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  1. Charles

    Invision Community 4.3

    We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is available! Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include... Improved Search We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback. Emoji Express yourself with native emoji support in all editors. You can also keep your custom emoticons as you have now. Member Management The AdminCP interface to manage your members is all new allowing you easier control and management of your membership. Automatic Community Moderation You as the administrator set up rules to define how many unique member reports a piece of content needs to receive before it's automatically hidden from view and moderators notified. Clubs The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more. Custom Email Footers Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery. New Gallery Interface We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing. The full list follows. Enjoy! Content Discovery We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as Our Picks, and Social Links. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads. We now consider BBCode deprecated. We are not removing support but will not fix any future issues that may come up. There's a lot to talk about here so we are going to lock this entry to comments so things do not get confusing. Feel free to comment on upcoming feature-specific entries or start a topic in our Feedback forum.
    148 points
  2. We are well into development on IPS Community Suite 4.2 and are excited to start announcing all the new features and improvements. Our next big release is focused on engagement with your members. You will see enhancements to our Reputation system, new ways to encourage people to register on your community, and enhancements to existing features to make them more interactive. There are also entirely new capabilities we cannot wait to show you ranging from new ways to organize content to tools to help promote your community. Version 4.2 also features a refreshed AdminCP and default front-end design. Theme changes in 4.2 are mostly in the CSS framework so your existing themes will either work without issue or require minor changes to work in the new version. Over the next several weeks we will be posting news entries with previews of upcoming features fairly often. Be sure to follow our News section, our Facebook, or Twitter to stay up to date. We expect IPS Community Suite 4.2 to be out in mid-2017 with a public preview available sooner. Everyone at IPS has worked very hard on this update and we think you will love it!
    122 points
  3. Rikki

    New: Clubs

    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. We are happy to introduce the next major feature that will be available in IPS Community Suite 4.2 - Clubs. Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept. Let's take a look at a few screenshots, and then go over what they are capable of doing. The Club directory A Club homepage Club member listing Example of content within a club (topics, in this case) There's a lot to digest there! Let's go over the basic functionality. Club Types Four types of club are available: Public clubs Clubs that anyone can see and participate in without joining. Open club Clubs that anyone can see and join. Closed club Clubs that anyone can see in the directory, but joining must be approved by a Club Leader or Club Moderator. Non-club-members who view the club will only see the member list - not the recent activity or content areas. Private club Clubs that do not show in public, and users must be invited by a Club Leader or Club Moderator As the site admin, you can of course configure which club types can be created and by whom. You could, for example, allow members to create public and open clubs, but allow a "VIP" group to also create Closed and Private clubs. Admin configuration option for Club creations Club Users Each club has three levels of user: Leader A leader has all of the permissions of a moderator, and can add other moderators. They can also add content areas (see below). The club owner is automatically a leader. Moderators Moderators, as the name implies, have the ability to moderate content posted within the club. As the site administrator, you can define which moderator tools can be used. You could, for example, prevent any content being deleted from clubs, but allow it to be hidden. Moderators can also remove members from a club. Users Anyone else that joins the club. Defining the moderator permissions available to club moderators Your site administrator and moderators, with the appropriate permissions, are able to moderator content in any Club regardless of whether they are a member of it. Clubs can be created by any user who has permission. As you would expect, this is controlled by our regular permission settings. For closed clubs, there's an approval process. Users can request to join and the request must be approved by a leader. Leaders get a notification when a user requests to join; the user gets a notification when their request is approved or denied. Approving and declining join requests Club Content Club Leaders can add a variety of content areas to their club - forums, calendars, blogs and so on. It's important to note that these content areas are fully functional just as if they existed as a top-level admin created area. They will appear in search results, activity streams, users can follow them, embed links to them, and so on. If a user has permission to see a forum (for example) within a club it will behave exactly like other forums they see - and the same for all other kinds of content. Each content area a leader adds can have a custom title, and will appear in the club navigation. This means, for example, that you can have multiple forums within a club, and give each a different name. Adding content areas to a club Club Custom Fields Clubs also support custom fields. Custom fields are defined by the site administrator and can be filled in by Club Owners. The values they enter are shown (along with the club description) on the club homepage. Custom fields in a club On the Club Directory page, users can filter by the custom club fields. Filtering clubs Club Locations Clubs have built-in support for Google Maps, allowing users to specify a physical location for their club. Let's say you run a community for car enthusiasts; each club might be tied to a particular region's meetup. The Club Owner specifies the location when setting up the club, and clubs are then shown on map on the directory page: Club locations And within a club, the location is shown too: Club Display We offer two ways to display club headers within the club - the standard way, shown in the screenshots you've seen up to this point, but we also have a sidebar option. This is something the admin sets globally for the site, rather than per-club. This is useful where your site design doesn't facilitate another horizontal banner taking up valuable screen real-estate; moving the club banner to the sidebar alleviates this pressure on vertical space. Sidebar club style Using Clubs in Other Ways There's a lot of scope for using clubs beyond allowing users to create their own groups. You do not even have to call them "clubs" if that does not suit your use case. For example, on a company intranet you could rename Clubs to "Departments", and create a private group for each of your main roles. This would allow each department to have its own community, with its own forums, gallery, file sharing and so on, private and separate from other departments. Similarly, they'd also work well in situations where you as the site admin want to create entire micro-communities. Take for example a video game publisher. Using Clubs, they could create a micro-community for each of their games, complete with forums, galleries and so forth, and then set the Clubs directory as their overall community homepage. Immediately, they have a setup that hasn't until now been possible out-of-the-box with IPS Community Suite. We expect our clients will come up with some really innovative uses for the new Club functionality, and we can't wait to see what you do. We'd love to hear your feedback - let us know what you think in the comments.
    95 points
  4. This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. IPS Community Suite has long had a reputation system; first we had a simple up/down system, later updated to introduce a Likes system as an alternative. Whichever system you chose to use, it tied in with our reputation system. We're pleased to introduce the latest updates to the reputation system, and it's something that has been requested for quite some time: Reactions. Quite simply, reactions allow users to offer more fine-grained sentiments towards content than a simple up/down or 'like'. They are now in common usage on social networks, and so users expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see. Let's see how they work in a post, and then cover the options you'll have available. What you see above is the default setup for a site that has used the Like system in version 4.1. We include 5 reactions by default: Like Thanks Confused Sad Haha If you currently use the older style up/down reputation system, don't fret - you'll still get the new reactions on upgrade, but they'll be disabled by default and instead the new reaction UI will show up/down reactions. This gives you the flexibility to decide which of the new reactions, if any, you want to allow. So, those are the basics - but what configuration options can you expect to see? First, you can of course add your own reactions! We expect that beyond the default reactions you'd expect to find, some sites will want reaction types specific to their use-case. On an intranet, you might want to have 'agree' and 'disagree' reactions for staff to use when responding to discussions. On a gaming community, you might replace the icons to be some graphic from a video game that means something to your particular userbase. There's a wealth of possibilities. Each reaction you set up can be configured to adjust the original author's reputation count - a reaction can be positive (i.e. award a reputation point), negative (i.e. subtract a reputation point), or neutral (i.e. leave the reputation count unchanged). Our default set won't include any negative reactions, but you are free to configure these and new reactions to suit your own use-case. A user's total reputation count is still shown alongside their content and in their profile, of course. If you don't want to use the new reactions for whatever reason, you can disable all of them except Like, and it'll behave just the like 4.1-and-earlier system: Sites that currently use the up/down system don't show a list of names of users, and instead show an overall reputation score for the content. With the new reaction system, you can enable this even if you don't use up/down reactions. This is great if you plan to use reactions as, for example, an agree/disagree system, or where the content score is more important to your site than the individual reaction types. How the reaction UI looks with the 'count only' setting enabled As you'd expect, you can click individual reaction counts (or the overall reputation score, if you enable that setting) to view who reacted to the content. This remains a permission setting that you can apply per-group. On touch devices, on-hover functionality is not suitable, and so for these devices the reactions UI looks like this: Reactions play well with all areas of the suite, including Recommended Replies: ...and activity streams... ...and a couple of places we aren't quite ready to reveal yet We hope you're looking forward to this new feature as much as we are. It's already been a hit on our internal testing site, and we're looking forward to seeing how clients customize it for use on their own community. Developer note: Reactions are one of two new features (the other currently unannounced) so far that make use of PHP Traits.
    92 points
  5. Here is the roundup of what's new in Invision Community 4.2! Highlights There's a lot of new feature in 4.2 but here are a few of the highlights: Promoting Content - A new way to promote content in your Community internally, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Clubs - Clubs are a brand new way of supporting sub-communities within your site. Many people have requested social group functionality in the past and Clubs are our implementation of this concept. Reactions - Offer more fine-grained sentiments towards content than a simple up/down or 'like'. They are now in common usage on social networks, and so users expect to be able to be more nuanced in their response to something they see. Complete Your Profile - Encourage or require members to fill out the details on their profile. Also now allows for quick registration to encourage joining. And a whole lot more.. It goes on... here is the full list! Leaderboard Enhancements Richer Embeds Group Promotion Improvement Fluid Forum View Member History Editor Uploading Improvements Authy Integration Commerce Improvements New REST API Endpoints Gallery Improvements Statistic Reporting Copy Topic to Database Downloads Index Page Blog Sidebar Promoting Content Clubs Reactions Calendar Venues Social Sign In Streamlining Calendar Add Similar Event Gallery Lightbox Navigation Letter Profile Photos SEO Improvements Device Management Delayed Deletes Calendar Event Reminders Content Messages Recommended Replies Complete Your Profile Be sure to visit each entry above for more information and screenshots. We hope you enjoy Invision Community 4.2!
    91 points
  6. One of the overarching goals for any community leader is to shine a bright light on your members. Their contributions should be publicly recognized. Now with Invision Community’s new Achievements system... you can! Achievements is Invision Community’s native gamification system baked into our latest update, 4.6. We’ve dreamed up innovative actions for community leaders to publicly recognize members who show up and participate in meaningful ways. Award Points and badges based on conditional Rules! Here’s what you need to know... Points Our Achievements Points system keeps a running tally of Points. Members may earn Points in a multitude of ways. Essentially, it’s achieved by participating in the community. Create a topic? Points! Post a reply? Points! Follow another member? Nothing. Just kidding… Points!!! This is done through creating Rules. Rules Rules are actionable processes set up in the admin panel. Here are what members can earn Points for: When a... Member joins a club Reaction is given New poll is created User follows a content item Review is posted Member logs in for the first time that day New club is created Content item/comment is promoted or featured Comment/reply is posted User follows a forum, blog, gallery, category etc User votes on a poll User is followed New content item is posted Post is marked as best answer There are also corresponding When/Then Rules for each item listed above. When this action happens, then this subsequent action happens. Example: when a member posts 10 times, then this Badge is awarded. Badges Community leaders can also create specific Rules when deciding what actions earn Badges. For example, reward your members with a Badge for visiting your community for 20 days. Once a member reaches 20 visits or more over 20 days, the Achievements system will automatically award them a ‘20 Visits’ Badge you’ve previously created. Ranks In 4.6, we’ve completely revamped our Ranks system to communicate with Achievements. Achievements’ Ranks system will replace our previous Ranks system* Set up different Ranks based on how many Points a member earns. Ranks display a members’ perceived value to the community. The higher a members’ Rank, the greater their influence because the more they’ve participated. Ranks are currently for prestige at the moment. Here's our example for a pretend Coconut community: There’s a lot of information to absorb here, but if there’s anything to take away from this blog post it’s this: empower your contributing members with Achievements and watch your community grow. It creates an immersive and elevated experience for your die-hards. And hey, who doesn’t love to earn? When 4.6 and Achievements is officially released for all, we’ll hold a live Q&A event for you to join and ask any questions you may have. Props? Concerns? Comments? Questions? We’d love for you to sound off in the comments! Not only because we want to hear from you, but because it’ll earn you some sweet, sweet Points, too!
    73 points
  7. Our recent release of Invision Community 4.2 was the most well-received version ever! The feedback we received on new features like Clubs, Reactions, and Promotes was better than we could have hoped and we really enjoyed seeing all the creative uses as people implemented them on their own communities. We have been hard at work on version 4.3 with a goal of improving on all the great new features. It is well under way and we are happy to able to start announcing what's new over the next few weeks. Invision Community 4.3 will not only contain new features but also have a core focus on refinement from 4.2's new features. You will see many improvements to Clubs, new integration options, large application improvements, new promotional features, and more changes large and small. You can expect to see news posts about new features and changes very soon with a release date in early 2018. Follow our news section or subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates.
    71 points
  8. I'm excited to reveal that we are making Invision Community native apps for iOS and Android! For the past few months, our staff has been using an internal test build right here on our community. Now we are ready to widen testing to a larger pool of customers. Information on how to become a tester is at the end of this post. But first, let's take a look at the app itself. Technology Preview We have a lot of exciting plans for the Invision Community app. We wanted to take full advantage of a clean slate and build a brand new experience that embraces a native app's interfaces. While the app is unmistakably Invision Community, it features new ways of interacting with your content. We want the app to help shape the future of Invision Community, and we're asking for you to help. What we are opening up for testing today is a technology preview. This slim app covers the essentials with a view to much more expansion later. The technology preview is locked to our community. The app we will release will be a 'multi-community' app; a directory of communities users can browse and save. We’ve taken this approach because the app stores have clamped down on ‘template’ apps, and the cost involved in building and maintaining a separate app per-community won’t be an option for many of our customers. A multi-community app is a great approach for most: simple setup, minimal cost, still fully-featured, and a great way for new users to find your community too. What The App Does For the initial phase of this technology preview, discussions are the main focus which is the foundation of every Invision Community. Also available are profiles, streams, search and notifications - including (at last!) push notifications. Any areas that the app does not currently support will open seamlessly in a web view within the app. As we build new functionality into the app over time, users will encounter fewer of these hybrid views. Your feedback will allow us to target the highest priority areas during the technology preview phase. RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4 Pricing Note: The information below outlines our current intentions, but may change as we finalize the app's release to app stores. The good news is we intend for the app to be free to both our customers with active licenses and their end-users. In time, we will offer a premium option to communities. This funding will secure the app's long-term future. The premium option could enhance their listing in the directory, or provide special functionality when users use that community in the app. Availability We intend to release the app alongside the next significant point release of Invision Community, expected to be 4.5. Communities will need to upgrade to this version to allow their users to use the app. Questions? Why not a PWA (progressive web app)? Invision Community 4.4 already supports several PWA features. However, until iOS supports Push Notifications (and other features) in PWAs, we don't feel they are a fully-rounded solution to using communities on a phone. Building native apps allow us to experiment with new interfaces and approaches. As PWA support improves in the years to come, we'll feed what we learn back into the main product for the benefit of all users. Why now? Those with a long memory will recall that we've had a few attempts at providing an app in the past that weren't successful. We are great at building apps with web technologies but creating native apps ourselves wasn't sustainable. Enter React Native. React Native is an open-source technology for building native apps. React Native allows teams to build native apps using web technologies, but crucially, React Native doesn't build hybrid apps. They are compiled into real native apps - not browser wrappers, but native buttons, text, dialogs, animations and more. A year or so ago, we started experimenting with React Native to see if it might be a viable approach for us. And it was. Finally, there was a technology that enabled web engineers to build delightful cross-platform native apps. As we can build native mobile apps using the technology we are familiar with allows us to incorporate mobile app development into our existing processes. Why just forums? Invision Community is a large, fully-featured platform, and building the entire platform in a native app from the get-go didn't seem to be the best approach. Instead, we've focused on the most active area of most communities - forums - with other areas still supported in the app via webviews. Over time, additional features and tools will be built into the app so that it eventually reaches feature-parity with the web version. We'll take feedback from our customers to determine which areas to support next. How will I add my community to the app? The next significant point release of Invision Community (expected to be 4.5) will have app support built-in. Including your app in the directory will be as simple as enabling the feature in your AdminCP and configuring a few options. Is the app ad-supported? There are no ads of any kind in the app right now. We may include ads or allow communities to run their own ads as a premium option in future. Can I get a white-label version for my community? We aim to offer a white-label option in the future. Will my plugins work in the app? Probably not. We're intentionally building the app to work with standard Invision Community features and apps right now. If your plugins add new UI elements or change the functions that users interact with it's likely they will not work with the app. What about themes? Themes won't work in the app because the app doesn't use HTML. However, some branding/customization will be available via the AdminCP, and we may expand upon this in future. Have other questions? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer them! Sign Up For Testing For the next stage of our testing process, we will be inviting several customers to try the app and provide feedback/bug reports. As part of the sign-up process, we'll ask for some information about your own community. We'll use this to select further testers once we begin testing of the 'multi-community' version of the app later. The answers you provide will not affect your chance of testing the app on our community. Interested in joining the testing group? Click here to sign up. RPReplay_Final1568062287_1.mp4
    66 points
  9. Matt

