This is where all of the announcements about Wedge will be posted... But mostly, our updates about the development process.
Ho ho ho, hello there! Merry something, I don't know if it's too early, I'm not too good at social things.
As you probably know from my earlier blog post, my life these last few months has been quite hectic, me being a new father and all. Of course, Wedge had to take a back seat and I focused more on real life. I guess when things cooled down a bit, I wasn't so much in a mood to work again, and decided to dive again into one of my other passions, and a much less brain-melting passion at that, movies and TV. Bought myself a new quality TV, and discovering the joys of 1080p. I even went to my local theater yesterday (for the first time in like, 2 years ?!), because I really wanted to watch Interstellar. Which I loved, if you're curious.
I also had a couple of requests regarding a 'proper' beta for Wedge. I'm not a strong believer in compartmentalizing versions or whatever, and with my current lack of time/interest, I can't bring myself to doing proper release control anyway. All I can say is: the day Wedge went public (and it's already been nearly a year!), I considered it not 'alpha', not 'beta', but simply 'public'. That is, ready for production use. You just need to keep in mind that if you want to use Wedge, it's in your best interest to install a Git client and keep a copy of the Wedge repo somewhere, so that you can upload updated files as they're made available.
Short of getting paid for my work on the software (and I have 4 years of expertise on the subject, without even including my SMF years, so I really deserve some kind of repayment), you'll have to settle on my occasional bursts of passion to keep the project going.
For instance, right after I came back from Interstellar, around midnight, I decided I couldn't go to bed after seeing scientists do their math, and I did mine. As a result, plugin authors should now be able to edit Wedge source files the same way they can edit SMF files through mods. This should, basically, save you the hassle of having to request for hooks wherever they aren't conveniently being offered to you. If you're a Wedge plugin author wannabe, but you don't like the idea of having to rewrite your SMF mods from the ground up, that feature might be of interest to you. Have fun! And don't forget that it's not finalized, so I may have to rewrite it substantially after I get some feedback.
Next July, I'll be readying myself to transmit all of my geeky knowledge. Word by word, letter by letter. Okay, at first, it'll have to be diaper by diaper. I guess I can't have everything at once!
What does it mean for Wedge?
Well, being a dad doesn't imply I'll stop working on it, of course. It's not like my life has always been centered around Wedge, although I simply like to make people think it is. I usually spend a couple of hours a day working on it, and the rest of my days is just me watching TV, browsing Wikipedia or the iMDb and thinking, "I should really get started on Wedge!", and then doing so an hour before I'm supposed to go to bed.
So, yeah, I'll keep working on it. I just wanted to make sure, back in January, that Wedge was out of beta before the due date, simply because I was afraid I would lose interest after. Well, I won't. And I don't know if it'll be 'gold' by then. I'm already late for an official beta -- in fact, I was planning to go through official alphas first, but then I realized I couldn't be bothered to make GitHub 'releases' for these, and I decided that Wedge was, right now, in its 'official alpha phase', rather than 'pre-alpha'. Wedge is currently being used in production by quite a few forums, without much trouble, and I suppose it's just the perfectionist talking whenever I say it's not ready for mass consumption. In my mind, it never will be, but I'm still aware that Wedge, even with its many remaining bugs, is currently largely ahead of SMF, and (but your opinion here may vary) still superior to the pretty fine ElkArte. (If you haven't heard about it, just Google it.)
Anyway, please bear with me while I'm trying to deal with everything that's happening around me, and hopefully it'll all make for a better world in the end. Yayz!
And here it is. I wanted to postpone it even more... But you don't deserve it. If anything goes wrong, I'll deserve it. In the meantime, please enjoy this; some of you have been waiting over three years for this moment.
Read the README for instructions.
I will attempt to release a public alpha once I get some feedback confirming that everything's working all right.
This is the official plugin repository. Most of these were written by Pete, John and Shitiz. The current license for them is the Wedge license; eventually, though, my goal is to make it clear which plugins are under more permissive licenses. Perhaps I'll even be able to make them all MIT, or something. If you write a plugin and don't want to share it under the MIT license, you can always push it elsewhere.
This one isn't a new repo, I introduced it recently on this blog, but what's new is that all of its files are now governed by the MIT license.
Lastly, if you're planning to make the switch to Wedge from an active SMF forum, please remember this:
Happy new year, then!
