2015: A year in review and a year in preview

So… I wrote this post at the end of 2016, but forgot to post it. So here we go…

2015 was a big year for us. We release Luna 1.0, a major update to our software. And we also released the final ModernBB release. Let’s take a look at what we did this year:

We released 19 development versions (alphas), 13 pre-release versions (betas and RCs), 4 final versions (Aero, Bittersweet Shimmer, Cornflower Blue and Denim) and 19 updates (x.x.1-releases). In total, we released 55 versions of Luna. We also had 2 ModernBB-releases (version 3.7 and 4.0). This brings us on a total of 57 releases in 1 year. That’s up 17 from last year’s 40 releases and quiet a bit up from 2013’s 23 releases.

I’m also very happy with our download count. Compared to last year, we had a 60% year over year growth for the counted downloads. The bad news is, in the period of June to early November, we – sadly – didn’t count all downloads, so this could have been more.

But what will 2016 bring? Well…

First of all, I hope we’ll be releasing less updates. Sure, updates are fine, but some of the past year’s updates shouldn’t have happened. I hope that Luna 2.0 will bring along a more stable platform then 1.0.0, 1.1.0 and 1.2.0 have been so far (Luna 1.3.0 is doing just fine, though). I’ve also noticed that well, I should be a little bit more critical about contributions made by the community. Don’t get me wrong: I love that people help out with Luna and that’s more then welcome. But some commits shouldn’t have happened either and I’m not to happy about some of the directions Luna has been going into the past year (and Luna 2 will revert these directions).

What I do hope is that 2016 will bring Luna 2.0. This won’t be for the coming months, I can tell that already. The first preview might, though. Luna 2.0 is probably going to be the final major update. Future updates will probably be more focused like the x.1-updates. Don’t worry, we’ll eventually get to Luna 3.0, but I’m hoping to adapt a more rolling-release-ish scheme for updates after the Luna 2.0-update is done. More on that later. I hope we’ll have a great 2016. I’m actually certain of it.

So now that I failed to put this one up on January 1st, 2016, I actually can reflect on what I said back than already. Where we’ve released 57 builds in 2015 in total, this year, we’ve only released 3 versions so far (1.3.1, 1.4-alpha.1 and 1.4-alpha.2). So to that matter, we’re on the right track. I hope 1.4 to be a very stable update from the get-go, despite it having some changes that are potentially dangerous.

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


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


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:


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


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


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.


Backstage 3.1


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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!

ModernBB availability

Luna has been around for 5 months now (that is the 1.0.0 version, Luna itself is already over a year old) and ever since, ModernBB has disappeared to the background. We did release a ModernBB 4.0 update not so long ago, though. However, in our ongoing attempt to clean up our website, we’re planning to take the next step in this.

Last month, we revamped our website to be more straight to the point, removing some pages, merging others (the changelog, roadmap and download pages for example). The ModernBB-website was also killed off in favor for a release log on getluna.org. However, we want to kill that too.

This isn’t something that will happen in the near future, but it is going to happen either way. Starting February 9, 2016, Preview-version of ModernBB (alphas, betas and release candidates) will no longer be available. So, all pre-release versions for ModernBB 1.6, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 3.0, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5 will be made unavailable (ModernBB 1.7, 3.1, 3.6, 3.7 and 4.0 don’t have any pre-release versions). These will still be available from GitHub, but no longer on our website.

On June 14, 2016 all other versions will be taken down. Again, they will all be available at GitHub. With the exception of version 4.0. In case you want to continue to use ModernBB, we strongly recommend you to upgrade to 4.0. Otherwise, please upgrade to Luna. We’re certain that you’ll love this software, especially Luna 1.2, which has a default theme that is very similar to ModernBB.

ModernBB 4.0 now available

It’s almost 2 years ago that we released ModernBB 2.0 “Zoe”. That indicated the start of something awesome, something that goes on right now. Since, we’ve released 2 major updates to ModernBB 2 and we’ve released ModernBB 3, which received 7 major updates. We’ve also released Luna, which, up until now, has received 1 major update. Today, we’re released ModernBB 4.0, and its the end of an era.

ModernBB 4.0 is our final ModernBB release. We do not plan to release any further updates to the ModernBB platform (this is basically what we first wanted to release as ModernBB 3.7.1 or 3.8, but the changes beyond bugfixes became to big).

ModernBB 4.0 is mainly a visual update. On the front-end, it brings back the ModernBB 2.1-3.5 styles. The old Random styles have all been revamped with gradients and more and are included in the ModernBB 4.0 download. A note to this is that we didn’t update the screenshots included in ModernBB, sorry for that.

Another update we’ve made is visible in the Backstage. And honestly, it will be hard to not notice the changes. The Backstage has been redesigned to match the Luna Backstage, bringing an interface that many have claimed to be amazing for management. With ModernBB 4.0, you will also be reminded to upgrade to Luna. Further, the check for update system has been kicked out because it has been broken for a while, and I didn’t see a point in fixing it since this is the final release.

So, that raises the question: is ModernBB dead with this update? Yes, yes it is. I want to point out that we won’t be releasing any updates to ModernBB anymore. However, we will continue to provide support in our forums for a while and we’ll also release updates if security issues have been found. So while you shouldn’t expect a ModernBB 4.0.1 with bug fixes, a security release is still possible.

Ending support for ModernBB

Luna has been around for a couple of months now, and we like to move on. That’s why we’re officialy ending support for ModernBB later this summer. This will happen somewhere in the last week of August. Before then, we hope to release our final ModernBB update before then, as promised.

But what is this update? We’ve talked about ModernBB 3.7.1 for a while and we have mentioned ModernBB 3.8 a couple of times too. However, our plan is to release neither of the twoo. Instead, you should get ready for ModernBB’s final branch: ModernBB 4.0.

Yep, we’re doing another release of ModernBB. However, the jump to 4.0 is more to get something to close off, rather then an actual 4.0. Then again, 4.0 is going to contain a couple of nice changes. For starters, we’re working on bringing the Luna 1.2 Backstage to ModernBB 4.0, of course not with all the new settings in it and neither with Night mode.

Another change that we will bring along is the return the Random 3.x design. In ModernBB 3.6, we introduced Random 4.0 which was flattened out. We regret that design desicion, so we’re undoing it. ModernBB 4.0 will ship with Random 4.3, reintroducing the gradient design, of course, all other changes stay. We’ll also apply some other small changes.

We don’t have a date for this right now, and while we do target the end of August, this can always run out as it isn’t much of a priority right now with Luna 1.2, 1.3 and 2.0 in development.

But what about support? Well, we’ll provide no support for ModernBB 4.0. In case 4.0 gets released with a major bug, we’ll fix it, but a month after release, we’ll consider ModernBB obsolete.

For the website, you’ve probably noticed that if you visit the ModernBB.be website, you get redirected to GetLuna.org quiet a lot. With the launch of ModernBB 4.0, we’ll be taking down the ModernBB website for good. However, it will be more obvious to download older versions of ModernBB on the Luna website.