    New: Promoting Content

    There are many strategies for growing your community, such as newsletters, mailing lists and advertising on other sites. IPS Community Suite 4.2 puts a new tool at your disposal: promotions. There’s no denying the popularity of social media. Worldwide, Facebook has 1.86 billion users active monthly. Every day, millions of people are using Facebook to speak with friends, to talk about their interests and to find new people to connect with. Of that 1.86 billion people, a good portion of those are actively discussing topics your forum covers. There is a huge opportunity to tap into social media to join in the discussion and to promote your community and provide a venue to carry on the discussion. For a while, we’ve had social media log in extensions, which means that your users can sign into your community simply by clicking a relevant button. We’ve also had the ability to share things to a personal Facebook account. These tools are great for your users, but how do they help you, forum owner? IPS Community Suite 4.2 introduces a way to promote your content directly to your brand’s Facebook page and your brand’s Twitter account. You can curate fun and engaging topics and share them. The workflow is simple. Simply browse your community and queue up interesting topics, comments, gallery items, blog posts or database articles for posting throughout the day to your brand’s social media accounts. You choose the schedule, the hashtags and the wording to send. Let’s look at the feature set in more detail. Your first stop is to set up the feature from the admin panel. The system will guide you through the necessary steps of connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Once Facebook has been set up, you can select any page that you are an administrator of on Facebook. The admin panel also offers scheduling options and permissions. You can pre-set the times for when content will be posted. Facebook and Twitter both have analytic tools to determine when your visitors are most frequently online. A good tip here is to set the time to a slightly odd number, so 11:45am is better than 12:00pm as you are likely to catch the attention of someone waiting for lunch, or a lunchtime meeting. You have full control over who can promote items to your social media accounts. You can specify by group or pick individual members who may not be in those groups. Now that you’ve set up the backend, we can get promoting. Each item, that is a topic, gallery album, blog entry or article has its own Promote button. Each post and comment can also be shared individually, which is an easy way to share great content your visitors add to existing conversations. Clicking this brings up the sharer. This is where you can customize the text that is sent out to each social media channel. You’ll also notice space to promote this item within your own community in addition (or instead of) Facebook or Twitter, we will explore that shortly. The sharer is smart enough to pull attachments already added in the post, and you can upload your own images to be sent. Generally, shared items that have an image get better organic reach than just text alone so you’ll almost always want to choose or add an image. Twitter can use up to 4 images, and Facebook allows 1000 pictures per album, but you’ll never want to upload that many! Once you’ve filled out your content and picked your images, you can schedule the promotion. Generally, you’ll want to use the auto schedule option as this allows you to just stack up multiple items and let the auto scheduler post the items according to your pre-set schedule. You can also set a specific date and time if you are looking to run a promotion or other time sensitive event. The promoted content viewed in Facebook and Twitter It’s easy to see the status of your queued and sent items from the moderator view. This area allows you to see previous promotions and modify pending promotions. Earlier, we mentioned that the system has the ability to promote content internally. Promoting items to your own community lets you, the community manager, curate interesting items and comments and present this to your community. This is a great way to allow your visitors to explore content you think they’d enjoy. Promoting content to your community via Our Picks also allow you to promote content if you cannot or choose not to use social networks. It has the advantage that social networks do not have over a community platform like IPS Community Suite: consistency. The content on your community is always there whereas a social network is all about right here right now. Miss it and you miss out. On your community you can engage and re-engage a subject all you want. Of course, we’ve built a widget that you can drag and drop to most pages to make this curated list more visible. IPS Community Suite 4.2 gives you, the site owner and community manager the tools you need to reach out and engage new users already discussing the topics on social media your community covers. With single click sign in and the built in retention functionality the suite offers, you’ll have a powerful way of growing your user base. It furthers that goal by created a list of that promoted content for continual reference and promotion for visitors already on your site. We’ve got lots more to discuss on this subject, and in the coming months we’ll be putting together some guides on social media best practices and how to leverage Facebook’s excellent post promotion / pay per click tools to further boost your site’s visibility to social media users. We’re here to help you make a success of your community and to give social media users a venue for when they outgrow Facebook.
    65 points
  10. Almost ten years ago we launched the Marketplace; a place to connect Invision Community owners with talented developers creating new functionality. Over the decade, the Marketplace has grown to hold thousands of applications, large and small. For many Invision Community owners, the Marketplace has become an essential resource. Our aim was always to have the Marketplace available inside your Admin Control Panel to make it even easier to purchase and install extra functionality. I'm pleased to say that as of Invision Community 4.5, this is now a reality. You can browse the Marketplace and install new add-ons without leaving the Admin Control Panel. Obtaining Resources Paid resources can be purchased directly from the Marketplace and are available to install immediately after the payment is complete. You no longer need to download and install the files yourself. You may also notice some additional information with the resource listing, we'll be introducing a new 'tab' to marketplace resources to allow the authors to provide more useful information such as answers to frequently asked questions, or configuration instructions etc. The video below takes you through the purchase and installation of a Marketplace application. marketplace-install.mp4 Installing an Application Updates Some of the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed in the first screenshot that there are more 'bubbles' showing in the menu on the left. These are supported for Applications, Plugins, Themes and Languages. In Invision Community 4.5 every resource available via the AdminCP is automatically versioned, you will see update notifications for everything you have installed (previously, you would only see update notices if the resource author supports them). Installing an update is as simple as clicking on the update notice, then clicking 'update' on the Marketplace listing. Installing Updates Downloads Changes Our Marketplace is built on our Downloads application, during development of this feature we needed to add new functionality. We have included as many of these improvements as possible in our software for the benefit of our customers, some of these are: Custom Fields can now be set to only show to members that have purchased a file. Files can now be set to accept a single file upload instead of multiple. New file versions can now be moderated without hiding the current version from view. Downloads REST API Performance Improvements New /download endpoint that counts the download Added more data to the /downloads/file/{id} response Ability to sort file results by last updated date We hope you're as excited about this feature as we are.
    61 points
  11. Charles

