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!

Round-up #15 – Development and roadmap update

In the past couple of days, we’ve changed some stuff around the ModernBB and Luna project. Let me list them for you… Also, I want to say some stuff about development that goes on.

ModernBB 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6
First of, ModernBB. As you know, we’re working on ModernBB 3.5 (a rather minor release). We’re almost finished with this version, since the beta, we’ve made some little changes, including updating Font Awesome to version 4.2 (from 4.1). Further more, we’ve fixed 1 bug. Before 3.5 goes to stable next week, we have only 1 feature and 1 bug left to fix. Anyway, due to this timeline, we’ve decided to cancel ModernBB 3.4 Update 4 (version 3.4.4). We also have canceled ModernBB 3.6, instead, small enhancements will be added in future updates to ModernBB 3.5. For example, in ModernBB 3.5 Update 1 (we have a bi-monthly update cycle for 3.5).

Luna
For Luna, we’re making great progress, new features start getting  into the software, while most changes have been made to the Backstage for now, the user list is also worth taking a look at, as it too has been updated. We expect to ship our first preview, Luna 0.1, this fall. It will include some new features, and most notable of all, the new theme engine. There won’t be a plugin system, we leave that for Luna 0.2. We first want to get the current core extended and moved to the next level! Anyway, currenlty, we target Summer 2015 for the Luna 1.0 release. However, we do concider a marge up to Fall 2015.

People that have been testing the nightly builds from GitHub, are now using version 0.0.40.2979. Compared to version 0.0.35.2491. For that, by the way, does those version numbers make sense? Well, of course, you will know version 0.0.35.2491 better as ModernBB 3.5-beta, “0.0.35.xxxx” is the Core version, not the actual software version. In Luna, we made a jump to 0.0.40.2900. Why skip all those builds from 2491-2900? Well, those are for 3.5-updates reserved. The build number does make sense. Anyway, somewhere close before we finish Luna 0.1, the core version will be changed from “0.0.40.3xxx” to “0.1.3xxx”. Just for your information…

GitHub branches
For those keeping an eye on our GitHub repository, you might have noticed that the amount of branches dropped from 10 to 3. Which branches are gone? Well, first of all, we removed the old version1.6, version2.2 and version3.4 branches, as those do not belong to the current versions of ModernBB. However, we also decided to kill of version3.6. Further more, we killed of stable, as this branch is basicaly the same thing as master. Finaly, we also removed modernbb.be as a branch from the public eye. This leaves version3.5, luna1.0 and master as the only branches that are left.

ModernBB 1.6.5 LTS now available

modernbb165
A month ago, we released our latest LTS release: 1.6.4. Well, here we are, with another minor update for ModernBB 1.6. Version 1.6.5 fixes a very important security vulnerability. It’s recommended to update your forums right away! Other improvements this update will add is Improved support for HTML5, better textarea resizing, topic title in preview mode and more. Before updating, it’s recommended to make a back-up of your forum.

ModernBB 1.6.4 LTS now available

modernbb164

We’re happy to announce that ModernBB 1.6.4 is now available for download at our download page. ModernBB 1.6.4 fixes 16 issues in ModernBB. It’s recommended to update, but when you do, be sure you’ve got a back-up of your forum. We also recommend you to upgrade to ModernBB 2.2.02 instead.

ModernBB 1.6.0/1.6.1/1.6.2 LTS releases no longer available

modernbb16
Todays site update has removed the Long Term Support tab from our download page. With that, ModernBB 1.6.0 TLS, 1.6.1 LTS and 1.6.2 LTS are no longer available. If you’re searching for those versions of our software (which we do not recommend), you can download ModernBB 1.6.0, 1.6.1 or 1.6.2. However, at least ModernBB 1.6.3 would be a better idea.

