Dev Diary, February 21, 2014

Ah, the last breathes of winter… It’s getting warmer, so the life’s good, and that’s exactly the attitude that boosts our strive to get a few more ideas through to the next release. One such idea is the improvement of the Photos plugin – a real essential toy in the arsenal of any serious social site. Our goal here is to fix all the obvious bugs and add some exciting options to make users happier.

As you know, at present the plugin operates by means of either basic uploader, or through flash upload. And frankly, both are dated. The flash one cannot be customized in css/html, and requires an additional plugin in the browser. Sometimes this leads to unnecessary confusion, and that’s what we want to eliminate.

The solution – a photo uploader that uses native browser capabilities and doesn’t require additional browser extensions. Also, it’s easily customizable in css/html, maintains drag’n'drop interface, and allows quick editing at the very first step (rotate, hashtags, album name, etc.)

Photo1

 VIEW PHOTOS

One of the things we learned with the old system is that most users find comments under pictures inconvenient. When the page is scrolled down for more comments, the picture itself gets out of sight, and is basically “lost.”

An easy solution to prevent this is to move comments and description to the right side of the picture. That’s the trend across the industry anyway, and seems to be the right approach for us. Still, we are leaving the old system as an available option as well, so you can choose what’s working better for you.

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 PHOTO LIST

We’ve also decided to play with the visual presentation of the photo list, which was kind of boring (being strictly square and all). The addition of a Pinterest-like mode should spice things up a bit, don’t you think?

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SEARCH PHOTOS

There are no search options for photos in Oxwall right now, which isn’t handy, since users resort to tags when they are looking for something. We’ll change that by making it possible to search by descriptions, usernames and hash tags.

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So that’s the gist of things to come. But there’s even more interface stuff that we are tinkering with right now. Liking and varying privacy settings for different photo albums are on the plate too, and will be ready to be served with Oxwall 1.6.1, or soon thereafter.

Keep reading our Dev Diary guys, and learn what else keeps us busy.

Oxwall 1.6 released

Today is January 8, and somehow this date is important… Oh yeah, today Oxwall 1.6 is getting unleashed into the wild.

Oxwall 1.6 is available for download immediately. All details about this release can be found here.

Important: If you are running Oxwall of any previous version, you are encouraged to wait until the auto-update prompt appears in your admin area. Before you attempt it, make sure to:

  • Back up your website. Seriously, folks, better safe than sorry;
  • Install all available plugin updates right after the platform update completes;
  • Install a theme update right after the platform update completes.

If you don’t want to perform the update yourself, our friends from Skalfa can do it for you. Also, check other companies specializing in Oxwall support.

Everybody, have fun!

Emil & the Oxwall team.

Oxwall 1.6 goes live January 8, beta today

Oxwall community is a patient bunch; That’s a hard fact, which we really appreciate, and have something to show you in return. Oxwall 1.6 has finally taken shape for a beta release, and I’m glad to give you a sneak peek of what our team has built.

New Theme: München

Per our tradition, we highlight every major release with a brand new theme. This time it’s a shoutout to the fine town of München:

Munchen

Theme Auto-update

One important thing to note is that now themes can also be auto-updated, just like plugins. It will definitely make life easier for designers and all users.

Social Share Plugin

We decided to make our own integrated social sharing solution that third party plugins may also utilize. It doesn’t place sharing buttons on every page, instead locating them exactly where you need – right near the content in question.

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Mobile Browser Version

That’s right, Oxwall is now mobile-friendly. Yay! First of all, this is neither a responsive theme, nor a hack to “mobilize” content. This is a completely reimagined product for phone screens (that’s one of the main reason why it took so long to develop it), and it’s optimized for performance in major mobile browsers available today:

In this roll-out we are starting with basic features and several native plugins that show the direction for what Oxwall mobile browsing experience is going to be. We can’t wait to hand it over to the community. You can also expect other native and third party plugins to have their mobile executions ready soon.

Beta and Release

We are entering public beta stage, making Oxwall 1.6 Beta 1 available today.

  • If you are an approved beta-tester, join us at the Beta forum. We start accepting feedback immediately.
  • If you are a plugin developer / theme designer / translator, then you have work to do right now. We urge you to apply for beta-tester status and start making your goods 1.6-compatible.

On January 8, upon the completion of public beta period, the upgrade will be available for all the Oxwall websites out there, as always, right from the admin area.

