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Elefant 2.0 and beyond

With Elefant 2.0 so close to complete, and with my time being so limited these days (startup life), I wanted to share my thoughts on where Elefant stands and where it can go from here.

Short-short-term

I'm heading on my first vacation in quite a few years this Friday, and it's during one of the craziest times in our startup's life thus far (we turn 2 in March). I'm spending 3 weeks backpacking around Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala with my lady extraordinaire, and aside from bringing a Chromebook to check email, we both plan to officially unplug from our work.

This is much-needed, exciting, and terrifying all at the same time.

Note to self: Everything won't fall apart in 3 weeks. You'll be fine.

Short-term

I don't see my time freeing up much for the foreseeable future, which means my contributions are going to continue to be limited. I've been pulling 60+ hour weeks for months, and even though some of it is on Elefant-based work, it's often on specifics that don't necessarily benefit the community.

Elefant does power all of my existing and upcoming projects on the web side, so I don't see it going away any time soon. I'm pretty heavily invested in it.

In the short term, my goal is simply to get Elefant 2.0 shipped once I'm back and had a chance to catch up on whatever I've missed. I think that's an attainable goal that isn't over-promising.

To be honest, part of my hesitation in timing an Elefant 2.0 release is in not having the time to support newcomers and the questions that might arise as they get it installed, poke around, try to build their first apps, etc.

Long-term direction

Mid/long-term, I imagine my priorities on Elefant are going to stay at the framework-level day-to-day, but it would be good to take some time to reimagine the UI structure for a 3.0 release down the road. Frameworks like React have really changed the JavaScript landscape over the past year, and I imagine 2016 will be the year where much of that starts to formalize into new standards.

The UI library I've been playing with the most lately, after quite a bit of experimenting with React, Meteor, and others, has been Vue.js. It performs great, is concise where React + Flux can end up with lots of boilerplate, and feels more in line with the Elefant way of doing things.

Once I'm done a full, production-ready project with Vue.js, I'm going to publish my thoughts on how it went and how to best integrate it with an Elefant backend.

I also plan on replacing the forum again, since a mere upgrade of Vanilla Forums was a stop-gap at best. Flarum looks like the right fit, just need to find the time to set it up and to migrate things over.

I would also like to see first-class Docker support, in the form of an officially supported Dockerfile and process around that. On the server-side, Docker has really stood out in the past year as an emerging force, and looks to drastically simplify that side of things too.

One thing keeping me from finding the time to get into Docker more deeply is an existing Ansible-based server setup that already works very well for us. We have a lot of tweaks to our setup that are small, but make a big impact on performance and other areas, and will take time to port over.

I can see that past Elefant 2.0, a Docker-based deployment solution could become the standard way of doing things.

After Elefant 2.0, I would also like to start narrowing down the PHP versions we support. I'm still listing PHP 5.3 on there, which really shouldn't be used any more. This keeps the core from taking advantage of new syntax improvements, so after the 2.0 release I think the development branch will become PHP 7+, which by the time 3.0 might be ready ought to be supported everywhere.

Elefant is going to remain a small, performance- and easy-of-use-focused open source project for the long-term, but it will need more community support to help each other solve problems, keep the wheels turning, and spreading the word too. Anyone interested in tackling some of the things I've talked about here, I'm happy to assist and collaborate as best I can to make these happen faster.

Here's to an interesting 2016! Once I'm back at the end of February, I'm looking forward to putting the finishing touches on Elefant 2.0 and seeing where it takes us.

Cheers,
JB

Comments

  • Thanks for the update!

    I'm available for some of the (easier) support questions and I imagine others are, too.

    Have a great trip! Don't worry about us, we'll be fine. ;)

  • Thanks! Sometimes it feels like I get away from Elefant so long I wonder if anyone's still here. Glad others are still kicking her tires ;)

  • Thanks for the update, I check here every so often and I'm glad the project isn't abandoned. I'm not using Elefant for a production site ATM but I love its powerful leanness, need to explore the SCORM module further. I think a functional demo site with a bunch of apps would help with visibility. Congrats on the Campfire Union, and enjoy your vaca!

  • I'm glad to hear this :)

  • Long live the Elefant.....

  • Any new updates on this Johnny?

  • Curious about this, too.

  • Finally getting to my long-overdue update to this thread.

    • I marked the latest release 2.0.0-Stable, which itself was long-overdue. It's been pretty stable for some time now.

    • I just bought a license upgrade to Redactor so we can keep bundling it in Elefant, including their next major release coming this summer. It'll take some work upgrading, but for a while their licensing seemed like it wasn't going to work moving forward and finding/integrating an alternative sounded problematic for the amount of time I've had to work on Elefant itself. So I'm happy there's a clear path forward on that key piece of it.

    • I'm still actively using Elefant, but it's meeting my needs quite well as a framework and CMS, so I haven't been making many changes to it. There are improvements I'd love to make, like integrating support for Docker and for new JavaScript libraries like React or Vue.js in a more standardized way, but without being driven by a present need it's hard to find time to get to those.

    • Most of my development time these days is going towards a project called Flipside. I'm mainly coding in Unity/C#, a little Go, and a little Elefant/PHP too. Startup life can be really gruelling at times, and maintaining a work-life balance is challenging enough with just work and relationships. My other side projects (mainly music) have also had to take a back seat in order to maintain sanity, health, etc.

    Since this looks like the way things are going to continue for some time, Elefant is probably going to stay fairly static for a while, unless others step in and make the changes they'd like to see (which I'm always open to!). I'm still maintaining the project, but not actively developing new features very often at this time.

  • Quick update: Just pushed Elefant 2.0.2 with an upgraded Redactor wysiwyg editor as well as an upgraded jQuery-filedrop which should improve file uploads. Also made some small improvements to the DB Manager and Newsletter apps. Cheers!

  • I'm trying to update a 2.0 install to 2.0.2, but I think there are no 2.0 releases at https://github.com/jbroadway/elefant-updates.

    (Also, posting a new thread doesn't seem to work.)

  • Right! I will need to update the updater. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Updated the updater!

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