The only difference between 1.6.0, 1.6.1 a,d 1.6.2s LTS and original version is the file it compares it’s version with. While the original version would ward you for ModernBB 2.0.0 and later being available, the LTS versions will warn you for a newer 1.6 release being available. Since 1.6.3, we only release versions that compare towards the 1.6-branch. We think it’s pointless to keep those version on the site, when they making it harder for us to keep track on things.

Anyway, todays site update doesn’t only remove things, we’ve added stuff too! The FAQ has been updated, we’ve added information about ModernBB 3.0 on our About page, we also added other milestones. The type of milestones are no longer showed, however. We’ve also updated our feature list and the ModernBB.be home page. Enjoy!

Round-up #8 – It’s Odd

modernbb22d

It has been a silent time in our tracker, we know. However, that’s soon coming to an end. For the past few days, I’ve been working on a mod for FluxBB: the ne ModernBB profile for FluxBB. This mod might become part of the FluxBB core, however, we’ll have the same feature coming in soon!

Anyway, you might know that development of ModernBB 2.2 ‘Odd’ has been started. We are now working on the profile for the most time. Of course, we will also work on the installer and responsive design, like we promissed. However, we will take our time for this release. 2.0 was released very fast for what it brought (maybe even to fast), and 2.1 was, with less then a month of development, also a quick, but great, release.

ModernBB 2.2 on the other hand, will be developed a little bit slower. Mainly because we also working in our sqlite3, hook and upgrade branch (it has been quit there, I know, but there is progress). I expect to merge upgrade and sqlite3 into master in this release! SQLite 3 support will also come to ModernBB 1.6. Just that you know it. We also expect Bootstrap 3.0.1 to be released this or next week, which will fix a lot of bugs in Bootstrap, and so in ModernBB, too.

Bootstrap 3.0.1 is coming to ModernBB 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 if it is released before the week of 2nd December 2013. Otherewise, it will come only to ModernBB 2.1 and 2.2. However, it’s unlikely that it will be that far away from now. If jQuery 1.11 is released, that will also make the cut in ModernBB 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2. Normaly, this would be only for ModernBB 2.2 (because that’s the current development version), however, since 1.11 is realy focused on improving stability and performance of jQuery, and is actualy more a big bugfix release, we’ll bring it to older versions too. However, once again, if it isn’t released before the 2nd December, it won’t make the cut in ModernBB 2.0.

For ModernBB 1.6, we’ve also some great news. It might happen that, with SQLite 3 in the works and a new profile page, we will jump to ModernBB 1.7. For MBB1.6, this will mean that the support ends after the then running quarter ends. However, it could also happen that we just release those features as a 1.6.x release. But since we use semantic versioning, that’s very unlikely.

An update on support

modernbb21b
I’ve toughts about it for a while now. But we are going to change the support we always planned to give. We change our support cycle because of some issues we have with ModernBB 2.0, and because it’s pointless how it was ment to work.

Let’s write down how the support cyclus should work if we followed our old cycle. Well, ModernBB 1.6 would be supported for an unknown time, even after the release of multiple ModernBB releases. ModernBB 2.0 would be supported until we would release ModernBB 2.2 and ModernBB 2.1, which now is still in development, would be supported until version 2.3 is released. Well…

That’s not how we are going to do it. The most important change will be for ModernBB 2.0. Anyway, we’ve put an end date on the support for ModernBB 1.6, support for this version will end in March 2015. That’s a while from now, so that should not give problems. ModernBB 2.0 will be supported until 2 weeks after the ModernBB 2.1 stable has been released. Here is the most important change: we’ve decided to not support it until the release of 2.3.

This has been done because we faced to much bugs in ModernBB 2.0, we could fix them in the 2.0 branch, but they already have been fixed in ModernBB 2.1. We know that this is not what we promised and we are very sorry, but it’s pointless to fix all the bugs (by the way, they are most of the time just visual bugs and won’t make ModernBB impossible to use) if they already have been fixed in 2.1. Another reason why we end support for ModernBB 2.0 that fast, is the fact that the styles API has been seriously updated and styles for ModernBB 2.0 won’t work on ModernBB 2.1. We don’t want to make it difficult for developers to support the current versions.

