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IP.Content 2.3 Dev Update: ACP Interface Improvements [Part 2]

In our last IP.Content blog entry, we discussed some of the major interface changes you can expect to see coming with IP.Content 2.3. These interface changes represent improvements to your work flow and enhancements to the usability of IP.Content in the ACP. As mentioned in that blog entry, thousands of changes have been made, and while we obviously cannot detail every single one of these changes, we did want to outline some of the other major changes you can expect to see. Please read on to discover further improvements made to IP.Content 2.3.

Fewer steps, quicker workflow

IP.Content pages and blocks utilize a wizard-based approach for adding new pages and blocks, allowing you to proceed through the process one step at a time. This is largely implemented out of necessity - certain options will change depending on earlier options. For instance, if you choose to create a plugin block you will need to select which plugin (out of the available options), while if you create a custom HTML block you will need to provide your custom HTML. While this approach works well, and we've improved parts of it over various past releases, we have identified further improvements to speed up the work flow in IP.Content 2.3.

For pages, the wizard steps are now down to 3, with the 3rd step being "Done" (i.e. no action on your part needed). We have combined various steps to reduce the time it takes and number of steps you must walk through in order to create pages. This should greatly improve the amount of time it takes to create pages compared to earlier versions.

For blocks, we have also combined steps to reduce the time it takes to create blocks. With feed blocks, the "Sorting" and "Limiting" steps are now combined into one. With all blocks, the caching options have been combined into an earlier step. The end result is that all of the wizard-based interfaces now have a reduced number of steps needed to complete the wizard, which means less work and waiting on your part, and ultimately quicker setup.


Redesigned Media Manager

The media manager page has been completely redesigned, and while we are still putting some finishing touches on this area, we feel it is far enough along to give you a sneak preview now. The same functionality as before is available, with a more intuitive and refined interface.

Again, please note that this is an early preview and there are still some areas here we are working on, but hopefully this video gives you an idea of the changes to come.

Preview Video: http://screencast.com/t/DjwK9flzuEDe


Small changes that add up

Many small changes have been made throughout the interface to provide you with a better and more useful experience when working within IP.Content.

Revision and comment counts are now shown for the appropriate menu items. This allows you to know right away (before clicking through to those pages) if there are revisions or comments for a particular item. While comments are only supported in databases and articles, revisions are supported for pages, templates and blocks (in addition to databases and articles); this change has been implemented throughout the ACP interface everywhere.



A small indicator badge has been added next to articles that are set to display on the frontpage. While you could always manage these articles from the "Frontpage Manager" page of the ACP, many customers have indicated they would prefer to be able to see which articles are flagged to display on the frontpage right from the Article Manager page itself. Mousing over this badge shows a tooltip, explaining what the badge represents.



The filter bar available in the Manage Articles page has been added to all database 'Manage Record' pages. This feature was available in earlier versions of IP.Content, but was removed while updating the software for IP.Board 3.2. We are happy to see it back, and we know many of you will be too.



When adding a page previously, you had to specify the page FURL name and the page folder separately. It was hard to visualize the resulting URL based on the pieces of data you were supplying. We have improved these options in IP.Content 2.3 to better allow you to visualize the end-result from the values you supply.



When adding pages, the option to "Only edit page content" has been hidden unless you have selected a page template to use. The setting is otherwise ignored, so hiding this setting will reduce confusion and clean up the interface, only showing you relevant options to the configuration you are specifying.

Some further improvements have been made to the add/edit page form.



When "Cache this page" is not checked, the cache lifetime options are hidden, reducing clutter on the form. Clicking "What is caching" will show a modal box explaining how caching works so that administrators can better understand the available options.

Similarly, when "Available to ALL users", the permission multi-select field is hidden, further reducing unnecessary configuration options when you are managing your pages. By showing less options unnecessarily (but not removing the functionality), we believe adding and editing pages will become easier for novice users, but just as configurable as in earlier versions.

We have removed the following options from the add/edit database forms:

  • Allow user modifications
  • Allow comments
  • Database open
  • Allow ratings

All of these features can already be controlled by database (and category) permissions, and having separate on/off options for these features was extraneous and unnecessary. If you don't want users to be able to rate, just don't give any of them permission to rate (we automatically hide ratings on the front end in this scenario). If you don't want users to add or edit records, don't give them permission to. There's no need to have extra settings to control these things when you can already control them elsewhere.


