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IP.Content 2.0 Dev Update: Tighter Forum Integration

IP.Content is an extremely flexible system. While considering the possibilities with IP.Content and feeding content to your external pages, we knew that there were multiple options.



  • Using a database
    You can create a database to store content such as articles, and then allow commenting on these articles directly. In doing so, you keep your articles and your topics separated.
  • Using a blog
    You could create a blog, and then create a feed block that pulls entries from this specific blog to your homepage. In doing so, you could create a dynamically updated homepage which is fed from a specified blog. You would not easily be able to allow commenting on the entries on the homepage, but the blog itself would still allow commenting.
  • Using a forum
    You could create a forum and then post your "news" topics in this forum. Then you can create a forum feed block to pull these topics to your homepage. This allows for easy syndication of topics you wish to show elsewhere, although you will again face limitations when it comes to allowing comments.
  • Raw pages
    You could certainly create new pages manually, and update them on your homepage. You could even create a topic manually associated with each page, and then feed replies from that topic to the page using a forum reply feed block, if you wanted.


Many users have expressed interest in a hybrid method not listed above. Specifically, many users have requested a way to use the forums to facilitate commenting on database records. As of IP.Content 2.0, this will now be possible.



Overview

Databases are segregated from your forums on purpose. They are their own "section", and are designed to run independently of the forums. Still, there's no reason that the two can't play nicely together, right?



With IP.Content 2.0, you will now be able to turn on and off the forum integration at a per-database (and per-category) level. When you do, submitting a record to the database will post a topic in a forum of your choosing. You can also optionally choose to use that topic as the comment storage container. If you choose to do so, comments made in the database will actually be posted as replies to the topic, and the comments displayed on the page will be the replies pulled directly from the topic.



Specifics

For each database, you can enable and disable the forum integration. You will be able to turn the forum integration on, specify which forum the topics should be posted in, specify a topic title "prefix" and "suffix", specify if the topic should be deleted if the record gets deleted, and enable the feature to use the topic to host the comments for the record.








Further to this, you can override these settings at the category level as well. By default, the categories will inherit the forum settings, but you can edit each category and override any of the above settings.








This allows you to create some interesting combinations. You could use the built in database functionality for all categories except for your news category, for instance. Or you can have IP.Content post the topics in an appropriately mirrored category structure in the forums. It's up to you!



You can also allow IP.Content to remove the automatically generated topic (and any replies to the topic) when you delete the record, as well. Additionally, any standard moderator actions (delete comment, approve comment, unapprove comment, etc.) will work seamlessly from IP.Content, both from the front end and from the ACP, regardless of whether you use the forum integration or not. While you can manage comments from the forum as well (for instance, if you delete a reply to the topic, that "comment" will no longer show up when viewing the IP.Content record), we recommend you use IP.Content to manage the comments. In some instances, IP.Content may need to take additional actions which will only be triggered when the moderator action is initiated from IP.Content.



Comments

When you enable the forum integration for comments, any comments made on the record are not stored in the IP.Content database tables, but instead are posted as replies to the automatically created topic. When displaying the comments in IP.Content, instead of checking it's local tables it will instead pull the replies to the topic and display them on the record page. Users will be able to comment on the record directly, OR post a reply to the topic (provided you give them appropriate permissions in the forums). Either way, the comment will be displayed appropriately when viewing the record in IP.Content.



Note that IP.Content will be able to post to the topic even if you do not allow any permission masks to access the forums you have told IP.Content to use. This means you can create hidden forums to host the topics if you want, or you can create forums that are open to everyone. Some users may prefer to navigate your main website (powered by IP.Content), while some users may find navigating your forums more familiar. Using this new integration option, you can cater to both demographics on your site easily, all the while without increasing your workload or duplicating the content inappropriately across your site.



The comments as displayed in IP.Content when using the forum integration appear the same way they would if you stored the comments locally. Your users won't know the difference. Note that if you leave reputation on a comment that comes from the forum, the reputation is associated with the forum post (so the user will not be able to visit the topic and rep a post again). Just for completeness, here's an example of comments being fed from the automatically generated topic anyways.