I'm pleased to announce that the Wedge codebase will soon make it to the public. I'm nearly finished with the whole theme removal thing (which took me weeks to fine-tune), and while I'm sure you will find tons of bugs in the public repo (most of which I'm aware of), it *will* be usable, and will become even more usable as others volunteer to help. I still can't give you a date, it could be today, or in a week. But definitely this month.
In the meantime, here's my last present before (hopefully) the Wedge public repo:
This is the long-awaited repo for the Wedge language files.
You can technically clone this repo into your /core/ folder (which is what I'll be doing), and then you get the English and French translations without any other manipulations (except flushing the language cache, of course. I really need to do that automatically.)
As explained in the readme, if you're going to start a new translation, create a new folder in a new branch of your local repo, don't forget to sign-off any commits you do (otherwise I won't be able to accept them), and then do pull requests whenever you like.
I'd also recommend that you create a new topic somewhere to announce your plans, so that you don't get into conflicts with other potential translators.
Note: you must be acquainted with the git system if you want to get into this. I won't hold you by the hand, although someone else on the forum might.
So... Hope you all had a nice Christmas! I, for one, had a lovely couple of days back in my family. As a late present (although it can be argued that interest around it will be limited), I felt I needed to point out that I've just pushed the very first Wedge public repo to Github.
This isn't the forum software itself (you bet! But I'm doing my best to put it online next month, fingers crossed!), but it contains some actual code that belonged in Wedge at one point or another, as well as a hopefully interesting view into variable names, programming techniques and other things that might give you an idea of how I do things generally.
This repo is called stash, and previously shelf and attic, to give you a generic idea. You guessed it, it's the place where I shelved any code that I liked but didn't want/couldn't afford to have in the Wedge codebase, such as outdated hacks, or bits of code that were no longer relevant to the current state of affairs. You might also be interested (a bit less, though!) in files that belonged to the original SMF SVN repo, and that I'm very unlikely to use in Wedge, but you never know.
You'll also find PNG-24 versions of all of the new icons that are included as PNG-8 (or GIF) in Wedge, in an effort to save as much space and bandwidth as possible. I use these files to rebuild the PNG-8 versions from the best possible source when I need to make a change to them.
A final freebie is in the form of the Cyna smiley set, which I built for Noisen.com and currently use on Wedge.org as well. And yes, you can re-use it on your own forum if you like.
Have fun, then! :)
Just to keep you posted on the latest news, I'll try to keep doing what Arantor used to do at Facebook. So, this is a follow-up to that news post from August 23. With a few differences, which are in line with my way of doing it: while he used to post more regular updates, his changelogs were a bit too exhaustive, and lacked any sorting. I'd rather just mention what really makes the user tick, and that is, the really nice additions to Wedge. If you'd rather have a full list, the New Revs topic is waiting for you, like it's always been.
:cool: » For everyone
New & overhauled features
- Quick Edit was completely overhauled. The textarea's height will now adjust to the original post height, making it easier to hit that 'Cancel' button if you change your mind. Also, the height expands or shrinks to follow the cursor when you're editing a post. Seriously, that's wicked. What? Facebook already does it? Oh, bugger...
- Relative dates on topic posts. Some people like seeing "5 hours ago" better than an actual date, so... That's for them! I started liking this, too, but I'm not using it everywhere. For now.
- PM menu is now a notification area in the header. It's clickable, and brings up a menu where you can preview your new PMs, or open your inbox. This was Arantor's final contribution to Wedge. Oddly, I never got used to it, and will probably add a link to your inbox in the profile menu, but I'm keeping the notification menu as it, out of respect. Also, I modified the system so that previewed PMs don't get marked read, so that you can preview a PM on a mobile device, and still be reminded to answer it when you're back on a desktop machine.
- New Stats template for daily/monthly stats. Instead of tabular data with a bunch of numbers, you now get a pretty little line chart (custom JS library based on another one), animated and all, and you can even zoom through parts of it, and choose any time span you want to analyze. I spent a week on this one; while it may take you some time to get used to it, eventually you'll have to recognize it's a real improvement.
- After marking a topic as unread, next time you visit that topic, you'll now be brought to the last page you were on.
- Previous/next topic links now properly lead you to the first unread post, if it's not in the first page.
- Now showing language flags in a select box, to avoid breaking layouts when adding or removing language packs.
Privacy & contacts
- I haven't done much on privacy, but I did some work in late October, and managed to get privacy running (when it didn't really work when I wrote the blog post), especially on thoughts. The code was simplified (a lot), and thus it should be easy for any plugins to add privacy to their own settings. I still need to fix privacy on 'children' of items that are using a contact list for privacy. Privacy options include: everyone, members, specific membergroup, specific contact list.
