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!

Evolving ModernBB: The Backstage

As al of you might know – or not – ModernBB 3.3 will contain a new fresh design for the Backstage, because the head of Studio 384 told us so. Well not entirely, I made up some design guidlines and tought “I should add those to ModernBB and ModernCount too…”. Anyway, a couple of days ago, we showed you how the profile interface evolved, let’s do that again, but now for the Backstage (also the index page). Later on, I’m planning to talk about our default design in general too.

backstage20b1

I didn’t make a screenshot of the ModernBB 1.6 Control Panel design (no Backstage back in those days, neither at this level of development). But I can tell you: it looked prety stuped, the same content as above, but with another layout. Anyway, as you can see, the Control Panel/Dashboard (as it was called during ModernBB 2 beta 1) only contained a list of stuff you could do, and it gave you the ModernBB version and a link to the server statistics. Kind of useless (and one of the reasons that ModernBB exist, the same page and content is used in FluxBB). Anyway, I am proud of the navbar design, Aurora was born (the name of the style).

backstage20b2

ModernBB 2 beta 2 added a lot of functionality to this page. We added a link to the back-up page, show new reports and the forums default statistics. On top of the page, we also added a “Welcome to ModernBB” alert. And the automatic update check was introduced on this page too. The “Extensions” link is now also disabled when no extensions are available. Also, beta 2 introduced the “Backstage” name. Note the silly introduction under “Welcome to your Backstage”. We updated Aurore to version 1.1! Yay!

backstage20b3

While functional an improvement, I wasn’t too happy with the ModernBB 2 beta 2 Backstage. Beta 3, the unexpected extra beta, that also throw the old front-end over board, redesigned the Backstage completely. We started using Bootstrap panels and introduced Aurora 2.0. A huge improvement. As you can see, it’s a very flat design. And the navbar is very similar to the ModernBB 3.0/3.1/3.2 design.

backstage20rc1

But neither was I happy with Aurore 2.0, and thus, the Aurore 1 design was reïntroduced in Aurore 3. Aurore 3 was a serious clean-up from the previous versions of Aurore. And another good indication that I’m very bad at versioning, we’re now at ModernBB 2 RC 1, and are already running arround with Aurore 3…

backstage21b

Aurore 3.1 was part of ModernBB 2.1 (we didn’t change to much anymore after RC1, of course). As you can see, titles where now blue (the statics panels content are titles).

backstage22b

ModernBB 2.2 introduced Aurore 3.2, which included a feature that, starting from that release, is used everywhere in ModernBB: panel title buttons. Take a look at the report panel, the “View all” link has been replaced with a nice button on the right hand side of the panels titlebar. We also updated the alert styles.

backstage30a1

While only been seen in 1 development release, Aurore 2 was the inspiration for the Aurore 4 design. This time, we went with some nice gradients. We started using icons in the navbar, added titles to all Backstage pages that didn’t had one yet, and kicked out the full “Time to update” warning. Intresting about this design is, while introduced in ModernBB 3, it was supposed to come to ModernBB 2 in an unreleased ModernBB 2.3. Version 2.3 of ModernBB has been in development, but never made it, due to the works on ModernBB 3. Aurore 4 supported accent colors, through only “ModernBB Blue” and “Blue” are available. After Aurore 4, not to much has changed about the Backstage. ModernBB 3.1 and 3.2 are still using the exact same design, it hasn’t been touched ever since.

ModernBB 3.3 will introduce Aurore 5, in contrast with Aurore 1, 2, 3 and 4, it has been build from the ground up. It will support a brand new design. Accent colors will be used more intensive, as you will get support for ModernBB Blue, Yellow, Red and Lime. I think a lot of people are going to like it. With Aurore 5, we’re going back to flat design, like Aurore 2, but flatter. I don’t have a screenshot now, if you want to see it, you should try out the version3.3 branch.

ModernBB 2.1.2 now available

modernbb212We’re happy to announce that ModernBB 2.1.2 is now available for download at our download page. ModernBB 2.1.2 fixes 9 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 2.2 “Zoe” now available

modernbb220
We’re one and a half month after the release of ModernBB 2.1, and we already have a new major update ready for you! I’m proud to announce the availability of ModernBB 2.2. With ModernBB 2.2, ModernBB is one of the first (if not the first) forum software to release with a design that is responsive by default! As always, you can find the latest version of ModernBB at our download page!

