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IP.Board 3.1: Notifications (Updated)

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Since first unveiling the notification changes coming in IP.Board 3.1 we've received a ton of feedback from our customers to further improve the system and make the notifications more useful. We've been listening to your feedback (and often agreeing with your points) and have decided to implement many great ideas to the make the notifications system cleaner, easier to use, and less intrusive.

Better defaults upon upgrading

With our first beta release, nearly everything that can issue a notification did. While inline notifications were set for various less important notifications (such as "Your friend has updated their status"), this quickly proved to be intrusive for users who were regularly active on the board. We have not removed any of the notification options available, however we've defaulted many of the less important notification options to not issue notifications initially upon upgrade. Users who wish to receive notifications for these actions may still visit their user control panel and enable them.

This should lead to a less intrusive (and thus, more useful) inline notification setup when you first upgrade, while still allowing users to stay informed of everything happening on the board should they wish to.

Shut the popup off

Another option that has been introduced is the ability to disable the popup, should you not wish to see it whenever you receive a new notification. There is a per-user setting added to the notifications configuration section of the user control panel to allow you to enable and disable the popup. If you disable the popup, your notifications are still available in your user control panel.

This is a small addition that we felt would give each user more control over their browsing experience.

Review all of your unread notifications in the popup

Another change requested frequently since we first introduced the new system is the ability to review all of your unread notifications from the popup. Presently, only your latest notification is shown, and a link is provided to allow you to visit your notifications log area. Now, there are buttons to allow you to jump through your unread notifications directly from the popup so that you can view all of your unread notifications at once.

We've made a short video to demonstrate how this works:

This is another small, but useful, change that has been oft-requested, and that we're happy to provide in the next 3.1 beta release.

Better accessibility

And now we've saved the best for last. Many of our customers have requested that in-lieu of an intrusive popup window to alert you when you've received a new notification, that we implement a menu inline in the page, and show a count on this menu. The menu would provide for quick access to your latest notifications, providing an easy way to review new notifications, while not issuing a popup on every other page load.

We're happy to report that you will see such a menu introduced in the next IP.Board 3.1 beta release, with a few extra touches to further enhance your browsing experience.

A new menu has been added next to your username dropdown in the top right corner of the page. The number of unread notifications is listed on this menu so that you can quickly see how many unread notifications you have.

When you click on the menu, a dropdown is loaded via AJAX displaying your last 10 notifications. Unread notifications are bolded to help you quickly identify them in the list.

You'll notice that we've additionally added icons to represent each notification type. These icons can be changed per-skin, and third party developers can add and specify their own icons for their own notifications that they issue.

(Please note that the icons you see in this screenshot may not be the icons used in IP.Board 3.1 final)

There's a "View All" link at the bottom of the menu, allowing you to quickly go to your notifications list should you need to review further back than the last 10 notifications you received.

An important note to make here - when you open your menu, all of your unread notifications will be marked as read. This is a small change that we feel helps make the notifications system more useful. It's natural to assume that when you open the menu and review the list of notifications, you've acknowledged them and no longer need them to reflect an "unread" status. You can still, of course, review them even after they've been marked as read.

And finally, once you have no unread notifications, the styling of the menu will change so as to prevent it from drawing your attention as readily as when there are unread notifications for you to view.

Coming in the next refresh

All of these changes will be present in the next refresh of the IP.Board 3.1 beta which will be applied to our community forum later next week. We look forward to your feedback on the enhancements we've made to the notifications system. We expect these changes will prove useful and help to further polish an already powerful and exciting new feature.

(Note that a beta of IP.Board 3.1 is not yet available for download while we finish polishing off these features based on your feedback. Once we have a stable product we will be releasing public betas. Keep an eye on this blog for an announcement.)

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