ModernBB 2.1 will take a similar scheme, the support for it will end together with the release of the next feature updates, the patch that’s then in the works will be finished and released as soon as it is ready, then it’s done for that branch. With this, we hope to give you more reasons to keep yourself up-to-date, this is very important to us and your own safety and fun.

Talking about updates, we will release updates on a more regular base. We want to start a 3-month release cyclus for patches. This cyclus starts with the release of ModernBB 1.6.4 and 2.0.2 in December 2013. The next update for 1.6 will be 1.6.5 in March 2014, and so on. The only exceptions we make on this rull are security updates, hotfixes and x.x.1 patches. Those last ones is, for example 2.1.1, this might be released ealier than this.

Also: feature updates will also follow the same dates. If we release ModernBB 2.1 in January 2013, the first update won’t be released in April 2013, but in March 2013, we will Always release updates in March, June, September and December of ever year. No matters when a version has been released (except if we didn’t change anything in the meantime).

Round-up #6 – MBB 2.1: New designs, new features

modernbb21d
Another week has ended, another round-up has come! In the past week, we brought ModernBB 2.0.1 to all of you, which fixes some issues in ModernBB 2.0.0. We also fixed multiple issues in the ModernBB 2.1-beta milestone and did lots and lots of work on unfinished tickets. Anyway, this is the last time we do a weekly round-up, starting today, we will do a new round-up when we think it’s time for one.

New styles, and new ways to make them
We noted mutliple times that the styles included in ModernBB 2.0 will be redone in ModernBB 2.1, and well, we are making progress. Some days ago, we already posted a preview of this on Twitter and this blog.

Well, Randomness is finished, right now, I’m working on Awesomeness, and soon, Radicalness will folow. Kindness won’t be part of ModernBB 2.1 anymore. Instead, it will be released as an additional theme in a package, together with a white, black, purple, pink and orange version of Randomness.

For developers, it will be way more easy to create new styles. We’ve removed some of the tables, only posts and userlists are still tables. We’ve added new classes and ids to the core (this is still a work in progress) and we’ve updated our default templates. Those and other small improvements, will be the reason that creating styles for ModernBB 2.1 will be (even) more fun than for ModernBB 2.0.

Other improvements we made in 2.1-beta
However, style improvements aren’t the only things we did in ModernBB 2.1-beta for now, we did update the header, it’s now cleaner and contains less stuff that’s not needed. The menu now contains a dropdown menu that puts important things for the user together, leaving more space for additional menu items. Or.. Another new feature is that you can display the title of your forum in the navbar or the header itselfs. Or both. This feature is added in Backstage under “Appearance”, which was the previous “Display” page.

About that: we made multiple improvements to the Backstage. We cleaned up the interface, restructured it and more. This is also a work in progress. The new Backstage will make it even easier for you to manage your forum. The help page is also updated, it now contains a header and footer and uses the default main.tpl template instead of help.tpl. More improvements are to come.

ModernBB 1.6.4, 2.0.1, 2.0.2
Meanwhile in stable-land, we’ve released ModernBB 2.0.1, this fixes multiple issues, most of them bugs in the interface, in ModernBB 2.0.0. However, with that done, we move on to develop ModernBB 1.6.4 and 2.0.2, those versions are supposed to be released allongside eash other. And will fix the same bugs with some other bugs that are version-specific. ModernBB 1.6.4 and 2.0.2 are now planned for December 2013.

A word on branches

It might be a little confusing, we’ve got now 7 branches in the ModernBB development repository and we would like to introduce those branches to you. Why they are there and more. It’s kinda important to know.

master is our primary branch and always hosts the newest stable release for our latest branch. Commits will be pushed to it as soon as the development of a new version of ModernBB is finished in another branch. This branch is used by the update check for checking on new versions when not set to “Check in current branch”.

version1.6 is the main development branch for ModernBB 1.6, this is where we developed ModernBB 1.6-beta, 1.6.0, 1.6.1, 1.6.2 and 1.6.3 LTS, this is also where we will continue development for our LTS releases in the 1.6-branch.