What’s new?

  • Responsive design: it’s finaly here! It was supposed to be part of ModernBB 2.0, but didn’t make the cut. Anyway, the new responsive design let ModernBB shine on every device you might get in touch with. Randomness, Radicalness and Awesomeness support this feature.
  • New profiles: This was a major issue with ModernBB (and FluxBB): the profiles were a mess. In ModernBB 2.2, this has been resolved, improving the way profiles work. Less pages with settings, a cleaner “View profile”, better tools for administration, and more.
  • Updated designs: All 3 default styles have had a small update. They are now lighter, do not require any image anymore, allowing your forum to load faster. The new designs are smoother and fit every need.
  • Improved elements: We’ve also Improved the way the pagination is displayed, making it easier to use and better fit with every style. We did this with the permission labels too, and the topic-type labels.
  • Backstage updates: Backstage also uses a slightly altered design and the code behind it has been Improved too. Making better use of Bootstrap 3. We even did already some stuff for ModernBB 3.0! While it’s just some visual change here, you might like it.
  • Clickable labels: Radiobuttons and checkboxes are small and hard to click, especialy when your on a touchscreen device, that’s why labels are now clickable. Making it easier for users with mouse, and touch.
  • And many, many more

Of course, we recommend you to update to the latest version of ModernBB. It’s important to make a backup before you update your forums to ModernBB 2.2. The system requirements of ModernBB 2.2 are the same as those for ModernBB 2.0 and 2.1. Enjoy!

ModernBB 2.0, 2.1 and 3.0
With ModernBB 2.2 released, and following our release scheme, support for ModernBB 2.1 will end together with that of ModernBB 2.0 after 10 December 2013. From then, we will only support ModernBB 1.6 LTS and ModernBB 2.2. However, that day, we will release the final update for both branches, version 2.0.2 and 2.1.2 respectivly. Meanwhile, we will start developing ModernBB 3.0.

ModernBB 2.1.1 now available

modernbb211

Earlier today, you might have started reciving messages from ModernBB that we’ve released a new version. And yes we have, ModernBB 2.1.1 is now available for download and fixes 8 bugs in ModernBB 2.1. You can find this download on our download page.

This release fixes several bugs, updating is recommended. This update makes it possible to install ModernBB 2.1 again, instead of having to update from ModernBB 2.0 or lower. We’ve also fixed the permissions page. We fixed 2 bugs in the default front-end designs and update those designs with small visual changes. We fixed the upgrade interface and fixed bugs with emails. Last, we updated the edit.php file’s interface.

As always, you can find the downloads on our download page. If you are already using ModernBB 2.0.x or 2.1.x, you can take a look at the update check, where you can easly download it. Make a backup before updating of both your database and files. And ofcourse: enjoy ModernBB 2.1.1. ModernBB 1.6.4, 2.0.2 and 2.1.2 will be released on the 10th of December 2013.

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.

ModernBB 2.1.0 “Zoe” now available

modernbb210

Just less then a month after the release of ModernBB 2.0, we are proud to announce the availability of ModernBB 2.1.0! ModernBB 2.1 is a small update upon ModernBB 2.0, however, it’s important to stay up-to-date, especialy since this release fixes lots of bugs. As always, you can download this version on our download page. Anyway, let’s introduce ModernBB 2.1 to you.

What’s new?

  •  Redesigned default styles: even before we released ModernBB 2.0, we knew that the default styles, Randomness, Kindness, Awesomeness and Radicalness where a little bit ugly. That’s why all of them have been redesigned. Awesomeness, Randomness and Radicalness are available inside the package. We will soon launch a style pack including Kindness and more additional styles.
  • Backstage enhancements: We updated the Backstage with multiple enhancements. We’ve placed more buttons so you don’t have to scroll all the way down to save your settings. We replaced lots of Yes/No questions with simple checkboxes. And we did some cleanup work. And more.
  • Place your title in the navbar: We’ve added an option under “Apperance” to allow you to show your forums title in the navbar. We also added an option to disable it to show up in the header, if you like.
  • Disable update check on index: We’ve added a checkbox to disable the update checker on the Backstage index, since not everyone likes it to be reminded of an update. This doesn’t change anything about the fact that it’s important to stay up-to-date.
  • Language pack improvements: ModernBB 2.1 contains a huge update on language packs, they now contain only 1 singe file. For translators, you only have to add all your language files behind each other. However, we also added new strings, it’s important to translate those too!
  • Developer updates: ModernBB 2.1s front-end only makes use of tables in topics and the userlist anymore! This allows style developers to customize their styles even better. Anyway, not that ModernBB 2.0 styles are likely to not work anymore in ModernBB 2.1.
  • Performance improvements: We’ve done some serious code cleanup to improve the performance of ModernBB.
  • And 22 other bugfixes.

