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Invision Insight: Invision Community Team Q&A

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Welcome to this week's Invision Insight!

Whilst the weather gets warmer Down Under and colder to those in the northern hemisphere, we are nearing the end of our 20th year of Invision Community! So much has been achieved through the years and 2022 specifically is no exception.

I felt it couldn't be a better time to approach our team to participate in this week's Invision Insight. I'll share their take below.

Before we get to that though, if you didn't get a chance to attend yesterday's Content Curation event, don't fret! You can watch the video and discuss your thoughts below.


Invision Community Team Insight

During the week I took it upon myself to annoy our busy Invision Community staff members and take them away from their work (momentarily of course). All for good reasons! 😇

I asked them to weigh in on one of three questions. This gives us a glimpse into their minds and is a fun opportunity to hear directly from those that make Invision Community great. As usual, we are all very proud of the work they have produced; the results really do speak for themselves. Team, a huge thank you for playing along and taking the time to get your answers to me.

What is your favourite thing or feature we delivered this year?

@Jim M - My favourite feature we delivered this year was the real-time viewing/typing. I feel like this added a whole new level to our software to know in real-time that someone is viewing/replying the same time as you. Really helps with continuing the conversation, as if I reply and see someone else replying back, I'll stick around a few more seconds rather than moving on. For our support usage, it is also nice because we can see if another staff member is already replying and follow up with them internally before going to the client if we have something to collaborate.

@Lindy - The new Image Scanner (https://invisioncommunity.com/news/invision-community/our-new-image-scanner-and-discoverability-ai-keeps-your-community-safe-video-r1263/) is my favourite feature/service that we've rolled out in 2022. I have been in the technology sector for 30 years (ouch!) and have watched the evolution of so many incredible technologies, but AI-driven technology continues to blow my mind, truly. I love that we are among the first to begin developing AI-based features within community platforms and I look forward to our brilliant team incorporating more of this technology as we move forward.

@Mark H - I'd have to say my favourite enhancement was the "Who's Typing/Viewing" feature that others have already mentioned. It encourages more engagement among both members and staff, and for us techs, also reduces doubling up on an issue. A runner-up favourite would be the Image Scanner feature. It's quite effective when pre-moderation of content is a necessity and reduces the workload of community managers.

@Marshall Slemp - My favourite feature that was delivered this year has to be the Live Features (Who's Typing and Who's Viewing). It's really cool seeing new technologies being introduced into the platform and being leveraged to add that real-time experience. I think it's been mentioned before that even though the outcome seems simple, there is a lot of work involved in getting to this point and this is just the beginning. The devs (not me) have been working tirelessly to further utilize these new technologies to bring more real-time features such as Live Topics. Also, JavaScript is heavily involved and who doesn't love JavaScript?

@Matt Finger - Obviously Live Topics. It has taken up like the last third of the year for me and I am super excited for it to go live. This year though, I think my favourite thing as a developer was the existing real-time stuff; Who's Viewing and Who's Typing. From the user's perspective, they seem small and simple, but from my perspective we had to put in place a lot of newer technologies (new to IPS at least) such as Node.js, WebSockets, and dozens of AWS tools. With that robust, performant and secure foundation it opens up all sorts of avenues for where we can take our software in the future.

@Olivia Clark - We have such a great team! Our ability to work and deliver great product and service with togetherness only continues to improve. I know that sounds cliche but we are improving processes, getting the software is ready for those next great things, and testing new waters - together. Our customer support team serves our customers so well and is always looking for ways to do that better. It is fun to hear the developers working on projects that they cannot wait to sink their teeth into, areas that have been a paint point of theirs for years and areas where they see potential. I love the enthusiasm, the willingness to help those of us that are not as technical and the genuine passion for Invision Community. So, that's my favourite 'thing' delivered this year - greater cohesion and even more enthusiasm amongst our team.

What are you most excited for in 2023?

@Ehren - Funnily enough, one of my favourite features from this year is something that'll actually be available in early 2023, our refreshed Gallery. Andy and I spent a few months giving the Gallery a much-needed makeover, deleting a bunch of redundant code and replacing it with a far more modern approach; one example is the new masonry grid, powered completely by CSS! We worked on a new UI with a better focus on features images, we improved support for videos and added some nice new features such as a NSFW filter. My very biased opinion thinks we've made some really nice improvements that our customers will love, so fingers crossed they agree! Just like a Spring clean, I've always found it quite satisfying diving into an old framework and refactoring it using modern techniques. Looking towards 2023 and beyond, I'm really excited to take things even further with not only other application updates (I'm looking at you Downloads and Commerce), but Invision Community as a whole!

