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IP.Board 3.1.0 Dev Update: Sharing Links

Following on from our recent blog entry about Twitter Integration, I'd like to present our newest IP.Board 3.1.0 feature: Sharing Links. This new feature makes good use of our improved Facebook Connect integration and the new Twitter integration.

As most Facebook and Twitter users have discovered, sometimes you see a link to a great article or topic and want to share it with your friends and followers. This new feature makes this very easy to do. You don't even have to leave the page to do it. The ease of use will encourage your members to share your links among their friends increasing the traffic to your forum.

If you have connected your forum account to Twitter and Facebook, then clicking on the share link icon for those services loads a pop-up enabling you to tailor your content before sending it. Of course, there are many more places to share links which is why we've included a few other methods by default and made it very easy to add your own.

Let's look at the feature in more detail.

The screen shot below shows a typical topic and the new share icons underneath. In this case, we've just clicked on the "Twitter" icon:

Now, lets hit "Share". We see a confirmation of our tweet and a link to it:

Let's take a quick look on the Twitter site to confirm it. (I've removed some of the bit.ly URL in this screen shot)

Now, let's hit the Facebook icon:

A quick look on Facebook confirms the link has been added to my wall

Of course, if you don't have your account linked to Twitter or Facebook, the standard "share" link is launched for each service. The other services act like this too, a new window is opened with the service's share page loaded and filled in.

Developers will be pleased to note that adding share links to your own pages is incredibly easy. All you need to do is add one small line of code to your templates and it handles the rest. You don't need to load or parse any data directly, it's all handled for you. For example:

Share this: {IPSLib::shareLinks( $documentTitle )}

Wouldn't it be great to know which links were shared and how many times? You'll be pleased to know that IP.Board tracks the number of shares for each URL and service type and can show a log of this data in the Admin CP. We've also put together a side bar hook to process this data:

This data is cached each time a link is shared, so it is very light to load and process. It is entirely abstracted so your own applications can make use of it.

It's no secret how social media has improved how we share data to each other and this feature allows your board to gain more exposure using existing services. The seamless integration with Facebook and Twitter lowers the barrier for sharing your content.

Here's a quick overview of the feature:

- Global on/off switch to remove the share link icons and functionality
- On/off switch per forum to remove the icons and functionality
- Fall back to simple service's "share" page if member doesn't have JS enabled, or does not have their account connected
- Admin CP options to add more services and to disable existing services
- Sidebar hook uses cached data and can be disabled. Guests cannot see it.
- Topics that are shared that you do not have permission to see have the topic title "Protected Topic" by default in the sidebar block.

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