    New: Leaderboard

    We are excited to announce the Leaderboard as the latest all new feature of IPS Community Suite. The new Leaderboard is designed to better highlight your most active members and content based on reputation and other metrics. The Leaderboard will greatly enhance both member and content discovery on your community. Leaderboard Home First you will notice the new feature of member leaders based on a specific time frame. In the example above it is set to All Time showing those members with the most reputation overall on your community. It also shows the content with the most reputation for the same timeframe so you get a snapshot of both popular members and popular content in one view. Past Leaders The Past Leaders tab shows the "winners" of each day in a history. The system counts all reputation made each day and logs the members who had the top reputation counts that day. Using reputation rather than post count encourages your members to post quality of quantity which is really important to any site. Winner Profile Badge Those who win the day also get a badge on their profile page to highlight that they were the member with the most reputation for a particular day. Top Members Top Members shows you a list of all members sorted by various metrics. By default you will see members sorted by reputation but you can also easily sort by total post content Suite-wide or per-app. All of these views can be linked directly to so if you wanted a menu item to show members who post the most files in Downloads you can just directly link to that sort view. Leaderboard Settings There are various settings to control the default behavior of the Leaderboard. You can define the default view and how many members to show which is helpful to tailor it to your needs. We hope you enjoy this initial launch of the new Leaderboard feature. We are excited about the new content and member discovery abilities this offers and look forward to adding new options to the Leaderboard as we continue to develop! This change will be in version 4.1.17 which is scheduled to be released in early December 2016.
    61 points
  12. We are working hard to get Invision Community 4.2 ready to go! If you have not been following this upcoming version, check out the details: Over the last month we have released several beta versions and feedback from those that have chosen to jump in on the beta has been great. We really could not be happier. Feedback has included amazement over how stable the beta is to reactions from community members enjoying all the new features. Everyone here at IPS is very excited to get the full release out so everyone can enjoy it. Not everyone is comfortable using beta releases . Back in March when we first announced 4.2 was coming soon we said that it would be out in mid-2017 and we are still on track for that. Be sure to keep an eye on announcements for the full release expected in the next 3 - 4 weeks. We really hope everyone is as excited as we are about 4.2's full release. Based on the feedback from those already using 4.2 beta on their live sites we really think this will be a huge hit with your community.
    60 points
  13. Completing long and complex forms online is tedious. It can be off putting having to fill in a lot of information before you can join a site or service. You may find that potential members never bother to convert from a visitor. How to convert guests into regular members is an often asked question. The simple answer is to lower the barrier to entry. Invision Community 4 already allows you to register with Facebook, Twitter, and other networks with ease. "Complete My Profile" is a system that will lower the barrier of conversion. Guests only have to complete a very basic form to gain membership. Members are then asked to complete any custom profile fields you require. You can also set up steps that group items together to encourage existing members to add more information to their public profile. Members with a complete profile and user photo provide others with much more engagement and personality. Registering If we look at registering first. Clicking "Sign Up" will only show a simple modal form with as few fields as possible. If you have required steps, and after any member validation flow, the complete your profile wizard is shown. This enforces required fields and the member cannot skip them or view other pages until completed. Of course, you may have steps that are not set to required. These are available too, but are skippable. Members can complete skipped steps later. A dismissible progress bar shows to members that have uncompleted steps. Once dismissed, it no longer displays in the header of the site. This same progress bar is always shown in the members' settings overview panel, in the user control panel. This will prompt members with incomplete steps. If you set up a new required step, members have to complete the step before being able to browse again. This will ensure that all regular members have completed profiles. Admin Control Panel You will create new steps in the Admin Control Panel. Each step can contain multiple elements of a single group. This step can be set to required to enforce completion or suggested to allow it to be skipped. The basic profile group contains things like user photo, birthday and cover photo. Choose any of these for this step. The custom profile field group contains any fields you have set up already. You can switch off this system if you feel it does not fit your needs. When disabled, you get the normal registration form. Reducing the complexity of membership can only help convert more guests into contributing members. Enforcing required steps ensures that you capture data across your membership. We hope you enjoy this feature and you see an increase in guest conversion with Invision Community 4.2.
    58 points
  14. Matt

    New: Fluid Forum View

    This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. When you have a diverse range of topics within your community, it makes good sense to separate topics within forums and categories. This will ensure that the viewer can find relevant content by scanning the list of forums first. If you have a more focused community with fewer forums, presenting your community with a list of them can be daunting. This is especially true for less experienced visitors raised on social media. Fluid forum view allows your visitors to get right to the meat of your community; the topics. A fan site for a band is a good example of a community that will benefit with fluid view. There will likely be forums for album reviews, tour dates, general discussion and so on. Even though there are many forums, the common topic is the band. This makes fluid view ideal as your members can see all those related topics in one view. If your members wanted more specific topics, they could select a single forum to view. Let us take a look at fluid view in action. We will then break it down and explain how it works in more detail. The video shows the topic list and the forum filter box. As you can see, it is easy to change the topic list by changing the selected forums. This view replaces the traditional list of categories and forums. Of course, you can permit your members to change the view to better suit their way of working. You will notice a "grid" option. We have moved the grid forum theme setting into the main forum settings. This makes it an option for your members to choose, if the administrator permits it. You have full control over the display options. This screenshot shows that the control panel option to choose the default view. There is also an option to control which views your members can select. You may also decide to not allow your members to switch views at all. This will ensure that they all use the view you choose. You may have spotted that forum names have a colored background in some screenshots. We added the ability to define a feature color per forum. This feature color helps the forum stand out in a more visual way. This is especially useful when you select many forums in a single view. This feature color also works on the table view. We added a feature color hint to topic view to enforce the association between the forum and its color. This screenshot also shows the removal of the forum breadcrumb in fluid view mode. Fluid view remembers your last forum selection so you don't lose your place when you go back to the listing. The benefit of this feature is easy to see. It removes a potential barrier of entry for your audience. It puts the spotlight on topics themselves, and not the hierarchical forum structure. Your members will enjoy viewing many forums at once and switching between them without leaving the page. We hope that fluid view is an asset to your community and your members enjoy this new functionality. Technical notes. The database stores the members' view choice. This remembers the selection across devices. Guests are not permitted to change between views.
    58 points
  15. Charles

    Video: 4.2 So Far

    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release I made a quick video to demo things we have already announced for 4.2 so far. Enjoy
    58 points
  16. A topic is more than a collection of posts; it's a living entity that ebbs and flows over time. Evergreen topics can see month-long gaps between posts and longer topics spanning numerous pages can end up hard to navigate through to find useful content. With this in mind, we've added numerous improvements to the topic view to bring context and summaries key areas within the topic. Topic view updates Topic Activity The first thing you likely spotted in the above screenshot is the new sidebar. This acts much like a summary of activity within the topic. It very quickly lets you know how old the topic is and how long it has been since the last reply. This context is essential if you are unwittingly replying to an older topic. Most topics are driven by a handful of key members. The topic activity section shows you who have been most active, which may influence which posters you give greater authority to. Likewise, popular days lets you dig into the 'meat' of the topic which may have evolved quickly over several days. More often than not, a single post attracts more reactions if it is particularly helpful or insightful, and this is shown too. Finally, a mini gallery of all upload images allows you to review media that has been attached to posts. The topic activity summary under the first post This activity bar can be shown either as a sidebar or underneath the first post in a topic. If you enable it for mobile devices, then it will show under the first post automatically. The topic activity summary on mobile As with many new features in Invision Community, you have several controls in the Admin CP to fine-tune this to your communities needs. AdminCP settings Other improvements The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few other changes to the topic view. The first is the badge underneath the user's photo. The shield icon notes that this poster is part of the moderation team. Of course, this badge can be hidden for communities that do not like to draw attention to all their moderators. You will also notice that when the topic starter makes a reply to a topic, they get an "author" badge as their reply may carry more authority. When you scroll down a topic, it's not often apparent that there has been a significant time gap between replies. For some topical topics (see what I did there) this may alter the context of the conversation. We have added a little identifier between posts when a period of time has passed between posts. These changes add a little context to the topic to give you more insight into how the replies direct the conversation. The new topic activity summary gives you an at-a-glance overview of key moments and posters to help you navigate longer topics. We hope that you and your members enjoy these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5!
    56 points
  17. Charles

    Coming Soon in 4.1.16

    IPS Community Suite 4.1.16 is nearing the end of development so I wanted to go over some of the new features in this upcoming release. Some are big and some are small but we always enjoy making any sort of enhancements to the Suite. We expect 4.1.16 to go to public beta next week. If you are interested in using a public beta please check out our beta forum (clients only) with more info. We welcome as much testing as possible and our betas are considered safe to use on a live site. We do offer support for betas so, if you are technically minded, consider giving them a try. Commerce: New Ticket Listing We have redesigned the ticket listing view in Commerce to be much more user friendly and better use screen space. You can also now group by department which is great for organization. Much like Activity Streams on the front end you can create custom views for tickets based on how you work. The new My History view allows staff to quickly see their latest replies and actions along with some basic stats. There are many other smaller improvement in Commerce in 4.1.16 as well. We think you will enjoy all the updates. Security Questions To enhance the security of your member accounts we now have a new security questions feature where you can allow your members to put in their own, personal security questions. The member will then be prompted to answer those questions for account actions you define. Account Change Emails Members will now receive confirmation emails when they change their email address... and their password... Topics per Page You can now define the number of topics per page in forum view. Remove all Followers Moderators can now remove all followers from any item that allows follows. This is useful if you are archiving an old item or otherwise do not want people getting notified of new activity on an item. Automatic Following Your members can already choose to automatically follow content they start or reply to but now you can define this as the default behavior for all members. Your members can of course override this to their own preference. Embed Failure Message To answer the constant question "why didn't my media embed?" we now show you why. Regular members will just see a message indicating the Suite tried to embed but was not able to. Admins will get more information on what failed. Suspended Member Page When you banned/suspended a member previously they simply saw a generic permission denied message. We now show a more friendly page saying they were suspended and why. The member can click to get the full information from the Warning System as well. Contact Us The contact us page now has configuration options to control where messages are sent. You can do email and even Commerce support departments now. Announcements Global announcements can now be restricted by member group. And some technical stuff... In addition to the new feature additions we have also fixed dozens of issues reported by clients. There was a particular focus on Commerce, Pages, and IPS Connect. Some other items of note: Performance improvements in: profile view, sitemap generator, posting replies, and Activity Streams We now try to more reliably detect the AWS S3 endpoint for those using S3 file storage Tasks view will now show the last time a task ran More efficient license key checking to keep the keys from being checked too often which can slow your site down If group promotion based on date is enable the system will now auto-promote even if a member does not login If you move your site to a new URL you no longer have to update a constant if using the image proxy You can now press ctrl/cmd+enter in any editor window to submit the reply (yay!) In Commerce ticket view there are keyboard shortcuts to perform common actions (such as press 'r' to open reply box or 'n' for note) There is now logic to prevent double-posting when the initial post encounters an error on submit If your datastore (cache system) is not working properly the AdminCP will now show you a warning telling you that it needs attention.
    52 points
  18. It's very easy to focus on a single metric to gauge the success of your community. It's very common for community owners to look at page hits and determine if their SEO and marketing efforts have paid off. Getting traffic to your site is only half the equation though. The most valuable metric is how many casual visitors you're converting to engaged members. Invision Community already makes it easy for guests to sign up using external services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. However, there has to be a conscious decision to click that sign-up button. For some, this may be a barrier too many. Invision Community 4.4 reduces this barrier by allowing guests to create a post to a topic they want to engage with. Once they have posted, they are asked to simply complete their registration. They are more likely to do this now they have invested in your community. This will be incredibly valuable when you consider how much traffic a forum receives from inbound Google searches. With Post Before Registering, you'll increase your chances of turning that inbound lead into a registered member contributing to your site. Let me take you through the feature and show you how it works. When browsing the community guests will see the ability to submit a post, with an explanation that they can post now and complete registration later. The only thing they have to provide in addition to their post is an email address. Posting as a guest This works in any application for new content (topics, Gallery images, etc.) as well as comments and reviews. It will only show when a newly registered member would be able to post in that area - for example, it will not show in a forum that only administrators can post in. After submitting the post, the post will not be visible to any user, but the user will immediately be redirected to the registration form with an explanation to complete the registration. The email address they provided will already be filled in. Registration form after posting as a guest At this point, the user can either fill in the registration form, or use a social sign in method like Facebook or Twitter to create an account. After the account has been created, and validation has been completed if necessary, their post will automatically be made visible just as if they had registered and then posted. If the user abandons the registration after they've submitted their post, an email will be sent to them to remind them to complete the registration. Email reminding user to finish registering Some Notes Invision Community already has a feature that allows guests to post as guests without registration if granted permission. That feature has not been removed and so if you already allow guests to post, the behaviour will not change. This new feature is only available when a guest can't post in a given area, but a member would be able to. The entire feature can also be turned off if undesired. If the area the guest is posting in requires moderator approval, or newly registered members require approval of new posts, the post will enter the moderation queue as normal once their account has been created. Third party applications will require minor updates to support this feature. Once your casual visitor has invested time in your community by crafting a post, they are much more likely to finish the registration to get it posted. If you have set up external log in methods, then registration only takes a few more clicks. This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
    51 points
  19. We are currently beta testing our next release, 4.1.12, which contains hundreds of bug fixes, dozens of improvements, as well as a handful of new features. I wanted to introduce one of those new features: post preview. Long-time users of our software will know that a post preview function was a standard feature, but we took the decision to not include it in the initial IPS4 release. It had a couple of drawbacks: it only applied to certain pages, such as topic view - other WYSIWYG editors simply didn't get a preview the workflow wasn't very good for modern web apps, requiring a round-trip to the server and a full page refresh When IPS4 was released, we felt that the built-in rendering of the editor was a sufficient preview of how the end result would appear. However, while analyzing ongoing customer and user feedback for IPS4 in its first year of release, we have seen that a preview still has a use. There are some circumstances when a true WYSIWYG experience is just not possible such as using more advanced formatting (like LaTeX) or when admins create certain custom editor plugins. As a result, we rethought post preview. We wanted to ensure that all editors could be previewed, and that it didn't have a clunky workflow. In addition, since IPS4 uses a responsive theme, we wanted to give users the opportunity to preview how their post would look on different devices. Here's the result, and what will be available in 4.1.12: Post preview in IPS Community Suite 4.1.12 The preview is shown by clicking a new button on the toolbar (meaning it can be moved, removed, etc. just like the other default buttons). When the preview loads, the toolbar allows the user to resize it to different device sizes. If they are on desktop, they can also view it at tablet at phone sizes; on a tablet, it can also be viewed at phone size. So now we not only show a true preview of what content will look like when posted, but we also allow you to preview how it will look on other devices. Of course that preview is just a best-guess since different devices have different window sizes but it does give you an idea. We hope this reimagining of an old feature for a more modern web will please end-users and make posting content a more accurate process. Stay tuned for more updates on what's included in 4.1.12! Version 4.1.12 is currently in beta testing and should be released in the next two weeks.
    51 points
  20. Rikki

