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IPS4 Pages - My experience building a custom homepage


Tom Christian

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I spent a couple of hours today building a completely custom homepage with Pages. The homepage made use of a page template, custom wrapper template, two PHP blocks, custom CSS & JS files. As I went along I recorded a few things:

Suggestions / Features

1. From a developer stand point, I was immediately stuck in regards to documentation. There's nothing remotely helpful that tells me how to use pages as an advanced user.

As a heavy user of IP Pages i agree with this and all other points.

Documentation in general is the weakest point of IP Suite. Despite several promises that "the documentation is going to be released soon" since IPS Beta was out (and i can mention a few of them), almost nothing is done.

The weird thing is that for sure IPS has it internally but doesn't release it. For example, the CSS framework was finally documented by Rad Studios user. Though i remember that about an year ago there was someone from the IPS Staff that said that they have it internally long long ago, but nobody released it. Why?

I have been developing a homepage for a site of mine in IP pages and it is a hellish slow and counter productive to do it as i need to keep constantly searching souce files to see how IPS did certain things, asking here in the board, etc etc just to do simple things. It's not productive. This could be solved easily with good documentation. 

The product is good, but without proper documentation and unwillingness from IPS to release it, it's frustrating. After one year, all the documentation that exists is a couple of detatched ad-hoc documents. What a shame!

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One issue for me is databases and their pages. Putting a block into the main database index page (Category template) and having it appear on all pages related to that DB makes no sense to me. If I go to any news site they have a index page that differentiates itself from the article itself or article listings. If I go to the forum the blocks on the main forum index do not show up when you click into a forum or click to see posts. If I go to the blogs main sites page those blocks are not carried over into the rest of the pages. Same applies for every other ipb app, why should it be any different for a database? It's the same principal, I'm essentially creating a app with each database. Consistency should be considered here. Creating new templates don't cut for several reasons.

Tried figuring out how to get js into my pages head so I could use a block with a simple html ahref-onclick call and get it to show. Code in block is right... Now what? Searched and searched for hours on this answer, no docs, no forum searched helped. Finally submitted a ticket and was told they could not help. I mean all I'm looking for is how to do this, I don't need help with the code... yet... Again, no docs in documentation explaining this process, or examples.

IPB did however make some well needed things for 4.1 and blocks which I'm very glad to see and a couple of other things that have hampered me using content. New blocks are a big help.

It really is tough not having no documentation and needing to submit a support ticket and going through that process and time. Here's to hoping we see some more documentation on pages and advanced usage...

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I spent a couple of hours today building a completely custom homepage with Pages. The homepage made use of a page template, custom wrapper template, two PHP blocks, custom CSS & JS files. As I went along I recorded a few things:

Suggestions / Features

1. From a developer stand point, I was immediately stuck in regards to documentation. There's nothing remotely helpful that tells me how to use pages as an advanced user. I suggest a setup guide on creating a custom homepage that integrates with a PHP block.

2. When writing custom blocks, the UX is painful. As a first time user of Pages, there was a lot of trial & error when writing my blocks. Being redirected back to the block index every time I clicked save became tiring very quickly. Ideally, I'd like to write these outside of the ACP like a regular IPS4 plugin. Is this possible?

3. PHP Blocks - At first, I was confused whether this was IPS template syntax or raw PHP. If there were advanced docs, this could be answered pretty easily.

4. When adding templates, (HTML/CSS/JS), the template should be open and ready to edit after the page refreshes. Adding a template, and then having to search through all the folders to edit it is pretty tedious.

5. The CSS/JS include process needs improvement. My JS files needed to be in a certain order yet I was restricted to the incorrect order in which the templates were dumped inside the multi-select menu. In the end, I had to merge the two JS files together to solve that.

