Hello fellow Flarumites!
It's been a while since we did one of these, and one of my new year's resolutions is to be more diligent about making sure the community stays updated on a regular basis. This coincides with some other promises to be more regular (and not the way your grandfather hopes to be), so it's safe to say Flarum has a few strings tied around its fingers.
In 2017, Flarum kept on pace towards 0.1 stable, though at a slower rate than we saw in 2016. Nevertheless, important milestones were met and work continues as Flarum begins to focus more on stability and features in the backend than user-facing features.
Flarum's core devs, @Toby and @Franz worked hard to come up with a New Roadmap for Flarum that lays out a plan for Flarum towards the 0.1 stable release and beyond. This plan allows our devs to coordinate a little better on development and some observant folks have noticed the pace of GitHub commits has become significantly better than 2016.
The long-awaited beta 7 released in 2017. It wasn't a momentous or exciting release, but a step on the way towards 0.1 stable that Flarum desperately needs. With it came one of the first significant changes to Flarum's requirements, the lack of support for PHP 5.5 branch, and some better user controls. The more important part is that it laid the groundwork for future beta and stable versions with updated libraries.
Since Flarum's inception, we've primarily reached our community here on this forum, and on Gitter chat. Gitter was originally an open source project that was later acquired by GitLab. However, its features lagged compared to other chat solutions, so Flarum decided to move to the popular Discord platform.
At the same time, Flarum released a much-requested platform for coordinated donations, a Patreon. Patreon was, like Discord, chosen for its popularity and instant familiarity with many of Flarum's userbase, and ability to accept multiple payment types. As a reward, many of our Patrons have access to a special chatroom where they get special insights into Flarum's development, and the ability to give our core devs the financial means to work on Flarum. Click here to become a patron!
A special thanks to @adilwali as our first $20 patron. You're making history with Flarum!
As you know, Toby is full-time medical student, part-time Flarum core developer, and full-time awesome guy for juggling all of that. He's had success this year in his medical studies, and is moving confidently towards his graduation in 2018. On top of that, he's put aside some more time for Flarum this year and development in the latter half of 2017 moved at a steady pace.
@Franz has taken on some new duties as a merge master, and is in charge of reviewing and approving pull requests to Flarum's code. This has helped to streamline the process and work through the backlog of PRs that were outstanding.
Our core development team grew in 2017 with the addition of @luceos to its ranks. He's been working hard on updating our Laravel components from 5.1 to 5.5, as well as creating useful extensions with the Flagrow development team on the side.
On the community moderator side, we saw some changes as well. We briefly welcomed @webeindustry to the ranks of moderator, but he later stepped down. Late last year, we added @Liberty and @Pollux as well, and they've been working hard to keep things well-oiled. Unfortunately, we said goodbye to @Kulga as a mod in 2017 as well. His contributions on this site and at devflarum will not be forgotten.
In addition to our community moderators and core devs, we now have a documentation team with the addition of @Arkinn in 2017. He updated and expanded the current documentation into something that is easier to use and maintain for the future. You'll see the new docs up on the website in the future.
Where would we be in 2018 without our community? I'll answer for you, Flarum would be dust. It's our active community that keeps this project moving, both by motivating our core developers, by creating extensions, by showing off themes and utilities, and by creating services that others can use to build their Flarum sites. 2017 was a huge year for Flarum's community in terms of contributions, and we can talk about some of the more tangible ones here.
You could say that 2017 was the Year of Flarum hosting. Gravure (the folks behind the popular extensions by Flagrow) tested a hosting service, @andreherberth released Pockethold for folks on shared hosting without SSH access, @clarkwinkelmann began to offer a paid service for migrating old forums to Flarum and @Sanguine opened FreeFlarum.com as a free hosting platform. With these amazing resources, Flarum has expanded its reach to include users who might not have been able to try Flarum before.
Like in 2016, 2017 saw more extension developers join Flarum and build cool features you might have requested, or never thought about. Our developers published 49 new extensions (that's 9 more than in 2016!), 12 new languages and a handful of themes and other utilities. It would take too long to list them out, so you can click those links and browse for yourself, there are some notable new inclusions in 2017.
Honestly, I'd argue that Flarum has reached feature parity with other popular platforms out there, but I'm pretty biased. Nevertheless, Flarum has become a broad platform with extensions that should fulfill many needs, with plenty of room to grow.
Reflections on 2017
Last year was a time of review and strategy for Flarum, with less visible progress than in the past. That didn't stop us from continuing to grow, to release new versions and stay in touch with our community. We faltered some on development speed and the lack of community updates, but the release of our new roadmap helped put our development on track, and switching to Discord helped us be more engaged with our community. In addition, the Patreon has helped alleviate some of the financial burdens on Toby, who gave his own reflection on 2017 here. Our staff stayed busy with Flarum and in their real lives, and for an all-volunteer project it's incredible how much time they put in. We're proud of all our staff members, and our community contributors, for all the time they have given to seeing Flarum succeed. Thank you!
Plans for 2018
The coming year has some exciting things in store for Flarum as it aims towards a stable release. With a new roadmap, new developers and another beta release under its belt, Flarum's development will continue. The next beta (8 if you're counting) brings some significant changes to Flarum for developers and users alike. Flarum's beta 8 will require PHP 7 due to the inclusion of Laravel 5.5 components (talk to your host now to make sure you will be able to upgrade) and includes a new namespace schema for extensions that will break current versions. To say that again, extensions will need to be updated for beta 8 before they will work. We're aware this might be pretty frustrating for some people, but we're aiming to offer a secure software package. Following active and security support releases of PHP is one of those measures.
Beta 8 will see the removal of the user bio as well, but also the inclusion of a rudimentary statistics extension developed by Toby.
A new website for flarum.org is planned, to update a lot of the old information and include the new docs as well. Look for this in 2018, the design is still being finalized but Toby should be releasing the repo to GitHub soon.
As we move closer to stable, we want to stay engaged with the community. We will do this by maintaining our Discord chatrooms, and our Patreon campaign. We will pick up the slack where we left off in 2017, by utilizing Twitter more frequently and publishing more consistent community updates. And we will work on creating better community involvement with contests and other feedback-type engagement to benefit both our users and developers.
Flarum remains committed to the growth of its software and the community surrounding it. We look forward to 2018 as a way to consolidate the progress of the past with the coming future and make Flarum the best forum software around.
Flarum is now three years old and has come so far since it began. The last year laid a lot of the groundwork for the future, and most of it was meaningful progress towards the end of the beta period. Our progress towards a stable software version and a healthy community has kept us on track to a promising 2018. We all can't wait to see what this year brings us!
Thanks for reviewing 2017 with us. You can always stay in the know by watching this Blog tag, following us on Twitter @Flarum, chatting with us on Discord, and joining us on Patreon.