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IP.Board 3.1: Notifications (Updated)

Since first unveiling the notification changes coming in IP.Board 3.1 we've received a ton of feedback from our customers to further improve the system and make the notifications more useful. We've been listening to your feedback (and often agreeing with your points) and have decided to implement many great ideas to the make the notifications system cleaner, easier to use, and less intrusive.


Better defaults upon upgrading

With our first beta release, nearly everything that can issue a notification did. While inline notifications were set for various less important notifications (such as "Your friend has updated their status"), this quickly proved to be intrusive for users who were regularly active on the board. We have not removed any of the notification options available, however we've defaulted many of the less important notification options to not issue notifications initially upon upgrade. Users who wish to receive notifications for these actions may still visit their user control panel and enable them.

This should lead to a less intrusive (and thus, more useful) inline notification setup when you first upgrade, while still allowing users to stay informed of everything happening on the board should they wish to.


Shut the popup off

Another option that has been introduced is the ability to disable the popup, should you not wish to see it whenever you receive a new notification. There is a per-user setting added to the notifications configuration section of the user control panel to allow you to enable and disable the popup. If you disable the popup, your notifications are still available in your user control panel.

This is a small addition that we felt would give each user more control over their browsing experience.


Review all of your unread notifications in the popup

Another change requested frequently since we first introduced the new system is the ability to review all of your unread notifications from the popup. Presently, only your latest notification is shown, and a link is provided to allow you to visit your notifications log area. Now, there are buttons to allow you to jump through your unread notifications directly from the popup so that you can view all of your unread notifications at once.

We've made a short video to demonstrate how this works:



This is another small, but useful, change that has been oft-requested, and that we're happy to provide in the next 3.1 beta release.


Better accessibility

And now we've saved the best for last. Many of our customers have requested that in-lieu of an intrusive popup window to alert you when you've received a new notification, that we implement a menu inline in the page, and show a count on this menu. The menu would provide for quick access to your latest notifications, providing an easy way to review new notifications, while not issuing a popup on every other page load.

We're happy to report that you will see such a menu introduced in the next IP.Board 3.1 beta release, with a few extra touches to further enhance your browsing experience.



A new menu has been added next to your username dropdown in the top right corner of the page. The number of unread notifications is listed on this menu so that you can quickly see how many unread notifications you have.



When you click on the menu, a dropdown is loaded via AJAX displaying your last 10 notifications. Unread notifications are bolded to help you quickly identify them in the list.

You'll notice that we've additionally added icons to represent each notification type. These icons can be changed per-skin, and third party developers can add and specify their own icons for their own notifications that they issue.

(Please note that the icons you see in this screenshot may not be the icons used in IP.Board 3.1 final)

There's a "View All" link at the bottom of the menu, allowing you to quickly go to your notifications list should you need to review further back than the last 10 notifications you received.

An important note to make here - when you open your menu, all of your unread notifications will be marked as read. This is a small change that we feel helps make the notifications system more useful. It's natural to assume that when you open the menu and review the list of notifications, you've acknowledged them and no longer need them to reflect an "unread" status. You can still, of course, review them even after they've been marked as read.

And finally, once you have no unread notifications, the styling of the menu will change so as to prevent it from drawing your attention as readily as when there are unread notifications for you to view.




Coming in the next refresh

All of these changes will be present in the next refresh of the IP.Board 3.1 beta which will be applied to our community forum later next week. We look forward to your feedback on the enhancements we've made to the notifications system. We expect these changes will prove useful and help to further polish an already powerful and exciting new feature.

(Note that a beta of IP.Board 3.1 is not yet available for download while we finish polishing off these features based on your feedback. Once we have a stable product we will be releasing public betas. Keep an eye on this blog for an announcement.)
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More dropdown menus to implement! :D Very nice changes these. Makes it a lot more useful


Actually: 1Q: With a PM, when you read the PM, does it also remove the notification? Or, alternatively, can a PM not contribute to the notifications at all since the PM number is already there?

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Some nice alterations there Brandon - will need to see it in the flesh to judge properly tho.

However a couple of points:

I don't think notifications should be marked read just on viewing the menu - as if users click on an item from it and then they'll lose what else is new :/ Would be better if each is marked as read as and when they view whatever it is the notification is about.

Also, do the links in this menu-notification go to the actual thing being notified or go to the notifications page? They should go to the actual item - not another page which you then have to click again to get to where you want. (Or maybe have a link to both: 'view notification' and 'go straight to quoted post' etc). The idea is to have as few clicks as possible to get to where you want.

Edited to add: Also, I think the green PM's notification should now be dropped and incorporated into the new notifications system.

Look forward to seeing it when it goes live here!

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[quote name='Strike X' date='08 April 2010 - 05:34 PM']
Q1: Is notifications popup disabled by default? I hope so.

Q2: If notifications has arrived, will it tell me without refreshing the page? Use Ajax to check every X seconds.


Q1:


Q2: It won't use Ajax to poll. That would be too hard on a server.

