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IP.Content 2.1 Dev Update: More Consistency

Alongside the new articles system introduced in IP.Content 2.0, we redesigned and included a default demo site to showcase some of the core functionality in IP.Content. This default demo site utilizes the concept of page templates, custom database templates, custom databases, custom blocks, and all of the useful functionality you will probably make use of yourself. The idea behind this is that we wanted to show off some of the capabilities of IP.Content in a "real-world demo" so that you could dive in and, hopefully, better understand how all of the different capabilities of IP.Content can be pulled together to create unique and creative websites.

Well, while the demo site looks sharp and has been generally well received, there has been one recurring criticism of this approach with IP.Content 2.0 - the articles system, because it was embedded into the default demo site, did not look consistent with the rest of IP.Board if you chose not to use the included page template. If you edited the "index.html" page and set it to use the IPB wrapper (and not the page template we included), much of the layout did not flow as expected.

We have decided to change our approach with IP.Content 2.1. We are no longer going to include a default page wrapper with IP.Content 2.1. I'm sure some of our customers may have liked seeing how the page templates can be used to facilitate making an entire website with a consistent look and feel outside of the forums, however in our polling most of the users who make separate website pages (and don't want them to look like the forums) are already fully capable of doing so. Additionally, these users tend to be more advanced users and they login to IP.Content after it is installed and just delete the default wrapper anyways. This functionality is still in place of course, however the new default installation of IP.Content will utilize the IP.Board wrapper instead of a separate wrapper, in an effort to make IP.Content more consistent with your forums, and much easier to use "out of the box".

The new templates included with IP.Content 2.1 are not radically different from 2.0, however some changes have been applied to various elements of the pages to allow IP.Content to re-use your existing IP.Board skin easier with fewer changes on your part. Ideally, this means IP.Content will work out of the box with (most) custom skins with few or no styling tweaks needed. Thus, once you install IP.Content 2.1, you can click the Pages tab and begin adding your own articles: a much more plug-n-play approach, if you will.

I'm sure a couple of screenshots will make this clearer, so here you can see the major views of the articles system in IP.Content 2.1 (using the IP.Board wrapper). Please be aware that these screenshots are not 100% finished and small details may change between now and release. We're still tweaking a few areas but wanted to give you an idea of what was in store.

This is a category frontpage of the "Databases" category

One of the first things you'll notice here is that the sidebar has been moved to the right hand side of the page. The concept of "articles" is part of a content-driven website. Articles are content that are highly relevant to your community that you want separated from the forums, in an area that is easy to navigate and view. To this end, much like most blog products on the market, we have moved the sidebar to the right side of the page so that the first thing you see when you visit the page is the content.

We will also set the *default* frontpage template to be our "Frontpage (Blog Format)" template. For those of you who are not familiar with IP.Content (or, who are not familiar with the concept of a frontpage or the frontpage templates), the "Frontpage" is the first page you hit when visiting the articles system, or when you visit any given category in the articles system. You can assign a special frontpage template that allows you to issue the content in the manner you best see fit (and you can assign separate frontpage templates on a per-category basis if you choose to do so). IP.Content ships with 3 default frontpage templates (although you can modify these, and/or create your own): 1x2x2 Layout (this is where you get a larger area for the first article, which will have it's own "row", and then all other articles on the frontpage will be in a smaller sized box with 2 per row), Blog Format (this is a layout similar to a blog product, where the entire article shows on the frontpage, one per row), and Single Column (where you have a layout similar to the blog layout, however only an excerpt of the article is shown instead of the whole thing). While the 1x2x2 layout is arguably the most creative, and as such we used it to show off what you could do with IP.Content 2.0, we have opted to use the Blog Format frontpage template as our default template in IP.Content 2.1. We feel this is more consistent with most users' experiences on other websites, and should make it easier for users to navigate your own site as a result. (It is important to note, all 3 templates are still shipped and available for use with 2.1 - we are only changing the default configuration here).

This is the article view

Here you will notice that we now re-use the "maintitle" styling from the forums for the header of the page. The interface should feel much more consistent with topics and posts in your forums, while still standing out as content that is not directly contained within the forums.

All user-action buttons have been added to the container bar below the content, and the date/poster info is moved above the content into it's own bar with a separate background color. This allows the content to better "stand out" without other meta data contained within the same area distracting the user's eyes. All in all there isn't much to say about the changes made to this page - we think they're pretty self-explanatory.

And here is the archives view

Again, most of the changes should be pretty self-explanatory. A list of the articles contained within the category is shown (as is pagination, when necessary), along with a sort-bar that allows you to resort the articles in a couple of different ways. This is not unlike IP.Content 2.0, however of course this is now displayed within the IP.Board wrapper. If you have sub-categories in the category you are viewing, they will be displayed below the list of articles.

We have also redesigned the included media database demo so that it will work with or without the default demo site wrapper.

Again, we have moved the sidebar to the right side of the page to put the focus on the page content, and we have simplified the interface, removing extraneous meta data. A list of recent videos is shown at the bottom of the page, while the most popular videos are shown on the right side of the page. It is important to note that this "media database" is nothing more than a regular database in IP.Content, with some customized database templates. You could entirely recreate this media database yourself without anything special - we ship with it simply to show some creative ways you can use the databases functionality.

If you didn't notice in the screenshots initially, we've also updated the breadcrumb functionality for databases (and articles) so that if you are using the IP.Board wrapper, the breadcrumbs are correctly appended to the IP.Board secondary navigation bar, rather than being inserted separately. This should provide for better navigational consistency with other applications.

We value all of our customers' feedback and as a direct result of the feedback received, you can see that we are making changes to IP.Content 2.1 in an attempt to make it easier to approach and use. You will no longer have to jump through hoops to use IP.Content inside or outside a wrapper - either way you wish to use the software, we've got you covered out of the box. We look forward to your comments!

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