    New: Richer Embeds

    This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. You are probably already familiar with our content embedding feature in IPS Community Suite. When a link to content in the community is pasted into the editor (e.g. a topic, or a post, or a gallery image, etc.) it is automatically expanded into a preview of the content, usually with an accompanying image, allowing users to click through to that content if they are interested. An embedded Gallery image in IPS Community Suite 4.1 While it has proved a useful feature to members, each embed used essentially the same structure - a small thumbnail on the left, a title, and a few lines of text. This works fine for topics, but isn't ideal for other kinds of rich content that might be posted. In IPS Community Suite 4.2, we greatly improved upon our embedding handling, giving every type of content within every application its own customized embed style, allowing that content to be displayed however works best. This means larger high-res previews of Gallery images, a button to download a file right from the embed for Downloads files, showing a map for Calendar events, and so on. We worked to keep a consistent overall style between apps, but allow each to display its own relevant information. For users, things will work exactly as they do now - they simply paste a link to content, and it will continue to expand automatically. The changes are also backwards compatible. Any existing embeds in your community will automatically show the new styling you see below - no rebuilding necessary. So with that in mind, let's take a look what the new embeds look like! I won't show every single embed here because there's a huge number, but I'll try and give you a feel for how we approached the embed styles for each app. Gallery Image Comment on a Gallery Image Gallery Album Forum Topic Downloads File Review on a Downloads File Calendar Event Comment on a Calendar Event Commerce Product Record from a Pages database I hope that gives you a good overview of what to expect when your users try out the new embeds for themselves. As always, please share your feedback in the comments below!
    50 points
  21. If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2. With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version. In this entry, I want to talk a little about some of the design decisions that went into building the new theme. Goals Redesigning for the sake of it is never a good idea, so we first laid out what we wanted to achieve: A brighter UI with more saturation & contrast and simpler overall color scheme Improved typography Better, more consistent, spacing around and between elements, especially on mobile Better logical grouping of sections of each page Reducing underutilized links/buttons on the page and finding alternative ways of making them available Improving how post states are displayed Modernizing and enhancing the underlying code that powers the default theme Let's talk a little about each of these. Brighter UI The most obvious change will be that our default colors are brighter and more saturated than before. Before making any changes, we first created a color scale for both neutrals and the brand color (blue, of course). This gave us a flexible but consistent palette of colors to choose from, with appropriate contrast built in. Neutrals have a touch of blue too to avoid seeming washed out. We've simplified the style, in particular reducing reliance on background colors to differentiate sections within cards (a card essentially being an ipsBox, for those who are familiar with our framework). Instead, we use spacing, borders and appropriate typography to achieve visual separation. Brighter default colors Simplifying the UI by removing block backgrounds Improving typography We've felt our typography has been somewhat muddled for some time - with a mixture of sizes, weights and colors used depending on the particular context. The first step to improving it was to create a typography scale that we could refer to and implement, to ensure we remained consistent throughout the product. Our typography scale (The keen-eyed amongst you may also notice we've switched our default font to Inter. Inter is a fantastic open source font that is ideal for text on the web, and was recently added to the Google Web Fonts project making it super simple for us to incorporate it into our default theme.) We've been much more deliberate about applying type styles, especially for titles, ensuring that they are always visually distinct from surrounding text. We've done this through both color and weight. As a result, pages should instinctively feel more organized and logical than before. An example of improved typography, from the Downloads app Improved spacing (especially on mobile) We identified that spacing (padding and margins) needed some improvement. A lot of spacing values were arbitrary and inconsistent, leading to poor visual harmony across any given page. Most troubling of all, on mobile sizes we simply halved desktop padding values. While this was a reasonable approach in the days of phones with small screens, it has felt decidedly dated for some time. Phone screens are now typically larger and able to accommodate roomier UIs without appearing comical. In 4.5, we have done away with that approach, and the impact was immediate. Mobile sizes now get a much more pleasant interface, with elements having room to breathe. In addition, we've also made most cards full-width to provide additional breathing space for content. Posts can finally breathe on mobile There are numerous other tweaks across the product too: default spacing has been increased a little, data tables (e.g. topic listing) get extra vertical spacing, and spacing between elements has become more consistent. Improved grouping of related elements Prior to 4.5, most content areas existed inside cards. However, one notable exception to this was page headers and as a result, they could feel particularly disorganized, especially for users who had many controls in this part of the page (such as staff). To solve this problem, we've developed a new, standardized design for content item page headers, giving them their own cards and consistent button placement. Topic view header Some areas don't necessarily fit into the same design pattern above. In those areas, we've tweaked styling to suit the context, while still adhering to our overall aesthetic. Calendar header Messenger conversation header Reducing underutilized links/buttons Finally, another area we identified as needing improvement is the abundance of tools, made up of links and buttons, across pages. Many of these are only used occasionally and so would be better moved out of the main view to simplify the page. Two particular areas we focused on were share links and postbits (both forum posts and comments in other apps). Research shows social share links are used by a vanishingly small percentage of users, so even though they were at the bottom of the page, it was unnecessary to make them so prominent (given their eye-catching colors). To solve this, we've added a share link to the page header, with the social network links themselves in a popup menu. The result is ideal: sharing functionality is unobtrusive but obvious. Share links in content items Comment areas have also suffered from 'button creep' over the years. A typical comment will contain a report link, a share link, a quote link and multiquote button, reactions, plus IP address, checkbox, edit and options links for certain users. That is a lot of visual noise around the important part: the content. We've therefore simplified comment boxes as much as is reasonable. Reporting and sharing comments/posts is now available in the post options menu, as are any tools for the author/staff. Quoting and reacting are two primary interactions for users, so they of course retain their position in the control bar. Simpler postbits, even for staff Improving post states Posts/comments in Invision Community can have many states - sometimes more than one. Posts can be hidden/unapproved, popular, recommended, solved (new in 4.5!) or highlighted because of the author's group. It's always been a challenge to indicate these statuses well. In previous versions, we added a border but the most prominent indicator was a flag in the top-right corner of the post. This had three problems: Due to the lack of space (thanks to report/share links), showing more than one flag was difficult. Showing any flags on mobile was messy because of the space constraints. The meaning of the flags was not obvious, especially to new users. Group-highlighted posts had no flag, just a border, which made them even more difficult to understand. With the top-right corner of posts now tidied up and free from fluff, we were able to much more effectively use this space to indicate post statuses. In 4.5, posts and comments will show badges when they have a particular status, as well as a more attractive semi-transparent border. For group-highlighted posts, we show the group name instead (the colors of this highlight are still controllable via theme settings). A post with two states: group highlighted and popular This works much better on mobile too, where the status badges get the prominence they deserve: Mobile post statuses Modernizing the underlying code I wrote about the technical improvements behind the theme in a previous entry. If you're a theme designer or edit the theme for your own community, go and check it out now! Wrapping up As well as these large-scale concepts, you'll notice many other smaller enhancements as you start using the new theme. I've shown some snippets of pages in the screenshots above, but I've included some full-page views below so you can see the overall aesthetic and how these pieces fit together. Modernizing and refreshing our default theme has been needed for some time, but we view this as just a stepping stone to future work that will be reserved for a major version bump, and we're excited to figure out where we go next. Screenshots Desktop forum views (click to expand) Mobile forum views (click to expand) Activity streams & messenger (click to expand)
    48 points
  22. Invision Community has certainly changed a lot over the years as we've moved through major updates and large user interface changes. While large scale changes offer a dramatic difference, it is sometimes the smaller changes that bring the most satisfaction when using your community daily. This blog entry rounds up some of the UI improvements Invision Community 4.5 brings. Content View Behavior What do you want to happen when you click a topic link? Are you taken to the first comment, the last comment or the first comment you've not read? If you speak to 100 people, I'm pretty sure you'll get a good spread of votes for each. Invision Community has always offered subtle ways to get right to the first unread comment. Our infamous dot or star allows you to do this, but it is so subtle almost no one knows this. Invision Community 4.5 now allows each member to choose (with the AdminCP offering a default). Now everyone wins! Who Reacted? Invision Community has had reactions for a long while now. Although finding out who exactly reacted without clicking the counts has proved irksome. We've fixed that in Invision Community so simply mousing over the reaction icon reveals who reacted. Sign In Anonymously For as long as I can remember, Invision Community has offered an option to sign in anonymously via a checkbox on the login form. However, as we've added faster ways to log in via Facebook, Twitter, Google and more it's become less straight forward to ensure your anonymity. Invision Community 4.5 removes this login preference and moves it to your members' settings. Now your members can resume hiding as they move around your community across multiple logins. Resize Before Uploading One of the most popular requests we've had in recent times is to resize large images before uploading. It's quite likely that your giant full resolution image will be denied when attempting to upload, and it's a bit of a faff to resize it in a photo editor. Invision Community leverages the uploader's ability to resize before uploading, which makes it a much happier experience. Switch Off Automatic Language Detection Invision Community attempts to map your browser's user-agent to a specific language pack. When you visit a site, your browser lets the site know which language our browser is set to (often dictated by your operating system) and we use that to show you the correct language if the community you're visiting has multiple languages installed. However, it might be that you don't want this to happen because although your computer's OS is set to a specific language, it doesn't always follow that is the one you wish to use on a website. Invision Community 4.5 allows this automatic detection to be switched off. Quote Collapse We will finish with another popular feature request; the ability for long quotes to be collapsed, reducing the amount of scrolling one has to do. Quite simply, Invision Community collapses long quotes with an option to expand them to read the entire quote. Thank you to all our customers who have taken the time to leave feedback. As you can see, we do listen and action your feedback. Which change are you looking forward to the most? Let us know below!
    48 points
  23. Viewing and editing a member is probably one of the most frequently used features of the AdminCP. With the design unchanged for many years, and the tabbed interface starting to grow unwieldy, it was due for some love. We have not only dramatically improved the design but added many new features. New AdminCP Member Page Let's look at some of the improvements: Easy Toggle between Member and Customer View If you have Commerce installed, you can now toggle between "Member View" (which shows the screen above) and "Customer View" (which shows the current customer page in Commerce with the user's purchases, invoices, etc.). This makes it much easier to view all of a member's information in one place. If you don't have Commerce installed, the top tab bar will not show. Basic Information The pane in the top-left shows the member's basic information like name, email address and photos. You can now reposition a member's cover photo and crop the profile photo (functions previously not available in the AdminCP). To change the display name or email address, you just click and hold on the information and a textbox appears. The buttons below allow you to merge, delete, sign in as, and edit the preferences or password for the member. Basic Member Information Pane In addition, this pane lists any social networks the user is logged in with. It shows you the member's profile photo and profile name on that network (for example in this screenshot, it is showing my Facebook profile's photo and name) and for many networks you can click on this to be taken directly to their Facebook/Twitter/etc profile. You can also edit the syncing options for the method and unlink the accounts, features which weren't available previously. If you have Commerce installed, there is also an indicator if the user has an active subscription. A member with an active subscription Alerts If a member is validating, banned, flagged as a spammer, or locked, a large banner will display drawing your attention to this. For validating and banned, it will explain exactly what the status is (for example, if they haven't responded to the validation email yet versus they are awaiting admin approval, or if they have been banned manually versus are in a group without permission to access anything). A member that has been locked Other possible alerts Locations & Devices This pane shows you, on a map, all of the locations the user has been when using the community (based on their IP address) as well as the IP address they used to register and most recently. IP Address Locations While the devices tab shows the most recently used devices. Recently Used Devices Content Statistics Right in the middle of the profile you can see some statistics about the member's activity. This includes: A sparkline graph of their recent content. Their content count and reputation count (with tools to manually change or rebuild). A breakdown of the amount of content they have made across all applications. A visual indication of how much of their messenger and attachment storage they have used. If Gallery and Downloads are installed, the existing statistics overview provided by these apps are also available here. Content Statistics Warnings & Restrictions This block shows recent warnings on the account, and also highlights if any restrictions (i.e. content moderation, restricted from posting, or application-level restrictions) are being applied, which previously was difficult to see at a glance. Warnings & Restrictions Block for an account which has content moderation in effect Account Activity On the right is a pane which shows all of the latest account activity. While this was available in previous versions (called "Member History") we have made some significant improvements: The number of things that get logged has been significantly expanded. We now log photo changes, group changes, when a new device is used to login, if an account is locked (by failed logins or failed two factor authentication attempts) or unlocked, password/email/display name changes, when a user links or unlinks a social network login method, initial registration and validation, merges, being flagged/unflagged as a spammer, receiving/acknowledging/revoking a warning, restrictions being applied, two factor authentication being enabled/disabled/changed, an OAuth token being issued if Invision Community is being used as an OAuth Server, enabling/disabling receiving bulk mails, and accepting the privacy policy / terms and conditions, as well as all of the Commerce-related information that is already logged. Much more information is now shown such as who made the change (i.e. an admin, the user themselves, or if it was changed by the REST API or syncing with a social network) and how the change was made (for example, for a password change - if the user used the "Forgot Password" tool or changed it in their Account Settings) and what the data was before and after. This includes being aware of if the change was made by an admin after using the "Sign in as User" tool. You can now filter what information you are seeing to quickly find what you are looking for. Recent Account Activity Extensibility The new profile has been designed with extensibility in mind. Third party developers can easily add new blocks our even entire new tabs. Any apps/plugins which are currently adding a tab to the "Edit Member" form will retain backwards compatibility with their tab continuing to appear when clicking the "Edit Preferences" button in the basic account information pane.
    48 points
  24. Mark

