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First Look: IP.Content 1.1.0

We've been hard at work on the next version of our Community Content System which we have formally renamed to IP.Content. There are many exciting new capabilities with the latest version of IP.Content that we think you will like.

For the most part, our efforts into 1.1.0 have centered around one new major feature: custom databases. In IP.Content 1.1 you will be able to create an unlimited number of custom databases from within your admin control panel, allowing you to easily organize and manage your data using IP.Content. For instance, let's say you run a site about pets. You might want to create a database that contains records about all the different breeds of dogs out there, another database that contains records about all the different breeds of cats, and then yet another database that users can submit to in order to share information about their own pets. The first two databases you may only want administrators to add records to, and you may want to order by breed name, while the last database you want users to submit records to, and you may want to order by date the records were added to the database. IP.Content 1.1.0 can easily manage all of this.

When you create your custom databases you can decide which permission masks can see and view the database, who can add and edit records within the database, and who can rate records and comment on records within the database. Commenting and rating functionality is built in (if you enable it for the database). You can set whether users can submit to a database (or you can set a database so that only administrators can submit to it), and you can even set a database to be editable in a wiki-like manner (i.e. any user can edit any record within the database). You control the default sorting and ordering options for the database, and you control whether records and comments should require moderator approval before becoming publicly visible on a per-database level. You can also enable revisions for records within a database (that is, when users edit the records a backup of the copy they edited is saved in case you need to review it later, compare it to the current version of the record, or restore an older copy of the record).

After creating a database, you then create each field within the database yourself. IP.Content 1.1.0 supports the following field types: text input, textarea, radio buttons, checkboxes, select lists, multi-select lists, date input (i.e. an input field with a calendar overlay to select the date), WYSIWYG editor areas, and attachments. There are a few limitations on how many and which fields you can add (for instance, you can have as many WYSIWYG fields as you want, but you may only add one attachments field per database), but for the most part the number of fields and specific configuration is up to you. The field types framework is extensible, so developers can easily add new field types in the future simply by uploading a single file to a specific directory.

You can create unlimited categories and subcategories on a per-database level as well. Note, however, that you are not required to create and use categories should you not need to. When creating categories, you can opt to simply honor the database's permission settings, or extend those permissions - that way you can have some categories that are available to all users, and some categories that are only available to VIP members, or staff members, for example.

You also control moderators on a per-database level, with support for both member and group moderators available. You can control whether moderators can approve records, approve comments, edit records, delete records, delete comments, pin/unpin records, lock records, and unlock records.

This leads us into how records are handled and the functionality available for them. You can add, edit, delete, approve/unapprove, pin/unpin, lock/unlock, sort and search for records all within the ACP if you like. Full ACP management is available in 1.1.0. You can also manage comments for records within the ACP, allowing you to view, edit and delete the comments without having to view the record on the public side. Additionally, you can view all revisions of a record, and even run comparison reports to see exactly what has changed between each revision if you wish. You can restore a specific revision at any time, should you have a need.

From the front end, users with appropriate permission can add and edit records as well. Users can also rate each record, and even comment on the records, if the features are enabled and the proper permissions are set. Sorting and filtering from within CCS is fully supported, allowing users to control the order of results, how many are listed per page, and allowing users to search through those results to return more relevant results. Users with appropriate moderator permissions can delete, approve/unapprove, pin/unpin, lock/unlock records, and delete and approve/unapprove comments from the front end as well.

Navigation support is built in, and databases can be embedded into any new or existing page, allowing you full control over the layout of the entire page. Plugin callback functionality is also possible, allowing you to write your own custom code to extend certain database actions (on a per-database level) should you need to. Additionally, "item marking" support is built into IP.Content 1.1.0, allowing your users to easily see which categories have new information they haven't yet read, and easily identify the articles within the listing that haven't been viewed yet. The category view, listing view, and record display templates can be shared across all databases, or can be customized on a per-database level, allowing you fine-grained control over how your content is displayed to users.

We've recently moved over our resource site into the new IP.Content 1.1.0 framework here at http://community.invisionpower.com/resources. You can see a live demo of the new features by browsing our custom databases.

Our articles section, which contains user submitted tips and documentation, highlights many of the capabilities of IP.Content 1.1.0. Wiki-style editing (and revisioning) is enabled, allowing users to self-manage a repository of information for other users to take advantage of. Commenting and rating is also enabled for the articles, and a category structure including subcategories is utilized to help organize the information. Articles use stock templates, giving you an idea of how content will be displayed if you do not customize the default database templates.

The links section displays customer-submitted links that users can visit. The links section also uses categories to organize data, and also supports commenting and rating. Only the original submitter (and moderators) can edit records, however. Custom templates are utilized to make the links database look a little more unique, compared to the other databases.

Error Codes
Our error codes database lists all of the known error codes that can be generated by IPB (and the first party addons such as Gallery and Blog). Similar to the Articles database, stock templates are used, however commenting and rating are disabled. While the articles database orders articles by "last updated date", the error codes database orders records by the error code itself.

Guides and Tutorials
This database of official IPS guides and tutorials houses official documentation that we at IPS have written and will maintain. Customized templates are used to control the output, and ratings and comments are enabled.

(If you are familiar with SQL already, consider a "database" in IP.Content to essentially be a "table", while "fields" are "columns" within the table, and "records" are "rows" within the table.)

As you can see, the features new to IP.Content 1.1.0 can allow you to greatly extend and much more easily control custom data on your website. Users can practically create entire applications through a few clicks in the ACP, giving you a lot of power. We are excited about this new functionality, and can't wait to see how our customers make use of it. While the first release of IP.Content focused largely on static content (allowing dynamic content through custom PHP code), IP.Content 1.1 focuses on the dynamic features that many users need to manage their websites.

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