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IP.Gallery 5.0: Some Further Changes

Development of IP.Gallery 5 continues, and today we wanted to blog about some additional changes you can expect to see in the next release. These changes are unrelated to one another, however they collectively will improve the functionality and capabilities of IP.Gallery 5.0. Note that these changes were derived as a direct result of client feedback, so keep it coming!

RSS Feed Enhancements
As of IP.Gallery 5, RSS feeds for IP.Gallery have been updated to give users better options as to how they subscribe to feeds on your site. In IP.Gallery 5, you will have RSS feeds available for categories, albums, and a new global latest images feed has been added, allowing users to stay abreast of latest images throughout the entire Gallery. This global latest images feed is discoverable easily by browsers and other feed reader applications, and a link is available in the board footer amongst the other RSS feeds for the software.

Notification Enhancements
One common request we've seen for IP.Gallery centers around notifications. IP.Gallery allows you to follow any album or image to be notified of new images or comments already, however you must follow these areas manually. Often you will upload some images and forget to follow them afterwards, so when another user comes along and comments on your images you are not aware of this.

We have added a checkbox on the review page (the secondary step after uploading your images where you specify the caption and other details) that allows you to follow the image(s) immediately upon submission. This checkbox is checked by default, so the default action is that users will be notified of comments on newly submitted media. A user can optionally deselect the checkbox if they don't wish to be notified of comments made against the submission.

This small change will help your users remain aware of comments on their images, and help spur return visits to your site through enhanced notifications relevant to the user.

Homepage Changes
While we have a fair many customers looking for a traditional navigational approach to Gallery (Category -> Album -> Image), many of our clients left feedback following an earlier blog entry regarding the new homepage indicating that they prefer a more social approach to the Gallery. Rather than a category listing, you want to see recently updated albums and new images to keep the page fresh. Additionally, the use of two sliders on the homepage spurred some discussion about the best way to present the data being made available on the homepage.

Firstly, we have changed the recent images block to a stream of images, as you would see within a listing. The featured images block remains as a large slider at the top of the screen, however the recent images near the bottom of the page will now list many small thumbnails instead. Clicking one will open the image in the new navigational lightbox to allow you to see the larger version and the image details.

Additionally, we realize that the categorical approach is not the preferred solution for all of our customers, so we have added a setting that will allow you to switch the homepage to a more "social" version. This setting only affects the homepage, however the data will be presented in a manner that will better allow users to simply review the most updated content with less of a focus on the structure of the Gallery. Here are some screenshots

The top of the page continues to show the featured images in a slider, and otherwise looks similar to the more traditional categorical layout. The main difference is that the categories are listed in a sidebar block here, de-emphasizing the structure but still allowing you to navigate into categories at will.

The main difference comes after the featured image. When the social layout is enabled, a stream of the most recently updated albums (that you have permission to view) are presented in order of last update. Up to 20 albums will be displayed. Below that, up to 50 of the most recently uploaded images are displayed, and as with the other image listings, clicking an image will open it inside a lightbox showing you the full size image and other image details without leaving the page.

Wrapping up
We will continue to evaluate feedback, particularly after the new software has been shown to our focus group and other alpha testers, and we will make sensible changes based on the feedback we receive. Please feel free to leave us feedback in the appropriate feedback forum!

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