Oxwall 1.6 is a huge milestone in the product lifecycle, since it finally opens up the new platform for plugins, namely mobile. In a sense, this is more important than anything we’ve done in the last couple of years. Now that mobile context is enabled, other developers can pick it up, and continue their work along with us. Let’s see how this turns out.

This has been a long and arduous year for us, finally bringing the team to the final stages of hard work during this holiday season. January 8 can’t get here soon enough.

Big and exciting things come to Oxwall, so stay tuned and we’ll surprise you. I promise.

Thank you for creating with us!
Emil & the entire Oxwall team.

Oxwall 1.6 is delayed

Earlier we announced to release it in June, then we changed the target to August, now we are doing it again. Yes. Sorry.

We are very aware about armies of users waiting 1.6 with mobile solutions, and we know that expectations are high. This is the exact reason why we are taking more time to develop and polish every detail.

I’ll remind you that we are not just making “mobile versions” of essential plugins — our task is to also provide a basis for mobile plugins by other developers. Oxwall is a platform. Originally, Oxwall 1.0 also took much longer than it would take to just develop its community site features. And inevitably, also longer than we planned.

Oxwall 1.5 received spectacular feedback and community movement. We are aiming at repeating and exceeding this with 1.6. Having said that, I want to assure you that we are not making this mistake of miscommunication again. Target release date will be announced when we are 100% able to meet it, about the time Oxwall 1.6 enters the internal testing stage.

Oxwall has been known for its quality and support beyond what people expect from open source projects of similar size. We will do our best to keep it this way further. It’s your support and feedback that enables us to do so.

Thank you,
Emil
Oxwall Foundation team

The state of Oxwall 1.6

We are 5 days before the end of June, which we promised as the month of Oxwall mobile release. I have to inform you that we move the target release date to August.

We are deep in design and development, we make a lot of iterations to finally deliver the best result. This forces us to change plans because we always prefer quality to speed. That way we can deliver the results that you’ve come to expect from Oxwall.

This piece of news may disappoint somebody, but it’s all about not disappointing you with the product.

Critics Choice CMS Awards

Now, while we are working hard to put our best effort into your hands for free, you can do something in return. CMS Critic announced nominations for Critics Choice CMS Awards for this year.

Just to remind you, in 2012 Oxwall won People’s Choice award in the “Best Social Network Solution” nomination. Many of you contributed to this recognition, and now it’s time to repeat and outperform it.

  • Go to Critics Choice CMS Awards nomination form;
  • Enter your name and email;
  • Enter “Oxwall” as the product name;
  • Tick off the “Best Social Networking Solution’ category.

You are done. Oxwall is on its way to conquer the world.

We are excited with the growth of the project and can’t wait to give you the next major piece of Oxwall evolution. Let’s create the next wave of the social Internet together.

Thanks,

Emil

Oxwall Foundation

There won’t be Oxwall 1.5.4

… because there will be Oxwall 1.6.

Per our stated schedule, at this moment we should be preparing Oxwall 1.5.4 – a minor maintenance build with a few bugfixes. We decided to not release it and continue working on more important things. By skipping what can wait, we will not be distracted from what cannot wait at all – Oxwall 1.6.

Why is Oxwall 1.6 so important? It will have the long-awaited mobile browser version.

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Like our facebook page or follow us on Twitter to be among the first to know.

At first, in Oxwall 1.6 only the platform and critical native plugins (newsfeed, photo, blogs, and such) will support mobile browsing. Other plugins come later. Third party developers and designers will be able to implement mobile support in their plugins and themes, too.

So, Oxwall 1.6 is expected to land in June. The exact release date will be announced later.

Show me preview!

Hold horses, buddy! Are you a fan of movie spoilers? Really? We suggest everyone to be as patient as we are, so it gets handsomely rewarded in the end.

We are really excited how mobile Oxwall is turning out, and we can’t wait to share it with you. As you know, mobile browsing already overtook desktop in some parts of the world, and is quickly moving to be the primary way to surf the web worldwide. We are very aware about the importance of superior Oxwall experience on mobile devices, so we are doing our best with it. This is why it’s taking so long. For good.

We hope to impress you with our work again. It’s a real pleasure to observe the growth of the project, the number of users, store items, and finally, high quality websites powered by Oxwall. This is what keeps us going day in, day out.

Thank you,

Emil, Oxwall team