It’s important to make a backup before you update your forums to ModernBB 2.1. The system requirements of ModernBB 2.1 are the same as those for ModernBB 2.0. Enjoy!

ModernBB 2.1-beta available

modernbb21b
You may have noticed that the website has changed yesterday and now features buttons to download ModernBB 2.1 beta, and that’s true, yesterday, we launced the first and last unstable version of ModernBB 2.1. So for the note: we do not plan a second beta, nor a release candidate. The next version is ModernBB 2.1.0.

We’re proud on this release, it’s not as big as ModernBB 2.0, but I would say, I’m more happy with this release than the 2.0 milestone. That’s because of multiple reasons. One is, that this release just doesn’t contain that much bugs anymore, because we worked hard on that! For end users, ModernBB 2.1 won’t be a very exiting release, the only change they will see is the new design in the front-end and a updated Backstage.

For developers, on the other hand, especialy the design developers, they will be happy with ModernBB 2.1. The new front-end structure allows you to make even cooler designes for ModernBB powered forums, however, you’re MBB 2.0 design won’t work with MBB 2.1. Anyway, we removed most of the tables, added new classes and ids to divs and other things, etc.

Other under-the-hood improvements are most of the time performance improvements, we’ve merged files together: we’ve now only 1 cache file instead of 2 in the include folder, we merged the language files all in just 1 file (not counting mail templates), we’ve improved the template form.tpl. And more. We’ve also fixed a lot of issues in the language files themselfs, those bugs are present in ModernBB 2.0, but we don’t plan to fix them. ModernBB 2.1 will be the bugfix release for those issues. Talking about that: bugfixes from ModernBB 2.0.2 that are already on GitHub, are included in this release too.

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 #7 – Backstage 2.1

modernbb21d
Today, I would like to introduce you to the improvements made to the Backstage interface in ModernBB 2.1. Actualy, the improvements we are making. ModernBB 2.1 has a very huge focus on the Backstage, we want to make it more clear and easier to use, and that will happen in 2.1.

First of all, yesterday, I got a HUGE mail from someone who calls himself ‘Fisher’ – note that this is the same name as I use for test accounts – filled with usability and design issues. That mail did impres me, I agreed with most of his/here points. While some of those issues where stuff that I already planned to fix, or that where fixed in ModernBB 2.0.1, some of them where issues I didn’t tought about. Some of those improvements will make it later to the front-end of ModernBB, most of them will be first used in Backstage to see if it does work. Anyway, I will note some of the important ones that also will be fixed in ModernBB 2.1:

Issue 1: “Edit forums” is using to much space – WIP
This is an issue I agree on. Actualy, 2 months ago, I created a ticket for this issue in the bugtracker. It was supposed to be fixed in ModernBB 2.0-beta.3, however, it never made it so far. The problem in the “Edit forums” panel is that the table heading and the titles of the categories the forums are in, are using way to much space and leave a lot of white behind. The fix is very simple: put the category names in the table, give them the class “active” and remove the table heading (which repeats every time again. Result? You safe lots of space, here an example with 2 categories and 3 forums in the new interface:

edit forums

Issue 2: You have to scroll all the way down to safe settings
This is mostly a problem on the “Global settings” page, which is a very long page. If you want to update your forums discription, you can do that on top of the page, but to save those settings, you have to go to the end of the page. The solution of this issue is already partial visible in the screenshot above. One probably noticed that the “Update positions” button has gone. Well, it is not removed, it is replace. This is a screenshot of the “General Settings” page.

save changes

See that “Save changes” button? It’s included in every panel that need it. This button is an easy way to save the changes you made. However, when you change a setting in another panel on the same page, the button from the first panel will also save the changes you made in the second panel.

Other small issues that have been fixed

  • Some panel headers are 1px larger than others
  • Inconsistent use of page titles or not
  • Remove tables wheneither they are not usable
  • Update structure of the Backstage menu
  • And many, many more