1.6/lts is the old branch that was used to develop ModernBB 1.6.0 LTS, 1.6.1 LTS and 1.6.2 LTS. With the release of ModernBB 1.6.3, we stoped development of LTS releases in this branch, and moved them to version1.6.

version2.0 contains the latest dev releases for ModernBB 2.0 and is our main development branch for this version. This is where we developed the unstable MBB2 versions and the future patch releases.

version2.1 contains the latest dev releases for ModernBB 2.1 and is our main development branch for this version. This is where we develope the unstable MBB 2.1 versions and the future patch releases.

version2.5 is a branch we made a while ago. It was supposed to contain the development versions of ModernBB 2.5, that would kick of after ModernBB 2.0 beta 2, however, it was decided to include all planned changes for ModernBB 2.5 in ModernBB 2.0, beta 3 was the first version to do so. This branch is behind all others and contains a dev release over ModernBB 2.0 right now, as soon as development over ModernBB 2.5 kicks of, we will start using this branch again.

mbb.dev is a custom version of ModernBB, which you can find on http://modernbb.be/dev, it’s actualy more a test center, and multiple features are disabled in this release.

Round-up #5 – ModernBB 1.6.3/2.0.1/2.1-beta

modernbb21d Less than a week, and we launched ModernBB 2.0 RC2, RC3 and Final. It was an awesome week. But now the even more serious work will start again. We’ve got a hotfix ModernBB 1.6.3 and 1.6.3 LTS in the works, since 1.6.2 just doesn’t work. ModernBB 2.0.1 will have to be here very soon too. Meanwhile, we kick of the development of ModernBB 2.1.

Yes, it’s going to be bussy. Since we do not have anything in development right now. I’m going to do this round-up a little different. Split in versions…

ModernBB 1.6.3
We discovered today that ModernBB 1.6.2 has a serious flaw: during development, on one point, it merged with the ModernBB 2.0 development version of that time. Due to not being noticed, this update made it to the 1.6.2 Final, bugging up the whole system. This is why we have to start with the codebase of ModernBB 1.6.1, and fix all issues from 1.6.2 again (this is the third time (ModernBB 2.0 RC1, 1.6.2, 1.6.3). However, while it won’t be different from what ModernBB 1.6.2 was supposed to be, we’ll have to release it as ModernBB 1.6.3. Now, ModernBB 1.6.3 is from the previous branch. What would mean that we would release it as a normal version, and an LTS version. Well, that won’t happen. ModernBB 1.6.3 and onwards will only be available as LTS releases. However, if ModernBB 2.1 is released, ModernBB 2.0 will just keep receving patches. It’s just because ModernBB 1.6 is an LTS branch.

ModernBB 2.0.1
This is another release we hope to have out there very soon. We’ve already find some bugs in the code. The most obvious one is probably the broken “Board statistics” panel on the index. We hope to have a fix for this, and a couple of other issues out there at the end of this month (ModernBB 1.6.3 will be developed first). Other fixes will be announced later. Anyway, expect an update very soon! The updates will warn you.

ModernBB 2.1 Beta
The next feature release. ModernBB 2.1-beta, or ModernBB 2.1 Beta by its name, will improve on the features we have made in ModernBB 2.0. The most important one will be a restructure (not a redesign) of the Backstage. It will also be about optimalization of the code. Version 2.1 will replace the current ugly default styles with brand new ones. We will improve the structure of ModernBB by dropping as much tables as possible. De menu bar will be Improved (front-end one), new customization options. We’re even planning to create a plugin that gives the default styles some extra options. Which will be awesome, don’t you think? Other improvements will be made on the updater. Actualy, we will improve everything a little bit. Let’s say it like that.

Note: This round-up was written on 14 September 2013 and may talk about versions that are already released.