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!

What’s in a codename?

So today, I discovered that there is a Wikipedia article about ModernBB (which also covers Luna). Awesome! Thumbs up for the guy that’s keeping the information on it up-to-date. Anyway, I decided to read through the whole lemma, and then, I came across this:

Similar to other software, like WordPress, main releases are named with code names. However, the logic used for ModernBB’s code names is unknown. Some releases share the same code name.

It sure knew to steal my attention. Why? Because it’s right. There is no logic in the ModernBB codenames. Will there be any kind of logic in Luna codenames? Probably, but remember, they are what the name says: codenames. Nothing more, nothing less.

ModernBB Codenames
While ModernBB 1.6 is called Blythe, it didn’t had a codename until ModernBB 2.0 was named Zoe. Both codenames came from the same source: Hasbro (that big entertainment company, you know, like Monopoly and stuff). 1.7 just took the 1.6 codename due to it not being such a big release. However, releases being small isn’t the only reason we stick to a codename. 2.1 and 2.2 where both named Zoe, too. There is no reason for that naming convention.

ModernBB 3.0 was named Odd. Because it was version 3, and uneven number, which is also called “odd”. Also, “Odd” is a name in some countries. ModernBB 3.1 and 3.2 where both named Mellow. These 2 releases sharing a name, did have a reason. Both releases putted the focus on revamping the front-end design. Its codename wasn’t ment to be the word “mellow”, through. It actualy comes from “marshmallow”. But we thought that was to long and shortened it to “Mallow” and then we switched the a for an e. I didn’t even realize at the moment it was an actual word.

ModernBB 3.3 was named Vanellope, after the Vanellope project I did in the months prior to it, of which it also got a lot of code. Anyway, that project’s name on its own was from Wreck-it Ralph, a Disney movie. One of the characters was named “Vanellope von Sweetz” (or something). ModernBB 3.4 was named Neon, and at that point, we did plan to introduce a logic in naming our releases: after the elements. Didn’t happen, through. The next version, ModernBB 3.5, was named Kate. ModernBB 3.6 and 3.7 are both named Blue. We just took names, there really is no reason behind these names. 3.6 and 3.7 share the same name because we don’t think it’s worth it to give it new names.

Luna Codenames
Luna continues to use codenames. Aero is an example, the codename for Luna 1.0. “Luna” as a name itself was a codename until it became our final name. We currently call our 1.1 milestone Luna 1.1 Bittersweet Shimmer. Another update, that currently doesn’t have a version number is Luna Denim. There is an updated planned in between Bittersweet Shimmer and Denim, so that’s going to be something with a C. Anyway, for the people that didn’t notice it: Aero, Bittersweet Shimmer and Denim are all colors. In alphabetic order. So there you have our logic. Finally.

Announcing ModernBB 3.5 Update 3: An update for your eyes

3.5-branchIn ModernBB 3.3, we revamped the black-blue Backstage interface into a brighter and white-color (because you’re free to choose a color) design. This made the interface quiet bright. ModernBB 3.5 once again revamped the design, making the navbar white too. Making the interface even brighter. And well, we got some comment on that, so our next update, ModernBB 3.5 Update 3 is about to revamp the Backstage interface once again.

And we’ll do that with a couple of small changes. First of, the navbar will use the color accent you choose once again. This already breaks the majorly white design of the Backstage. However, that still makes up for a rather bright interface. And that’s not easy for the eye, and is power consuming for both you and your device. That’s why we change the white background into a dark grey. This matches the color we use in Luna a bit, but it fixes the problems we have with it.

But improvements for colors isn’t the only change that ModernBB 3.5 Update 3 will bring. We will make it more easy for large touchscreens, that do not get the hamburger-menu, to navigate the navbar thanks to improvements to the dropdown lists for touch. Another (major) change is that we’re now using Bootstrap 3.3.1 instead of ModernBB 3.5 Update 2 and earliers Bootstrap 3.2.0.

Further, ModernBB 3.5 Update 3 will bring small improvements to security. Unlike Update 1 and Update 2, Update 3 will not patch a security hole, but improve generated passwords. What brings us to the next point: this update will also bring the ability of ModernBB to check the strength of passwords. Finaly, ModernBB 3.5.3 will be able to recognize a FluxBB 1.4 and 1.5 and a ModernBB 1.6 and 1.7 database, so you can update from these systems again. This is due to we won’t support updating from these releases to Luna 1.0, and thus, ModernBB 3.5.x is a required stop if you want to update from ModernBB to Luna. And last but not least: we’re also fixing a couple of bugs (3 for now).