A button has been added to the revision pages for articles, records, templates, blocks and pages to quickly clear out ALL revisions for the respective item. While you could previously click the delete button for each saved revision, a button to clear all revisions can help you more quickly clear them out when desired.



When viewing templates, the number of pages or databases using the templates are shown to let you know if the template is in use. We have made this number a link, and when clicked a modal box is shown listing the pages or databases using the template, with a link to the form to edit that page or database.




We have added some inline help text on some of the major pages in the ACP to better explain how you can use certain features and what options are available to you. We will continue to evolve this inline help on an as-needed basis.



Consistency

We identified many inconsistent areas of the ACP that we spent time bringing in line with the rest of the software to provide a more reliable and stable experience when working with various features of IP.Content. Most of these changes don't warrant much discussion, but we felt you may be interested in hearing about them nevertheless.
  • Hundreds of language string and verbiage changes have been made to provide a more consistent experience.
  • Cancel buttons have been added to all forms to allow you to more easily 'cancel' your action without having to rely on browser navigation or other page links.
  • Cancel buttons displaying in the "action bar" at the top of the page have been removed, and instead moved to the bottom of all forms.
  • The navigation bar entries on every single page have been reviewed to ensure they provide correct, reliable and expected navigational breadcrumbs.
  • Add folder/Add category buttons throughout the ACP now show the form inside a modal box. Previously, some pages used a modal box while some of these buttons would take you to a new page to supply the category/folder title.
  • Minor styling inconsistencies have been resolved, ensuring the interface looks the same no matter where you are.
  • A button to jump to the 'Manage Moderators' page has been added to the database field/category/record pages. The same jump bar has been added to the manage moderators page, allowing you to easily jump back to the record/field/category management pages.
  • Dropdown menus used when creating blocks have been changed to radio buttons. This allows you to more quickly see all of the available options without having to open the dropdown and close it to confirm the option you have selected is the one you want.
  • On the Databases page (where your databases are listed), the name will now take you to the edit database form. This is much more consistent with the rest of the IP.Content (and IP.Board) ACP interface. The number of records and fields are now links to take you to those pages, respectively. Additionally, the number of categories and moderators are now shown, also linking you to their respective pages for thatspecific database.
  • Codepress as an editor option has been removed. The javascript editor has not been updated in several years and no longer works with current modern browsers, so we have decided to drop it as an option. Having an option that doesn't work is worse than not having the option at all.

And more...

As we mentioned before, we've made thousands of changes to the ACP and can't possibly detail each and every one. Every single change made has been part of an effort to improve consistency or usability. These first round of changes will all help improve your work flow, make existing processes quicker and clearer, remove clutter and confusion from the interface, and generally help you to get on with the task at hand. We welcome further ideas to improve the interface, workflow and consistency of the application in our IP.Content feedback forum, otherwise please leave your comments below!
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Yay! All for removing useless things that only cause confusion. The next release is shaping up to be a great one.

And is that a linen texture I see in the media manager? Steve Jobs would be proud.

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What about short URL's usually if you don't have this enable it along miss of whatever. But when you do have it enable you get a still long URL and you have to manual type it out to get he short URL, this is more of a pain to do. Anything to add to this to make it better?

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[quote name='csm' timestamp='1322880519']
Diggin the re-designed media manager. Great job bfarber as usual.Regards


Credit for the media manager redesign goes to Rikki. While I may be the one posting the blogs at the moment, Rikki and I are working together very closely on this release. Some things I've implemented, some he has implemented (usually the prettier things ;) ).

[quote name='EBrown' timestamp='1322889151']
You guys need to add a way to view pages.


There are several ways to view pages. I'm not sure what you mean exactly?

[quote name='ZakRhyno' timestamp='1322966658']
What about short URL's usually if you don't have this enable it along miss of whatever. But when you do have it enable you get a still long URL and you have to manual type it out to get he short URL, this is more of a pain to do. Anything to add to this to make it better?


I am unclear on what you are asking, other than to make the URLs shorter?

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I like how things are now hidden when they are disabled or not used. Saving space is good thing.

I hope when navigating in Media Manager we don't have to click those small little arrows to expand each folder. Please make it so we can just double click on a folder to expand it. Relying on small buttons/arrows for navigation is not a good idea in my opinion.

Also when you preview Blocks in IPC, it keeps them open until you click the little X. If you preview several blocks they open on top of each other, and don't close the previous preview (which I think they should).

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