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IP.Board 3.2.0: Front-end Changes Afoot

While we aren't quite ready to show off IP.Board 3.2.0 in its entirety yet, I wanted to talk a little about what you can expect from our new front-end skin - our thinking behind development, areas we've focused on, etc.

Goals
Before development commenced, we created a list of goals that we aimed to meet. These include:

  • Improving the experience
    We've been accused in the past of having a 'clunky' experience in some areas, so we've worked hard to improve the user experience in key areas. Some of these are usability changes, while others relate to reducing clutter on the screen or relocating elements.
  • Making the skin easier for 3rd party developers (and ourselves!) to use
    Another focus was on making our skin - particularly the CSS - easier to use, for skinners, developers, even our own team. We've found that as new features were added, whole blocks of existing CSS were copied, pasted, then tweaked to suit the new feature. This creates some resource overhead, not to mention more work for skinners and developers. To remedy this, we've begun introducing a new approach to our CSS: more modular units that can be reused and combined easily to make many interfaces easy to implement. This will be gradually introduced throughout the skin as areas get updated in future point releases. Already, we've been able to remove large sections of old CSS as the updated areas make use of the new modular CSS.
  • Modernizing the display
    It's been 3 years since we first began working on IP.Board 3.0, and the internet has come some way since then. We decided it was time to refresh the visual style of our default skin. While it will still be clearly recognizable as IP.Board, we've added some polish to the overall style, and made more use of technologies such as CSS3.



Areas that we've focused on
A huge number of areas have had minor tweaks here and there, too numerous to list here. But other areas have had significant updates, including:

  • Global wrapper
    This is probably a given, since it influences the rest of the skin. Parts have been made more streamlined, with a new member & moderator bar, a new application bar that now supports as many apps as you choose to install, inline sign in and more.
  • Forum view
    While the basic concept of listing topics inside a forum hasn't been altered, we've made big updates to the presentation, including rethinking the display of non-essential items and a new, friendly topic preview.
  • Topics view
    As with forum view, the basic structure has not changed (familiarity is a good thing!), but numerous elements have been tweaked, changed, and tidied. All in all, reading topics should be a more pleasant experience for your users.
  • Profile
    Our profile view was in need of overhauling, so that's what we've done! It now sports a vastly cleaner display while keeping all the relevant information accessible. Data from 3rd party apps is easily incorporated without fear of breaking the tab bar as in 3.0. In addition, we have merged profile comments and status updates, giving members a modern 'wall' in their profile.
  • Calendar
    We've previously posted blog entries about new features you can expect to see in Calendar, and to go along with that, we've completely revamped almost every aspect of the calendar display - hopefully making it a more inviting place for your community to share events.
  • Registration
    We identified some time ago that our registration routine was less than optimal, especially when considering communities that make use of IP.Nexus, with its ability to sell packages at registration. To remedy that, we have rethought the registration routine, to present Nexus packages in a better way, get rid of unnecessary steps along the way, and above all make it quicker for your prospective members to register
  • Moderation
    We will elaborate on this point at a later date, but we have made the various day-to-day moderation tasks easy to access and use - a boon for your moderating team.
  • View New Content
    Our View New Content area has steadily grown more complex as additional sorting and filtering options have been introduced, so we felt it was time to improve the display of those options to make it all a bit easier to use.
  • Posting Screen
    We've updated the new topic/reply screen to be more streamlined, as well as integrate some new goodies that we'll talk about later.
  • Redirect Screens
    The old-fashioned 'you are being redirected' screens are now a thing of the past. Every area has been updated to use a new inline notification display, which doesn't get in the way and fades after a few seconds.



Teasers

To whet your appetite, here's some teaser shots of the new front-end. We'll be gradually showing more as we discuss new features in later blog entries.





While these are just teaser shots, over the next few weeks we will start posting blog entries about new features on the front end that will also contain screenshots of new skin elements so keep an eye on our blog for more updates!

