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November Update

Started by Arantor, November 04, 2013, 06:27:18 PM

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So, it's been a few weeks since I last wrote anything in here, and I want to give an update as to where things have been going lately.

As ever, anyone who checks our Github will probably have already seen some of the changes we've done - for those who haven't, is where it's all happening.

First up, as you can imagine the first part of October was spent in dealing with the security issues reported to us, and which lead to 1.1.19 and 2.0.6 being released. That took a fair amount of time to get sorted, as you can imagine, but we're done on that score now.

So, changes in SMF 2.1 itself:
* A makeover to the moderation center - we decided to make it a bit more usable; the 'Latest from SMF' block was unlikely to be useful to most of the people in the mod centre, and mod notes being hidden by default was a mess given the fact that it's probably the most useful feature in the moderation centre! Suki put in a lot of time cleaning it up and adding extra little gadgets, I won't give you all the details, I'll let you explore that for yourself, but a screenshot is attached of the mod centre as it stands now.

* Some of the help popups in the admin area got reworded and made more useful.

* Myriad bugs got fixed (it's all in the log, don't really want to drag through all of them)

* Likes are currently being added (still a WIP), screenshot is attached. Please note that we deliberately aren't including names of people who liked a post, partly because that fits in with the minimalism aspect of the theme but much more importantly, the way we're doing it uses far fewer queries.

* Sent messages are automatically and always saved to your 'sent items', rather than having to enable it or to configure it to do so.

* Some of the images in the theme were converted into image sprites. More to do yet though.

* Admin panel overhaul...

I want to take some time to explain this one, because it's a big thing.

Firstly, Core Features. Many of you who've read some of my topics know the hate/hate relationship I have with this concept. I'm fine with the concept of turning off features that you're not using, or even having to turn them on if you do want them.

Except having a page of items whose sole thing in common is that they're all things that can be turned on/off is unintuitive, especially because these things don't tend to come up in searches. The net result is you had items that were well known to be in SMF but no-one could find them because you had to go to an unrelated page to enable them.

So we did away with all that - and in some ways it was a shame to wave goodbye to the code in question because the changes in 2.1 did make some great usability improvements to it compared to how it was done in 2.0, but honestly not having it makes everything easier to find.

On that note, I know for some time there has been a huge debate on the sidebar vs the menu, over the usability and practicality of each, and in the end we have removed the sidebar. There are issues most people don't realise that come up (translation issues, some usability issues that cannot be meaningfully corrected without rewriting good chunks of the admin, moderation and profile code), and in the end having two rather different ways to do the same thing just isn't particularly clever.

There is, in hindsight, one aspect to having the sidebar that the menu doesn't give you, a sense of discoverability, being able to see everything that's there in a differently structured way, and so I did something I've done before, based on OS X System Preferences, cPanel and other systems. Screenshot attached, you can't miss it.

There are a variety of other changes made to the admin panel (and there's probably more I'm forgetting):
* Configuration > Server Settings has been moved to Maintenance > Server Settings (you're not generally supposed to be touching!)
* Items are always displayed even if they are not enabled; items that are disabled are shown greyed out.
* Configuration > Security and Moderation no longer exists; the warning system (formerly Security and Moderation > Moderation) is now Members > Warnings, anti-spam (formerly Sec & Mod > Anti Spam) is now simply Configuration > Anti Spam, and the general security stuff (Sec & Mod > General) is now under Maintenance > Server Settings > Security. The idea, of course, is to push all the most-used stuff further up the page.
* Reports is always on, cannot be 'disabled' like it used to be. There was no benefit in disabling it.
* Integration Hooks is always on, now under Maintenance > Forum Maintenance.
* The moderation, admin and profile-edit logs can be individually enabled/disabled, from Maintenance > Logs > Log Settings (this page replaces the old Log Pruning page), and for new installs, the moderation and admin logs (only) will be on by default.
* Search Engine Tracking is no longer under the Members menu but now in the Forum menu.
* Forum > Drafts has been moved under Forum > Posts and Topics.

Anyway, that's all from me for now... back to getting likes finished, I guess... ;)
Holder of controversial views, all of which my own.


Fantastic work all round there.  Thank you for the update.

The changes to the moderation centre are particular beneficial to me, and the overhaul of other areas mentioned is also welcome.

Thank you for the detailed post.
Soñando con una playa donde brilla el sol, un arco iris ilumina el cielo, y el mar espejea iridescentemente



Nice one, devs! Almost time to replace that "Alpha" with the "B" word, hey? :)
Se forem conduzir, não bebam. Se forem beber... CHAMEM-ME!!!! :D

QuoteOver 90% of all computer problems can be traced back to the interface between the keyboard and the chair


It's getting exciting now!  Thanks for the update  :D


Quote from: margarett on November 04, 2013, 06:35:45 PM
Nice one, devs! Almost time to replace that "Alpha" with the "B" word, hey? :)

We're getting there, there's a few things to do yet before we bring out the dreaded B word. ;)
Holder of controversial views, all of which my own.


Myriad and Beer in the same topic. I love it...looks great so far! :)
Always be a little kinder than necessary.
- James M. Barrie


Congrats.  Sounds promising.  And if users want a sidebar in the admin, I'm sure someone will make a mod for it.


While yes, it would be possible to make a mod out of it, I really wouldn't encourage them to do so. It wasn't removed lightly in the first place.
Holder of controversial views, all of which my own.


Well, I kinda got attached a little cause it reminded me of the early days of phpBB.  I haven't see the newer days, but the early days of phpBB, my first actual forum software installed and was owner of  Those were the days!


Wow, lots of good news in this update, Arantor. I really appreciate your ability to give us details without bogging us down, or talking over our heads.

Many "Thanks!" to Arantor, to all the Devs, and the whole SMF Team for continuing their wonderful work on SMF. Great Job~!


Awesome stuff! Thank you.
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody is not thinking." - Gen. George S. Patton Jr.



Lots of thanks to the dev team who have really been pushing through development lately. :)
Colin B
Former Spammer, Customize, & Support Team Member




I blew away my previous alpha test install and have this version running on my test site, if anyone wants to try it.
(If I know who you are, I may be willing to make you mods or possibly admins to test deeper features)

Please do not PM, IM or Email me with support questions.  You will get better and faster responses in the support boards.  Thank you.

"Loki is not evil, although he is certainly not a force for good. Loki is... complicated."


Very nice, I am already missing LIKE button here :)


I love that "Likes" has been added to the core. :)


Quote from: CountryLady on November 05, 2013, 01:05:39 AM
Wow, lots of good news in this update, Arantor. I really appreciate your ability to give us details without bogging us down, or talking over our heads.

Many "Thanks!" to Arantor, to all the Devs, and the whole SMF Team for continuing their wonderful work on SMF. Great Job~!

It's good to see Arantor on the SMF Team. :D