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Friday, April 16, 2021

An ode to FlatPress - by Edoardo Vacchi

In 2006, SimplePHPBlog (SPB) was a simple blog engine that stored the contents of a post in text files. At the time WordPress was already one of the most used blog engines. I was starting my first year at the university and I wanted something I could host on a free shared web hosting, easy to customize and with a database that was accessible and easy to backup. For me, SPB at the time checked all the items on this list, and there was a growing community of enthusiasts that provided plugins and themes.

SPB’s simplicity was one of the reasons why it attracted a lot of fans; an international community quickly grew, and from that, a smaller Italian community (SPBItalia) was born too. These communities developed mods and code extensions to customize SPB for their needs. However, the simplicity of its codebase at some point showed its limits. A heavily customized installation of SPB could diverge a lot from the main development line, leaving users with an old, unmaintained, possibly insecure version.

A more modular design could have helped. What makes WordPress great today was the same thing that made it great back in those days: a powerful plug-in API, a theming system, and a vast community that contributed lots of useful plugins and themes, making it easy to customize it, while allowing users to keep up with platform updates.

Luciano Porro (@drudo) founded the SPBItalia forums and developed many themes; Samanta Grasso (SamyWeb) became a moderator shortly after: she was one of the most productive modders and themers in the SPB community. We all met virtually on those forums, and, together, we decided we could do something more.

We released the first FlatPress version on April 15th, 2006. A lot of time has passed since then. I no longer do web development, and a lot of people, especially developers, are now using static website generators instead of dynamic scripting-based blogs. Yet, today marks 15 years from the date, and, to my great surprise, the project is still alive and kicking. This is why, in 2019, I handed over the project to another brave member of the community, Arvid, who is now leading all the future developments of the project.

I still remember fondly those days. Even though I have moved on to different projects, FlatPress has been an important part of my life as a developer.

So, here’s one to you, FlatPress! And, as we say here in Italy: cento di questi giorni!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Happy birthday, FlatPress!

2021-04-15_fp15.jpgToday, your favourite blogging engine celebrates its 15th birthday.

The beginning, …

It was April 16th, 2006 when Edoardo Vacchi a.k.a. NoWhereMan published the very first alpha version of FlatPress. The idea was to have a blogging engine that was as simple as SimplePHPBlog (which he used at this time), but more customizable and extendable.

Since then, FlatPress grew up, the software got more mature, the community, mostly Italian in the beginning, got more and more international. And FlatPress fulfilled Edoardo’s promises: Easy to set up, easy to operate, but also extensibly customizable with its mighty plugin system and its theming engine. And all this without requiring any database system beneath, just working on flat files. Hey, it’s called FlatPress for a reason! :)

But like many other Open Source developers, Edoardo lost more and more of his time to other private and professional obligations over the years. Also, the world had moved on, and many new blogging tools and social networks had risen. And so in July 2018, with a heavy heart he announced the end of FlatPress.

… the transition, …

This is where I entered the stage. I had run my FlatPress powered blog since 2013 and simply didn’t agree with him that FlatPress wasn’t needed any more. I offered him to take over the project, and you, the FlatPress community, encouraged me to do so. So I did.

We revived the project and the software, set up a new support forum, a new knowledge base wiki, a new website, and got publicly more visible on CMS sites, software archives, computer magazines, and of course our Twitter account @FlatPress.

… the present, …

Since then, the FlatPress journey continues with fresh power. And even after 15 years, you might not have unvealed every FlatPress secret: Did you know that the FlatPress engine is the blogging widget in the heavily used web site building kits of Deutsche Telekom and the huge German web hoster Strato? :)

I’m glad I had the chance to continue Edoardo’s (and his mates’!) work. And I am very proud of every single one of you how helped my on this journey. Thank you very much, each and every contributor!

… and the future

What’s next, you ask? Well, we have a version 1.3 to build! Francesco works on a completely new admin panel which looks awesome and waits to be released to first public tests. And thanks to all the folks out there reporting bugs and asking for interesting features, we will never run out of open issues. Like in every good open source project: “So much to do, so little time” ;)

To appropriatly celebrate this anniversary, Edoardo himself has a few words to say. Cheers to you, we will continue to take good care of your project!

All the best,
Arvid

Image: Derivate of “Birthday Gaming” by cheetah100 - licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sunday, March 28, 2021

FlatPress is now on Mastodon 🐘

2021-03-28_mastodon_fp.pngYou know our Twitter account @FlatPress, right? Well, you might say, “but FlatPress says in its FAQ it wants to make its users independent from such platforms!”. And you’re right!

From now on, you also find the FlatPress project on Mastodon. This is a social network service which works quite similar to Twitter. The main difference is the absence of one single central instance that controls everything. Instead, Mastodon has many independent instances which work together. The FlatPress account resides on the Fosstodon instance.

So if you already have a Mastodon account, feel free to follow @flatpress@fosstodon.org. And if not, why not give it a try?

All the best
Arvid

Original image from the Mastodon press kit.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

New release: FlatPress 1.2 “Legato”

2021-02-07_legato.jpgHi folks,

after an intensive beta testing phase (thank you all for your efforts there!), I can finally announce the release of FlatPress 1.2.

We continue our lovely tradtion of naming our releases with musical terms. “Legato” means playing tones smoothly connected, and this is what the new release represents: FlatPress is smoothly evolving, 1.2 does not mark any hard cut.

What’s new?

Version 1.2 brings FlatPress to PHP 7.4 (finally!) and PHP 8.0. Also, it contains some security fixes. We updated a few libraries, and the BBCode plugin knows some more tricks. Also, many bugs are fixed, thanks for reporting!

And, to get FlatPress even more international, many language packs found their way into the standard distribution: French, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian (finally!), and Spanish. Big shout out to all translators - thanks a lot!

Please see the changelog for a complete list of changes.

How to update?

Updating from 1.1 to 1.2 is very simple, please see the update instructions on the download page.

Happy blogging!

Have fun with the new version of your favourite blogging tool! And please report any bugs you may encounter on the FlatPress support forum.

All the best,
Arvid

Image: Derivate of “Lots of thirty-second notes with a legato above” by Horia Varlan - licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Second beta release of FlatPress 1.2 “Legato”

After intensive testing and bugfixing the first beta version of FlatPress 1.2 “Legato” (see the forum topic - thank you very much!), I just released the second beta of the upcoming FlatPress 1.2.
It contains fixes for all reported bugs so far. Let’s give beta2 a last round of testing, and then we’re ready for the final release!

We have a new topic regarding the beta2 release on the support forum. There, you’ll find download links, update instructions and more details about what’s new in 1.2.

Please help us testing the new beta thoroughly. So close to the final release :)

Thank you!
Arvid