Stay tuned for this update, which will be released on 9 December 2014! Is it the final update for ModernBB 3.5? No, after this, we will simply move on to ModernBB 3.5 Update 4, which is planned for February. If you’re now using ModernBB 3.5 Update 1 or lower, and especialy ModernBB 3.5 and lower, remember to upgrade as soon as possible to ModernBB 3.5 Update 2. Update 1 and 2 fix important security issues! So do not wait for ModernBB 3.5 Update 3 to be released.

TEN awesome THOUSAND

tenthousand

So I decided to take a look at ModernBB’s ModernCount control panel (we’ve got other software besides ModernBB you know), where we track the downloads. And today I saw the counter standing on 9.984 downloads. Which is a very impressive thing, because that means that 10.000 downloads is a very close milestone.

And thus we hit that milestone. Today, 18 November 2014. 19 months after ModernBB was founded, 14 months after the first real release (ModernBB 2.0). And let’s make it clear: I couldn’t be more happy! 10.000 is quiet the archivement. It’s nothing compared to others, for instance, if WordPress would have an avarage of 10.000 downloads every day, it’s a bad day for them. We got it in 14 months together.

And I’ve got a lot to thank Coder’s Guid and Neil for this. After they started using ModernBB and made an installation tutorial about ModernBB 3.1, our donwloads made a hole in the roof. Mutliple times a week. Now, a bunch of months later, I’m still feeling the consequences of that. So for this, thanks! However, it’s not only because of CG that we got to the 10.000 of course. No, I also have to thank all the 9.998 other people (the first download was by myself, later downloads I made aren’t counted by ModernCount) that downloaded ModernBB.

I hope all of you enjoyed it so far, and I hope all of you are helping me out with the next 10.000, and let’s hope they come faster than the previous 10.000 (let’s try to do it in less then a year)! I’ll be fine if it takes as much time, but let’s hope that it doesn’t take more time. Anyway, I’m sure that the downloads will continue to grow as we are on the edge of releasing the first real Luna Preview. And in just 3 weeks, we also have our third update to ModernBB 3.5. Stay tuned!

ModernBB/Luna & Bootstrap/jQuery

Today, the Bootstrap developers released Bootstrap 3.3. This is the final major release for Bootstap 3 before moving on to Bootstrap 4. And well I would like to talk a little bit about that (a little, realy). We’re planning to bring Bootstrap 3.3.0 to the next update for ModenrBB 3.5 (version 3.5.3 that is), and obviously, to the latest Luna development version. TrentUI in the later one will be replaced with Bootstrap 3.3. However, Bootstrap announced their plans for Bootstrap 4 today too, and we’ve decided to not bring Bootstrap 4 to ModernBB. we will continue to update ModernBB with the latest version of Bootstrap 3 as long as it last. Bootstrap 4 will only be used for Luna, as it will require (according to their plans) for our project a lot of changes (we’re using panels a lot, and guess what’s going to change drasticaly).

However, the guys over at Bootstrap weren’t the only once to announce some drastic changes. The people at the jQuery Foundation announced jQuery 3, killing of jQuery 1.x and 2.x (we’re currently using 2.1). Once again, ModernBB 3.5 will not be provided with an update to this major revision, but only to jQuery 2.2 (if that ever gets released). Luna on the other hand will start using jQuery 3 as soon as it is available in the test branch.

With some luck, we will be able to include Bootstrap 4 and jQuery 3 in the final release of Luna 1.0 mid next year. If not, we might dedict a whole major update on simply upgrading to Bootstrap 4 and jQuery 3 (yes, it’s going to be that drasticaly).

Important updates: ModernBB 3.5.2 and Luna 0.0.1

luna-brand

It has been only 2 days since the release of ModernBB 3.5.1 and our first preview release of Luna, version 0.0.3112, or named Luna 0.0.0, but today, we’re pushing out ModernBB 3.5.2 and Luna 0.0.3136 (and by name, Luna 0.0.1). They both fix the same issues. One of these was that the title of a topic displayed on the index wouldn’t update if the topic’s title was altered. The second one is a redirection security vulnerability. And because of this, it’s highly recommended to upgrade to ModernBB 3.5.2 right away. Both 3.5.1 and 3.5.2 have been important security updates, if you are on 3.5.0 or lower, upgrade now!