    New: Editor Uploading

    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release IPS Community Suite has supported drag and drop uploading to the attachments area at the bottom of the editor since 4.0. In 4.2 we're pleased to add the ability to drag and drop right into the editor, so you can drop your attachment exactly where you want it to show without having to add it afterwards. Drag and drop into editor If your browser and OS supports it you can also copy and paste, either from the desktop or from other content on the web: Copy and Paste Naturally this works for ordinary files as well as images: Drag and drop a file
    48 points
  25. It might seem a little odd starting a blog on increasing Invision Community's speed with the word "lazy", but I'll explain why this is a good word for performance shortly. Earlier this year, Google announced that page speed is a ranking factor. Simply put, if your site is slow, it will be ranked lower in Google's search results. It is always a challenge making a large application like Invision Community as efficient as possible per page load. A single Invision Community page can pull in widgets from multiple applications as well as a lot of user-generated content with attachments, movies and images used heavily. This is where being lazy helps. Lazy loading is a method by which attachments, embeds and images are not loaded by default. They are only loaded when the viewer scrolls down enough to make them visible. This allows the page to load a good deal faster now it doesn't have to load megabytes of images before the page is shown as completely rendered. I was going to take a fancy video showing it in action, but it's hard to capture as the system loads the media just before you get to it, so it looks fairly seamless, even with sluggish connections. Not the most dynamic image, but this shows the placeholder retains the size of the image In addition to image attachments, we have also added this lazy loading to maps and Twitter emoji images. Improving non-image attachments Once we had implemented the lazy loading framework, an area we wanted to improve was non-image attachments. We have listened to a lot of the feedback we had on this area, and have now made it very clear when you add an attachment into a post. We've even returned the download count now it's being loaded on demand. Using attachments when posting All the letters When we first implemented the letter avatars in 4.3, we discussed whether to use CSS styling or use an image. We decided to go with an image as it was more stable over lots of different devices, including email. We've revisited this in 4.4, and switched the letter avatars to SVG, which are much faster to render now that the browser doesn't have to load the image files. Other performance improvements We've taken a pass at most areas with an eye for performance, here is a list of the most significant items we've improved. Several converter background tasks have been improved, so they work on less data Duplicate query for fetching clubs was removed in streams Notifications / follower management has been improved Member searches have been sped up (API, ACP live search, member list in ACP, mentions, etc.). Stream performance has been improved UTF8 conversions have been sped up Elasticsearch has been sped up by using pre-compiled queries and parameterisation, as well as the removal of view filtering (and tracking) HTTP/2 support with prefetch/preload has been added Several PHP-level performance improvements have been made Implemented rel=noopener when links open a new window (which improves browser memory management) Several other performance improvements for conversions were implemented that drastically reduce conversion time IP address lookups now fetch IP address details from us en-masse instead of one request per address Cache/data store management has been streamlined and centralised for efficiency Many background tasks and the profile sync functionality have all been improved for performance Brotli compression is now supported automatically if the server supports it Redis encryption can now be disabled if desired, which improves performance Phew, as you can see, we've spent a while tinkering under the hood too. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Let us know below! This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
    46 points
  26. I'm pleased to announce we're finally ready to open our new Developers area. The aim of this project has been to improve our existing developer documentation by building a central place to contain it, as well as update and expand the content available. As of today, we have the regular documentation and REST API documentation ready to use. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be expanding what's available further, going into more detail about the tools available within the framework. We've also started work on comprehensive Getting Started guides, that will walk you through simple developer projects from start to finish - these will be available soon, once they're complete. If there's a particular aspect of IPS4 development that you don't feel is adequately catered for right now, please let us know! This will help us direct our efforts to the most useful places. Enjoy!
    46 points
  27. As we approach the release of Invision Community 4.6, I wanted to take you through some improvements for using Invision Community on a mobile device. Web push notifications For some time, we've used the local browser notification API to show users notifications. There's a big drawback though: users had to have the site open in a tab for these to work. This is particularly problematic for mobile devices. In 4.6, we've added support for the WebPush API, which allows sites to push notifications to users' browsers & devices even if the site isn't open - or even if the device is asleep. We already have support baked in for push notifications via our beta mobile app, so we've piggy-backed on that system and expanded it to support browser-based push notifications. Choosing push notifications For users, it's a simple process. A little while after joining a community they will prompted to accept notifications from the site when they open the notification list dropdown (or they can opt-in any time from the notification settings screen). After accepting, they will be able to choose a "Notification List + Push" option for any of the available notification types. Push notifications enabled Existing users, who may have already granted permission to the site in the past, will be re-prompted to accept push notifications upon logging in after the 4.6 upgrade. Push notifications typically show on the homescreen of a phone or in the notification tray of a desktop computer, so receiving dozens of notifications could be overwhelming. For that reason, Invision Community will automatically merge related notifications - for example, multiple mentions from the same topic, or multiple new topics from the same forum. Grouped push notifications And, of course, users can stop push notifications across all of their devices with a single click if they want to opt out. We're excited about the engagement potential of push notifications, since they allow you to immediately reach users who aren't currently on your site - a job previously left to email alone. On the subject of notifications, one more thing: we've heard your feedback about notifications for new replies/mentions being merged with notifications for likes/quotes, and will be separating these two types into their own permissions in 4.6. We're acutely aware that making notifications annoying results in users turning them off, so we're always looking to ensure there is a reasonable balance. Splash Screen Images When you add a website to your phone's desktop, it appears like a native app. Tapping to launch the site can show a blank screen for a few seconds while the website is loaded. Fortunately, you can now set a 'splash' image in the Admin CP which is shown when launching the app. Sharing using native share options Another enhancement coming in 4.6 is the addition of the device share sheet when sharing content from within Invision Community. Users will now see a "More Sharing Options" button (providing their device/browser supports the underlying API) which, when tapped, will open the device share sheet. The options available depend on the device, but typically include actions like sharing links in WhatsApp, posting to Facebook or creating a note. Offline support With a larger share of users now using mobile devices for most of their browsing comes the problem of patchy phone signal and internet connections dropping out. For a dynamic web-based platform like Invision Community, it's difficult to offer much in the way of full offline support, but starting in 4.6 we will present a branded offline page to users when they have no internet connection and try to access the community. We hope that you are looking forward to these PWA improvements coming in Invision Community 4.6!
    44 points
  28. Matt

    Happy 16th Birthday To Us!