6. Global import/export feature. This app is awesome and the potential is huge but as a developer, I have zero interest in building anything for the community due to how messy the setup process is both from a developer & end-user stand point. I could see myself building an awesome homepage package that includes all kinds features. From what I can see, to achieve this at the moment, the user would have to manually create all of this inside their ACP. Manually create the custom blocks, manually add the CSS & JS templates, manually do everything. This complexity needs to be addressed ASAP.

Bugs

1. Deleting templates works, but isn't reflected live on the page. It's only gone after a page refresh.

2. Block page badges (custom,plugin etc) have weird alignment.

3. Adding a new page, write some content, switch tab to write the title & page description, go back to the content tab and all the content is gone.

4. "Save and reload" button doesn't work when first adding a page. It just redirects to the index after setting up permissions.

You tell 'em Tom! 

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I would know if there is a way to create a widget area, simple use css or js class... avoiding build a "static" template way

in this case widget and blocks. i like all your points, import export for database fields moderators categories... template i hope in this tool. for now i continue to build "template" but is not a good way (how is live preview?)

 

 

 

 

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On 14/09/2015,, Tom Christian said:

Suggestions / Features

1. From a developer stand point, I was immediately stuck in regards to documentation. There's nothing remotely helpful that tells me how to use pages as an advanced user. I suggest a setup guide on creating a custom homepage that integrates with a PHP block.

 

On 14/09/2015,, xtech said:

The product is good, but without proper documentation and unwillingness from IPS to release it, it's frustrating. After one year, all the documentation that exists is a couple of detatched ad-hoc documents. What a shame!

I completely agree. The lack of documentation is a huge issue right now. I find it crazy that a product so complex as this does not come with a complete user manual.

I understand there is a lot to document and they are working on other things but a release rate of barely an article a week is worrying to say the least.

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I have to say, I find the 4.0 version of IP.Pages refreshing and the simplicity behind it is really encouraging. I would also like to point out how wonderful it is seeing members/customers helping each other to perfect their templates, I can't tell you how much easier this makes things and it reminds me of the earlier days when people were more inclined to help others.

IPS in may opinion should create an hub to encourage the above more, at least this is my opinion.

If people like myself have somewhere available to visit which shares templates, how-to-do's and so fourth it makes using the package less daunting and more of a solution for their website(s). I struggled to get the last version anywhere near towards something I was happy with and if it wasn't for developers like @Pete T and @newbie LACI think I would have given up, with the chance that I may never have considered the application again but this said I have seen how things have improved - I'm the most excited about IPS, that I have been for a number of years and I am sure people like @Lindywill notice if they check my customer info - As I have started to move across more sites and renewed products that hadn't been renewed for awhile.

The bugs are somewhat annoying but I understand that these will happen, I've been around long enough to know that all products have issues.

@Tom Christianmakes some great points here and I love how IPS third party developers are actively trying to help/improve the products.

Fingers crossed at some stage we will start to see actual templates appearing within the marketplace - I believe there will be a market for this, as myself I hate playing with templates and the higher the IPS numbers go, the less I play around. LOL

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  • 1 month later...

The state of documentation is ridiculous. Seems to be currently split across 'articles' and 'guides', so you can't even search both sets at once. What's actually there is limited in the extreme. There are odd gems of information scattered about the forums, but good luck finding them... I know 3.4 documentation wasn't ideal, but compared to 4.x...

I'm not even looking for anything mindblowingly-complex. 

 

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1 hour ago, rgf100 said:

The state of documentation is ridiculous. Seems to be currently split across 'articles' and 'guides', so you can't even search both sets at once. What's actually there is limited in the extreme. There are odd gems of information scattered about the forums, but good luck finding them... I know 3.4 documentation wasn't ideal, but compared to 4.x...

I'm not even looking for anything mindblowingly-complex. 

 

With the recent (excellent) improvements to the CSS & JS documentation, I can only assume that they'll get to Pages soon enough.

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Pages has really big potential but maybe some points are working or not ? Or maybe possible or not?

We do not know it regarding missing documentation - you lose a lot of time with this - i hope IPS will fill this lack soon .... 

