It's been about half a year since we shared our plans and ideas with you, and we've achieved a whole lot during this period. We've received an overwhelming positive feedback and many great suggestions that have influenced our work. It is now the time to catch up with the changes we made for those who haven't followed our progress on GitHub.
WoltLab Suite 3.0
We have made the decision to rename our products using a consistent schema to emphasize the relation and interoperability. This will result in the pattern "WoltLab Suite <product>", for instance WoltLab Community Framework (WCF) will then be referenced as "WoltLab Suite Core" from then on. This is a visual change only and does not change the way applications work, things are pretty much the same as they used to be with WCF 2.1/2.2. On top of that we've made the decision to set the version number to 3.0, this makes it more clear that there have been quite a few fundamental additions.
Until now it was always required to have at least one application installed in order to have any kind of usable frontend for your users, condemning WCF to be hidden in the shadows despite being the foundation of all our products. WoltLab Suite Core 3.0 is a major paradigm shift, starting with this version you can run the core completely on its own without requiring any applications to be installed. It provides the full frontend including the versatile content management system and an additional article system, easily powering an entire website on its own.
We've outlined the key components of WoltLab Suite Core below, but please keep in mind that certain features such as the CMS are purely optional. In case you don't want or need the CMS functionality you can simply ignore it, you're not forced to use it and there are no drawbacks if you decide to step back from it.
Quite a lot of changes have been made to the core functionality, including but not limited to template and style overhauls. We'll provide detailed migration guides for customers and developers once all features have reasonably stabilized.
Content Management System (CMS)
The CMS consists of five major components covering different aspects of your site, below is a brief summary of what these components do and how they greatly ease your work. We'll provide more detailed insights into each functionality, including screenshots, in the upcoming spotlights.
Adding and managing custom pages has been one of the major suggestions in the past years and we'll finally bring you the feature you have been asking for. You can add both static and dynamic pages, and have them appear as regular pages within your site, nicely integrated and easily maintainable. No matter if you need to cover different language versions, require template scripting, or just want to use custom links: WoltLab Suite Core 3.0 has it all.
For those familiar with previous versions, boxes are a massively improved variation of our dashboard boxes, but without their limitations. Boxes can now be placed on any page using many, many placeholders and provide individual configuration options to fine-tune them to your needs. You can even create own boxes holding either static content, including support for template scripting, or use existing PHP classes to provide their content. On top of that most boxes using PHP classes can now be configured, e.g. you could create a new box that only display the last 5 threads from a forum of your choice.
This opens up a whole lot of interesting possibilities, for instance the well-known dashboard is now nothing but a CMS page with only boxes displayed on it.
Content is by far the most important aspect of every page, but it would be unreachable without menus that guide your visitors to each section on your site. It all starts with being able to properly add any page of your website into the main/footer menu, this includes being able to link dedicated forums in your menu with ease. Not only that, these menu items are actively recognized and will now reflect both its active state when the link is visited and shows up any notification counters; Let me give you an example: We could at this forum to the main menu and whenever someone reads this thread, it would be marked as active and shows the number of unread posts in that specific forum. We've pushed this a bit further by a providing you the ability to create own menus that can be placed into boxes.
Attachments are a great tool, but by their nature are tied closely to a single item. WoltLab Suite Core 3.0 introduces the Media system that allows you to upload images, documents or any other type of file and reuse it across all your pages and boxes. On top of that you'll be able to access them for other content, such as forum posts, without having to upload them again. They can be flagged as language dependent, e.g. to indicate that the file contains content in a specific language, and provided with additional captions. You will be provided with an inline search interface to quickly find the item you were looking for. Another difference to attachments is that this feature is only available to administrators by default as it neither imposes a limit on items nor on file types, every administrator can access, edit and delete these Media items.
Custom pages are a great thing, but they are cases in which you have a collection of content, e.g. news, and want to organize them in a more appropriate manner. This is where articles come into play, they provide you with an easy solution to publish news, build up a knowledge base or just have a blog-like article collection maintained by the site administrators. They offer support for comments, categories, tags, and much more, providing all the tools to accomplish your goals. Individual categories can be used as menu items and show a list of articles assigned to that category using teasers and images, similar to layouts known from news websites, all though this is just an option and you're not stuck with this kind of view.
Want to know more? We'll provide more detailed insights into each functionality, including screenshots, in the upcoming spotlights. Stay tuned!