    This month, we turn sweet sixteen! We made our own card this year. I know, it's hard to believe with our youthful looks and energetic personalities, but it's true. Charles and I have known each other longer than I've known my own children and we still make each other laugh on a daily basis. Over the past 16 years we've seen a lot of trends come and go. When we started, AOL dial-up was the preferred method of choice (and probably the only method of choice). Compuserve were flying high and I think I'll stop this walk down memory lane before I turn into my own grandfather and start talking about how things were better in my day. A lot has changed. We've seen the rise of social media and how it disrupted habits. We've seen MP3 players become iPods, and iPods become iPhones and iPhones become iPads (other digital devices are also available). It's crazy to think that our company pre-dates Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Click on this image to see it unless you have excellent eyesight We're still here because we are always innovating and adapting. The software we're working on right now is vastly different from the one we started out with. And that is how it should be. We listen to our customers and we implement the great ideas. Of course, we'd not have lasted a year without our customers. We're genuinely thrilled to still be doing a job we love and serving customers who have trusted their community with us. Thank you all for choosing us and we're looking forward to the next 16 years.
    44 points
  29. Cue the music; switch on the dramatic lighting, we've got fantastic news! We're now running Invision Community 4.3 on here for some advanced testing before we unleash the first beta release. There's a subtle hint above If you need a recap of what was added, take a look at our product updates blog which takes you through the highlights. As this is a pre-beta release, expect some funkiness as we scurry around and tidy up our custom theme wrapper and other areas as we spot them. If you you find a bug, we'd love for you to report it with as much detail as you can muster in the bug report area. We'd love to know what you think, let us know below.
    43 points
  30. We have a very important announcement to make! There are times where you need to get the attention of your visitors. You might be closed on certain days of the year, performing server maintenance (if you are consider our Cloud Plans, they're excellent) or running a competition. Invision Community has always had an announcements feature baked in, but we felt it could be improved. Okay, maybe this feature isn't as flashy as some of the others we're introducing in 4.3, but these useful features should make managing your community easier. The new look announcement feature replaces the old widgets enabling you to display customisable announcements in any of the following locations; Top of the page Above the page content In the sidebar The three new announcement locations Each location has some slightly different features; the page top banner is dismissible by the member if they no longer want to see it, whereas the banner above the content and the sidebar announcements cannot be dismissed. Most of the original customisable features are still available, including the ability to select which applications and pages show certain announcements and which member groups can see them. Combining this with the three new locations gives you much more flexibility for different types of announcements and we've also included the option to customise the color of the announcement. New customisable options The announcements have also been improved to contain more information. Rather than showing an unformatted snippet along side the title, announcements can now be tapped to open a modal showing any further details. Modal showing announcement content We hope you'll enjoy these useful improvements in Invision Community 4.3. Stay tuned for further announcements (pun intended)!
    42 points
  31. Charles

    New: SEO Improvements

    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. Improving your SEO can be a complex undertaking with many different approaches but there are things that everyone knows are good practice and also more modern approaches to SEO that have changed since we first started developing IPS Community Suite. So it was time for a review and update. Unfortunately no pretty screenshots on this one as this is all behind the scenes stuff but still quite useful to know . Also, some of this may sound a bit technical and dry but feel free to search some of these technologies if you are curious. Move from HTML structured data to JSON-LD and enhance our existing markup with sensible additions. Calendar, blog, forum and pages (articles) data marked up for rich snippets. General review of our schema.org markup and enhance where appropriate. Use sitelinks search and other sensible markup such as the website and logo markup. Allow administrators to specify social profile links in the AdminCP which we then show links to in the footer and also make available in schema.org markup. Fix many duplicate page title issues. Review and ensure nofollow/noindex tags are used in appropriate areas. Add item tags as HTML meta tags Adding <link rel="next" value="next page url"> helps search engines know next/previous page. Nothing like a bulleted list of items to get you excited! But really these should be welcome improvements to all.
    42 points
  32. The support tool has served us well for many years. You can identify, at a glance, potential issues with your community both presently and down the road, right from the comfort of your AdminCP, and you can often resolve those issues with just a few clicks. But what if we could do better? What if we could make this useful administrative area of the software even more useful? The next version of Invision Community introduces a new "Health Dashboard" which replaces the previous support tool and helps you get a better overview of potential issues within your community while retaining all of the functionality you've come to know and rely on to resolve issues with your community. When you launch the new health dashboard, the first thing you will notice is that the previous "Wizard" process is now gone, in favor of a single page giving you access to everything you might want or need. Central to the page are blocks that identify specific areas of your community, server, and configuration which could be problematic now or in the future. Invision Community will check for available updates, modified source files, server software configuration issues, whether your server is running required and/or recommended versions of important software and more. Additional checks and recommendations have been added to this page, to help identify other adjustments that could benefit or prevent harm to your community. Issues are color coded and classified as informational, recommended, or critical and a summary is provided at the top of the page with an easy "check again" button which will do so without taking you away from the screen. If we become aware of an issue, we can quickly notify communities through a bulletin which will be displayed in the "Known Issues" block on this page. These bulletins can also trigger AdminCP notifications, however they will continue to show on the Health Dashboard so long as they are relevant, even when the AdminCP notification is dismissed. A graph showing system, error and email error log activity has been added to the page to help you identify spikes in logged issues. Commonly, if an issue begins to surface on your community there will be an increase in these types of error logs, so the graph here is intended to allow you to identify an increase in these logs, allowing you to investigate and react quicker. The right-hand sidebar surfaces common tools you may need to access. The first block allows you to see our most recently featured guides, as well as search our documentation. While this functionality was available in the existing support tool, we found that it was rarely used because people more often visited the tool to allow the software to check for common issues, and the ability to search the documentation required a separate work flow through the support wizard. With the block always available (and searches performed "live" via AJAX), we expect users will find the ability to search our documentation from the AdminCP much more useful now. Next up, the Tools and Diagnostics block gives you access to common tools you may need to use. You can quickly clear your system caches, as well as access phpinfo, the SQL toolbox (for self-hosted clients only), and disable all third party customizations. The process and behavior for disabling customizations is very similar to the existing process within the support tool, with the list of customizations disabled opening in a modal window and the ability to re-enable all customizations, or selectively re-enable individual customizations, still available. Disabling customizations is still simple Finally, the ability to submit a support ticket is still available right from this screen. Upon clicking the button to submit a support ticket, you will be presented with a form inside a modal dialog that behaves very similarly to the existing form with one minor but useful addition: if there are any patches not yet installed on the community, you will be alerted to this right on the form before submitting your ticket. Think of this as one last reminder that your issue may already be solved by installing any available patches before reaching out to us for official technical support. Submitting a support ticket is still just a few clicks away We believe the improved workflow and user experience will help administrators and support technicians alike more quickly identify any issues that need addressing on the community.
    40 points
  33. Matt

    4.5: Page Builder Widgets

    Invision Community introduced drag and drop widgets many years ago. These widgets allowed anyone to add blocks to existing views, and to build up entirely new pages. These widgets were great for quickly adding content to a page, but they weren't incredibly customizable. For Invision Community 4.5, we've added three new Page Builder widgets which allow you a little more control. For an overview of this new feature, please take a look at the video below. As you can see, these new widgets offer a lot of customization without the need to code any CSS or HTML. You can add background colours and images, adjust padding and borders and even add colour overlays right from the widget menu. The new Page Builder widget options Blandness be gone! Now you can let your creativity loose on your pages and all other views that have the drag and drop zones. I'd love to know what you think of this new feature; please let me know below!
    40 points
  34. If you've been around Invision Community for a while, you'll know our frontend default theme hasn't significantly evolved since the early days of 4.0. Indeed, the last significant refresh came with 4.2. With the upcoming release of 4.5, we wanted to revisit the default theme and give it a facelift for 2020, as well as make incremental improvements to the underlying codebase as a stepping stone to a bigger re-engineering in a future version. Keep an eye out for our next blog for more on the facelift. In this entry, I want to go over some of the design and code-level changes we've implemented that will be of particular interest to third-party theme designers, or those building a custom theme for their community. IE11 Support Until now, we've supported IE11 as a 'B' browser - meaning we didn't aim for perfect support (especially visually), but did aim to make all functionality work, and we fixed IE11-specific issues if possible. As of 4.5, we no longer support IE11 in any way and Invision Community will not work well in that browser. By removing support for IE11, we are able to make use of newer CSS technologies which significantly eases development for us and third-party designers. I'll discuss some of those below. Combined theme settings We've combined a number of existing theme settings into one new setting. We've found that settings like poll_bar, step_background, rating_hover and so on are nearly always set to the same color - typically the site's main brand color. These settings have therefore been replaced with one new brand_color setting, which is used throughout the CSS in places where this primary color would be needed. This will simplify the early stages of theme development and make it easier to match branding in Invision Community. Front end colors Removing hardcoded colors While our theme settings have allowed community owners to change most colors, there were still many hardcoded in our CSS framework. These were typically neutral colors used for things like 'close' links, semi-transparent backgrounds and so on, but it was enough to make creating a dark theme an unrealistic prospect without an awful lot of effort (and kudos to those designers who have offered dark themes up until now!). In 4.5, we've removed hardcoded colors from our framework, and instead rely on colors already defined by theme settings. You can now, finally, create a dark theme just by editing the built-in theme settings. Type scale & {fontsize} tag While we've had fixed type-size classes (e.g. ipsType_normal) for a long time, in practice many elements had their own font sizes set. This leads to inconsistency and poor visual rhythm too. Another side effect is it was also tough to globally change the font size (such as for branding purposes, or to create a theme for visually-impaired users). To solve these problems, we first created a type scale; that is, a fixed number of sizes to choose from. A product the size of Invision Community does have need for a flexibility, so we settled on the following scale: x_small: 12; small: 13; medium: 14; base: 16; large: 18; x_large: 20; 2x_large: 24; 3x_large: 30; 4x_large: 36. All of these values are editable as theme settings, so each theme can adjust the type scale used. Our default CSS in 4.5 has been fully updated to put all type on this scale. To actually make use of these settings, we have added a new {fontsize} tag which accepts either a scale key, or a specific pixel size (for those occasional situations where a specific size is absolutely needed, e.g. icons). Why couldn't we just use {theme="x_small"}, or even CSS variables? To solve the problem of globally scaling text, we have also added a percentage-based scale setting that will save you from having to create your own type scale. The {fontsize} tag automatically applies the global scale to any values passed into it. Want text in your theme to be twice as big as default? Simply set the global type scale to 200% and the entire theme will reflect the change immediately. The new font size options Spacing scale The lack of a consistent spacing scale has led to some arbitrary values being used in any given situation, which again has had a negative impact on the visual harmony of our design. We've therefore implemented a 4px spacing scale (using CSS variables rather than theme settings this time) and applied across almost all padding/margin values. In time, we anticipate fully switching all measurement values to the scale. New CSS class families We have added a range of new spacing classes for padding and margins, allowing far more control over how these are applied, especially on different device sizes. Previously, ipsPad (15px) was simply halved on small screens - with no 'opt-out' short of adding specific CSS. We've felt this has been imprecise for some time, especially since mobile devices typically have larger screens in 2020 and don't need to be so tightly-spaced. ipsPad_all now replaces the existing ipsPad, and does not halve itself on small screens. Instead, there's a new responsive naming convention that allows you to apply specific padding on specific device sizes: ipsPad_all:double md:ipsPad_all sm:ipsPad_all:half In this arbitrary example, desktop size (the default) get double padding, medium (tablets) get regular padding and small (phones) get half padding. We've added similar classes for top, bottom, left and right padding, as well as horizontal, vertical and none (to removing all padding) shortcuts. For margins, the old ipsSpacer_* classes have been replaced with a new ipsMargin family that work exactly the same as the padding classes above, with the same range of flexibility. The old ipsPad/ipsSpacer classes will continue working as they did before for backwards compatibility, but should be considered deprecated from 4.5 onwards. We've also added a whole range of new ipsFlex classes, also with responsive controls (making it easy to have horizontal layouts on desktop and vertical layouts on mobile, for example), as well as a new ipsGap utility that automatically adds spacing between elements, without requiring manual :first-child/:last-child exclusions. CSS variables & calc() In 4.5, thanks to IE11 support ending, we're finally making use of CSS variables and calc() to make CSS more maintainable and easier to customize. A lot of repeating or often-customized styles - such as form field styles, message colors, card styles, border radii etc. - are now created as CSS variables, allowing theme designers to easily change styling in one place. Instead of magic numbers, we either stick to our spacing scale, or use calc() to avoid hardcoded numbers. The future The work we've done so far is just a 'first-pass'. We'll be pressing forward with modernization throughout the 4.5.* series and beyond with a view to reducing our footprint, improving our ability to maintain our CSS and, of course, making theming easier for our customers.
    40 points
  35. Invision Community has come a long way over the past five years. We've added many new features and invigorated the front-end user experience to keep it current and in-line with modern interfaces. One area that has remained largely the same is the Admin Control Panel. When we released Invision Community 4.0 back in 2014, the Admin Control Panel was updated but has stayed relatively dormant since. But that's all about to change with the upcoming release of Invision Community 4.5! The Admin Control Panel in 4.5 has received a substantial update, resulting in a modern color scheme and a clean, minimalistic design. We felt that a lighter, more open design allowed the content more space and to feel less crowded. The dark grays have been replaced with shades of blue and aqua which closely reflects Invision Community's new branding, while other colors have been lightened and saturated. Along with the new color scheme, the overall layout of the ACP has intentionally been kept similar to the existing version, resulting in a design that feels surprisingly familiar yet refreshingly new at the same time. We hope you've enjoyed this small sneak peek into Invision Community 4.5 and we look forward to introducing you to some more new features in the upcoming weeks!
    40 points
  36. Charles

