Merry news and happy short delay!

Nao

  • Dadman with a boy
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Merry news and happy short delay!
« on December 18th, 2013, 11:30 AM »
Just to keep you posted on the latest news[1], 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.

Usability

- 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.

Skins

- 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.

- Zoomedia (the light and efficient JavaScript library that I wrote to replace Highslide in media embedding) is now fully hardware-accelerated, Retina/HD-friendly, and rewritten to better handle item descriptions.

- Improved (and fixed) homepage view in blogs, such as this one, notably in mobile devices.

- Improved the follow_me code to be pixel-perfect. You know, the trick that makes avatars stay on screen when scrolling through a long post. I'm planning to add support for a pure CSS technique that will save the JavaScript calls on each scroll event, but as it's not supported anywhere until it's a candidate recommendation, there's no hurry in doing that. Follow_me works right now, and on every (good) browser.

- 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

- 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!

Bug fixin'

- 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?[2]
 1. And also a good opportunity to celebrate wedge.org's 2001st topic?
 2. Apparently, generic stupid questions that you already know the answer to are a must at the end of a blog post, as they're supposed to increase user engagement. Don't make me say I said it, though. Because I didn't! Do you think I did? Feel free to say it!

Re: Merry news and happy short delay!
« Reply #1, on December 19th, 2013, 02:28 AM »
First, thank you for the update. Didn't understand all of it but what I do sounds exciting. Thank you for your time.

Post-Arantor? The threads are more techie now and the board is quieter, so I feel I am contributing less. However the alpha will obviously come out sooner, so I'll be able to test. What do you think? What would he say if he saw the code you have written? You used to say what a great coder he is. Do you still feel the same way?

Re: Merry news and happy short delay!
« Reply #2, on December 19th, 2013, 08:27 AM »
- It also helps me actually. It's good to go through what you did, and determine if it was worth the time. I think it was. There are some things I'm not sure about (php caching being at the forefront right now; given that you have to disable minification if you want to be able to debug files, for instance), but it's version 0.1 alpha, I can wait for feedback. (Well actually I'd love to get feedback from all who got repo access, but...)

- he wouldn't say anything about stuff he disliked. Just like I wouldn't for him. I could complain about bugs and stuff but I couldn't complain about big features such as infractions or mod filters that meant so many changes under the hood for things I'd never use. But that's the thing. I'm not the only user of Wedge. Just like he wasn't. So there's bound to be people who only use Wedge because of features we didn't write.

- is he a good coder? Of course, aren't we all? It's all 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
He can be very hard to follow, whatever it means. But I'm not perfect either. He's currently shaping the future of SMF and you'll find that his version of it is "Wedge, without Nao's crap". Well I'm sure you'll find that this way, it'll be hard for SMF to ever catch up if he's not willing to acknowledge that Wedge's good ideas aren't limited to him. I have no problems doing that for him. Heck I have no problems acknowledging Facebook's good ideas either. They have a team of thousands of paid devs. Doesn't mean they're all monkeys uh?

Re: Merry news and happy short delay!
« Reply #3, on December 19th, 2013, 10:09 AM »
Obviously, paid devs only do what their contract tells them, so if they need the money, they won't use their creative skills just to try something. Especially large companies won't take the risk of losing customers just for some innovation. Tradition wins.

Sadly.

Re: Merry news and happy short delay!
« Reply #4, on December 20th, 2013, 03:15 PM »
It depends on the company, of course. There are those that are 'traditionally' eager to try out new things. Because that's the best way to stay in the game, of course.