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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!