouldn’t expect to see much from it in the near future.

What Project Astrid isn’t
Let’s clear up things first. What is Project Astrid not? To start, it is not an attempt to redesign the Backstage. Project Astrid will largely share its interface with the current Backstage as seen in Luna 1.1. Of course, visual changes are to be expected and we’ll redesign some of the pages in the Backstage, like the board page. We feel confident that the current Backstage is build perfectly to manage your board, so we do not change that.

What Project Astrid is
Project Astrid is more a rebuild from the original Backstage, based on Jewel (which is the name of our core (as in Core 1.0 (Luna 1.0), Core 1.1 (Luna 1.1) and Jewel 2.0 (Luna 2.0))). With this, we want to make the Backstage more modular and make it possible for extensions to add new options to the software.

Where we develop it
There is an fb_astrid branh in the GitHub repository of Luna, which is ment to develop Astrid. However, for the first couple of revisions that are coming from this point out, we will not be pushing commits to this branch or release anything on Astrid. We first want to build a fully working version of Astrid, if that is done, we’ll push Astrid to this branch and probably release Luna 2.0 Preview 1 (through more development then just Astrid will be contained in it (like Jewel).

Project “Astrid” – An introduction

A couple of weeks ago, we kicked of the development of Edge. Edge was our vision in rebuilding the Backstage from scratch as part of the Luna 2.0 release. However, since then, Microsoft announced their browser’s new name as Microsoft Edge, so we said: screw it, we rename our project. And now we have Astrid. Allow me to introduce Astrid to you.

Astrid is the codename for what you could also call Backstage v5. Unlike Backstage version 2, 3 and 4, Backtage 5 will be build from the ground off. It isn’t based on anything. With that, Backstage is the first half of Luna to be rebuild to fit a MIT license. With Astrid, we hope to deliver a more modern experience to all of you and make managing your board even easier.

That being said, Astrid is not an attempt to redesign the Backstage. The look off the interface will stay largely the same.* What will change is the underlying code and the general structure of the Backstage. We’ll be throwing around some of the features. Some get their own page, while others are merged into another one. The goal is to make it simpeler to change settings.

Astrid will, however, change a couple of annoyance that have been reported, like the forums list, which will be improved to indicate sub forums. Another change you can expect are general improvements to the interface and the addition of a Light theme. Astrid will have its own setting for wheter or not to use Night mode (due to the new Light theme).

So when can you expect the first build with Astrid included? Well, it might take a while. Do not expect us to release anything in the summer. With some good luck we have something to show off in the Fall, but then again, it won’t be completed. We’ll release a Luna 2.0 Preview with a partial working Backstage and the old Backstage included.

So basicaly, there will be 2 major Previews for Luna 2.0 to focus on the Backstage, after that, we’ll shift gears to the mainstage as that also has to be rewritten completely. For what’s to come for Luna 1.x, keep an eye on this blog!

* On the other hand, I know myself well enough to say that the Backstage will look different by the time Luna 2.0 launches.