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IP.Content 2.3 Dev Update: Odds and Ends

While we have discussed many great things you can expect to see coming in IP.Content 2.3 already, we've got a few miscellaneous changes that we wanted to let you know about, but that weren't necessarily grouped into a single "theme". Still, we felt you would be interested to hear about these changes, so I've taken a moment to compile this blog entry, discussing some of these odds and ends for those interested.

Default Install Content

The content that is inserted and available during the installation process is important. It helps users understand how the product works, gives them some examples of the product in action, and lets the admin start using the product right out the door with minimal configuration necessary. We have taken a moment to review our default installation, and have made some minor changes.

Firstly, we have updated the screenshots that are shown with the default articles to reflect the IP.Board 3.2 skin. The screenshots in IP.Content 2.2 were based on IP.Board 3.1, and the skin has since changed. Additionally, I've touched up the article content here and there to bring it up to date, and I have added one new article about the new navigational menu system. This is all simply default content to show you how the system works, but we felt it was important to make a good first impression, and it is useful using the articles system as a sort of "how to" for users installing the product for the first time.

At the same time, we have moved the articles system to a different page (articles.html) and we have made the default page IP.Content display a portal. A portal page is simply a page that brings in content from various parts of your community, usually used as a homepage so users can get a quick and easy overview of what is going on or what is new. This is very easy to set up in IP.Content, since its goal is to allow you to pull data from various parts of your community with ease, and as we get a lot of requests for a simple portal-style page in IP.Content, we have decided to make this the new home page. Blocks are set up to pull content from Blog, Gallery, Downloads, Calendar, Articles and the Forums by default, but if you don't have one of those applications installed don't worry - the block will simply not display and the page will function as normal. At the same time, this allows us to show off how the new block templates system works, as most of the blocks on this new portal are feed blocks utilizing new block templates.

Content Pending Approval / Moderator Changes

It can be challenging finding the content that needs to be approved in IP.Content 2.2. While ACP-based tools help with this necessity, there are few tools available to your moderators on the front end to find this content that requires their attention. We have addressed this with IP.Content 2.3 in a tiered approach.

First and foremost, IP.Content is now integrated into the ModeratorCP. You can easily view database entries (and articles) pending approval, comments pending approval, database entries that have been hidden and comments that have been hidden. You can edit, approve and delete as needed right from the moderator control panel with ease.

You will note in this screenshot that when you select "Database Records" that you can then (and must) filter by database to view the entries pending approval within that database. The same goes for viewing hidden content in the Trash Can section of the ModeratorCP. In contrast, all comments pending approval or hidden can be displayed at once without the need to view them separately per-database.

Going beyond this central tool, however, we have also added indicators throughout the IP.Content templates themselves when something is pending approval.

Frontpage and archive templates will show you if there are comments pending approval (if you have permission to approve them)

So do the category listing templates

And if you follow one of these links, the listing will be filtered so that you ONLY see the content pending approval.

To remain consistent with IP.Board, we use badges in the various listings to show you when something is hidden or unapproved.

We believe these changes when used together should help your moderators better find and manage the content that requires their attention throughout the front end.

Finally, we have gone through and made IP.Content moderator processes more consistent with IP.Board 3.3. If an article or comment is requiring approval, it is considered unapproved and you can approve or delete that comment or article. If the article or comment is approved, you can delete or hide that article or comment. Some time was spent with IP.Board to clarify these actions and make working with them more logical (what is soft delete? what is hard delete?), and we wanted to bring those same improvements over to IP.Content. And, if you haven't picked up on it throughout this paragraph, IP.Content now supports soft deleting articles and comments (which is called "hiding" in IP.Board 3.3). These are the items that will show in the trash can of the ModeratorCP.

Administrative Logging

While not an overly exciting change, we have gone through the entire ACP codebase and added administrative logging to IP.Content. Now, when "Admin Joe" deletes a page from the page manager, or alters your most important database template, you will quickly be able to see this through the Admin Logs page of the ACP.

Article Teaser Paragraph

We have added a new default field to the articles system (upgraded installations will also get this new field) called a "Teaser Paragraph". This field allows you to define the teaser paragraph to show to users in the various listings (e.g. the archive view or the frontpage templates). When this field is populated, its entire contents will be displayed as given (it is an editor field, so bbcode parsing will also occur). When the field is not populated, we will default back to the current functionality, which is to show a certain number of characters from the article body field (without any bbcode parsing occurring). It should be noted that when viewing the article itself, the teaser paragraph is shown, and then the article body is shown after it, so the two fields are "combined" visually, however you can always edit the article view template to remove the teaser paragraph field if you do not wish for it to display. You do not need to use this field if you don't want to, however many customers have requested a way to better control the content shown in the listing and this new field will allow you to do just that.

Further Interface Polish

We are also presently working through the default templates to further refine and polish the interface before release. We have made many minor changes already - often times using a different CSS class to add some padding, or adding an extra line break (or removing one!) can make really make the templates appear more professional. We've worked on some various areas that we felt we could improve through minor changes, and we have ensured that the default templates make use of the IP.Board default CSS to the extent possible, removing IP.Content-specific CSS definitions that are no longer necessary in the process. The end result is a more refined interface for your users, less for skinners to have to customize, and more consistency between IP.Content and IP.Board pages.

In Closing...

We are working hard to prepare the best IP.Content release we have ever made, and we are eager to get your feedback on the new and improved product. We are expecting a spring 2012 release, and we are working through many of the last few pieces of the puzzle to deliver a product we know you will be excited to use. If you have any feedback about changes you would like to see in the product that we haven't already announced, please feel free to share them in our feedback forum. If you have any comments about the changes discussed above, please leave your comments below!

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