    New: Recommended Replies

    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. Sometimes you may find situations where you want to highlight one or more replies to a content item to bring attention to a really great response. This is especially true on busy communities where you might have dozens or even hundreds of replies in a single discussion. There is now an ability for a moderator to Recommend a reply (or multiple replies) and even leave an optional note explaining why they think you should view that post. Moderator Permission Optional note for recommended reply When a reply is Recommended you will see a snippet at the top of the content item along with the optional moderator note and a link to jump right to that reply. A topic with a recommended reply. You can Recommend more than one reply and this feature works through IPS Community Suite in forum topic, blog entries, gallery images, and so on. You can set this permission along with other moderator permissions in the AdminCP. We really think this will allow moderators to bring attention to some of the best replies and guide users to the best content your community has to offer.
    40 points
  37. This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release IPS Community Suite comes with a default profile photo which is used when members have not set a profile photo for their account. While this model has served the software well for years, we felt it was time for an update to the software to keep pace with current internet trends. This has led to one of the latest changes you can expect to see with version 4.2: letter profile photos When upgrading you will be asked if you wish to use letter profile photos, or if you wish to stick with the generic per-theme default profile photo that is used presently. You can change your mind any time after upgrading by adjusting the setting in the AdminCP as well. AdminCP members list We have tested many languages to ensure maximum compatibility. The font used in the image is automatically selected based upon the characters to be written to the image, so sites that have more than one language will see compatibility for all of the profile photos that are created automatically. The colors are not set for each letter. You will notice in the screenshot that each "A" letter photo has a different color. They are chosen randomly when generated. Letter photos in a sidebar widget We hope that this change helps bring your communities to life with a little more style, flair, and uniqueness for each new user on your site. Developer Note The code is structured in such a manner that third party developers can further extend the feature with plugins. The methods for writing text to images are exposed through our central \IPS\Image class introducing new possibilities in your own custom code.
    40 points
  38. Who remembers the earlier days of the internet? Back when you popped your logo at the top left of your site and you were largely done? Invision Community has continually developed to account for all the new services that have been built during our 16 years. We now have social media sharing images, favicons and more to consider. Invision Community 4.4 also adds mobile application icons, Safari mask icons and data for an application manifest. Handling of these logos and icons was a prime candidate for improvement in 4.4. Moving our current options Step one for improving our handling of these images was to move our current options out of themes and to allow them to be managed suite-wide from a single area. You can still upload a logo image per-theme (which shows in the header area), but the rest of the options have now been relocated to a new area: Customization > Appearance > Icons & Logos. Adding new options After giving favicon and share logo management its own dedicated area, we took a look at enhancing the configuration options made available through the interface without requiring theme template edits. Multiple share logos You can now upload multiple share logos. If you elect to upload more than one share logo, Facebook and similar sites will generally either show a carousel to allow you to choose which logo to use when sharing, or simply use the first image referenced. Application icons You can now upload an image to represent your website which will be used to generate the "home screen" icons for iPhones and Androids automatically. Uploading a single image will result in several different copies of the image (in different dimensions) being generated, and mobile devices will automatically choose the best option from the list as needed. Safari mask icon You can also now upload a Safari Mask icon, which is used to represent your website in certain areas on Apple computers (such as on the "touchbar" of certain keyboards). This image must be an SVG image with a transparent background, and all vectors must be 100% black. Additionally, you can specify the mask color which is used to offset your image when necessary (e.g. to represent it as "selected" or "active"). Application manifest In order for devices to support the application icons that you upload, a file known as a web manifest must be generated and delivered to the browser. This now happens automatically, using details and icons specified in the AdminCP. Certain details, however, can be configured explicitly from the Icons & Logos page: Short name This is a short name to represent your site in areas with limited screen space, such as below your application icon on a mobile phone home screen. Site name This is the name of the site. The "Website name" setting is automatically used if you do not explicitly override it when configuring the manifest. Description A short description of your site Theme color You can choose a (single) color to represent the general theme of the site. This color may be used by devices in areas such as the address bar background. Background color You can also choose a (single) color to use as the background color for your site when the application is launched from a shortcut saved to the user's device home screen. Display mode Finally, you can specify the display mode your site should launch in. For our more astute designers and developers, you may have already realized that generating the manifest file lays the groundwork for future PWA (Progressive Web App) development and support. Additionally, some Android devices will automatically prompt users to add your website to their home screen now that a manifest file is generated by the site. Oh, and for the sake of completeness, we also generate the special browserconfig.xml file that Microsoft products (including Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, X-Box, and Microsoft-based mobile devices) look for when pinning sites and generating live tiles. There are no additional configuration options for this file - everything is automatically generated from the aforementioned options. The end result? Your community can now better convey, automatically, certain details to the myriad of devices out there that may be accessing your site, and you now have much better control over those details. You can more easily fine-tune the "little things" that help paint a complete picture of your web presence, and the groundwork has been laid for bigger and better things in the future as standardization and adoption of PWA functionality improves. This blog is part of our series introducing new features for Invision Community 4.4.
    38 points
  39. bfarber

    New: Statistics

    This is an entry about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release Statistics can be an important part of monitoring your site and ensuring it grows and responds to your marketing and promotion efforts effectively, and several new statistic tools have been added to the 4.2 Community Suite which we know you will be excited to learn about! A simple tool has been added that will allow you to look up and list all member accounts that have last visited the site within a specified time period. Look up members who have visited within a set time period Additionally, online user (both logged in user and guest) counts are now tracked every 15 minutes and graphed in the AdminCP for you to reference. You can view online user trends over a specified date period, view just guest counts or just member counts (or both), and view the graph in multiple different modes (such as an area chart or as a column chart). By default, the data is retained for 180 days, however you can control how often to prune this statistical data in the AdminCP. Online user trends graphed You can also view a graph of member activity on the site. Member activity is defined as any "activity" beyond simply browsing, such as submitting a new post, reacting to any content item or comment, or following any content item or node. Activity information about your member base You will also be able to define keywords that you would like to monitor and then see both a graph of usage of those keywords, as well as a table listing all usages of those keywords. You can use this to track usage of competitor names, find out if hash tags you define are trending, or learn if promotional materials are making an impact on your membership. Keyword tracking can help you closely monitor your community Along with these additions, we've cleaned up the menu and wording for the rest of the existing statistic options to make their functions more clear. We hope these additions help you better track and control your community, making the most of your time and money. Note for developers: A new chart class has been added which allows you to populate dynamic charts using callbacks, in addition to the standard methods that already exist for pulling data directly from a specified database table.
    38 points
  40. Mark

    New: Device Management

    This entry is about our IPS Community Suite 4.2 release. One of our more technically-oriented features for 4.2, we have added more detailed logs of user logins, and the devices and IP addresses used. This brings several new features: Notification of a new device sign in If enabled, users can receive an email notification when a new device is used to log into their account: Email sent when a login from a new device is detected When a user signs in for the first time, a special key is set to recognise the browser on subsequent logins. This mean the notification email does not trigger on a new IP address, which would be annoying when travelling or if using a network where the IP address changes regularly. Instead, the notification is only triggered if someone signs into your account from a new physical device or web browser. UserCP Device Management If enabled, a new page will show in the user's settings page showing all the devices which have been used to log into their within the last 90 days (which is recent enough that could still be logged in if "Remember Me" was checked). Recently Used Devices Users can see the device, browser, physical location (obtained by a GeoIP lookup) and if applicable, how the login was processed (for example, if the sign in was with Facebook or Twitter, this will show). If they chose "Remember Me" when logging in, they can undo that (handy if you realise you accidentally left yourself signed in on a public computer). If they see anything they don't recognise, a page to walk them through the necessary steps to re-secure their account is available. Secure Account Information New Two-Factor Authentication Setting "Logging into the front-end" is one of the options of when to prompt for Two Factor Authentication. In 4.2, this has been separated into two distinct settings: Logging into the front-end from a new device Logging into the front-end from a known device If you enable the former, but not the latter, and the user has previously logged in devices, the system will automatically show an explanation to users alongside the other available recovery option. This can be useful especially if you do not want to offer other recovery options. AdminCP Device Management In the AdminCP, administrators can see all the device and IPs a member has used. They can also disable automatic login for any device. Edit member page shows most recently used device and IP address Viewing a device's details The system can also detect if another user is using the same device and will show this in the list of devices. Users sharing the same device
    38 points
  41. Ehren

    4.5: ACP Dark Mode

    A short while ago we revealed the new look Admin CP for Invision Community 4.5. The focus was on increasing the workspace, brightening and modernising the look. However, for some this new look was perhaps a little too bright, especially when setting your OS to use dark mode. Rather than cause an increase in sales for sunglasses, we went ahead and implemented a dark mode for the Admin CP. You can set it to work inline with your OS preference, or you can choose to enforce light or dark mode. I'm sure the next question you're about to ask is "Hey Ehren that looks amazing and now working at 3 am won't wake up the neighbours when I log into the AdminCP but can you do the same for the front-end?" The short answer to that is "no". The theme system isn't currently designed to support both light and dark colour schemes, however our marketplace has a great selection of dark themes to enhance your community. I hope that you like this new feature and I just wanted to say thanks for your feedback; we do listen!
    37 points
  42. We have had a question and answer feature in IPS Community Suite for some time and we are now happy to add Google Authenticator as another option. We have also combined the various options it a new Two Factor Authentication (2FA) section in the AdminCP with many more options. Two Factor Authentication Settings There are also new settings to control when a user is required (or not) to setup 2FA: 2FA Setup You can control what areas will prompt for 2FA authentication: 2FA Area Control And how the system should recover if a user cannot login via 2FA on their account: 2FA Recovery Settings An administrator can configure these settings to tailor the security needs of their community. For example, you might want to require 2FA your admins and moderators but keep it optional for your members. On the front end your members will see a new Account Security section under their settings area. Account Security Settings Once authenticated, a user will then be able to enable various security options. For example, the Google Authenticator setup shows an easy to follow setup. Google Authenticator Setup We hope you enjoy this new level of system security. IPS has plans to add additional 2FA providers beyond Question and Answers and Google Authenticator. We will keep you updated! This change will be in version 4.1.18 which is scheduled to be released in late January 2017.
    37 points
  43. Emoji: built in to Invision Community 4.3! ? Invision Community has a long history. We remember the early days of forums, back when graphical "emoticons" or "smilies" were added. We have always shipped our products with a basic set of emoticons with the ability to add your own images and has supported emoji from mobile devices. Emoji has become a standard across mobile and desktop devices so it made sense to bring them to Invision Community fully. You can choose from 3 different styles of Emoji: The native style provided by the user's operating system (if you choose this option, users on different platforms will see different styles) Twitter style EmojiOne style Emoji Settings Once you have chosen one of these options, all of the available Emoji will show in the emoticons selector when making a post. Unlike in older versions, the entire list is scrollable (the categories drop down will jump you to the category rather than filter), you can search, and standard Emoji features like skin tone modifiers are fully supported, and of course, you can make them as big as you like. Navigating Emoji Skin Tone Modifier Make Emoji any size Autocompleting Short Codes In addition to using the selector, you can also use optionally enable standard :short_codes:. These will be autocompleted as you type. Autocompleting Short Codes You can also enable more conventional ASCII emoticons to be automatically replaced too: ASCII Short Codes Don't Worry: Custom Emoticons Aren't Going Anywhere! You can use custom emoticons either instead of, or even alongside Emoji. If you give your custom emoticons a text replacement starting and ending with : they will even show in the autocompletion alongside Emoji. Custom Emoticons Technical Details Whichever style you choose, Emoji is stored in the database as the actual Unicode characters, so you can even change the setting and all Emoji, even those in existing posts, will immediately change. If you choose to use the native style (so the Emoji will match the style provided by the operating system), the system will automatically detect which Emojis are supported and the selector will only try to show the ones the platform can render.
    37 points
  44. Mark

