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IP.Content 2.3 Dev Update: Commenting & Other Consistency Updates

Commenting is a powerful and important feature available with all of your IP.Content databases, 'Articles' included. Not only can you allow your users to comment on the database records, you can require approval of comments before they become public, you can moderate the comments as needed, and your users can get notified of new comments made on database records that they follow. Still, commenting in IP.Content was missing some important functionality that we felt was overdue to be implemented.

In the process, we wanted to implement some other functionality changes to make the databases and article sections of IP.Content more powerful on the front end, and to better integrate the entire software package with the IP.Board suite. Read-on to learn about these changes, available in IP.Content 2.3.


Full-Featured Comments

In earlier versions of IP.Content, your users could comment on articles and other database records, and that was about it. Moderators could delete, approve, and unapprove the comments from the front end, but if you wanted to edit a comment you had to go into the ACP to do so.

We are happy to announce that we have fully fleshed out the commenting system in IP.Content to make it consistent with every other application, without losing the flexibility you enjoy now (that is to say, you can still use the forums to host your comments if you so choose). We have integrated the IP.Board framework global commenting system into IP.Content, which gives us many of the capabilities you expect from a powerful commenting engine:

  • Your moderators and your users can now edit comments on the front end, where permitted. A new per-moderator permission option has been added to let you determine which moderators are allowed to edit comments.
  • Your users can now report comments in IP.Content (as well as database records and articles!)
  • The commenting engine now allows the AJAX-powered "quote" option, the same as you see with the comments below this blog entry
  • Multi-moderation has now been implemented, allowing you to check off the comments you wish to moderator and act on them all in one go.
  • Keeping in line with the moderation changes coming in IP.Board 3.3, an unapproved comment can be either "approved" or "deleted". An approved comment can either be "hidden" or "deleted". A hidden comment can now be "unhidden" or "deleted".
  • Commenting is fully AJAX-powered (when available). This means quoting, adding, editing and other actions all get processed by an AJAX request, rather than traditional page refreshes, creating a smoother user experience for your users

For our technical-minded and modification author readers, we are now using the central commenting system plugin capability to it's fullest. Indeed, because of the multiple-database capability and the forum options for storing comments available in IP.Content, we needed to implement some small but useful changes in the central comment handler to achieve this. And, on a related note, IP.Content 2.3 will now be fully using the IP.Board classPost API to post topics, update topics, and post comments to those topics, allowing for more consistent back-end handling of data being sent to the forums.

Note that there is some more work to do with comments, and we are not done just yet, but the above changes should prove useful for any site that allows comments in IP.Content.


Guests Welcome!

Since version 1.0, IP.Content has not allowed guests to comment on database records and articles. We are happy to report that as of IP.Content 2.3, guests will now be allowed to comment on these database records, where-permitted. As with other areas that allow commenting, guests will be prompted for a username and to fill in a CAPTCHA (if enabled), when submitting a comment on a database record.

Similarly, guests can now rate database records and articles, where-permitted. If you allow guests to rate an item, we will use the IP address of the guest to verify they only rate the record once. With these two changes in place, we have removed the notice displaying above the database permission matrix in the ACP, alerting you that the permissions for rating and commenting are not honored for guests, as it is no longer needed.


Database and Article Improvements

As mentioned above, we have integrated the ability to report articles and database records in IP.Content 2.3. Your users will now be able to report objectionable content so that moderators can be alerted and more easily track and handle these items.

Additionally, we have implemented the reputation system (e.g. the "Like" button available throughout IP.Board, or the plus/minus system if you opt to use that instead) for database records and articles. You can now issue likes and reputation against these items, beginning with IP.Content 2.3.

Many of our users have asked for a way to allow more data collection for articles and database records on the front end. Specifically, you cannot collect meta tags, change an article's author, or provide a static FURL name for these records, while you are able to when submitting the same record from the ACP. We are happy to announce that this will now be possible beginning with IP.Content 2.3. There is now a per-moderator/editor option to allow extra data collection from your moderators/editors (keep in mind that super moderators on your site get all moderator capabilities automatically). If you wanted your members to be able to submit this data too, you could add your members group as a 'moderator' and only give them this permission, however we feel that these sorts of capabilities are usually best left to your site staff in real-world use. After all, you can't care about the SEO of your site on one hand, and then leave these SEO tools to use your members' discretion.

The data you can now allow to be collected on the front end are: author, meta description, meta keywords, static FURL name and article template (for articles only). Authors still must be members of the site, and the field utilizes the auto-complete type-ahead available elsewhere in IP.Board.

Finally, with regards to our database and article systems, you can now view, compare, edit, delete and restore revisions right from the front end! When viewing articles and database records on the front end, moderators with permission to "restore revisions" (again, super moderators already have this permission) will now be able to fully manage the revisions without anyone ever having to visit the ACP. And, as before, you can add any group you wish as a moderator, and give them only this permission if you wanted to allow members or other special users on your site the ability to manage article revisions. Front end management of revisions will allow you to better utilize IP.Content as a wiki, where desired.


Quick Navigation Panel

The quick navigation panel, a great new enhancement in IP.Board 3.x, allows you to easily jump around the site to areas you wish to reach without having to navigate there page by page. All applications can integrate into the quick navigation panel if they desire to, and we are happy to report that IP.Content 2.3 now makes use of this central functionality.

The quick navigation panel will now show all of your pages (that you have permission to access), followed by all of your databases, and all of the categories in those databases (again, where permitted to access). Because our feedback and focus groups indicated that some pages, while technically accessible, should not necessarily show in the quick navigation panel, we have added a new per-page option that you can uncheck if you wish to exclude a page from the quick navigation panel, regardless of the user's permission to access the page.


Consistency Is Key

As you can see, we are working hard to ensure your IP.Content user (and moderator) experience is consistent with the rest of our software suite. At the same time, we want to ensure common actions that moderators should be able to perform, but must currently be performed by administrators, are available through the front end with IP.Content 2.3. No longer will you need to visit the ACP to tackle routine duties, or provide extra details, or edit user comments - everything can now be handled inline on the front end utilizing the powerful tools available to you and your moderators.

We are working hard to bring other consistency and functionality improvements to the IP.Content front end, many in the form of better integration with the IP.Board framework. We will be blogging about these changes in due-course, and in the mean time, we hope you look forward to the improvements already discussed in this and other blog entries.

If you have suggestions on how to improve the software, please post them in our IP.Content feedback forum. If you have comments about the changes discussed in this blog entry, please provide them in the space below!
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