Today, we are pleased and excited to announce the first preview release of the upcoming phpBB 3.1, codenamed Ascraeus.
This preview release is targeted at phpBB developers and advanced users who wish to assist us with this very important testing phase. We do not recommend, and will not support, running this version in a live production environment.
Additionally, this marks the beginning of a number of significant improvements to the phpBB development process. Our new extension system replaces phpBB MODs with a flexible plugin system that does not require direct modification of code. Consequently, updating phpBB forums will be easier than ever with potential for conflicts reduced to a minimum. This change also allows us to transition to a scheduled release cycle, with more drastic changes to the core now having less impact on the backwards compatibility of MODs.
With this alpha release, the new extension system will be put through its paces. We wish phpBB 3.1 to offer a rich and smooth extension environment for developers, right from the start. MOD authors are asked to convert their MODs into 3.1 extensions and thereby assist us with identifying and reporting any shortcomings, no matter how small. It is particularly important that we provide all necessary events for extensions to offer the same level of flexibility that has been seen with MODs. Please help us complete the documentation on developing extensions on the wiki if you run into any poorly documented areas.
You can review a continually evolving list of feature highlights on our wiki. This list will be completed as we approach the final release. Apart from the aforementioned extension system, we have worked on modernizing the phpBB experience for end users. The user interface now makes use of AJAX functionality. A new notification system, similar to those found on many modern web services, has been added. Gravatar integration for avatars is available by default. Login via third party services such as Facebook and Google is available. The new soft delete feature adds a “recycle bin” functionality to prevent accidental data loss.
Behind the scenes, we have been making major changes to phpBB’s architecture. Over the last few years you may have seen us discussing plans for phpBB4 – a rewrite of phpBB based on the Symfony2 PHP web framework. In the time since, we have been gradually integrating Symfony components into phpBB 3.1. After much discussion and deliberation, we have determined that a full rewrite of the phpBB codebase is not the ideal process for achieving these major improvements. Instead, an iterative process of replacing individual subsystems within phpBB will allow users to see these improvements realized in shorter periods of time. We have already started this process, and most recently replaced phpBB’s old template engine with twig. The increased utilization of third party libraries allows us to dedicate more resources on improving the forum components while simultaneously benefiting from the improvements that third-party developers make to their components. You will therefore be seeing improvements we had originally planned for phpBB4 much sooner, in 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and beyond.
Once again, please use this release for testing purposes only. As always, we will provide no support for upgrading until the RC stage and urge users not to use testing releases in a production site. Please help us by reporting any bugs you find via a ticket on our tracker.
Unstable packages are available on Area51 at area51.phpbb.com/downloads/. Information on moving from 3.0 to 3.1 (currently only for testing purposes) is available at wiki.phpbb.com/PhpBB3.1#Moving_from_3.0_to_3.1
Please note that phpBB 3.1 has some requirements that differ from phpBB 3.0:
- PHP version 5.3.3 or greater
- PHP’s json extension
- Only PostgreSQL versions 8.3 and above are supported