Feel free to comment on this blog entry below or, if you have feedback unrelated to this blog entry, start a new topic in our feedback forum. Be sure to check the What's New in IP.Board 3.2 topic for a running list of announced changes!
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RSS feeds at the bottom? hrm..means something like this:

http://news.yahoo.com/rss;_ylt=AlUD9vRwa0H36f0YWoOjm42s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTBsa3NwcDZrBHBvcwMxNQRzZWMDYm4Ec2xrA3Jzcw--

Ok, I will stop guessing ... :)

I like the calendar 'Month View' teaser. :blush:

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[quote name='AlexJ' timestamp='1300308489']
RSS feeds at the bottom? hrm..means something like this: http://news.yahoo.com/rss;_ylt=AlUD9vRwa0H36f0YWoOjm42s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTBsa3NwcDZrBHBvcwMxNQRzZWMDYm4Ec2xrA3Jzcw--Ok, I will stop guessing ... :) I like the calendar 'Month View' teaser. :blush:



I don't think that is the calendar... I think it's the new options on View New Content.

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[quote name='R1Lover' timestamp='1300309147']
We appreciate the progress, but the reality is we can't see anything with these "teasers" of partial screen shots. So thanks for the update, but your teaser pics are worthless. :)


Hardly. It clearly shows the direction that IPS are taking with the software.

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[quote name='AlexJ' timestamp='1300308489']
RSS feeds at the bottom? hrm..means something like this:




Hopefully each forum will have it's own RSS feed icon, rather than a dropdown that is impossible to use on a large forum.

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  • Management

[quote name='R1Lover' timestamp='1300309147']
We appreciate the progress, but the reality is we can't see anything with these "teasers" of partial screen shots. So thanks for the update, but your teaser pics are worthless. :)


That would be the point of teaser pics ;)

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[quote name='R1Lover' timestamp='1300309147']
We appreciate the progress, but the reality is we can't see anything with these "teasers" of partial screen shots. So thanks for the update, but your teaser pics are worthless. :)


False,
I already found a bug :) look at picture #2. Shouldn't that say 1 user is online? Instead it says 1 users are online.

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[quote name='Lewis P' timestamp='1300309201']
[quote name='R1Lover' timestamp='1300309147']We appreciate the progress, but the reality is we can't see anything with these "teasers" of partial screen shots. So thanks for the update, but your teaser pics are worthless. :)


I hope this was sarcastic.... lol

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[quote name='Charles' timestamp='1300309301']
[quote name='R1Lover' timestamp='1300309147']We appreciate the progress, but the reality is we can't see anything with these "teasers" of partial screen shots. So thanks for the update, but your teaser pics are worthless. :)



touche! ;)

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Id like to see the subforum display in columns instead of the way they display now. I know this can be changed with a template and css edit. It would be nice to see it as standard.

As far as the main page presentation goes it's about time to do away with the standard forums on front page with some stats and other somewhat useless info. Users now want their info yesterday. Why not adopt the Vanilla approach and make the lastest posts the forefront of the forum index with the forum list in the sidebar?

More and more of my users are using the lastest posts in the sidebar to quickly get to the meat of the site, the topics. Some have requested that I up the amount of posts it displays. Other have the new content link bookmarked as their landing page. Why not bring these to the forefront? To me it just makes sense.

That's all for now.

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[quote name='Gaffney' timestamp='1300312727']
I hope the new default skin changes well to Green. The default skin the now doesn't change to green well, doesn't feel nice.

The default skin doesn't feel nice period. It's almost as if IPS said "Screw this" after coding the first 140 or so pixels at the top. The rest is too white.
But I must say, I'm really liking the new look. :)

[quote name='Cloaked' timestamp='1300314425']As far as the main page presentation goes it's about time to do away with the standard forums on front page with some stats and other somewhat useless info. Users now want their info yesterday. Why not adopt the Vanilla approach and make the lastest posts the forefront of the forum index with the forum list in the sidebar?
I don't really like Vanilla's approach. If it could be pulled off in a more balanced way, maybe, but straying from the standard layout is going to confuse a lot of people.

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