However, it’s not just bugfixes. At least, not for Luna (for ModernBB it is). The new Luna build, build 3136, comes with some small improvements compared to the first version of Preview 0. You can now select a color for each forum, for example. How this is used will become more obvious in later releases. However, the Improved index already uses some of this. You might notice that altering a forum’s color will change its appearance on the index.

We’ve also updated the index itself. The board statistics have been updated with a new design, and the forum and category list now show the most recent post and the amount of posts and topics in the forum. Further, we’ve fixed some CSS issues. That’s  it for this update to Luna. Luna 0.0.1 fixes the security issue that is also fixed in ModernBB 3.5.2, the issue that’s fixed in 3.5.1 is already fixed in the 0.0.0 release. Stay tuned for more news on Luna!

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 3.5 Preview now available

3.5p-branch

After a couple of weeks of development, we’re happy to announce the availability of ModernBB 3.5 Preview. This beta version isn’t feature complet, as we still plan some changes to the the password system, but overal, ready for testing. Important note is to expect nothing to fancy. It might be a “.5”-release, but we see it as another “.1”-release. In fact, it might be a little bit dissapointing feature-wise. But remember, that a lot of features we planned to release with 3.5 are already released as ModernBB 3.4 Update 1, ModernBB 3.4 Update 2 and ModernBB .4 Update 3. I’m not going to talk to much about this release, you can find a changelog here. Nice note is that this might be the final ModernBB preview version. The last unstable release! Wohoo! Now on to Luna (and 3.5 Update 1, etc.).

Round-up #14 – Let’s do a round-up about round-ups & more useful stuff

Well, it’s a very active month, I guess. It has been quite in the round-up category for a couple of weeks, and now, we’ve posted 3 posts in less then a week in it. This time, I want to spend some time to round-up all round-ups and talk about some more recent changes.

ModernBB.be blog
First of all, you probably noticed our completely redesigned blog. This is done as part of the 384 Group design and code conventions. The style blends in way better then our previous one. That’s clear. Anyway, you can’t access all posts very easy now, and comments aren’t available either (so is a sidebar and pagination). Those are things we will add later on. For now, you’ll have to deal with the stuff we got. At least, it’s now responsive and faster.

ModernBB is a growing platform
Perhaps you noticed on the ModernBB Twitter feed, but the first tutorial about ModernBB that isn’t from the 384 Group was posted yesterday on YouTube. A nice “thank you” to the people over at Coder’s Guide. What does this mean to ModernBB, you ask? Well, since yesterday, the amount of downloads is growing faster then before, and I’m prety sure we can thank this video for that. The fact that ModernBB has now a third-party tutorial, is great. On the other hand, the people at Wikipedia think we are also worth to have a page there. So, if that thing is running behind, update it! All of this is proof that we are actualy getting somewhere, we’re growing, and that’s great and prety important for a community.

For the mather, as part of the 384 Group coding and design conventions, ModernBB is going to get some official brand assets. This means that, very soon, an updated to our website will add a new “Brand Assets” page to the “About” section, here, you can find all of our logos (which means, all color schemes). You will be able to use those logos wherever you think you want to mention us. As much as possible, ofcourse. 🙂

ModernBB 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5
In the 4 upcoming feature releases, we will spend a lot of time on modernizing the interface of ModernBB. 3.2, 3.4 and 3.5 will focus on the front-end. While 3.3 will focus on the Backstage. The 3.2 updated is planned for late May. 3.3 should be here early this summer. We hope to get 3.5 out before the end of the year. 3.6 and onwards will focus on making ModernBB a platform with modern features, as we will put some work in a better template system and a plugin system (again). Another feature that is being worked on right now, is a fancy new update system that allows you to update ModernBB right from the Backstage with a click on a button.

That doesn’t mean that 3.2 until 3.5 will only focus on design, we’re also adding new features and improving others, just no big feature updates, unless realy required, or if I finish the new styling system and plugin system before the time it was planned. The development of both those features will start shortly and have their own branch and milestone on our GitHub project.

Looking for developers
If anyone is intrested in developing ModernBB: good news. Since I’m the only developer, I’m looking for people that can join me in creating a better piece of forum software. How can you get started? Join our forum, create a GitHub account (if you don’t have one yet), push some nice improvements to our repository, etc. If you’re good at that, I’ll add you to our team so you can claim some tickets for yourself.