Upgrading

When you upgrade to IP.Content 2, naturally your existing articles won't have topics stored in the forums, thus comments won't be stored in the forums either. Any record that does not have a topic associated will automatically fallback to using it's local built-in commenting system, while new records submitted will use the forums as configured. This means that when you upgrade, you don't have to worry about any of your comments disappearing if you decide to make use of the new functionality.



Everything should work seamlessly so you don't have to worry about rebuilding records or missing comments. When you upgrade, you can optionally make use of this new feature, but it won't affect your previously saved records.



Wrap Up

We feel that this new capability in IP.Content solidifies the forum integration capabilities available with IP.Content, allowing you to create unique and creative site configurations. You can allow visitors to view the content from both IP.Content and the forums, or only from IP.Content, or only from the forums. You can opt not to embed the database into any pages, and instead just allow members to read the records and comment on them from the forums only. You can let IP.Content post a topic and all comments to a hidden forum to make moderation easier for your old-time moderators who aren't familiar with IP.Content. You have many options; this is the goal with IP.Content. To allow you to decide how your site should function. We look forward to hearing your feedback regarding this new feature!

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Now this is what I've been waiting for :)

I'm just eager to see what type of release schedule we are looking at for 2.0. I'm going to be basing my entire site around IPS software as it's good integration as a whole, so it's going to be a lot of fun when it comes out ! :)

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omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg

I want it! :D

This quote above solves all my problems i had in planing my news page(which will be used as main, aka portal page)! This is the topic where i summed up problems i had in creating news page with current ip.content version.

Just amazing... :)

Any idea when is this coming out??? I really need this functionality asap. :D

With IP.Content 2.0, you will now be able to turn on and off the forum integration at a per-database (and per-category) level. When you do, submitting a record to the database will post a topic in a forum of your choosing. You can also optionally choose to use that topic as the comment storage container. If you choose to do so, comments made in the database will actually be posted as replies to the topic, and the comments displayed on the page will be the replies pulled directly from the topic.

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Thanks for your great work. Rated with five stars. Forum integration of IP.Content is indeed *the* key factor as for most boards, the forum is the current number #1 place their users visit. This is a great way for admins, moderators and users to keep in touch with IP.Content. As I am planning to maybe use IP.Content as a review tool ("Write a review about Windows 7" "Rate Windows Vista") I am very interested in IP.Content. However I will not use the forum as I prefer to keep things simple. Having to create an additional topic is more complex than just store the comments in the IP.Content database. The key to sell IP.Content to us admins is the ease of use for the most basic things. 

[*]"I want to write a special About Us page and need to do that with only five clicks on IP.Content admin control panel and a WYSIWYG editor"[*]"Need to display an external PHP code for a special integration page and want to do that within 5 minutes from the IP.Content admin control panel"[*]"I have a forum about children names. Just got a list of the most given baby names and want to put them into IP.Content to rate my users them and write some comments about them. #Name #male/female is what I have. I want to let my users rate them for #like_it(1-5) #wysiwyg_comment. As I already have the baby names list I just want to put them into IP.Content and put in the database rating fields. Can I do that within 15 minutes? What about the layout? Is the interface directly build from IP.Content? I know nothing about PHP or MySQL!"

IP.Content is a completely great idea. Let it be usable without any HTML, PHP or MySQL knowledge is the key to sell it. The forum integration is a good start to avoid stuggling with templates. However I'd prefer that the standard templates of IP.Content do look good so I use the standard input / display templates and my users think: "wow, how did he do that :D". You are that good of designing, Rikki did a perfect job on both forum and blog. Let him do the basic IP.Content interfaces on the user side, too! :D



I'd also like to see more IP.Content integration within the IPB page. Having a "IP.Content 2.0 Dev Update: Tighter Forum Integration" topic in the IPB news forum with a small post and a link to the blog with an "IP.Content 2.0 Dev Update: Tighter Forum Integration" entry - that's somewhat complicated. Better just show the blog entry titles directly in the IPB news forum. 




The ultimate IP.Content would do this: 


Create a universal forum within five minutes.

Structure: forum(title+descr+user(subscr)) > topic(title+descr+rating+user(subscr)) > post(title+descr+wysiwyg+attach+rating+user(read)).

Change permissions to that moderators are allowed to create forums, users are generally allowed to create topics and posts, but moderators are allowed to change these permissions on a per-forum basis. 




