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IP.Content 2.0 Dev Update: Useful updates to feed blocks

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IP.Content 1.x has turned out to be a very solid, stable, and extensible application, allowing for a vastly diverse number of implementations that showcase many of it's capabilities. We're thrilled to see so many of our customers using IP.Content in different and creative ways. We've been gathering feedback from all of you to help shape the future of IP.Content, and to that end we want to share with you some changes you can expect to see in IP.Content 2.0.

Feed Blocks
Feed blocks are a very powerful tool in IP.Content. You can create blocks that feed data from any application in IP.Board (that supports IP.Content), as well as from any RSS feed. In fact, much of the data you will want to show on IP.Content pages is easily returned through a feed block (latest gallery images, recent topics, top posters, etc.) of one kind or another. With each release we put some effort into improving the feed blocks further to make them as useful as possible.

Database Comments

Some of you have requested a new feed block type that will allow you to pull database comments from IP.Content databases, and IP.Content 2.0 will now feature this capability. Some practical uses for such a feed type include a "Latest Article Comments" block, or a "Comments Awaiting Approval" block for moderators. Use your imagination, and let IP.Content do the rest.

Forum Feed: Honor Permissions

Presently in IP.Content, if you create a feed block and restrict the forums that content can be pulled from, the topics and/or posts are pulled, regardless of whether the user has permission to view the content. This was done by design, to allow you to have a hidden forum for news entries (for example) and still feed this to your home page. Some users have requested that we allow them to honor a user's view permissions when filtering content by forum, however, and this will now be supported in IP.Content 2.0. When creating a feed from the forums, there will be a checkbox to allow you to honor the forum permissions, and only content a user is able to see will be returned. This only impacts forum feeds where you have explicitly restricted which forums to pull content from (if you do not restrict the forums that content can be pulled from, the user's view permissions are already honored).

Filtering Database Feeds

Database feeds were implemented in IP.Content 1.x, however the filtering options are relatively restrictive. It is logical that some of you may want to restrict records returned in a database feed based on custom fields, providing you with more opportunities to define the parameters used to determine what content to display. With IP.Content 2.0, you will now be able to restrict database feeds to filter content based on most of your custom fields (the same ones you can use to sort/search within a database presently). You will be able to define up to 5 custom filters based on your custom fields. This opens up many opportunities for you to introduce creative new database feed blocks on your site.

Gallery Feed Improvements

Virtually everyone creating Gallery feed blocks will ultimately want to display the image thumbnail. While this is entirely possible in the current version of IP.Content, it requires you to add some code to your template manually; code that everyone ends up adding. To make Gallery feeds easier to use for everyone, the code to generate the image thumbnail is now automatically executed in the feed, and the thumbnail is available to the template as $r['thumbnail'].

Additionally, we've added a new filter setting under the category multi-select box. Enabling this new checkbox will tell the feed to also check in any albums (that the user has permission to view) under the selected categories. This means you could, for example, select the Member's Gallery and check this checkbox, and not have to manually select every album contained within the Member's Gallery (and it also means you won't have to continuously edit the block configuration to continue selecting new albums as they are created).

And a few other tweaks

In addition to the changes above, we've been going through some of the feed blocks to try better respect the returned data you expect to see. For instance, in a topic feed, the last_poster_id can sometimes be the last poster id in the forum, rather than the topic. We're taking some time to try to normalize the data returned from feed blocks so that you have better access to the data you want to use.

And a lot more to come...
We have a lot more in the pipelines for IP.Content 2.0 as well, and we can't wait to reveal what else we've got up our sleeves. We're hard at work improving the interface, performance, and usability of the system, and we are taking all received feedback into account while we work to make IP.Content the best tool of it's kind! We're very proud of IP.Content and hope that you are enjoying it so far. If you have any features you're just dying to see included, please be sure to post them in the feature suggestions forum. Similarly, if you have any questions or feedback about the changes discussed in this blog, please feel free to leave your comments. What we've discussed here is just the tip of the iceburg. We think you'll be even more excited to hear what else we've got in store when we roll out our next blog entry. Stay tuned!

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