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!

2014 was awesome!

2014 has come to an end. And to be fair: for ModernBB, it was a rather awesome year. Let’s take a quick look at a year of work!

Last year, we ended with the development of ModernBB 3 beeing at full swing. We released 40 new version of ModernBB and Luna in the past year, the first one beeing the ModernBB 3 Alpha 1 (core 0.0.30.1534). During 2014, 5 development releases of ModernBB, 6 pre-releases of ModernBB, 22 stable ModernBB releases and 7 development releases of Luna followed. The most recent one beeing Luna 1.0 Preview 2 DEVED (core 0.2.3478), earlier this month. And later today, you’ll be able to enjoy Luna 1.0 Preview 2 NEWED (core 0.2.3573)!

40 new versions is a lot. During 2013, we only released 23 versions of ModernBB. Note that ModernBB came to existence in April 2013 through, and that the real development actualy kicked of in late June 2013. So, on avarage per active month, we have released a lot more releases last year.

But releases aren’t what matter. Neither are downloads, through we’ve seen some realy nice numbers the past year! We closed of 2013 with 2045 downloads in total, making an avarage of 227 download each month since April. 2014, however, closed of with 11.780 downloads in total, making an avarage of 811 download each month. December 2014 was our best month up until now, with 1309 downloads. This means that, if we do not shrink in downloads, the amount of avarage downloads can be doubled during 2015 (let’s hope even better!). 2013 to 2014 was over 3 (almost 4) times more download per month!

But like I said, numbers doesn’t matter. Well, there is one number that does: the number of happy people. And we hope that we did make some people happy with all the work that is beeing done to ModernBB 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7 and Luna 0.0, 0.1 and 0.2 during the past year. A lot of features have joined the fun since last years final 2.2 release. And in fact, a lot of features are joining right now since the 3.x branch in Luna. Next year arround this time, I hope to be looking back at a beautiful Luna 1.0 and Luna 1.1 release (yeah, only 2 major releases planned for next year, 3 if you count ModernBB 3.7 (but that’s planned to be not such a major release) 4 if we might get to Luna 1.2, it feels weird!).

Well, I wish you a Merry Chrismas (a little bit late, but I already did this on Twitter too) and a Happy New Year! Enjoy the fun! I’m out for this year!

ModernBB 3.6 now available

3.6-branchRemember when we announced ModernBB 3.5 Update 3? Well, we did release that version, however, unlike what our blog told you, it only contained a security fix. Meanwhile, we renamed the original planned update to ModernBB 3.6 “Blue”. And we’re happy to announce that this release of ModernBB is now available!

ModernBB 3.6 (core 0.0.36.2559) comes with a couple of nice improvements. Most of them are to polish your experience with ModernBB. First of, we Improved the Backstage design to be darker and thus better to use in the dark. It also brings back the ModernBB 3.3/3.4 navbar in the Backstage, through it does contain some changes.

The front-end has also received some updates. Random, Awesome, Kind and Radical have been redesigned. And back from the past; Luna, Pinkie, Shy, Happy and Magic join the core again. Due to all optimalisations these themes have got, they no longer put much in for the package size. Further, touch support has been improved for larger touchscreens, especialy dropdowns. We also fixed the interface of the “Change email” interface, which was still using an old design.

For security, ModernBB now shows the strength of your password when you are joining a board or changeing your password. Passwords that are generated by ModernBB itself will also be stronger starting from this release. And, of course, the bug from 3.5.3 has also been solved in this release.

Finaly, we’ve removed the heading from the statistics panel on the index. Bootstrap has been updated from 3.2.0 to 3.3.1. You can now upgrade to ModernBB 3.6 from PunBB 1.2, PunBB 1.3, FluxBB 1.2, FluxBB 1.3, FluxBB 1.4, FluxBB1.5, ModernBB 1.6 and ModernBB 1.7, in addition to ModernBB 2.x and 3.x. And lastly, we’ve fixed the usual bugs.

You can get ModernBB 3.6 at the usual place: the download page. Be sure to update if you’re on ModernBB 3.5.0 or lower. If you’re using ModernBB 3.5.1 and 3.5.2, it’s smart to upgrade to (in fact, it’s important to update whatever version you’re on) due to security issues that got fixed in 3.5.1, 3.5.2, 3.5.3 and now in 3.6.0. Now, look forward to Luna Preview 1 while we kick off the development of ModernBB 3.7 “Cotton candy” and Luna Preview 2!

A year with Random and what’s ahead for it

Whoho! Today, we’re celebrating the first aniversary of Random. Random has been our default style through the existence of the second generation of ModernBB (that includes, but isn’t limited to ModernBB 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5). Through the current design language was introduced in ModerrnBB 2.2, which was released November 30th, 2013. So yes, we’re also celebrating 1 year ModernBB 2.2.

A brief history
Random, introduced as Randomness 1.0, together with Kindness, Awesomeness and Radicalness, was the default theme of ModernBB 2.0. It was a major redesign and completely different from ModernBB 1.6’s Air design. However, we weren’t to happy with the design and thus, ModernBB 2.1 focused on doing it all over again. This release, Randomness 2.0, introduced the general structure of the design as you still get it today.

Randomness 2.1 however, the version of Randomness that contains the currently used design guidelines, was released with ModernBB 2.2, while originaly made for ModernBB 3.0, and made improvements to performance, brought a brighter design and made other major improvements. Randomness 2.2 was the ModernBB 3.0 release and mainly focussed on making Randomness compatible with the new ModernBB 3 features.

Randomness 2.3 was part of ModernBB 3.1 and introduced some ideas from Vanellope (the project, not the ModernBB version), resulting in a major design enhancement to the topic view (and we got good comments on that one). Due to the good comments, the rest of ModernBB couldn’t stay behind, and thus, Randomness 2.5, part of ModernBB 3.2, redesigned all other pages, still staying true to the Original guidelines from Randomness 2.1.

Random 3.0 was released with ModernBB 3.3, it wasn’t a major difference for the eye, through Random 3.0 introduced support for ModernBB’s new style engine. Random 3.1 would improve further upon with ModernBB 3.4, including support for the new editor and other features. Finaly, the current Random 3.2 also brought support for the new ModernBB 3.5 features, but no major changes where applied.

Random 4.0
With the upcoming update to ModernBB, we will celebrate Random’s 1st anniversary with a redesign of the styles. This includes the default styles Random, Kind, Awesome and Radical, but also Luna, Pinkie, Shy, Happy and Magic, which you can download from ModernBB.be. These styles will (for now) support ModernBB 3.4.1 and up (so if you’re running an older version but want to use these new styles, your in luck, through you should update).

These new versions of the default styles will also include Improved information about them (updated screenshot, new logo, etc.).