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IP.Content 2.1 Dev Update: Tighter Forum Integration

IP.Content features robust integration with IP.Board, allowing you to promote posts to articles and allowing you to use your forums to host the comments for your articles and other database records. This functionality is important to many administrators, helping integrate these two areas of your site closely. We have enhanced the IP.Content and IP.Board integration in IP.Content 2.1.0, giving you better control over how IP.Content interacts with your forums.

Better Control of Topics
You can configure IP.Content to post a new topic in the forums when a new database record is saved. This topic is then used to host the comments for the article or database record, and your users can then comment on the article either from the article page directly, or within the forums. Your moderators can control the comments from both areas, giving you a lot of flexibility with regards to how your databases function.

We have enhanced this integration in IP.Content 2.1.0, allowing you to better control the topics that are automatically generated in the forums. Previously, when a topic was posted, the post consisted of the article or database record "content" only. Beginning with IP.Content 2.1.0, you can now control on a per-field basis which fields are included with the automatically generated forum topic. A new "Topic Format" option is available for each field in your databases, allowing you to control how that field is represented in the topic that is posted.

If you leave the "Topic Format" option blank, the field will not be included in the automatically posted topic. Otherwise, you control the format very much like you would control a profile custom field - you can define a "{key}" and a "{value}" macro which IP.Content will replace appropriately. With this new option, you can control which fields are included (or not included) in the topic that is posted, and how they will be formatted. You could use this capability to create a form on your website which in turn posts topics in a hidden forum for your staff to review, or you could include more details about an article (such as the article image) when it is posted. This new option should give you much better control over the topics IP.Content creates in your forums.

Better Synchronizing of Articles
IP.Content 2.1.0 will include a new hook that will allow for comment counts to be more accurate when you use the forums to manage comments. Now, if your moderators delete a comment from the forums (instead of from IP.Content), IP.Content will be properly updated so that it reflects the accurate comment count.

Additionally, when IP.Content posts a topic to host the comments for the article, a link to the article is now included automatically at the end of the post. This may seem like a minor detail at first, but this will help better integrate and cross-reference the content on your site so that your users can more easily discover everything you offer.

Re-Use Existing Topics
Many users have requested a way, when they promote a post to an article, to be able to use the existing topic to host the comments for the new article. Currently with IP.Content 2.0, when you promote a post to an article and you use the forums for the comments, a new topic will be created. You now have more control over this process in IP.Content 2.1.

There is a new configuration option in the ACP under "Promote Article Settings" to allow you to control this new behavior. The options for this setting, labeled "Allow promoter to associate article?", are "Do not associate", "Allow promoter to choose" and "Automatically associate". When you select "Do not associate", a new topic is created, just as IP.Content 2.0 currently behaves. When you select "Automatically associate", when the post is promoted to an article the existing topic is automatically associated with the article, in order to host it's comments. When you choose "Allow promoter to choose", an option is available on the promotion form allowing you to re-use the existing topic to host the comments for the article.

It is important to realize some caveats with this capability:

  • While the option to "move" a post may still be available, this could result in breaking the topic association if you promote the first post in the topic to an article. It is strongly recommended that if you are planning to associate articles with their existing topics that you disable the ability to "move" posts.
  • Promoting a post in the middle of a topic will result in the entire topic (including posts made BEFORE the one that was promoted) to appear to be comments of the promoted post. This could result in unrelated posts appearing to be comments of your articles.

Notwithstanding the above noted "gotchas", this new capability is a highly requested feature that we hope allows you to control the way your articles and forums are integrated in the manner you see fit best for your site.

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