Dude, what’s up with POP Forums vNext?

Yeah, it has been awhile. I posted v9.2 back in January, about five months ago. That’s a real change from the release pace I had there for awhile. Let me explain what’s going on.

First off, in the interim, I re-launched CoasterBuzz, which required a lot of my attention for about two of those months. That’s a good thing though, because that site is just about the best test bed I could ask for. The other thing is that I committed to make the next version use ASP.NET MVC 4, which is now at the RC stage. I didn’t think much about when they’d hit their RTW point, but RC is good enough for me.

To that end, there is enough change in the next version that I recently decided to make it a major version upgrade, and finish up the loose ends and science projects to make it whole. Here’s what’s in store…

  • Mobile views: I sat on this or a long time. Originally, I was going to use jQuery Mobile, and waited and waited for a new release, but in the end, decided against using it. Sometimes buttons would unexplainably not work, I felt like I was fighting it at times, and the CSS just felt too heavy. I rolled my own mobile sugar at a fraction of the size, and I think you’ll find it easy to modify. And it’s Metro-y, of course!
  • Re-do of background services: A number of things run in the background, and I did quite a bit of “reimagining” of that code. It’s the weirdness of running services in a Web site context, because so many folks can’t run a bona fide service on their host’s box. The biggest change here is that these service no longer start up by default. You’ll need to call a new method from global.asax called PopForumsActivation.StartServices(). This is also a precursor to running the app in a Web farm (new data layer and caching is the second part of that). I learned about this the hard way when I had three apps using the forum library code but only one was actually the forum. The services were all running three times as often with race conditions and hits on the same data. That was particularly bad for e-mail.
  • CSS clean up: It’s still not ideal, but it’s getting better. That’s one of those things that comes with integrating to a real site… you discover all of the dumb things you did. The mobile CSS is particularly easier to live with.
  • Bug fixes: There are a whole lot of them. Most were minor, but it’s feeling pretty solid now.

So that’s where I am. I’m going to call it v10.0, and I’m going to really put forth some effort toward finishing the mobile experience and getting through the remaining bugs. The roadmap beyond that will likely not be feature oriented, but rather work on some other things, like making it run in Azure, perhaps using SQL CE, a better install experience, etc.

As usual, I’ll post the latest here. Stay tuned!


  • You say that "making it run on Azure" is on the roadmap. Does that mean it does not run on Azure, or you've not tested it and so don't want to claim it does?

  • "Runs on Azure" is kind of a nebulous thing to say, I suppose. I mean, if you fire up a VM with SQL, it'll run on that virtual box. More specifically, I'm thinking in terms of running across multiple Web roles, load balanced, with the distributed cache features and an Azure SQL Database. The data layer needs some tweaking, because it uses HttpRuntime.Cache, which obviously would be broken across multiple instances.

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