@Marc Stridgen - I'm looking forward to that next jump forward in look for the suite. It always amazes me that just as you think the software looks modern, that next evolution comes along and makes everything before it feel old. It gives a real feeling of moving forward and can pump a new lease of life into every community.

@Ryan Ashbrook - I think I am most excited for our infrastructure improvements we have planned for 2023. Our development of things like live community, real-time trending content, image scanning and so forth has allowed us to learn and grow how we deliver new features efficiently. But, in addition to that, I am looking forward to improvements to the overall software as a whole - such as the upcoming Gallery refresh. I'm really excited to see all of the applications get the same treatment as Calendar did (which is also one of my favorite things we've done this year).

@Stuart Silvester - The most exciting thing for 2023 for me is the new Live Topics feature, it's really awesome. The team working on that are doing a great job and I cannot wait for us to share it with you. Besides that, I feel like 2023 is going to be another great year, we've got lots of things coming to the software in the foreseeable future and I'm excited to be able to get new features out to our customers.

What was the most challenging obstacle you overcame this year?

@Andy Millne - It seems like more than a year ago but implementing Trending Content was challenging. We wanted to make sure trending items were not just ranked on dumb count of views. What we came up with is really quite clever and takes account of a number of metrics like replies and reaction but also recency. Doing this in a way that reflected real time results and was still performant was challenging but rewarding when it was proven to work.

@Matt - The biggest obstacle we overcame this year was the PHP 8 transition which impacted our self-hosting clients. Invision Community is built upon several server level software languages, and occasionally there are major updates which cause breaking changes. PHP 8 is a significant upgrade from PHP 7 as it is stricter on how to work with it. Given the size of the Invision Community codebase and the flexibility it affords for after-market code additions, it was a step we had to plan well for. We built tools to assist third party developers and created a multi-step process over many months to ease into the final step of cutting off PHP 7 support. It took a big, coordinated approach with several Invision Community teams and our third-party authors.


Forum Showcase Prune

In an effort to ensure we give our community the most accurate examples of the Invision Community product suite in practice, I spent a few hours going through this topic. All links to communities that have since moved on to another software and/or contained links to blatant advertising and explicit content have been hidden or removed (I went the extra mile and removed the same links from quoted posts). If you find something that isn't quite right that I may have missed, please do shout out so I can sort it out.

Otherwise, feel free to post a link to your own communities below! We would love to see what you have done! Going through the topic made me realise just how far some communities have come from the very beginning, sharing links to their communities for the first time.



Here's what the dev team have been working on over the last seven days:


- New constant 'DEBUG_HOOKS' will log any errors thrown by a hook before executing the parent method.
- Fixed an issue where deleting a custom field wouldn't drop the column from the database.
- Fixed an issue where the check for new comments may show the wrong number if the end-user is not on the last page of comments.
- Fixed an issue where system logs may be generated if an invalid URL is passed to the redirect code (for email links).
- Fixed an issue where submitting a file to a category where moderation is required could fail when 'IN_DEV' is enabled.
- Included a PHP Version check for CLI tasks.
- Fixed an issue in the topic feed widget where it would show the hover preview when it shouldn't.
- Fixed an issue where locking a guest topic from the bottom moderation menu behaved differently than using the top moderation menu.
- Improves performance of alerts list.
- Removed the unused "core_image_scanner_logs" database table.
- Fixed an issue where the approval reason would not show for topics.
- Removed an unused cloud setting for max download speed.
- Removed deprecated 'files' data from Downloads File REST API response, use /download endpoint instead.
- Added og:image tag to product pages.
- Fixed an issue where a broken or missing blog entry image would break the blog entry page.
- Fixed an issue where a blank event sidebar would show after events have passed.
- Fixed an issue where online event links would be removed at the start time if no end was set.

See you in the community and early in January right here for another Invision Insight! I look forward to hearing from you all! Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🎄

Thank you everyone! 🦘

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