- Worked on contact lists at the same time as privacy, so it's in the same situation: working, but very basic for now. Your old buddy lists are now imported. You can put members into multiple contact lists (it took me some time to determine what to include, and the result is very close to Facebook's list types, so I guess they got that one pretty much right), and create custom lists. I have yet to write the UI for handling these lists, though, but it's a good start. The rest is just boring work that could be done by anyone, not just me.
- Contact lists include a 'restricted list' that acts as a 'cancel' (I wouldn't say 'ban') list for any other list, i.e. if someone is put there, they won't benefit from any access rights given by other lists they might also be in.
- Added a new skin, Wilde, which has proved so popular that it's now the default skin in Wedge.
Performance and tweaks
- Regular popups are now hardware accelerated. They look fantastic on mobile devices now.
- Improved (and fixed) homepage view in blogs, such as this one, notably in mobile devices.
- Also overhauled infinite scrolling for a more 'expectable' approach and better performance.
Ich bin ein Berliner
- Added full German translation, courtesy of Pandos.
Bug fixin' for the masses
- Fixed spoiler tags to properly accept spaces in their button descriptions.
- Fixed a long-lasting bug where quick editing a message you'd just posted would mark this message as unread.
8-) » For admins/webmasters
- Rewrote admin area's setting page generators. They're now all unified under one function, and it's seriously for the best. Default member options are now developed by default, which is easier to handle.
- The sendmail() function now saves more bandwidth when sending e-mails, and properly does HTML and raw handling.
- You can now simply debug junk and only show SQL queries if you're not interested in getting template block lists. Saves some bandwidth for admins, so why not!
- Overhaul of the caching code for cache libraries such as memcached and Zend SHM.
- Tweaked board and topic permissions to make better sense out of some actions.
- Themes: turned all 'general' theme options into basic settings.
:geek: » For developers
- Development workflow is now based on git, as you may have already noticed from the numerous topics about it. I'm getting better at handling this every day, but I have to say, it's really, really not user-friendly, especially for those coming from Subversion, which is so much simpler. If I had the time, I'd make a fork of git that acts exactly like SVN in every aspect.
- This just in: PHP source file caching and minifying. It doesn't save a lot of time, but I'm not against a 0.01s improvement in page load, especially across many page loads. Your server will thank you for that. Also, it paves the way for the return of source file patching through plugins, but in a more secure way, as you'll be able to update your Wedge source files and still have your plugins running fine. That's called the future.
- Skins now allow you to override any template function without the need for a file edit. A serious milestone for me.
- Official support for IE 11 (although I've since uninstalled it), and interestingly, added a converter to automatically turn modern CSS flexbox into IE 10-compatible syntax (on IE 10 only, of course.)
- Skin options and actions can now be limited to a specific page, page type (board?) or action on the website. They can also be limited to a specific browser or anything accessed through we::is(). Finally, script and css tags allow including an external JS/CSS file in any of your targeted pages.
- Wess (CSS) files now accept the use of $txt, $settings, $context etc. variables directly in the code. Rewrote variable handling code for much better flexibility in @if tests (same for we::is PHP tests). Overall, this allowed me to remove a lot of CSS for non-members. Rewrote color functions to harmonize them. Rewrote math() function to allow a clear indication of variable types (int, float, boolean) and handle recursive brackets.
- And, best of all... Themes are now GONE. Well, almost. Removed thousands of lines of code pertaining to this outdated, horribly complicated system. More still to come. Skins in Wedge are powerful enough to replace 100% of a theme's capabilities, so it shouldn't be a problem -- just requires learning how to write a skin, which is just a matter of reading through a commented XML file!
- Removed hundreds of unneeded globals, and added many globals that were needed, but undeclared (I'm surprised I could find so many). This is all thanks to the fix-globals.php tool script I wrote for this very task. It's much, much easier than installing HHVM on a Linux VM, and running it on my site. Seriously.
- Fixed many old SMF bugs. And old Arantor bugs, too. And a few of mine, of course.
:ph34r: » Things left to do
- Remove themes entirely. Working on it.
- Modify folder structure. I'll move all non-code elements to a root /assets/ folder, and probably move the /skins/ folder to the root, too, although maybe under the '/themes/' name -- I'll decide when it comes up, it all depends on whether templates go to /themes/ or /templates/. Obviously.