Same goes for a blog, a review tool, anything where data is stored. IP.Content can be used for creating anything here. 




Contrary to IP.Content, there is place for an IP.Fetch tool that fetches data, combines it and displays the user anything he is most likely interested in. Back to my baby-names-forum: A user rated the name "Melinda" with 5stars and now another user wrote a review for this name. A link to that review should be displayed to me on the start page. 

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I don't have a specific release date, but I can say that IP.Content 2.0 will require IP.Board 3.1, so it can't be released until IPB 3.1 is. ;)

This was one of two big blog entries we've been "saving" (or rather, not publishing until everything is done and working) by the way.

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It's a great entry! With this forum integration and some kind of YUI (or whatever javascript tool you use) grid integration for displaying IP.Content elements better, a IPB.cms can be done out-of-the-box. Am curious about the second big entry!

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You can have ip.content page where when you add new article, topic is created in forum you specify. Then all comments in that article are actually posts in that created topic and vice versa.

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Thanks for the update Brandon!

Sounds like a good compromise (bit like having custom fields for threads). Ideally IP.C comments would have all the functionality of forum replies (instead of having to rely on forums). Tho, I'm not really familiar with IP.C1 yet - so prob shouldn't comment until I am.

Thanks for keeping us informed tho! :)

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It astounds me at how many improvements/additions there were to IPB 3.1 and IP.Content, etc, when this whole time I wasn't even thinking of many things which could be improved upon in the first place. It's like computers. Once they exist, you don't know how you could live without it. Now there's these updates. And in years to come it will be difficult to see how we could live without these.

But seriously, these are insane! I can't wait for the final "big" update. Great job so far, and congratulations and getting a board with nearly 100K members converted from vBulletin. We all know you deserved the business from them. (Se7ensins)

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Brandon, let's say I fill out a form on IP.Content and have it so that it will also post as a topic. Will the new topic come from me or will all the topics be posted from one specified account?

If it is posted coming from the person that filled out the form, you are saying it is possible to basically just use the form as an alternative to clicking the new topic button? I have always wanted to allow my users to fill out a form as I will be running a graphics request community. It will be much easier. Could you please let me know? Thanks

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[quote name='Gros Blaireau' date='06 March 2010 - 11:08 AM']Sorry to be a bit negative, but this is not a big duplicate content machine ?




It definitely is and therefore it is for me not such a good design idea - I strongly dislike redundancy and therefore I am not using it. However it is a tool for a quicker development of Content. A paid competition build CMS comments the same way: with a hidden forum.

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This is soo awesome!
Will this integrated commenting work on blog feed blocks and forum feed blocks aswell? So that you can create a blog feed block and feed it to your main page like a news system, and all comments on each feed will automatically be posted to the blog? So the users won't even know it's from a blog.

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I have a question and I'd be happy and very grateful if someone could answer from the team ;)

We're in the process of converting our site over to IPB and IP.Content. Currently we're using Subdreamer for articles and vBulletin to create a thread automatically where the comments are stored. So all of our articles are backed up in the vBulletin database.

When we do the conversion to IPBoard those forum threads with the old comments will be ported across. I'm going to manually port over all the old Subdreamer news topics to IP.Content.

Would I be able to attribute the IP.Content articles with the old forum threads that are carrying the comments? So basically point the "record" to where the comments are being stored? And then they magically appear underneath the article?

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[quote name='IP.iBaLLiN' date='06 March 2010 - 01:52 AM'] Brandon, let's say I fill out a form on IP.Content and have it so that it will also post as a topic. Will the new topic come from me or will all the topics be posted from one specified account?

If it is posted coming from the person that filled out the form, you are saying it is possible to basically just use the form as an alternative to clicking the new topic button? I have always wanted to allow my users to fill out a form as I will be running a graphics request community. It will be much easier. Could you please let me know? Thanks

Yes, effectively you can do that now.


[quote name='Gros Blaireau' date='06 March 2010 - 05:08 AM'] Sorry to be a bit negative, but this is not a big duplicate content machine ?

You do not give Google enough credit....if Google were that easily confused, do you think it would be the dominant search engine today?

But setting that aside, this is exactly what a lot of sites do (even if you don't know it). You don't have to make use of this feature, but we feel offering the functionality rounds out IP.Content significantly.

