Smartfeed 3.0.8 ready for testing, supports 3.2 only

Version 3.0.8 of Smartfeed is now ready for download and testing. It addresses issues found in the latest review by the extensions review team. This version works on phpBB 3.2 only.

You can download it from GitHub or get the archive off my website.

A phpbb.com support topic is here.

Major changes:

  • Now uses AES-128-CBC encryption, a higher and much more secure encryption standard, for generating a hash of the user’s password. This means you must rerun the Smartfeed user interface to generate a new URL if you want to use the logged in features of Smartfeed. If you don’t you will get a Smartfeed error that will direct you to do this.
  • Supports phpBB 3.2 only

Bugs fixed:

  • phpBB’s generate_text_for_display() function can leave </ at the end of strings. This appears to be a bug and can cause feeds not to validate. If present I remove these characters.
  • When you specify the number of items in the feed, it includes private messages and external feed items (if any) in the count.
  • Attachment sizes shown in kilobytes use the language string
  • When a user is logged in, if the administrator has turned on the feature to require IP authentication, the user interface no longer shows a control allowing you to not use it
  • When a user sets the maximum number of items in a feed, it is not ignored.

Other changes:

  • <br /> tags replaced with <br> tags in templates. HTML 5 is not as picky as XHTML.
  • Removed the constant SMARTFEED_IV since the AEC-128-CBC algorithm needs a randomly generated IV
  • Removed redundant template variables
  • Changed criteria for identifying new posts and new topics. If either the post date or the topic date falls within the range of time wanted (such as 24 hours) it is identified as new. There is also a new language string that specifically identified new topics
  • The default language for the feed is based on the default board language, so it is not always en-gb anymore.
  • Migration program uses config.update() rather than a combination of config.remove() and config.add()
  • SimplePie library was upgraded to the current production release: 1.5
  • Smartfeed homepage URL now includes the www. prefix
  • User interface notes that styling in feed does not apply to items that are in external feeds.

Smartfeed 3.0.7 Released

Smartfeed 3.0.6 was not approved but the issues were quite minor. A review always takes time because there is a review queue, but in addition it took weeks before I could submit 3.0.6 because I had bundled SimplePie, and the library was so big that it couldn’t be uploaded. Eventually the webmaster fixed the problem and it could be reviewed.

Anyhow, 3.0.7 is now available. The only change in functionality is that Smartfeed no longer uses mcrypt (it is being deprecated) and uses openssl instead. openssl is almost always available so it will be a rare board that can’t support encrypted feeds.

Download here from GitHub or grab it off this site.

Here are a list of changes:

  • PHP’s openssl library is now used instead of mcrypt. As a result of the change, users may have to run the Smartfeed user interface to create a new URL. They will get a message in the feed to this effect if it occurs.
  • Fixed some links to use the helper class’s route method.
  • Replaced <br /> tags with <br> tags since HTML 5 is more flexible than XHTML which is no longer used.
  • Language strings use curly quotes.
  • Removed language variable that were no longer used.
  • Changed the URL to the Smartfeed page to prefix it with www.

Smartfeed 3.0.6 archive had unnecessary files in root folder

When I created the archive of Smartfeed 3.0.6, apparently some files that exist in folders were copied into the root folder. It didn’t hurt anything but it’s incorrect. I have republished the archive on this site. You might want to delete these files and reinstall it in /ext/phpbbservices/smartfeed.

Aside from this error there were no code changes.

It was always correct if you downloaded it from the GitHub Smartfeed page.

Smartfeed 3.0.6 released

The extension has been submitted for phpBB extension team review. You can download it here.

Of note:

  • All corrections required by the extensions review team have been addressed. All code was reviewed in PhpStorm to fix problematic issues and remove unneeded variables.
  • Supports phpBB 3.1.9 through 3.2 (Rhea)
  • Fixed bug that did not provide the encryption key (e parameter) with the embedded IP in the Smartfeed URL if Require IP Authentication is turned on in the ACP, leading to an erroneous error message if the URL for the feed is used.
  • Ability to use the ACP interface now requires the acl_a_extensions permission instead of acl_a_board permission
  • Copyrights changed to 2017
  • Containers are used to fetch global variables
  • jQuery UI library added to support enhanced dialog boxes
  • Where appropriate Javascript events now written in jQuery
  • CDATA removed from templates, as they are not needed in HTML5
  • Javascript without template variables moved into .js files
  • Host URL updated to use www prefix
  • Some previously allowed tags in Safe HTML were removed as they are deprecated

phpBB 3.2 Rhea, second look

With phpBB 3.2.0 Rhea now officially released, I have some additional observations about this minor release of phpBB beyond my last post.

  • All libraries needed are part of the archive, so there is no reason to run Composer before installing. This is good and makes life easier but there are more files to upload and the archive is getting fatter: 7.5MB zipped, 33MB unzipped.
  • The installer’s progress bar is slow to give feedback, leading perhaps to the impression that it has stalled. Wait and your patience will be rewarded.
  • Upon successful installation there are two options/extensions enabled. The first allows you to send your statistics to phpbb.com to improve the product. This was there previously but now it’s a simple checkbox and it can be enabled or disabled later. It has its own item in the Administration Control Panel: ACP > General > Server Configuration > Help support phpBB. More unusual is a new phpBB Group developed extension that integrates with VigLink. If you enable this extension, it adds URL tracking information when you or a forum user shares a URL. It allows the phpBB Group to generate some small revenue when people click on these links and then click on a targeted ad. You can uncheck this but it is enabled by default. It too has an item in the ACP: ACP > General > Board configuration > VigLink settings.
  • When installing a new board, you get a default category, forum and post, but no search index is populated with the post. Instead, you are reminded to create a search index. This allows you to create a different search index type if you want, but it’s an extra and new step to the installation process.
  • If you edit a post, the edit window is smaller, in that it shows fewer lines. You can drag the window to make it bigger but some people will find this change a bit irritating.