- Flatten skin folder structure (as indicated in the previous blog post; the code for this is already written, I need to rewrite it a bit though, before I can commit.) This will allow you to have sub-folders in your skins, where you can put your assets, or even replacement templates.
- Moving AeMe comments to topics, and topic attachments to AeMe items: there's a very small chance it'll be in v1.0, though I certainly won't postpone it for these features. I put them aside for too long, I'll have to deal with writing an automatic import session, like I did for buddy lists.
- New personal target for first public alpha: January or February 2014. I could have said "late December", by giving up on visiting my family, watching new Doctor Who and Sherlock episodes, and having a life more generally. It was a tough choice.
So... What do you think about the post-Arantor era? Is it the same Wedge you've known all along, moving fast and in interesting directions?
So... It's been over a year since the last blog post, and a few weeks since we celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the creation of this little project called Wedge, that took the life of two promising web developers and turned them into lifeless zombies with a crave for blood. Oh, maybe I meant vampires.
For those of you who didn't follow the latest developments on the forum, I'm sad to announce that one of the zombies is now officially resting in peace, carrying his own head, basking in the glory of his past achievements. Said zombie we called Arantor, and in pure retirony style, he decided to call it quits a couple of days before the anniversary. And I'd planned to show up at his door on that day and give him cookies! Well, no cookies then. Blame that good old UK craze about cookies.
And here we are. It's lonely at the top, but at least it means I get to make some hard decisions that we always postponed because we weren't sure about them. Same for Pete on his side, I'm guessing, albeit with other projects. I'm hoping we'll still see him pop up from time to time, and share his disbelief about how badly I handled the project. I always appreciate constructive criticism, after all.
Now, here's the point I wanted to address. There you go, Pete's state of mind up to this point was that we had no plans to release Wedge in the near future, that we didn't even have a tentative release date, and that it was even unlikely to ever happen. I understand his position, I'm not going to put the blame on anything; fact is, yes we slowly drifted apart as collaborators in the last couple of years, mostly because of real life issues for each of us, and because the weight of the project started to get very heavy year after year. The longer you wait until release, the more pressure you put on yourself to make it worthy of the wait.
And this is my first decision.
I'm putting Wedge on the road it should never have left: the road to release. Not the road to completion, which is a different thing altogether. With such a huge project, one man alone just can't complete the project. At most, he can do 80% of it, but he has to rely on other people to do the rest, simply because there are always some tasks where you know that other people will do a better job; that's what kept Pete and I together for so long, and I was hoping it would remain that way, because we really were complementary on most points. Working alone is not easy. Some days, you just want to say "screw Wedge!", and watch a movie or a TV show for hours. And you know what? I'll do just that. I've seen tons of silly and better movies, and I'm still going back to Wedge every day, because if there's something I'll never, ever give up before it's out for the public to enjoy, it's Wedge. Even if it doesn't bring me a dime, I need to finish it.
So, what's the tentative release date? Nope, sorry... There still isn't any. And before you ask why -- ask yourself whether you prefer to be given a wrong release date, or be told exactly what remains to be done to have a releasable product. To the former, I'll just say this: I'm hoping to release a public beta before the end of the year, and a final 1.0 in early 2014. Do what you want with that silly date, and if you're in too much of a hurry, and you consider yourself to be a hardened, hardboiled, hardcore, hard-wired forum administrator with a taste for trouble and a love for HTML/JS/CSS/PHP/FTP tweaks, you can always contact me with a request for private beta access and a copy of the SMF importer code.
To the latter, I'll be more thorough. First, I'll try to list a few of the things I wanted to do since day one, and will probably not do in the first release... Aeva Media is a monster to handle, it used to be my full-time (unpaid) job. I wanted to redo so many parts of it. Most importantly, I wanted to replacement attachments with media items; I'm still planning to do it, but if it's not done when everything else is ready, I'll still release. Also, Noisen.com features... I wrote many features for my personal website around 2007-2008, and was adamant I'd include them. Pete persuaded me otherwise, for very good reasons mainly, but now that he's gone, I can decide, if I want, to fail in a spectacular fasion. Go get the pop-corn. Again: if it's not ready when the rest is, I'll still release.
And now, for the features that I can't see myself release without.
