The development of WoltLab Suite 5.5 has come to an end with its release a few weeks ago and thanks to the enormously high stability of the version, we can turn some of our attention to the further development of WoltLab Suite. We have given a lot of thought to this in advance and gathered feedback on this from various sources to decide what focus we would like to choose for the next version.
New WYSIWYG Editor
The existing editor “Redactor II” has served relatively well for many years, but it has some conceptual weaknesses and has not been developed further by the manufacturer for some time in favor of a completely new version. The continuous development of web browsers also contributes to behavioral changes which result in a continuous need for maintenance.
We looked at a large number of WYSIWYG editors to find the ideal candidate for our use case. In addition to good code quality, it was especially important to us that it was compatible with the free license of WoltLab Suite Core and that we had more control over the generated HTML to deliver better results. The change also eliminates a major component based on the relic “jQuery”.
Currently we are working on a draft of a new editor based on version 2 of TipTap, a modern editor that is technically based on ProseMirror. ProseMirror is indirectly no stranger to us, it comes from the same developer as CodeMirror, which in an older version with a different technical basis has already been used by us for many years for the code views in the admin panel. The experience with CodeMirror was incorporated into the development of ProseMirror, especially the handling on smartphones was an essential consideration during the development.
Migration to Font Awesome 6
Until today, we still rely on Font Awesome 4 for the icons, which also did a good job and are still usable today, but fall far short of the possibilities of current icons. The partial blurriness and inconsistent positioning of the icons does not always make the work easy, moreover, the selection of icons is rather limited and you will always have to search in vain for suitable icons or make compromises.
With Font Awesome 6, we can incorporate more modern icons into the software and provide more options when choosing icons, for example, for displaying forums. We wanted to tackle this change some time ago, but there are a number of technical changes to the icons that have far-reaching compatibility implications. At that time, the decision was made to postpone the transition by one version, so that we would have enough time to carefully implement the changes.
Technical Modernization and Cleanup of Legacy Components
We are seamlessly following up on the PSR-7/PSR-15 implementation that we already announced and partially implemented with WoltLab Suite 5.5. In particular, it makes it much easier to work with responses returned to the client and to modify those at runtime. The use of a uniform standard also makes it easier to use existing libraries that are built on the same interfaces and communicate. The use of middlewares also allows far-reaching influence on the processing of incoming requests.
With WoltLab Suite 6.0, we will raise the system requirements to PHP 8.1, which will not only improve performance but also make things easier for developers. Stronger typing and constructs like enums will allow writing better and more stable code, benefiting both users and developers. We will also remove some very old components for which better replacements have been available for some time. For this purpose, we already maintain the documentation during development and thus inform about such changes early: https://docs.woltlab.com/5.6/migration/…tions_removals/
What WoltLab Suite 6.0 Is Not
The changes to the icons as well as the replacement of the editor will result in far-reaching incompatibilities, which will probably affect the majority of plugins. Even if the amount of change will be comparatively small in most cases, this is still a weighty change. The choice of version number 6.0 instead of 5.6 is intended to underline the significance of this change.
However, we would like to emphasize at this point that this is neither a complete rewrite of the software, nor will we deviate from our previous release cycles. A direct upgrade via the admin panel of WoltLab Suite 5.5 will be possible.
At the current time, we are targeting a release for Q1 2023.