Here's a random example from a large/well-respected site

http://www.macworld.com/article/146788/2010/03/nexus_one_iphone.html

macworld.com. This is an article on their front page, with comments, right?

Here is the forum thread (how coincidental they are using IP.Board!) that is powering the comments. :)

http://forums.macworld.com/index.php?/topic/123415-iphone-lessons-from-googles-nexus-one/

[quote name='Tanax' date='06 March 2010 - 10:20 AM'] This is soo awesome!
Will this integrated commenting work on blog feed blocks and forum feed blocks aswell? So that you can create a blog feed block and feed it to your main page like a news system, and all comments on each feed will automatically be posted to the blog? So the users won't even know it's from a blog.

No. This feature has nothing to do with (and does not affect or alter) feed blocks.

[quote name='Booth' date='07 March 2010 - 04:20 PM'] I have a question and I'd be happy and very grateful if someone could answer from the team ;)

We're in the process of converting our site over to IPB and IP.Content. Currently we're using Subdreamer for articles and vBulletin to create a thread automatically where the comments are stored. So all of our articles are backed up in the vBulletin database.

When we do the conversion to IPBoard those forum threads with the old comments will be ported across. I'm going to manually port over all the old Subdreamer news topics to IP.Content.

Would I be able to attribute the IP.Content articles with the old forum threads that are carrying the comments? So basically point the "record" to where the comments are being stored? And then they magically appear underneath the article?

I can't see how we'd be able to do this automatically for you (sounds like a relatively custom setup) however you could certainly do this manually. All you would need to do is update the "record_topicid" column in the database to point a record to it's associated topic in the forums. That's all IP.Content needs (that topic id).

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[quote name='bfarber' date='08 March 2010 - 04:29 PM']
I can't see how we'd be able to do this automatically for you (sounds like a relatively custom setup) however you could certainly do this manually. All you would need to do is update the "record_topicid" column in the database to point a record to it's associated topic in the forums. That's all IP.Content needs (that topic id).


Thanks Charles. It would work exactly like IP.Content works, it's just the conversion of our old news topics/forum threads that will be the difficulty.

However if as you say this can be done manually by doing as you said... "All you would need to do is update the "record_topicid" column in the database to point a record to it's associated topic in the forums." That should be easy. I will have to add a new timestamp to the old articles anyway to reflect the date it was originally posted.

Sounds like associating an IP.Content article with an older forum thread isn't that difficult to do. Infact this is handy if in future someone posts something on our forum before we post our news article and we want the comments from the forum thread to be associated with the new article :)

We don't have 100's of news articles so this can be done manually thankfully :)

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[quote name='Booth' date='08 March 2010 - 01:09 PM']

Thanks Charles. It would work exactly like IP.Content works, it's just the conversion of our old news topics/forum threads that will be the difficulty.

However if as you say this can be done manually by doing as you said... "All you would need to do is update the "record_topicid" column in the database to point a record to it's associated topic in the forums." That should be easy. I will have to add a new timestamp to the old articles anyway to reflect the date it was originally posted.

Sounds like associating an IP.Content article with an older forum thread isn't that difficult to do. Infact this is handy if in future someone posts something on our forum before we post our news article and we want the comments from the forum thread to be associated with the new article :)

We don't have 100's of news articles so this can be done manually thankfully :)

Yeah, if you are comfortable with updating the new column that will be added during the upgrade (or that IP.Content sets when the database is created) then yes, that's all that's needed. :)

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This is nice. I'd like to see and be able to use IP Content to not only pull from the forum but also display that information in the forum sidebar. Last 10 posts for example. No plugins needed then and a lot tighter forum integration.

Very good
Thank You

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thanks for the update, ipcontentv2 seems great, can't wait for it.. one question i want to ask is, let's say we're already using our forums for news publishing, will be ipcontentv2 be able to import forum threads as articles?

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[quote name='bonesoul' date='31 March 2010 - 09:18 AM'] thanks for the update, ipcontentv2 seems great, can't wait for it.. one question i want to ask is, let's say we're already using our forums for news publishing, will be ipcontentv2 be able to import forum threads as articles?

There isn't a mass import function, but you can use the "Promote to Article" feature to copy or move them over.

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