Just over 11 months ago, we released Review Board 1.7, which was a major evolution to the product. It introduced features like the extensions, a new administration UI, file attachment reviews and thumbnails, an issue summary table, and quite a lot of UI polish.

It was a pretty good release, but we’re announcing something better. Review Board 2.0 is coming.

We’ve released the first beta today, and would like to encourage people to give it a try. (Please do not try with a production install or database, though.)

Here’s some of the highlights for this release.

  • Create review requests from existing commits

    The “New Review Request” page has been completely redesigned. On supported repositories and hosting services, a list of branches and their commits will be shown. Each commit can be quickly put up for review with just a single click. If your team commits changes to a branch for review, this will help tremendously.

  • Markdown in text fields

    All text fields (Description, Testing Done, comments, reviews) now accept Markdown. This makes it really easy to show off sample source code (with syntax highlighting!) right in comments, or to express things with bullet points, add links, add emphasis, or to just in general structure your review requests or reviews better.

    This won’t have any negative impact on any of your existing review requests or reviews, or your commit messages (when posting with rbt post or post-review). Only newly entered text will appear in Markdown.

  • All new diff file index

    When viewing a diff, you’ll now get a much better idea of the complexity of the changes before you even look at code. The files are now each shown with a complexity graph, which is a little ring showing the relative number of inserts, deletes, and replaces, with the thickness of the ring indicating how much of the file has changed.

    Along with this, little color-coded dots are shown for every chunk, linking to the matching chunk. It also shows whether the file was renamed (and what its old name was), and whether it’s a newly introduced file or a deleted file.

    In our testing, we’ve found this very useful to help gauge how complex a change is before even digging into the change itself.

  • More intuitive revision selector

    Our old revision selector was a hold-over from the early days. Not very nice to work with, and it took too long to switch revisions.

    The new one is much more intuitive, and works as a slider. Simply drag the handles to the revision you want, or the revisions for an interdiff, and the diff will immediately load below. It’s fast and simple.

  • Less messy interdiffs

    Interdiffs are fantastic, but can become a mess if there have been other changes to a file between revisions that aren’t related to the change going up for review. Update your tree, post another change, view an interdiff, and you’ll see junk.

    No more. Interdiffs will, with few exceptions, only show what’s actually in your changes, making them more reliable than ever.

  • Smarter moved code detection

    When moving code around a file, the diff viewer now does a better job both finding and showing blocks of code that have moved. They now appear as groups of moved lines, instead of a bunch of individually moved lines. It’s also better at not showing trivial moves.

  • More polished, faster UI

    We’ve applied a lot more polish to the UI. The diff viewer, for instance, is a lot cleaner-looking. Many of the icons have been redone, and Retina versions have been created, so those of you on a MacBook Pro with a Retina display, you’re in for a treat.

  • More powerful extensions

    Extension developers have a few new abilities to help in their creations. We’ve made it easy to package and test with static media files, right out of the box. We’ve also begun adding JavaScript-side extensions and hooks, which will make it easier in time to tie into more of the UI and operations in the browser.

  • Better performance

    We’ve done a lot of work to reduce the amount of HTTP requests when accessing Review Board, to reduce reloads of pages (such as when publishing a reply or changing diff revisions), and reducing database queries throughout.

  • And much more…

    A faster-loading Review dialog, better Git diff support, Markdown file review, file attachment thumbnails on comments, and many bug fixes.

We’re really excited about this release. It’s going to be amazing. This isn’t even all we’re doing for the release. By the time we ship 2.0, we expect to have support for image diffs and for extension-provided binary file diffs in the diff viewer. We’re working on a better layout for review requests. More extension support.

So give it a shot (on a test server!) and let us know how it goes!

For installation instructions and a full list of changes (with screenshots), see the release notes.