We’re happy to announce the immediate availability of the second 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.
As with previous releases we compiled a list of feature and bugfix highlights on our wiki. Most note-worthily Alpha2 ships with a new responsive version of prosilver optimised for handheld devices which we introduced in previous blog posts. Based on feedback from extension authors we have additionally made a number of changes to the extension system to better accomodate the different needs extensions have.
There are a number of known issues with this release which will be fixed in upcoming versions. It is currently impossible to upgrade from 3.0 to 3.1 on Microsoft SQL Server and the redirect() function does not work correctly from within (extension) controllers.
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
As we are preparing to release Alpha2 of phpBB Ascraeus 3.1 we merged another new feature. Ascraeus will ship with a new command line interface. This will become a useful utility for phpBB administrators who have access to a shell on the server they run phpBB on as well as extension developers. The command line interface was built using the Symfony Console Component. The component automatically creates a rich command line user experience with generated help pages and detailed explanations of all options and arguments.
For now the console’s functionality is limited to displaying, enabling and disabling extensions as well as clearing extension data and recalculating email hashes in the database. However with the console application framework in place it is now very easy to add new commands as part of our regular development process. This project had originally been proposed for this year’s Google Summer of Code on our Ideas Page on the Wiki. Other ideas for future functionality include editing of configuration, managing styles, users and groups or other administrative tasks currently accessible in the administration control panel.
Extension developers can add their own commands to the console by creating respective service definitions with a “console.command” tag, as seen in phpBB’s console.yml. We expect the command line interface to become a useful utility for system administrators running phpBB forums who wish to automate some of their administrative tasks.
On behalf of the phpBB Team, I am proud to announce the formation of the Extensions Development Team!
With the release of 3.1, phpBB will leap into the new era of drop-in plugins that we have desired for so long. In an effort to maximize the benefits of this change, we are further looking to bridge the gap between the users of phpBB and the developer community.
Due to the great diversity of customisations requested by our userbase and the relatively limited resources available, we have always heavily relied on independent MOD authors, one of the most valued portions of our community, to populate and support our extensive MOD database. The Extensions Development Team will lower the learning curve for developers to get involved with the phpBB project by supporting their efforts and guiding them toward the successful release of extensions. The team will likewise produce and maintain officially-supported extensions.
The team was formed several months ago and began the process of initial setup and planning. The team is likewise working on “Board Rules”, the first official extension which will provide administrators with the ability to setup and configure a page of rules for the overall board or website.
You may have seen that a [3.1.x] Extensions in Development forum has been created on phpBB.com. In this forum you will find further information about the current status and plans of this Board Rules extension.
We will look at popular MODs and MOD requests for phpBB 3.0 as well as the phpBB Ideas list to identify which extension ideas should be prioritized. We are looking forward to producing some fantastic extensions in the future and helping our community members build some fantastic extensions of their own!
This week we saw many smaller bugfixes and improvements. One of these changes was to ensure timezones in phpBB 3.1 can be translated correctly. So I picked an explanation of our timezone handling for this week’s blog post.
In phpBB Olympus 3.0 we provide the user with a list of UTC offsets and a corresponding timezone name. In addition to the timezone a user can select whether DST (Daylight Saving Time) or Summer Time, as it is called in other places, currently affects them. If the DST option is selected the UTC offset is increased by one hour. I live in Germany so I select “[UTC + 1] Central European Time, West African Time”. In the spring I have to check the DST box and in the fall I deselect it. This results in UTC+2 in the summer and UTC+1 in the winter.
Clearly it is annoying for users to have to switch their timezone settings twice every year. Most users will probably not bother to change DST if they are even aware of the option to begin with. Users may also be unfamiliar with the name of their timezone or the corresponding UTC offset. So back in 2010 Chris Smith (ToonArmy) proposed an alternative approach to handling timezones in the Switch to PHP timezone handling RFC on our Area51 development community.
In this example my current timezone is set to Europe – Berlin where the current time is 1:40 am. However I am currently in New York City so phpBB suggests I update the timezone to match my local time which is UTC-5.
Further pull request 1812 added a new type of notification which informs administrators of newly registered users if the community requires admin activation. This makes use of our new notification system, so the notification will be appear in the forum’s header and be available via email and/or XMPP.