We started with BlueSpice three years ago in October 2010. Since then, we have gradually expanded and improved the software. In the fall of 2013, we are taking the plunge and publishing a completely revised version.
The new version of BlueSpice builds on the experience we have amassed working with public company wikis and user requests and suggestions. But opening up BlueSpice for developers and vendors is also an important step. We took this into account in the planning stage by inviting our users to participate in a feature poll. The architectural changes below the surface also have this aim.
The schedule: In October 2013, both the beta and the stable versions will be launched. The good news is that most of the changes have already been done. We don´t want to let the release become a never ending story and so we decided on for a timebox approach. It´s better to have one feature less than to jeopardize the release date. Nevertheless, there is a lot of work which has to be done!
1. New tools for quality management
Let´s start with wiki contents. With BlueSpice 2 it will become easier to control content quality by using new functions:
- A reminder feature will let authors add articles to a watchlist and will remind them to review the article after a defined period of time. We will completely revise our workflow tool (Review) in line with this new function next year. This tool will make the workflow process much more flexible.
- BlueSpice 2 comes with a dashboard for users and administrators to organize their tasks. A feature that’s been eagerly awaited! This central dashboard can be individually filled with different widgets.
- Extensions which may seem minor will significantly change day-to-day work with the wiki: We are adopting the new notification system from MediaWiki, which unifies the notification process and makes it clearer. Articles can be added to the watchlist with one click, like in Wikipedia. And last but not least, it is possible to assign a category to an image in the upload dialogue.
2. Better usability, faster navigation and a new “State of the art” search function
A lot of things are changing in terms of usability too:
- Visual editor upgrade: We are integrating the new TinyMCE 4. The development of the native MediaWiki editor is progressing (see current testing page), but not as fast as we expected. In direct comparison, the current BlueSpice solution is still several steps ahead. Due to this, an upgrade of TinyMCE is worthwhile. Changing to the MediaWiki editor remains on the agenda for some time in the future. This could take place at the end of 2014.
- The dialogue technology is also being upgraded, and we are using the opportunity to improve usability in a number of ways. Users should be able to search for categories and users much faster in dialogues. Long scrolling will become unnecessary.
- The upgrade of the search function to a new Solr server provides new possibilities: You can now navigate with the search. Many of you will like the new feature “More like this”, which shows similar articles at the bottom of a page.
- There are also two more tools which will make working with articles easier: From now on, user can create checklists and multiupload enables you to upload several files at the same time. With the new version of InsertMagic, inserting tags and variables will become much easier.
3. Less time spent on administration and rights management
There is good news for sysops. Administrators and installers will be able to configure BlueSpice 2 more quickly:
- The rights management of MediaWiki has “grown” and recognizes a lot more characteristics. We have found a way to make the managing the wiki more transparent for administrators who do not have extensive knowledge of MediaWiki. We are integrating this in BlueSpice 2.
- If you install BlueSpice 2 for the first time, it will already have the most popular preferences set as default.
4. BlueSpice becomes a “real” MediaWiki extension
The major changes to BlueSpice are taking place under the bonnet. BlueSpice has worked with its own libraries for a long time. We did this to keep legal opportunities open for proprietary components. However, something has changed in the general legal concept, so we can do without this special architectural arrangement. And we gain a lot:
- The systems performance improves, because we can now use the MediaWiki-ResourceLoader – and therefore important MediaWiki resources.
- The free version, with its new architecture, can now become part of the MediaWiki Git Repository. This is an important step towards developing an independent developer community. You can already catch a glimpse of the initial code version, which will soon be updated on a weekly basis, here.
- BlueSpice is also becoming more international. Opening BlueSpice up for freelance developers in the global MediaWiki community lays the foundation for many new language versions.
5. New themes and user-friendliness
There is also more openness in the new layout and design. The distinctive BlueSpice skin has won many admirers. However, after nearly four years BlueSpice needs a new face. Or to be more precise: It will be possible to give BlueSpice a range of faces.
- So, BlueSpice 2 comes with a new standard skin. This skin (we have not yet decided on a name) has a responsive design, optimized for mobile equipment. Above all, the range of functions has been tidied up leaving more space for the content. An initial sketch of the new skin will be ready for viewing soon on BlueForge. However, of course, BlueSpice 2 supports the existing BlueSpice skin too.
- The function Flexiskin gives you more individuality, allowing the basic layout to be customized more easily. Our age old software HalloWiki had a Flexiskin module. Now BlueSpice is getting one too.
BlueSpice 2 aims to provide new momentum and ideas. In any case, we are bringing many important stimuli for the user. And, of course, there is still a long wish list for further features. We will be able to say more about these points at the start of next year. This is when the roadmap for BlueSpice 2 will be updated.