2023 has become a year of change for Flarum.
But first, let me give you a drilldown of how we came to the Flarum of today, for those of you who are new.
Flarum up till now
On December 20th 2014, Flarum was open sourced, canceling a running fundraiser for a software as a service on Kickstarter in favor of making "better forums for everyone". Merging the efforts on Esotalk and FluxBB, Toby Zerner and Franz Liedke respectively combined their efforts to work on a fully open, lean and extensible community software under the Flarum name.
These two - with a team of zealous others - as the core team, spent their free time working on the early beta’s of a forum software impressing with fresh looks, extreme extensibility and a simple stack for small to corporate communities on shared and scalable hosting environments.
In 2019, the Flarum Foundation was set up to safeguard the open source nature of Flarum, protect its source code to the benefit of the community. Two years later the first stable version was released, a tremendous effort of people sacrificing their leisure time for the Flarum cause. Running into many issues with gaining sustainability for the project, early 2022 Blomstra was founded to answer the call for professional services in the ecosystem and invest back into the project unconditionally.
Progress on the Flarum project rest on the shoulders of a small group of people. Expectations, as such, are hard to meet with the amount of capacity we have. For this reason, attracting and retaining stable sources of income for the project have been a focus these past couple of years. And these efforts bear their fruits in 2023.
Within the next couple of months we will unify many of the ecosystem portals into one central place for everything Flarum. In addition to the Flarum Foundation, to safeguard Flarum as a stable, maintained and healthily developed-on product, a commercial entity is incorporated that operates under the same name. This company is merging the Flarum website, Extiverse and Blomstra features and services into one new website for centralised information, news and services related to Flarum.
Other open source projects, like Zammad, GitLab, Vanilla and Discourse, have taken a similar approach with great success and managed Flarum hosting and custom Flarum development have shown to generate sufficient income to support some of our core developers. Pursuing this further, like others before us, will hopefully allow us to strengthen this approach and increase our hiring capacity for the future by making them more centrally available.
It's important to remember that Flarum will always remain open source and the new website will be transparent about this. For those who have already adopted Flarum or are new to it, nothing will change going forward.
You can take a peak at what’s in store for the new website at https://next.flarum.org (work in progress).
Our efforts to attract funding have, after several failed attempts, lead to the project now receiving a grant from NLnet. NLnet, having played a major role in the creation of the internet as we know today, is a foundation to stimulate network research and development in the domain of Internet technology. The application for a grant to build Flarum v2.0 with their help, has resulted in acquiring a total budget of 50.000 euro to work on the following topics:
- Upgrading stale dependencies, like Laravel and Mithril;
- Moving from Less to Sass in compiling stylesheets;
- Support for search drivers in the backend;
- Improvements to search in the frontend (ux/ui);
- GDPR compliance;
- Tests for the frontend;
- Theme design improvements;
- Database drivers, like Postgres;
- Plugin manager;
- Improvements to the JSONAPI;
- Security audit;
- Accessibility audit;
- Automating community extension upgrades;
- Email unsubscribing.
These items, part of our original application towards the grant, have been taken from our own roadmap and the list of community provided proposals.
As the grant is strictly provided towards the technical implementation of the 2.0 roadmap and participants are paid out directly by NLnet, we opted to split the budget between two people. This would improve the speed of development as reviews can be performed quickly and collaboration will be synchronized. I’m glad that Sami @SychO , as the lead developer of our project and Ian @ianm, as core developer and lead of the Friends of Flarum, have agreed to work under this arrangement effective immediately.
Although we still have to release v1.8 before starting work on v2.0, you can expect a lot of activity going forward. I hope to be able to keep you all in the loop of everything that is happening.
I am thrilled about 2023, all these things coming together is going to be a huge boost to Flarum and its adoption. I love to hear what you think, do leave a reply.