I had done a smoke test with my Smartfeed and Digests extensions. I posted about Smartfeed here, and Digests here. Look for new releases of both in the coming weeks and months that will support phpBB 3.2.

With the release the phpBB Group has published a features page with the major new features.

I’ll post more observations as I use it more.

 

phpBB 3.2 Rhea, first look

I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle to study phpBB 3.2 (Rhea). It is scheduled for release on January 7, 2017. So I finally installed a prerelease version with presumably almost all the bugs fixed. Here’s my first look:

New features

There’s not much new or sexy about phpBB 3.2 compared with phpBB 3.1, but it depends on what you are looking for. New features include:

  • Support for emoji in posts. You can cut and paste or simply type your own emoji shortcuts into posts and the emoji will render. You can find a comprehensive list of emoji shortcuts here. For example, in a post you can enter :grinning: and a scalable grinning emoji should be rendered.
  • Supports PHP 7.1. PHP 7 is a quantum leap in speed for the PHP script processor. Most sites can expect a 100% improvement in how quickly PHP will parse and render code written in PHP.
  • Global announcements are no longer an administrator only privilege.
  • FontAwesome support. FontAwesome allows scalable vector fonts and icons, controlled by cascading stylesheets. For example, if you have a FontAwesome icon of an airplane, the icon will scale to size as you increase magnification on the page without losing detail. In addition, FontAwesome allows the size, color and shadow of the font to be changed on the fly using CSS … no jQuery magic required anymore.
  • New installer. This is backend stuff. Installing phpBB looks a bit different, and looks spiffier. Before I could it install, however, I first had to run PHP from the command line to kick off a run of PHP’s composer software. Composer is used to fetch the third party libraries that phpBB uses, presumably to get a current version of these libraries. Previously they were bundled into the phpBB archive you downloaded. It’s unclear to me if this is something you will have to do when phpBB 3.2 is released before it is installed. If so it will prove an obstacle to many casual forum administrators, since they may not be familiar with working from a command prompt and it may not be an option on shared hosting. The installer’s command line interface has also been reworked. I have not yet investigated what’s new here.

Other changes of note

  • The default prosilver style looks a little bit darker, and the icons have been reworked and look a bit different, and are seamlessly scalable because they will use FontAwesome.
  • No subsilver2 support. Someone developed a subsilver2 style for phpBB 3.1 but it was not responsive (scalable for mobile devices). With 3.2 only responsive styles are supported. subsilver2 uses HTML tables to layout content, which is not responsive, hence it is not supported.
  • The reCAPTCHA spambot countermeasure has been updated to use Google’s latest (presumably the checkbox where you assert you are a human). The old one had been hacked, so this is encouraging. Perhaps it will be useful as a spambot countermeasure again.
  • New events. This is only of interest to extension authors. They have more places in the code and in templates to hook in additional functionality.
  • BBCode overhaul. TextFormatter has been integrated into phpBB to render BBCode, making a lot of longstanding BBCode related bugs go away.

Some cautions

  • You should first upgrade phpBB from 3.1 to 3.2 before you change your web host control panel to use PHP 7. (Note: if you have other PHP applications installed, make sure they can handle PHP 7!)
  • You must run at least PHP 5.4 if you want to run phpBB 3.2, so this may require a web host control panel change. Make this change before upgrading phpBB.
  • While most 3.1 extensions will probably work fine in the 3.2 architecture, some will require changes if only to assert that they will work under 3.2. I have not tested my Digests and Smartfeed extensions with 3.2 yet, but I expect no issues. I will have to issue new versions since ext.php will have to allow phpBB 3.2 to be used.

phpBB 3.1 end of life support

  • The support forums on phpbb.com will provide support for phpBB 3.1 through the end of 2017.
  • New releases of phpBB 3.1 are expected as needed through July 2017. A phpBB 3.1.11 release is in the works.

Should you upgrade now?

In general it’s a bit dangerous to be first out of the gate when phpbb.com releases a new minor version of phpBB. Unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, I’d wait a few months before upgrading to 3.2 but if you use the prosilver style with no extensions it might be worth installing when available. Check your styles and extensions and make sure each supports 3.2 before upgrading, or be prepared to use a standard style and have incompatible extensions disabled.

If you would like me to upgrade you to 3.2 contact me. Most upgrades cost $30USD.

Smartfeed 3.0.5 available

Version 3.0.5 of Smartfeed is available for download. It has not yet been approved by the phpBB Extensions Team, but approval is expected eventually.

The release’s principal new feature is the ability to integrate feeds from external sources into your forum’s newsfeed. As with the 3.0 modification, the SimplePie library is used, which is placed in a vendor/simplepie/simplepie folder in the archive.

The code has been thoroughly cleaned up by using the PHPStorm IDE.

The archive is available here or can be downloaded from GitHub.