    4.3: Videos

    Videos are everywhere. We shoot them on our smart phones, share them to social media, messengers and more. Up until now, the only way to share a video to Invision Community was to use a service like YouTube or Vimeo. If you uploaded a video file it would be treated like an attachment, and if the user clicked the link it would download it to their computer. In Invision Community 4.3 we've improved this. Now if you upload a video file (mp4/3gp/mov/ogg/ogv/mpg/mpeg/flv/webm/wmv/avi/m4v), it will embed similarly to an image. Uploading a video When viewing an uploaded video, if it is in a format that the user's browser and platform natively supports, it will show an embedded player. This will have all of the features supported by the operating system - for example, almost all browsers support fullscreen, and Safari supports Airplay and picture in picture. An uploaded video If the video is in a format not supported, it displays exactly as it does now - as a download link. An uploaded video in a browser without playback support for that format
    36 points
  45. Matt

    4.4: SEO Improvements

    It's been said that the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google. While we can't promise to get you to page 1 for a generic search term, we have taken some time for Invision Community 4.4 to do an SEO sweep. Moz.com defines SEO as "a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines." We have the technical skills and were fortunate enough to have Jono Alderson of Yoast lend his time, knowledge and vast experience to improve our SEO. This blog article gets a little technical. It's completely fine to leave at this point with the comfort of knowing that Google will be a little happier on your site with Invision Community 4.4. The majority of the changes are designed to send stronger signals to Google and friends over which content to slurp and which to look at a bit later. Still here? Good. Let us roll up our sleeves and open the hood. Pagination The most visible change is that we've taken pagination out of query strings and placed it in the path. For example, the current pagination system looks a little like: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?page=3 Which is fine but it gets a little confusing when you add in a bunch of sort filters like so: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=asc&field=topic&page=3 A better approach would be to make a clear signal to both Google and humans that pagination is a separate thing. Invision Community 4.4 does this: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/page/3/?sort=asc&field=topic Not only is this good for search engines, but it's also good for the humans too as it is more readable and no longer confused with filter parameters. Of course, we ensure that the old style pagination is redirected (via a 301 header) to the new pagination URL automatically so nothing breaks. Canonical Tags These tags are a way of telling search engines that a specific URL is the 'master copy' of a page. This helps prevent duplicate content from being indexed. Without it, you are leaving it up to the search engine to choose which is the master copy of the page. For example: yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ and yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/?sort=desc&field=time may show the same content but have different URLs. By setting the canonical tag to point to yoursite.com/community/forums/123-forum/ regardless of filters sends a strong signal to the search engines that this is the page you want to be spidered. Invision Community sets these tags in many places, but we audited these in 4.4 and found a few areas where they were missing. For example, viewing a member's profile doesn't always set a canonical tag which may confuse search engines when you click on "View Activity" and get a list of content items. Soft 404s When an application or website wants to tell the visitor that the page they are looking for doesn't exist, it sends a 404 header code along with a page that says something "We could not find that item" or "No rows available". If a search engine spiders a page that looks like a 404 page, but it doesn't have the 404 header code, it logs it as a "soft 404". Given the short amount of time Google has on your site to discover new content, you don't want it to hit many soft 404s. Invision Community 4.4 omits containers (such as forums, blogs, etc.) that have no content (such as a new forum without any topics yet) from the sitemap, and also adds a 'noindex, follow' meta tag into the HTML source. Google will periodically check to see if the status of the page has changed and happily slurp away when content has been added. Other changes Although the changes listed here don't deserve their own section in this article, they are no less important. We have audited the new JSON-LD markup added to Invision Community 4.3 to help search engines better understand the relationship between pages. The "truncate" method that is used to display a snippet of text in areas such as the activity stream now only sends the first 500 characters to the javascript method to reduce page loads and page 'noise'. The profile view in Invision Community contains a mix of information pertinent to the member and content they've authored. We've ensured that the content areas are using a specific URL, with appropriate canonical tags. This will help reduce confusion for search engines. If you made it this far, then well done. It's time to slam the hood closed and mop our collective brows. These changes will certainly help Google and friends spider your site a little more efficiently and have a clearer idea about what pages and data you want to be indexed which can only improve your ranking.
    36 points
  46. Do you recall that scene in Harry Potter where young Harry is sitting in his Uncle’s living room when hundreds of letters from Hogwarts burst through the fireplace, filling the room? Sometimes, when you log into the administrator’s control panel, it can feel a bit like that. As the administration control panel has evolved, there has been more of a need to display notifications, alerts and warnings to the administrators. There are several things which may require an administrator's attention which may show a notice on the AdminCP dashboard, a banner on the community, or send an email. For example: When a new version of Invision Community is released. A new member registers and requires administrator validation. A configuration issue is detected, for example if dangerous PHP functions are enabled on the server. There are items Commerce which require manual action, such as transactions pending manual approval or items to be shipped. Up until now, each such area would manage how these notifications show and are sent independently. In 4.4 we have introduced a new section of the AdminCP which shows all things which require administrator attention in one place, easily accessible from any AdminCP page. AdminCP Notification Menu Clicking on any of these notifications will take you to the relevant area of the AdminCP, or there is also a full-screen Notification Center which allows you to quickly take common actions such as approving members. AdminCP Notification Center While the best approach is to take the appropriate action (which will automatically dismiss the notification) so you always have an empty Notification Center, most notification types can be hidden, either temporarily on a per-notification basis by clicking the cross in the top-right, or administrators can hide all notifications of a certain type from their individual settings. Administrators can also choose which type of notifications to receive an email notification about. Notification Settings Each notification has a severity indicated by the coloured bar on the side and certain notifications can also show banners either across the AdminCP, or also on the front-end (to administrators). Notifications group automatically (so for example, if there are 5 members pending approval, you will see 1 notification rather than 5 separate ones) and where appropriate each administrator can choose if they want to receive a single email, or a separate email with each occurrence. Now you won't miss an invitation to Hogwarts, or anything important again. This is a blog about our upcoming Invision Community 4.4 release, due later this year.
    36 points
  47. Good news! We've taken Invision Community's Blog app by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into 2018! There has been a growing trend for imagery to play a very important part of a blog entry. This update reflects that. Introducing Grid View We have added a new view that shows your blog entries as cards with space for a cover photo. We've very visual creatures, and a good photograph can entice readers into your blogs to read more. As you would expect, you can disable this mode from the Admin CP for purists that prefer the traditional list format. For those who's sense of adventure runs deep, the new grid mode allows you to show a list of latest blog entries as the blog home page. This puts valuable and engaging content right in front of your audience. This list view persists when you view a blog's entries giving a consistent feel. Viewing an entry We've given the blog entry page a little make-over by featuring the cover photo above the content. The slimmed down blog details bar allows your audience to focus on the content. Default Cover Photos You may have spotted that entries without a cover photo have a rather fetching geometric pattern in different colors. This is a new micro-feature of Invision Community 4.3. Currently, if you do not have a cover photo on a blog, profile or event, the bar is a rather sad shade of black. The new default cover photo feature makes it much more cheerful. Here's what a profile looks like. Much better. Here's a few technical details for those that love to know all the things. The grid view feature can be turned off in the ACP (but doing so will make me very sad) You can choose the default home page view: Latest Entries or List of Blogs. You can still view a list of blogs when you're on the latest entries page. This choice is stored in a little cookie (GDPR friendly, it doesn't contain any identifying data) so navigating back gets you the last view you chose. Let us know what you think! We love it, and hope you do too.
    36 points
  48. Unless you've been living under a rock, or forgot to opt-in to the memo, GDPR is just around the corner. Last week we wrote a blog answering your questions on becoming GDPR compliant with Invision Community. We took away a few good points from that discussion and have the following updates coming up for Invision Community 4.3.3 due early next week. Downloading Personal Data Invision Community already has a method of downloading member data via the member export feature that produces a CSV. However, we wanted Invision Community to be more helpful, so we've added a feature that downloads personal data (such as name, email address, known IP addresses, known devices, opt in details and customer data from Nexus if you're using that) in a handy XML format which is very portable and machine readable. You can access this feature via the ACP member view The download itself is in a standard XML format. A sample export Pruning IP Addresses While there is much debate about whether IP addresses are personal information or not, a good number of our customers requested a way to remove IP addresses from older content. There are legitimate reasons to store IP addresses for purchase transactions (so fraud can be detected), for security logs (to prevent hackers gaining access) and to prevent spammers registering. However, under the bullet point of not storing information for longer than is required, we have added this feature to remove IP addresses from posted content (reviews, comments, posts, personal messages, etc) after a threshold. The default is 'Never', so don't worry. Post upgrade you won't see IP addresses removed unless you enter a value. This new setting is under Posting Deleting Members Invision Community has always had a way to delete a member and retain their content under a "Guest" name. We've cleaned this up in 4.3.3. When you delete a member, but want to retain their content, you are offered an option to anonymise this. Choosing this option attributes all posted content to 'Guest' and removes any stored IP addresses. Deleting a member Privacy Policy We've added a neat little feature to automatically list third parties you use on your privacy policy. If you enable Google Analytics, or Facebook Pixel, etc, these are added for you. The new setting Finding Settings Easily To make life a little easier, we've added "GDPR" as a live search keyword for the ACP. Simply tap that into the large search bar and Invision Community will list the relevant settings you may want to change. These changes show our ongoing commitment to helping you with your GDPR compliance. We'll be watching how GDPR in practise unfolds next month and will continue to adapt where required. Invision Community 4.3.3 is due out early next week.
    36 points
  49. Ever since Invision Community 4.0, there has been a huge focus on making communities multi-lingual by providing translation features inside the AdminCP. We have received a lot of feedback on our multi-lingual and translation tools over the past year, and we're happy to announce these new features coming to Invision Community 4.5. Pages Phrase Tools If you have the Pages application, you can also use these phrases in HTML pages and HTML Blocks without needing to visit the translation tools area. Simply use the tag editor in the sidebar when editing a page or block's contents. The new phrases sidebar options You can quickly create new multi-lingual phrases by clicking the + icon. The new add phrase dialog Additionally, WYSIWYG Blocks have now been made translatable, so you can now create WYSIWYG blocks that will display their content in specific languages. Translation Tools Language pack creators can now set a version update URL which is checked to notify admins within the AdminCP that an update available, just like the theme system. This is a great way to notify customers when fixes are available. Finally, you can now quickly add a new phrase from the Translation Tools page without the need to use the developer tools. The new "Add Phrase" option These little changes should make a huge difference in your workflow, and make it easier than ever to create fully multi-lingual pages throughout your site.
    35 points
  50. We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect. Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009. This needs an explanation. Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions. IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade. It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that). It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system. Everyone was happy. Almost. Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up. We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is. While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex. Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this. We've listened. Commerce Member Subscriptions We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions. Let's take a look at this in more detail. On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions. The main subscriptions interface Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options. A simple way to upgrade There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages. Get to your subscriptions easily Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu. If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile. There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers. This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages. Now, let's dive into the Admin CP The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce. The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers. Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase. If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible. Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription. As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system. A few things worth mentioning here: You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased. You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades. You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier. Let us know what you think!
    35 points
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