- Privacy (estimated amount of work: a few weeks) : there are already some privacy features in; thoughts have privacy. Topics have some sort of privacy. I'm hoping I can do board privacy, à la Noisen, and profile privacy, à la Facebook. And fix an annoying bug in the 'Contacts' option: if you post a thought for your contact list, and someone replies to it, and you're not in their contact list, then you won't be able to view their reply. To be honest, I've thought of several solutions for that, but it's hardly anything solid, or at least efficient.
- Contact lists (a few weeks): so far, Wedge has been using SMF buddy lists, while Noisen has been using a customized version of Ultimate Profile (a nice little SMF mod from back in the day), where I allowed you to 'hide' a contact from view, and nice little things like that. Contact lists are my biggest project right now, I've already started work on them, but still need to write the UI, and some other things, to make them usable. The idea is that you can categorize your friends into multiple lists, choose the list name, and even determine the visibility of said list to profile viewers; you should be able to add people to multiple lists, and target a thought/topic privacy to a specific list. (Not multiple lists -- it's already complicated as it is, UI-wise.) My biggest issue right now, is handling the aftermath of adding someone to a list. Should they be notified of it? Should a list have a setting to determine if notifications should be issued? Et cetera, et cetera...
- Skins (a few weeks?): there are two things here.
(1) I'm not sure whether I should enforce sub-skins to be put inside a parent skin's folder (which I always found to be a natural thing to do), or simply require them to specify the name of their parent (author:skin_name) in a skin option. The latter option would allow skins to have folders for images, templates, etc. without the need for a different folder naming scheme, such as adding an underscore (_) before the name of any folder that isn't a sub-skin.
(2) As I discussed recently in the Friends board, I'm very, very tempted to remove themes from Wedge entirely. Just like Pete removed SMF packages when he finished his implementation of plugins, I'm in a similar situation where my skin system can do 99% of what templates can do, and it's just tempting to say, "themers have to re-learn mostly everything anyway, so I might as well get rid of that relic." Recently, I implemented one of the last things missing from skin features -- the ability to override/before/after a template function from within a skin.xml file. It was already possible to override a function through the use of a Custom.template.php file inside the skin, but it's not a rock solid solution because of the possibility of conflicting function names, and I only added this as a way for themers to 'test' their replacement code in a comfortable PHP editing environment, before they simply move their functions to an XML editing environment, without the proper syntax highlighting.
- AeMe comments (a week?): I'm planning to remove them entirely, and replace them with regular board topics. The idea is to create a generic board (hidden or not), where topics are created on the fly when posting a comment to an album or a media item. The advantage is that you get to comment on whole albums as well, and that you can search inside media item comments. The drawback is that I'm not planning to write an import tool for existing comments. They'll either have to go, or Thorsten (@TE) will have to account for them in his fantastic OpenImporter tool. Oh yes, and another drawback-- I'll have to handle attempts to access a media comment topic directly, by redirecting to said media item (or album). I don't know how I can do it efficiently, though.
- Others (weeks? months?): There are, I'm afraid, many other things that I'll attempt to fix before I go public, but none of these should be as big as the aforementioned items. When added up, though, they will probably take more time than them to complete, and there's always the tiny issue that my to-do list always seems to grow twice faster than I can shorten it. I'll have to pick a time when I figure that, well, it's okay Nao, it's okay... You can release.
With great power, comes gr... Oh no, not that Spider-Man crap again. But still, Wedge is an important project, one that could bring a nice breath of fresh air to the forum world, and even to the CMS world. As in, "community management system", not "content". I'm devoted to making Wedge a great, fun way to communicate with people, be they your friends or ephemeral guests, and help them feel at home and find the answers they seek.
And if it works, then maybe, in some way, it wiil also be the answer I've been looking for.
Get to work, Nao... Now!
It only took two guys two years...
...And 2 months, and 2 days.
Okay, maybe not 2 days, more like 6, but apart from Pete and I, you weren't there to count in the beginning, were you? ;)
Just in case you aren't aware yet, I finally managed to put the finishing touches to a 'usable' version of Wedge, and released it early this morning to early beta testers.
In order to download it, you'll have to request access in the relevant topic, but since this is still a private alpha, we're going to be giving access mostly to those of you who've been following us for some time (and posting along), anyone who seems serious about Wedge and testing it.
Our plans are to release a public alpha before the end of the year (well, just in case the Incas were right). We're going to try and keep Wedge in frozen mode, so we won't be adding any new (major) features, although we do have a few outstanding features (or bug fixes) which we plan to ship before we go public. And who knows, maybe we'll have a good week at some point and will even be able to go gold before the end of the year...? Naah, can't be.