We have not removed any of the notification options available, however we've defaulted many of the less important notification options to not issue notifications initially upon upgrade. Users who wish to receive notifications for these actions may still visit their user control panel and enable them.

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Quick question about the dropdown menu. Are the items clickable? ie. will take you to the relevant item that has caused the notification. Taking you to the quoted post for example, or the private message.

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Great update, however.....



In regards to your screenshot.

index.php?app=core&module=attach&section

Does it appear as "0" on the menu to new members etc who haven't yet had any notifications? I think it would be better with icons like Facebook personally. Icons would instantly show that the "2" represents messages and the "0" notifications etc.

And finally, once you have no unread notifications, the styling of the menu will change so as to prevent it from drawing your attention as readily as when there are unread notifications for you to view.

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[quote name='Strike X' date='08 April 2010 - 11:26 PM']The number of Inbox and Notification will look confusing for the new users because it look the same.

There should be icons for Inbox and Notification.

Agree. I feel same.

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Im loving this upgrade. Much, much better. Fantastic job IPS. I feel a bit indifferent about the notifications being separated from the PM mainly because-- while it would look better to have the PM's inside the notification area.. they are more important so having them separated makes me go straight to the PM before my other notifications.

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Love the changes. I still think there needs to be a button on the notification popup that links directly to the content in question (where applicable) so I don't have to go to the notification and then click on the link.

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Great stuff. :) These should lower the number of unread messages.

Agree with a link to the content. I'd prefer the entire row be highlighted (like Facebook) rather than bold.

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[quote name='Lewis P' date='08 April 2010 - 05:04 PM'] More dropdown menus to implement! :D Very nice
Actually: 1Q: With a PM, when you read the PM, does it also remove the notification? Or, alternatively, can a PM not contribute to the notifications at all since the PM number is already there?

Reading a PM does *not* mark any notifications the PM has issued as read. It has no way to track them. However, you CAN disable inline notifications of new private messages already in your notifications configuration page. This will stop IPB from issuing inline notifications when a new PM is sent.


[quote name='Razasharp' date='08 April 2010 - 05:28 PM']
I don't think notifications should be marked read just on viewing the menu - as if users click on an item from it and then they'll lose what else is new :/ Would be better if each is marked as read as and when they view whatever it is the notification is about.


Others disagreed. Facebook does it this way (when you click their notifications menu, all notifications are marked as seen), for instance.

[quote name='Razasharp' date='08 April 2010 - 05:28 PM']
Also, do the links in this menu-notification go to the actual thing being notified or go to the notifications page? They should go to the actual item - not another page which you then have to click again to get to where you want. (Or maybe have a link to both: 'view notification' and 'go straight to quoted post' etc). The idea is to have as few clicks as possible to get to where you want.


[quote name='soniceffect' date='08 April 2010 - 05:54 PM'] Quick question about the dropdown menu. Are the items clickable? ie. will take you to the relevant item that has caused the notification. Taking you to the quoted post for example, or the private message.

[quote name='ChrisJB' date='08 April 2010 - 06:09 PM'] When you click the notifications does it take you to that location eg. Someone has quoted your reply click and it takes you the post?

Unfortunately, the notifications system does not track the URL to the source content. Effectively, at present, we build the email that would be sent, and if you use inline notifications, it's issued as an inline notification instead of being emailed to you. I fully expect we'll continue to improve this new system over the coming releases, and will likely implement some sort of "URL to source" functionality.


[quote name='seax' date='08 April 2010 - 06:24 PM']
Does it appear as "0" on the menu to new members etc who haven't yet had any notifications? I think it would be better with icons like Facebook personally. Icons would instantly show that the "2" represents messages and the "0" notifications etc.

We used an icon at first, and it wasn't received as well. Everyone that viewed the example with the icon believed the number by itself was better.

Example: http://screencast.com/t/ZGZiOTkzO

It felt less useful when no number at all was on the menu.

[quote name='Strike X' date='08 April 2010 - 06:26 PM'] The number of Inbox and Notification will look confusing for the new users because it look the same.

There should be icons for Inbox and Notification.

This is also something we discussed (having an icon for inbox near notifications, and moving the notifications menu) but not something that will make it into this release.

MOST users that I converse with are more concerned about the number of unread PMs they have, rather than the number of unread notifications, so we opted not to remove the green count for unread messages at this time. This is something that may or may not change over time, as the new notification system evolves in future releases. It's hard to say.

[quote name='TCWT' date='09 April 2010 - 01:26 AM']
Agree with a link to the content. I'd prefer the entire row be highlighted (like Facebook) rather than bold.

I like the idea. Luckily, it's a quick CSS edit to do this. Rikki will likely play around a little with the new design before final release beyond what you see, so we'll keep the suggestion in mind.

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Please bring back the old PM notification option. Not seeing the PM popping is a step back (IMHO) and one I think many users will miss (especially if the forum has recently moved to IPB).

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Will the calendar be getting any new notification/subscription options with this release? If we could choose to notify when an event has been moved or edited that would be super helpful.

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