Clicking around with standard output is for the most of longtime ips user here not enough ... I think there is a lot inside pages - pls show it to us ;-)

i tried to use some ips 3 coded blocks in ips 4 but it does not work, i do not why because it is simple plugin code ... 

Pls fill the documentation sites with content .......... 

thanks @Tom Christian for the good feedback summary 

Edited by m@t
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  • 5 weeks later...

Came across this topic and this has one of my biggest complaints regarding the IPSCS ever since 3.0 was released. IPS always gives the excuse that "it's coming soon" but that "it's coming soon" almost always results to "we're not gonna do it". I've never been able to understand how IPS can produce a powerful forum application system but never provide any documentation on how to use it. It's one of the biggest complaints that consumers have with software designers and typically, the documentation never really goes anywhere in actually explaining how to use the software or how to modify. It mostly boils down to "if you don't know HTML, PHP or CSS then you shouldn't be using our software". It would be nice if we actually started seeing documentation actually produced for IPS-related software, but, in reality, it will probably never happen. "It's coming soon" is just an old joke that everybody laughs at but that nobody finds funny.

I'm actually curious what IPS thinks of the documentation issue for IPS' products. Oh, and it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who has noticed the long absence of any real documentation dating back as far as IPS 3.0.

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There was a lot of talk back in August about various feature needs in Pages.  Some of it covered here and some more basic capabilities such as block filters and common functions we used in the old IP Content system.  I understand that this new software is not IP.CONTENT, but it is also not as functional as discussed in the past months.  Many filters that were discussed in August have not been delivered, SOME HAVE. Without the documentation it is severely hindering others to make some progress and features.

When will pages get some attention in a coming release?

Is there an agreeable way for users/clients to help describe functionality needed, or to help prioritize documentation/features? I think we did discuss things like this in August, but much of those discussions have no resolution as the features are still not working and there is no way to understand if we are ever going to get the functionality in Pages that seems it has the potential to deliver.

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  • 1 month later...
39 minutes ago, W4L said:

any update on doc's ?

new user of pages and theres nothing to go by .

Where have you looked?

The new guides section describes all the parts of Pages: https://community.invisionpower.com/4guides/suite-applications/pages/

There also a complete walkthrough for setting up a Pages database and customizing it in the documentation section.  

 
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i looked through most of that but its not even close to what i need , once you ditch the ipb wrapper theres no help .

think i got it handled now just had to figure out a few things and get the page to read my css files .

thanks for the reply

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I was able to set up a very basic (for test purposes) 3 column page using page builder.  Using txt widget blocks and custom text I created a simple click the image and go to another page on the site.  However, there is no css and this leaves the white background visible as a border around my content.  Is there a way to eliminate that without having to adjust settings in my theme's settings which then affects the rest of the site.  I have included an image of the page for reference. 
I do know that if I make a page from scratch that I could accomplish what I am after but since Im not a coder and there are really no examples to be found Im stuck with using a way less than perfect solution such as pages, templates.  Judging by what I have read in this thread it is a very common issue.

 

 

3col.png

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6 minutes ago, Steve-Ray said:

I was able to set up a very basic (for test purposes) 3 column page using page builder.  Using txt widget blocks and custom text I created a simple click the image and go to another page on the site.  However, there is no css and this leaves the white background visible as a border around my content.  Is there a way to eliminate that without having to adjust settings in my theme's settings which then affects the rest of the site.

Well, the background comes from the theme, so that’s where you would normally override it. You could also create a CSS file just for that one page, if you really want to make sure that only that page is affected. 

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I totally understand that and would prefer to completely control my pages with a CSS file but this brings me back to my point that I have no idea how to do that and any attempts so far has resulted in the page messing up the whole site.  What I and others need is for good tutorials on how to accomplish these CSS files.  I had already adjusted my theme to blend that white box into that tan colored background but that same theme setting is used on other parts of the main site which ruins the look that I had.

My thanks for your post anyway. :thumbsup:

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