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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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"We are no longer going to include a default page wrapper with IP.Content 2.1".
I do not like this approach at all. Having a default page wrapper was a great thing to have. It helped me a lot while working on my site.
It would be nice if you change your mind on this.

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It all looks great and no doubt major steps forward to making a plug and play system, but still so very much beyond my knowledge and understanding :(

Could these templates, be it IPB Wrapper, or the one you've dropped not be something you still create but upload separately, that way, those who want to use them can?

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[quote name='Jim' date='04 October 2010 - 08:31 AM']
It all looks great and no doubt major steps forward to making a plug and play system, but still so very much beyond my knowledge and understanding :(

Could these templates, be it IPB Wrapper, or the one you've dropped not be something you still create but upload separately, that way, those who want to use them can?


Yes anything can be exported/imported. We added lots of improvements to import/export in version 2.1 for that reason.

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[quote name='estan' date='04 October 2010 - 08:28 AM']
"We are no longer going to include a default page wrapper with IP.Content 2.1".
I do not like this approach at all. Having a default page wrapper was a great thing to have. It helped me a lot while working on my site.
It would be nice if you change your mind on this.


There is still example content in 2.1 we just aren't doing that OLD one we did on 2.0 ... there's still stuff that comes with it to help you get going :)

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[quote name='ZakRhyno' date='04 October 2010 - 02:10 PM'] So what is an IPB Wrapper, in plan mans speak?

The same wrapper that is used in forums, blogs, third party apps etc.

Essentially the globaltemplate.

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[quote name='estan' date='04 October 2010 - 08:28 AM']
"We are no longer going to include a default page wrapper with IP.Content 2.1".
I do not like this approach at all. Having a default page wrapper was a great thing to have. It helped me a lot while working on my site.
It would be nice if you change your mind on this.


I can respect if you liked the original page template we supplied, however the VAST MAJORITY of our customers did not. There are several several topics in our feedback forum from users who want IP.Content to work with their board skin out of the box.

There is nothing stopping you from making and using your own page template of course - we just felt that since almost all of our customers (yes, it's nearly unanimous if I had to actually take a count) want IP.Content to work with their board skin out of the box, rather than a random page template we created, we should listen.


[quote name='Jim' date='04 October 2010 - 08:31 AM']
It all looks great and no doubt major steps forward to making a plug and play system, but still so very much beyond my knowledge and understanding :(

Could these templates, be it IPB Wrapper, or the one you've dropped not be something you still create but upload separately, that way, those who want to use them can?


What is beyond your knowledge with regards to this blog entry? Basically what this blog entry is saying, is that you install IP.Content and right away begin using your articles system with no other effort on your part. If there is something confusing about that, please explain what so we can review it.

As for templates, yes you can upload them separately, as of 2.1: http://community.invisionpower.com/blog/1174/entry-5293-ipcontent-21-dev-update-template-updates/


[quote name='ZakRhyno' date='04 October 2010 - 09:10 AM']
So what is an IPB Wrapper, in plan mans speak?


The IPB wrapper is your skin, basically. In IP.Content you can use your IP.Board wrapper (which means the page inherits your board header, footer and styling), or you can start with a blank canvas and create the entire page from scratch (where you would have to code the header/footer HTML, code the CSS, etc.). While there is merit in both approaches, most of our customers have said they want to install IP.Content and the articles system should immediately inherit their existing board skin, and not require them to recode half of the templates to use it within their skin.


[quote name='0 ÷ ∞' date='04 October 2010 - 09:11 AM']
Will the templates be affected for users who are upgrading to the latest version of IP.Content?


No. You can use the diff tools if you want to update your article templates, however your existing templates won't be touched - we don't want to destroy any of your hard work unnecessarily.

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As someone who is still fairly new to IPB and have used the IPC app a lot this past year trying to wrap my hands around it, I appreciate the direction you guys are taking.

This will help a great deal of your clients use this app right out of the box, but will also allow the advanced users to create something stunning from scratch.

Fixing the breadcrumbs, the pinning of articles, the wrapper and everything else is great leaps forward!

Thanks for listening to your customers. With other platforms coming out, and with other scripts already on the market, it's this listening that makes me know my choice in you earlier this year was a wise decision.

Keep up the great work!

Jamie

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When can we get it I am just starting to get to grips with it, this would be great I think as I am no designer and while I have managed to create a template the "look" of it leaves a lot to be desired.

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Q: I have installed IPC on one of my domain. By mistake, I deleted few of the things from demo created pages, database templates, etc. If I will update my IPC, will they come back? I would like to have it back, if thats possible.

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Your default config (first screenshot) is extremely dull compared to the 2.0 sample site. I'm looking at it and it looks like half the CSS is missing. The forum indexes are practically works of art, I hope you can improve the design a bit more :)

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IP.Content will be released "when it's ready". I'm afraid I can't really give a much firmer date than that just yet.

@AlexJ - you do not need to do anything to get the database templates back - just create a new database template and the content it will default in the form is the same content that would have been installed initially. Just create a new database template (for each "type") and hit save without editing the template.

If you want all the demo date back, however, you would need to uninstall IP.Content and then reinstall it. Or follow this tutorial: http://community.invisionpower.com/resources/documentation/index.html/_/tutorials/content/creating-the-default-demo-site-in-ipcontent-20-r448

@timestandstill - I can respect your opinion of course. We wanted to go with minimal visual interference out of the box so that you could customize it to your liking. Certainly we could add random images and colors, but we felt having a mostly neutral and generic out of the box template setup would be best in the long run, because that way we don't make presumptions about your skin, forcing you to do x or y to get the templates looking good in your skin, and we don't add unnecessary default data that many won't use. It's a hard balance to make - with IP.Board we have full control over the pages, so yes we can do whatever we want visually. With IP.Content YOU have full control over the pages - we're just giving you some data there to get you started, basically.

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[quote name='rbiss' date='04 October 2010 - 09:03 PM']
For boards with multiple skin options, will this format to a member's alternate skin selection?


Yes.

IP.Content does have an additional CSS file with a couple of colors defined that may need to be tweaked for custom skins, however this is no different than any of the other applications (Gallery, Downloads, etc.). We tried to let IP.Content inherit as much color and style from the board skin as possible, and it will use whatever the member's skin choice is.

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