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 #13 – Redesigned experiences – UPDATE

4th blogpost in 3 days, we’re going hard in April! Anyway, I would like to talk about something you might have noticed in ModernBB 3.1 and in our announcement for ModernBB 3.2 and 3.3: we’re revamping some serious stuff in our forum software. Is this a coincidence or…

Well, no. It isn’t. As you know, we were planning a rebuilded forum software, named Vanellope. But we stopped development of it when we started working on ModernBB 3.1, which backported the new topic view. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen now everywhere else. Version by version, you will see ModernBB switch to a new design. Page by page. What version of ModernBB is going to redesign what? Here’s a list:

ModernBB 3.1 – Topic view (part 1)
ModernBB 3.2 – Profile
– Help
– User list (part 1)
– Topic view (part 2)
ModernBB 3.3 – Backstage
ModernBB 3.4 – Index
– Forum view
– Login
– Register
ModernBB 3.5 – Installation
– User list (part 2)

Why are we doing this? Because it’s time to reimagen the way forums are designed. Why not all at once? Because we simply don’t want to create one big redesign release. We want you guys to be able to play around with the new stuff whenever it’s finished. Are you guys going to be able to follow the above scheme? If you ask that, you don’t know us. Of course we wont. Through this is the planning now. Tomorrow it could be different.

In other news, expect ModernBB 3.1.1 to be released somewhere in the next 7 days.

ModernBB 3.1 “Mellow” now available

modernbb310Perhaps it is the first day of April, but I’m not joking when I say that I’m very happy to announce the availability of ModernBB 3.1, so soon after 3.0. We didn’t even got the time to build a 3.0.1 (which isn’t coming anyway). ModernBB 3.1 “Mellow” will give you an Improved experience in the topic view and navbar.

This update isn’t that big, so I’m going very shortly over the new stuff… Here’s a link. As always, you can find the download on our download page, be sure to make a back-up before you update.

Through I’ve got something other to tell you. We will continou developing ModernBB 3.2, for this update, which will be a release of the same size as 3.1, and thus is still named “Mellow”, we’ve planned to improve the experience on the user list, profile (especially the profile) and help page. You can expect us to release this update in May our June. Also, this month, we will move Vanellope to a branch inside the ModernBB repository and push all changes we made.

Moving on: our new roadmap

260314
In the past couple of days, I’ve done various changes to the planned future of both ModernBB, Vanellope and the ModernBB Group in general. I’m prety happy to announce those changes today. The involve mostly arround (big) roadmap changes…

ModernBB 3.1 and 3.2
First of all, we’ve added a new release to the ModernBB serie and renamed another one. ModernBB 3.1 is now called 3.2, while we also added ModernBB 3.1. Version 3.1 will be a minor release upon ModernBB 3.0 to fix multiple issues and improve ModernBB on certain points. All (or most) features planned for 3.1 are moved to 3.2.

Vanellope 1.0
For Vanellope 1.0, I’m trilled to announce that alpha 1 is now planned for early May, instead of early June. This means that the public test release will hit you guys 1 month earlier than originaly planned. It’s getting better through: Vanellope 1.0, the final release, is now planned for November 2014, instead of January 2015! We’ve revised our scheme because our plans where changed too!

Also, it will be possible to update from ModernBB 3 to Vanellope! With some minor changes you have to apply manualy to the database, through we will release a small tool for that too!

Vanellop 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3
Vanellope 1.1, the Luna Update, is now planned for winter 2015 (read: January/February). Our Yellow Update now carries version number 1.3 and is still planned for the summer of 2015. We’ve added a release in between, version 1.2, whose name will be revealed soon. 1.2 and 1.3 are supposed to be smaller updates, where 1.1 will be the update that contains everything that isn’t finished when we want to release 1.0.

I hope you guys are happy with those changes, as we now have planned 3 major updates (ModernBB 3.1, 3.2 and Vanellope 1.0) for this year, and 3 or more updates for 2015!